Sometimes a songwriter gets inspiration from the strangest places.
You can count Irish singer/songwriter Danny O’Flaherty as one of those.
After hearing countless stories about the Blue Puttees from his wife, Lisa — a Codner originally from Torbay — O’Flaherty and his writing partner Khaetidawne Quirk were inspired to team up on a song, that turned into an album, commemorating the Newfoundland Regiment.
“The courage of our sons who gave their lives in the battle for the Great War to be won, will always be remembered.” -Danny O’Flaherty and Khaetidawne Quirk
“The first time I heard the story from Lisa about her great-great uncle Leo O’Neil who had fought and was badly wounded, but survived to return to Newfoundland,’’ O’Flaherty said while recounting a host of stories at the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Museum on Thursday.
“He left leg was amputated and he had severe hand issues that made for a rough life for him. It was tough for him to function normally on his return,’’ he added.
This set the wheels in motion for O’Flaherty, as he wanted to know more about the Blue Puttees, the first 500, the many young men from Newfoundland who answered the call for King and Country against the Germans in the First World War.
He said the more he inquired, he shared his findings with Quirk, he said to her “let’s write a song about this.”
O’Flaherty sang it for his wife and her family and O’Neil’s daughter.
“They loved ‘It’s A Long Way From St. John’s’ and this only inspired us to write more,’’ he said.
“The plan wasn’t for us to do a complete album, only a couple of songs. And here we are today, 12 songs on an album commemorating them,’’ he added.
Those songs will be hard at a special performance on Sunday at The Rooms Theatre starting at 2:30 p.m.
Local First World War author and historian — and former chief of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary — Gary Browne has worked with O’Flaherty for the past 3 1/2 years to help get the 12-track CD completed.
“Danny’s CD was created to pay homage to the Blue Puttees and members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment who served in World War I, and their families and loved ones,’’ Brown said.
The title track also featured the vocals of a St. John’s-based choral group, the Anchorman Chorus. Their background vocals were recorded in St. John’s and sent to Conception Studio in Lafayette, La., where it was dubbed into the track.
Following a suggestion from Browne, O’Flaherty donated 1,000 copies of the CD in support of operating costs of the museum that continues to celebrate the illustrious history of the heroes of this prestigious Regiment.
Those copies were presented to Capt. Ben Gardner (retired), a long-time member of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Advisory Council and a member of the Regiment Museum Committee.
Gardner’s father Thomas was a member of the regiment in the First World War and received a leg injury from a gunshot wound. Ben had two additional relatives who fought for the regiment and they included 2nd Lieut. Cyril Gardner who was killed in action at Monchy-Le-Preux, and Lance-Cpl. Edward (Ned) Gardner who was killed in action on July 1, 1916 at Beaumont Hamel. Neither of their bodies were ever recovered.
Anyone wishing to obtain a copy of the CD, can do so by logging on to http://rnfldrmuseum.ca/ and click on ‘Shop’ at top of page, then scroll down the page until you see the CD “It’s A Long Way From St. John’s” on the bottom left of the page. Click on the add to cart option to get your purchase started. You can also learn more about the performance at The Rooms by going to www.facebook.com/RNFLDRMuseum.