roger courtney

roger courtney


Acoustic songs that make people think, make people smile, and make people feel real emotion


Roger was born and brought up in a musical family in Belfast. He was taught guitar by his father, Brian, who was also an accomplished songwriter, writing virtually all the songs & sketches for an annual review in the local church, in which all the Courtney family participated.

Roger graduated from Queen’s University, Belfast with a degree in Psychology and Philosophy. He then qualified as a youth & community worker in Birmingham. During which time he become involved in work for peace & reconciliation through the Corrymeela Singers, an ecumenical choir, which promoted peace & reconciliation in Ireland through music [see the section on the Corrymeela Singers]

While studying at Queens University, Belfast and becoming involved in Corrymeela, Roger wrote The Pollen of Peace, which became Corrymeela’s theme song . It has been translated into at least six languages and is regularly sung in churches and schools around the world. It can be found in the songs of praise Hymnbook ‘Come and Praise’ as well as the Church of Ireland Hymnal.

Roger was the founder and first co-ordinator of Crescent Youth & Community Resource Centre to facilitate follow-ups in Belfast to mixed Protestant & Catholic holiday schemes. The centre become increasingly used by drama, dance, music, visual arts & community arts groups and eventually became Crescent Arts Centre.

Roger then worked for 16 years with people who are homeless in Northern Ireland, as Chief Executive of the Simon Community (Simon Community NI website).

During this period Roger continued to write songs, particularly for the Corrymeela Singers, which released five recordings containing songs by Roger and as theme songs for the bi-annual Summerfest festivals at Corrymeela.

In 1980 four members of the Corrymeela Singers formed a smaller vocal group. These four were soon joined by a fifth, and became known as Banter. Banter regularly include songs by Roger in their repertoire. These songs have included Warriors of the Rainbow, The Carson Trail, Free Mandela, The Road to Ballisodare, Gweedore, Murlough Bay, The Girl from County Clare and the Irish Blessing.

Having received an MBE for his work with people who are homeless and written a history of the Simon Community in Northern Ireland, Roger left Simon In 1998. Over this period Simon had expanded from having two small houses in Belfast to a wide range of projects for people who were homeless all over Northern Ireland. Having developed a wide involvement in the wider voluntary sector and published three books on the Strategic Management of Voluntary organisations as well as several on fundraising, Roger become a freelance organisational development adviser to various voluntary organisations in Northern Ireland.

He has continued to write songs and in 2005 recorded a demo CD of 12 songs using some of Ireland’s leading singers and musicians, including Peter Corry, a very popular singer and performer, who since the recording has been performing several of Roger’s songs in concerts in Europe and America. He recorded Roger’s song Gweedore with Don Williams in Nashville.

Roger was a finalist in the 2006 UK Songwriting Competition. Two of his songs, Mother Teresa’s Message, which is featured in an educational resource publication, and Let your love shine through were chosen in 2006 to feature in a special charity compilation CD in the US. Roger recently appeared in the Ulster television Programme Hearts and Minds, singing his own satirical song about political developments in Northern Ireland, MLA Blues



Written By: Roger Courtney

Gweedore your rugged hills are calling me
Gweedore I can hear you call my name
Gweedore your beauty has caught hold of me
Gwweedore I will never be the same

I've never seen anywhere as beautiful before
A thousand shades of autumn from the skyline to the shore
I count the days till i'll return
to Donegal once more
Gweedore, oh Gweedore


I won't forget the turf stacks
on the prurple tinted land
or the bright red rowan trees
and the walks along the strand
The friendly smiling faces
and the wave you can't ignore
Gweedore, on Gweedore

Chorus (twice)

Die, the American way

Written By: Roger Courtney

Close up all your windows
Lock and bolt the doors
then gather all your children
and lie flat on the floor
Then pray to your god or whoever
and kiss your life away
The time has come to say goodbye
You're going to die the American way

No time to sing a swan song or to try and change your will
No expensive Christian burial
or an undertakers bill
It's really quick and simple
There are no debts to pay
Courtesy of george W Bush
We're going to die the American way

We eat American hamburgers
From American hamburger stands
We listen to American music
from American rock & roll bands
We live American lifestyles
and copy what they say
It really seems just logical
that we should die the American way

Girl from County Clare

Written By: Roger Courtney

We met in Enniscorthy
at the strawberry fair
She looked so fine and radiant
with the sunlight in her hair.
I looked across the room and without warning she was there
and I fell in love with the girl from County Clare.

Her eyes were dark and piercing
her skin was soft and fair
Her beauty so entranced me that I couldn't help but stare.
I could tell that there was some special magic in the air
when I fell in love with the girl from County Clare.

She was thoughtful
she was kind
She was always on my mind.
She was the only one who oculd set my spirit free.
She was gentle
she was coy
Her eyes were full of joy
She was the best thing ever happened to me.

But her family dissapproved of me
although I didn't care
The thought of ever losing her
was more than I could bare.
Of bitter dissappointments
I know I've had my share
Until I fell in love
with the girl from County Clare.


Songs recorded by the Corrymeela Singers: The Pollen of Peace, Love until it Hurts, One World, Let your Love Flow, Father Forgive.
Demo CD in 2005: Peaceful Lakes of Erne, Gweedore, Girl from County Clare, Murlough bay, Love you and let go, Die the American Way, Let your Love Shine through, Don't take you love away, The Road to Ballisodare.