Springhill hosting mass singing of mine tribute

U2 may not be coming, but the community of Springhill, Nova Scotia, is still preparing for a mass singing of The Ballad of Springhill Sunday evening at Lion's Park.

U2 may not be coming, but the community of Springhill, Nova Scotia, is still preparing for a mass singing of  The Ballad of Springhill Sunday evening at Lion's Park.

"It is intended to be the largest mass singing of the song ever," said Springhill Mayor Allen Dill in a news release.

The community had invited Irish rockers U2  to join the event, but receieved confirmation late Sunday afternoon that the band would not be joining in.
There had been hope U2 would show up for the mass singing of the Ballad of Springhill, which the band sang in Moncton on Saturday night. (Canadian Press)

The song drew international attention when U2 added it to their Joshua Tree Tour playlist in 1987.

U2 performed the final date of their 360 tour in  Moncton, N.B., Saturday night.

The band played a snippet of the song at the Moncton show. One of the organizers of Sunday's Springhill event, Alfred Legere, said it's the first time they'd performed the tune since 1988.

When the Moncton concert date was announced, it presented an opportunity for the band to come, but there are reports that the musicians left Canada right after the show.

Legere said the town first thought about extending an invitation to the band in 2008 on the 50th anniversary of "the bump," the earthquake that killed 75 miners in Springhill.

Moncton is less than 100 kilometres from Springhill, N.S., a town of roughly 4,000 people.

The Ballad of Springhill, also known as the Springhill Mine Disaster, was written by American folksingers Peggy Seeger and Ewan McColl based on the Springhill "bump" — the largest underground earthquake in North American history.

On Oct. 23, 1958, a seismic shockwave tore through the tunnels of the No. 2 colliery. It trapped 174 miners underground; 75 died.

The resulting casualties devastated the community.
Miner being removed on a stretcher from Springhill Mine pithead to waiting ambulance in 1958. (Province of Nova Scotia)

Legere still thinks Sunday's choir will be made up of hundreds, if not thousands, of voices.