a story waiting to be told

August 7, 2010 at 3:06 am 2 comments

“On the first day of January,

Eighteen ninety-two,

They opened Ellis Island,

and they let the people through.

And the first to cross the threshold

of that isle of hope and tears

was Annie Moore from Ireland

who was all of fifteen years.”

Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears is one of my new favorite songs, even though it’s an old Irish classic.  The melody is beautiful, of course, but I think what draws me to the song is the story it tells – and the story it leaves to your imagination.  I love singing and listening to songs that tell stories, and I think that’s why I love musical theatre so much.  Every song has a purpose and reveals something of the character, and in singing it you get to tell a piece of the character’s story.  I don’t have a whole lot of patience for songs sung just to sound pretty (like the Italian songs where even the English translation doesn’t make sense). 

The song doesn’t tell me much more about Annie Moore than the above facts: she was an Irish immigrant.  More importantly, she was the first to ever set foot onto Ellis Island, the “isle of hope and tears, isle of freedom, isle of fears.”  And she was fifteen. 

I want to know about her.  I want to tell her story.  How cool would it be if it’s true, and a fifteen-year-old really was the first to step onto the island?  Why was she immigrating?  What past did she leave behind, what dreams did she have for her new life?  Those few song lines are so rich; they pique my interest.  There is so much left unsaid. 

I want to tell her story. 

Maybe I will.

In the meantime, watch this video of Celtic Woman’s stunningly gorgeous version (lyrics start at 1:37, if you’re too impatient to listen to the pretty bagpipe solo).

EDIT: I did look her up.  And she is real.  And she really was the first to step onto the island, and there is even an Annie Moore statue on Ellise Island, I believe.  She traveled with her two younger brothers, to meet her parents already in New York City.  So she was fifteen, and made the trip all the way across the world on her own, with younger brothers to watch over. 

Now I really want to write her story.

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a dreamy day and the world keeps spinning

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. singamelody  |  August 9, 2010 at 2:48 am

    Oh, what beautiful lyrics! I can’t wait till i get a chance to watch that video 🙂 That sounds like a song that would make me cry though. Ya know, one of those happy songs, that still have a longing in it. *sigh*

    Reply
  • 2. invincibleprobity  |  March 17, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Hi, Megan. (Have you ever watched Megyn Kelly on TV? She’s amazing.) Just thought I’d let you know that there are three articles posted at http://invincibleprobity.wordpress.com/ that try to put Annie Moore’s world into perspective. I’d start with “Irish In America”. And good luck in college.

    Reply

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