She Would Sing the Kerry Dances video

Song inspired by Dorothy Ellen O’Reilly

Vocalist Jamie O’Reilly sings a poignant tribute to her Irish American Aunt Dorothy in this ballad by Tom Amandes. A rich vocal tradition was handed down to Jamie from Aunt “Dottie,” whose story is illustrated in this video featuring vintage photographs dating back to the mid 1800s.
Watch the video here.

Then she sang them the Kerry Dances with a ring of a piper’s tune
Soon the voice of her father would join in the song
Her aunts and her uncles would all sing along
Assured that the fire of their music was strong
For young Dorothy embodies a dream

that their own might as last win esteem

Chorus of “She Would Sing the Kerry Dances
Dottie with father James 1900.

The O’Reilly ancestors family story – told in the song and “white fire letter,” is part of the musical play In Old Chicago produced by J. O’Reilly Productions. Tom Amandes composed She Would Sing the Kerry Dances in 1987. Inspired by a final visit to Dottie in a nursing home, it quickly became an audience favorite in her repertoire. Dottie died not long after that visit and was waked on St. Patrick’s Day.  She left Jamie her piano.

Dottie late 1960s with Jamie and her sisters
Dottie 1950s. with Jamie’s siblings Cecilie, Beau, Willem and Chris

Read the white fire letter from Mame to Dottie, and lyrics here.

poster for In Old Chicago

Video credits:
Video by Anne Hills
Art Direction by Jamie O’Reilly
Photographs from O’Reilly Tucker Family Archives
Kennedy, Madigan, Mattson, Zappen Family Archives
And historical collections in the public domain.

Read Mame’s white fire letter, written to Dorothy here, and song lyrics here.

Jamie O’Reilly & the Rogues

Song Recording Credits
Jamie O’Reilly, Vocals
Paul Amandes and Peter Swenson, guitars
Stuart Rosenberg, mandolin
John Floeter, bass
Tom Amandes, piano
Recorded by Timothy Powell, 1988

Words & Music by Tom Amandes
Musical arrangement by Peter Swenson with the Rogues.
Limited release audio CD A Collection of Rogues Recordings is available from
J. O’Reilly Productions, 2005