On October 23, 1958 a huge "bump" (underground earthquake) devastated the Novia Scotia coal town of Springhill and made international headlines. Of the 174 miners in the No. 2 mine at the time of the bump, 75 died, and 99 were trapped but rescued.
A 24-year-old Peggy Seeger wrote this song in a French cafe while watching a live television broadcast of the mining disaster. She recalled to Mojo in 2015: "In those days I'd sing protest songs without knowing much about them. I just thought they needed to be sung."
"Springhill" was originally performed Peggy Seeger with her then boyfriend (later husband) Ewan MacColl as an a cappella duet. They sang the song at the 1960 Newport Folk Festival with guitar accompaniment and recorded it in 1983 for their joint album, Freeborn Man.
The song was popularized by the folk revival group Peter, Paul & Mary and the Irish folk singer Luke Kelly, who was a founding member of The Dubliners.
Later, U2 drew attention to the memory of the Springhill mining disaster when they included the song in the playlist for their Joshua Tree Tour in 1987. The band performed the song at fifteen concerts in total.
Peggy Seeger performed the song in Springhill in 2008 on the 50th anniversary of the disaster.