Article MT148

Around the Hills of Clare

Songs and a recitation from the Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie Collection

Musical Traditions Records' third CD release of 2004: Around the Hills of Clare (MTCD331-2), is now available.  See the MT Records website for details.  Not only is this our second collaboration with Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie (From Puck to Appleby was the first), but also our second collaboration with another record company (the first being with both Topic and Cló Iar Chonnachta, over the Joe Heaney double CD, back in 2000).  In this case we are working with Dublin's An Góilín traditional singers' club, so the CDs also bear the number Góilín 005-6, and their logo.  We did the booklet and packaging, they did the CDs and production/printing.  They are selling them in Ireland, whilst we deal with the 'rest of the world' from the website.

As a service to those who may not wish to buy the record, or who might find the small print hard to read, I have reproduced the relevant contents of the CD booklet here.

[Track Lists] [Introduction] [The Singers] [CD One] [CD Two] [Acknowledgements]

Track Lists:

Singing in West Clare:

Although Clare is probably best known for its musical heritage, the county, particularly in the west, also possesses a strong song tradition.  A rich, varied English language repertoire reflects not only local and country-wide events, but also the influence of incomers, Travellers, immigration and emigration.  In the past, traditional song played an important part in the lives of the people, not only in providing entertainment but also in recording, reflecting and commenting on aspects of their day-to-day lives and experiences.  Singing took place mainly at home, for instance, at country house dances where people would gather to play, sing, and dance sets; certain houses were noted particularly for these activities.  Other occasions were the American wakes which were held to give a send-off to those emigrating, often never to return.  We've heard numerous accounts of how these would often start off happily but invariably finish with lamenting the loss of friends and family members.  The meithil (working parties), when neighbours helped each other out at harvest time, were often followed by nights of dance, song and music.  Weddings, birthdays, Christmas; it seems that the people of West Clare needed little excuse to gather and enjoy themselves.

The themes of the songs have been drawn from local and national affairs including the fight for independence, struggles against landlordism, work on the land, disasters at sea, courtship and marriage practices and all the other aspects that go into the making of a vibrant song tradition.  The songs have been gleaned from all over these islands and, as well as the Irish, Anglo-Irish and Scots-Irish repertoire of classic ballads, narrative and lyrical songs, there was once a strong, local song-making tradition in the county, as represented here by Mac and Shanahan.  Other home-grown products include: The Quilty Burning, The East Clare Election, The Green Flag of Erin and The Hills of Clare

One of the major influences on the singing tradition in Clare has been 'the ballads', the song sheets that were once sold around the fairs and markets right up to the 1950s, usually by Travellers, though a local man, Bully Nevin, also followed this trade and seems to have had an influence on the local repertoire.  Bully's name is often mentioned in connection with the local version of The Rocks of Bawn, in which 'The Queen of England' has been replaced by 'Patrick Sarsfield'.  The song books that were produced widely in the first half of the twentieth century and that could be purchased in the market town of Ennis for a few pence, or were sent home from America by family members who had emigrated there, added to the already rich store. 

Up to comparatively recent times, it was possible to find in West Clare a number of skilful singers with large repertoires.  Alas, nearly all of these are now no longer with us, and the singers on these CDs represent the last of an era of singers who have nurtured the song tradition and ascertained that many of the songs are passed on for future generations to appreciate.  When we first started listening to singers in West Clare back in the early '70s, we were impressed by the size and the diversity of the local repertoire.  One of the sad features of the decline in the singing tradition has been the narrowing of that repertoire.  While there are still a handful of traditional singers around, it is seldom that you hear the narrative songs and ballads which appear to have been the popular songs of the early twentieth century.  Television and other ready-made diversions, coupled with an apparent shortening of the attention span, have taken a heavy toll of our singing tradition.  We hope these CDs are proof that this was not always the case. 

On our first visit to the Willie Clancy Summer School in 1974, we were fortunate in meeting Tom and Annette Munnelly and family.  Tom, a full time collector with the Department of Irish Folklore at UCD, was recording the traditional singers of West Clare.  He introduced us to Martin Reidy, Tom Lenihan, Martin Howley, Pat McNamara, Austin and Michael Flanagan, Martin Long, Michael 'Straighty' Flanagan and Nora Cleary, all of whom are represented on these CDs.  We had met Ollie Conway the previous year and we returned to the area annually thereafter, continuing to record most of these singers and others we came to know in later years, like Vincie Boyle and Kitty Hayes.  However, because of the intermittent nature and the usually short duration of our visits, we were able to meet some of the singers only briefly and therefore were not in a position to gain much information about them.  We are again indebted to Tom Munnelly for biographical details in many cases.

The Singers:

Back in 1973, when we were camping at Spanish Point, we were fortunate to find our way out to Conway's Bar in Mullagh and meet Ollie Conway.  Singer, dancer, farmer and publican, Ollie was the first person we recorded in Clare.  The amazingly warm welcome Ollie gave to two complete strangers was a great confidence booster which gave us the courage to continue.  He sang for us without hesitation and encouraged others in the bar to do the same.  Today, Ollie at 82 is still singing, though his renowned set-dancing prowess would probably be a little too much for his pacemaker now. 

All the singers here were recorded in Clare with the exception of Mikey Kelleher (1907-1987).  Although born and reared in Quilty, he left for England in 1942, working in Bristol and Nottingham and eventually settling in London.  We recorded him in Deptford, South East London, where he had lived since 1949.  When we met him, he had retired from his work in the building trade; in Ireland Mikey had fished, gathered carrageen (seaweed), built curraghs and done farm work, though he had no land himself.  While he was known locally in Clare as a dancer - a very good one - Mikey had absorbed many of the songs he had heard in his younger days.  He also had a vast store of, often bawdy, yarns and shortened versions of popular folk tales which he loved to relate, usually after an evening of singing for us.  Although we did not hear Mikey sing in the pub, he must have done so, as he was pointed out to us as a man with songs by one of the Irish Travellers we were recording at that time.  It is remarkable and indicative of the love for and enjoyment of the songs, that Mikey still remembered them some 35 years after leaving his home place and living in a totally different environment.  He stressed to us that "the old way of singing was best; you must always start at the root of the tree."  Mikey died in London and his family home still stands on the edge of the Atlantic at Quilty.

Mikey's amazing memory for the old songs was shared by Tom Lenihan (1905-1990) who, on a number of occasions, after a little probing, faultlessly remembered and sang a song which he said he had not sung for some 40 years or more and had forgotten he ever knew.  There was always a warm welcome from Tom and Margaret Lenihan in their small thatched farmhouse in Knockbrack, just outside Miltown Malbay.  Tom would talk and sing for visitors at any time, regardless of any farm work he had planned to do.  After the beer was thrust into your hand - and before the tea was served - the tape recorder and microphone in position, Margaret would say, "Tom, the clock." The small, but loud alarm clock was duly stopped to ensure quiet during the recording; they had no telephone so that was no problem, and the grandchildren knew to creep in silently and remain so during the song.  Tom had a very large repertoire and positive ideas about singing.  He insisted that the story was most important aspect; the singer's involvement with the song was paramount.  To him it was vital that the singer used speech patterns, made sense of the words, singing them as close as possible to the way one would speak; to fit the tune to the words, not to make the words fit the tune.  One can appreciate why Tom had so many narrative songs in his repertoire; his attitude to singing is illustrated on the two tracks of speech.  A selection of Tom's songs, recorded by Tom Munnelly, was published in book form in 1994 by Comhairle Bhéaloideas Éireann entitled Mount Callan Garland, accompanied by a double cassette.  An earlier album of our recordings of him was released by Topic Records in 1978 under the title Paddy's Panacea.  Tom Lenihan also had a large store of folklore, much of which was also recorded by Tom Munnelly for the Department of Irish Folklore, UCD.

Nora Cleary's (1924-1988) small house at The Hand, some 5 miles from Miltown Malbay, now stands deserted and almost out of sight behind the bushes and undergrowth that have sprung up since her untimely death at 64.  Nora's upbeat personality and love of singing and songs was infectious and she was an ever-popular performer at singing sessions in the area.  She had lived and worked in England for some years and, at one time, was friendly with Travelling piper Felix Doran and his family.

Beyond the fact that Martin Long (1903-1981) was a retired farmer who lived at Cloontysmarra, between Miltown Malbay and Inagh, we know little about him.  We met him on just two occasions and recorded him only once, during a singing session in Marrinan's pub in Miltown Malbay during the second Willie Clancy Summer School in 1974.

Michael 'Straighty' Flanagan, (1893 - 1987) a lean, tallish man, lived with his older brother and sister-in-law in their farmhouse just outside Inagh village.  In the early days of the Willie Clancy Summer School, he would come into town to sing at the Friday afternoon concert together with some of the other singers on the CDs, such as Tom Lenihan, Martin Reidy, Nora Cleary, etc.  Michael, or 'Straighty' as he was more usually known, was photographed by American photographer Dorothea Lange in the 1950s, and he once complained to us about American photographers who turned up, set up their equipment in the yard and began taking photographs without bothering to ask anybody's permission, or explain what they were doing.  His photograph is to be found in Lange's collection, Ireland, published in 1996, where he is incorrectly identified as a 'seanachí' (storyteller).  An album of 'Straighty's' songs, entitled Lone Shanakyle, was released by Outlet records in 1981 and he was also included in the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Éireann cassette and book, Traditional Songs and Singers, along with Tom Lenihan, in 1977. 

Martin Reidy (1901 - 1985), a bachelor, lived with his dog and cat, in the foothills of Mount Callan.  His small farmhouse had neither running water nor electricity when we first visited in the 1970s and, in fact, was reduced to two rooms as the roof of the end room had collapsed.  In a somewhat remote location, Martin relied completely on the travelling grocer's shop calling once a week.  However, he was one of the most cheerful, happy and well adjusted people you could wish to meet.  A man for the long songs, he loved to sing, to talk, and to discuss the old ways and the new.  Songs were an important part of his life, and he once joked with us that he tried to teach his dog Topsy to sing in order to pass the songs on.  Martin's lack of teeth can make understanding him a problem sometimes but persevere - you will get used to it and it's worth the effort.

Pat MacNamara, (1895-1977) was also lacking in the dental department and, unlike Martin Reidy, spoke very rapidly.  A retired farmer and widower, living in a council cottage with his son, he was a small, wiry man with a great sense of humour and an infectious laugh.

Pat had not only a good number of songs but also a rich store of traditional tales which he would fire off at a great rate, accentuating points in the story with a bang of his walking stick and always finishing with a loud "NOW".  We recorded Pat's songs and tales either in the car or in the local bar.  The proprietress, Mrs Considine, was a great friend of Pat's but, while she was happy for him to sing for us in the bar, she refused to allow him to tell stories.  This dated back to his practice, in the past, of launching into one of his longest stories shortly before closing time and so preventing her from shutting up shop for the night.  On our last visit to Pat in 1976, the day before we were due to leave Clare, he produced a list of songs and stories that he had not recorded for us saying, "If I'm not here next year when you come over, come up to the graveyard and I'll tell them up to you." He died on New Year's Day the following year.

Vincent (Vincie) Boyle, a native of Mount Scott, Mullagh, grew up on a farm, but left in 1978 to live in Miltown Malbay.  Now in his fifties, he has sung all his life and comes from a musical and singing background; his father was a singer, his brother James is a whistle and harmonica player and many others of his family sang and played.  His nephew is the well known flute player, Kevin Crawford.  Vincie works as a general builder.

We visited Michael (born 1920) and Austin (born 1924) Flanagan only twice, so the information we have about them is somewhat skimpy.  Two bachelor brothers, they lived on their small farm with their sister Katie, a few miles from The Cliffs of Moher.  Their townland, Luogh, features importantly in Clare folklore as it was where folklorist Seamus Delargy based much of his collecting from 1929 onwards.  The Flanagan's home was in close proximity to where much of Delargy's work was done and they recalled seeing him on his visits.

Austin and Michael were extremely enthusiastic gatherers of songs and they told us how, when Travellers visited the area, all work on the farm would cease and they would go off to learn songs from them.  They described how they used to write the songs down in a notebook which was kept in a drawer but, on enquiring whether it still existed, we were told that, whenever a neighbour was looking for the words of a song, the relevant page would be torn out and handed over and in this way the book gradually disappeared.  Like many of the singers we met, they were insistent that the stories of the songs were more important than the tunes, so much so that over half of the songs we recorded from them were sung to the same tune, the one usually associated with The Rocks of Bawn and used here for O'Reilly to America

Jamesie McCarthy, (1898-1977), born in Quilty, was known mainly as a singer of comic songs, though his repertoire did extend beyond these.  He came from a farming background, but worked for Clare County Council and The Board of Works.

Those who attended The Clancy School in 1976 have cause to remember with great affection, Jamsie's participation in that event.  The recording of The Kerry Cock was made at the singers' concert that year.

Martin Howley of Fanore (1902-1981) was somebody we were able to visit on only three occasions, but each time we received a great welcome.  He was a general labourer living in a council cottage in north Clare, on the edge of the Burren.

Martin was passionately interested in songs from a very early age and was more than happy to share them with anybody.  He had an excellent memory, not only in being able to remember the songs but also where he first heard them, and he related several anecdotes about learning them.  He got a number of them from Travellers, including the extremely rare Fair Margaret and Sweet William, which he knew as The Old Armchair.  Our last visit to him, after we had heard he was very ill, was intended to be a short call to let him know we were thinking of him but soon the conversation soon got round to song.  On his asking if we had a tape recorder with us, we protested that we were not there to bother him, as he was ill, to which he replied, "But I want to give them to you - I'm a poor man and they are all I have to leave." It was very moving to see the importance Martin attached to the songs he had kept alive for so long, and we proceeded to record him for the last time.  As well as being a singer with a large repertoire, Martin was also a fine old-style concertina player.

Now in her 70s, Kitty Hayes is among that band of marvellous women singers and musicians whose talents lay dormant for most of their lives while they married, raised a family and worked on the farm.  Related by marriage to both Tom Lenihan and legendary Sligo fiddle player, Paddy Killoran, she comes from a solid musical background.  As a youngster, she sang and played concertina in her home place of Fahanlunaghta, between Miltown Malbay and Ennistymon.  In 1948, she married Josie Hayes, one of the resident musicians who played at Gleeson's bar in Coore, with Junior Crehan, Paddy Galvin, Michael Downes, etc, and who kept the music and dancing alive in the area.  Kitty's concertina playing and singing took a back seat for a good many years but, after Josie's death and the family grown up, she blossomed once more and is now in great demand to sing and play in the locality at sessions, festivals and at The Willie Clancy Summer School.  Three years ago, A Touch of Clare, a CD mainly of her concertina playing, with just one song, was issued locally.

At 94, Nonie Lynch is still singing with an energy and involvement that is to be envied by singers more than half her age.  Until comparatively recently, she sang mainly at home and at family gatherings, but can now be heard occasionally at local sessions and, last year, she was a guest at the Clare Traditional Singing Weekend.  Nonie is a first cousin of Tom Lenihan.

Born in 1954, Nonie's son Patrick is the youngest on these CDs.  Originally inspired by an older brother who was renowned for his reciting of Dangerous Dan McGrew, and a neighbour, Michael Murrihey, who recorded a number of recitations for him, Patrick has been performing them for thirty years.  In 2000 he was a guest at the Cowboy Poetry Gathering at Elko, Nevada.  Patrick works as a self-employed plumber, mainly in the Miltown Malbay area. 

We feel very privileged to have met, listened to and enjoyed the company of all the singers, musicians and storytellers that we have known over the years who have been so generous with their time, songs, music and stories.  We all owe them a great debt of thanks for keeping their traditions alive and willingly passing them on, and feel sure that they would appreciate the appropriateness of the Royalties from the sale of these CDs going to the Irish Traditional Music Archive whose work, along with that of the Department of Irish Folklore, UCD, has ensured that they are not lost to future generations.

The CDs:

Roud numbers quoted are from the databases, The Folk Song Index and The Broadside Index, continually updated, compiled by Steve Roud.  Currently containing more than 261,000 records between them, they are described by him as "extensive, but not yet exhaustive." Copies are held at: The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, London; Taisce Ceol Duchais Éireann, Dublin; and the School of Scottish Studies, Edinburgh.  They can also be purchased direct from Steve at Southwood, Maresfield Court, High Street, Maresfield, East Sussex, TN22 2EH, UK.  E-mail:

Child numbers, where quoted, refer to entries in The English and Scottish Popular Ballads by Francis James Child, Boston, 1882-98.  Laws numbers, where quoted, refer to entries in American Balladry from British Broadsides by G Malcolm Laws Jr, Philadelphia, 1957.

CD 1

1-1 Around the Hills of Clare (Roud 18467)
Tom Lenihan, Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay
Rec.  July 1981

Well now my friends, the hour has come
When I must say adieu,
My lonely heart is filled with grief
To think on parting you.
Farewell unto my comrade girls,
Some old, some young and gay,
Oh, how often did I roam with them
Around the hills of Clare.

Now I must leave my native home,
My parents fond and true,
My sister dear, with weeping heart
I bid farewell to you.
Farewell unto my comrade girls,
Some old, some young and gay.
How often did I roam with them
Around the hills of Clare.

Now I must leave my native land,
The land that gave me birth;
Where oftentimes I passed away
The hours in joy and mirth,
Amongst those few and trusty friends
With whom none can compare,
Likewise the ever smiling maids
That roam the hills of Clare.

In days long past, I often cast
A thought when here alone,
Upon those lands whose Saxon bands
Should fly from out our home.
But now, at last, these days are past,
There is nothing left but care.
Oh, the day will come when four, like one
Will roam the hills of Clare.

Farewell you groves and shady hills
Where oftentimes I strayed,
Farewell you brooks and sparkling rills
Besides whose banks I played,
For scenes so grand, no other land
Can with this spot compare,
Oh, so blessed be the pastures green
That deck the hills of Clare.

Cheer up your hearts, my comrade boys,
The day's not far away
When you and I our tears will dry,
Once more we will be gay.
May heaven keep us safe till then,
'Til home we'll all repair,
In hope to find you all enjoy
Around the hills of Clare.

Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, famine, evictions, political upheaval and general poverty led to mass emigration from Ireland.  This gave rise to one of the largest category of songs in the traditional repertoire: those expressing love of the home place and of having to leave, often never to return.  This is one such piece, obviously locally composed.

The only other version was recorded by Tom Munnelly from another West Clare singer, the late Joe Mikey McMahon of Creevagh, near Doolough.  Tom's tune is the one usually associated with The Magpie's Nest.

2-1 Little Ball of Yarn (Roud 1404)
Nora Cleary, The Hand, near Miltown Malbay.
Rec.  July 1976

It being in the month of May
When the birds were young and gay,
I took a stroll down by the corn in the morning.
It was there I spied a maid
And she sitting in a shade,
And I asked her if I'd wind her ball of yarn.

"Oh no, kind sir", she said,
"You're a stranger unto me,
And perhaps you might have any other darling."
"Oh no, my lovely miss,
Take a warning unto this;
Keep your hand on your little ball of yarn."

In the middle of the green
Where I knew I wouldn't be seen;
I didn't intend to do her any harm;
I put my hands around her waist
Then I gently laid her down
And began to wind her little ball of yarn.

Nine months came to pass,
Sure, I met this lovely lass;
She was carrying little tribblets in her arms.
Says I, "My lovely miss,
Take a warning unto this,
Keep your hand upon your little ball of yarn."

Gershon Legman claimed this as a distant relative of the song The Yellow, Yellow Yorlin (Yellowhammer) which is to be found in Burns's Merry Muses of Caledonia (1800), while sea-song expert Stan Hugill had it as a pumping shanty and suggested that balls of yarn were more likely to be associated with the sea rather than the land.

Legman also linked it to a custom in the Ozarks, where a young woman who wished to find who she was to marry threw a ball of red yarn into a 'haunted' house.  Keeping hold of one end, she would call out "Who'll wind my ball of yarn?" and a ghostly voice from within was believed to have come up with the answer.

Ref: Roll Me In Your Arms, Vance Randolph, ed.  Gershon Legman, Univ.  of Arkansas Press, 1992

Other recordings: Walter Pardon, Put a Bit of Powder on it Father, Musical Traditions MTCD305-6

3-1 Golden Glove (Roud 141, Laws N20)
Martin Howley, Fanore, north west Clare.
Rec.  July 1975

There was a rich squire in Thomastown, Clare,
Who courted a nobleman's daughter
That was handsome and fair,
And to discourse with her it was his intent.
His friends and relations, they all gave consent.

The day was appointed a wedding to be;
The young farmer was chosen
The groomsman to be,
But as soon as the lady the farmer she spied;
"You're my charming, my lover
And my darling", she cried.

She turned from the squire, but nothing had said,
'Til at length they were married,
She retired to her bed,
(Instead of being married she retired to her bed)
But the thoughts of the farmer still ran in her mind,
And a plan for to gain him she quickly did find.

In a vest, coat and jacket this lady put on,
As she went a-hunting
With her dog and her gun.
She kept coursing all day where the farmer dwelled,
Because in her heart she loved him right well.

She often had fired but nothing had killed,
'Til at length the young farmer
Came into the field;
And to discourse with him it was her intent,
With her dog and her gun for to meet him she went.

"I thought you were at the wedding",
The lady replied,
"To wait on the squire
And to give him his bride."
"Ah no", said the farmer, "I take sword in hand,
For the honour to gain her, my wife, at command."

The lady was glad when she
Heard him speak so bold;
She gave him her glove all embroidered with gold;
Saying, "I found it as I was coming along,
As I was a-hunting with my dog and my gun."

The lady went home with her heart full of love,
She sent out public notices
That she lost her glove;
And, "Whoever shall find it and bring it to me,
And if it's a man kind it's married we'll be."

The farmer was glad when he heard the great news,
And into this fair one he instantly goes,
Saying, "Humble fair one,
I have found your glove,
And will you be so kind as to grant me your love?"

"It's already granted", the lady replied,
"I have the young farmer", she earnestly cried,
"I'll be mistress of my dairy
And I'll milk my own cows,
While the jolly young farmer
Whistles after the plough"

But when she was married she told all the fun,
How she went to hunt the farmer
With her dog and her gun,
"But now, as I have him quite fast in the snare,
I love him forever I vow and declare."

Dating back to at least the beginning of the 18th century, though said to be much older, this is reputed to be based on an incident which occurred in England during the reign of Elizabeth I.

The reference in verse six to the farmer waiting on the squire and giving him his bride, refers to a marriage custom, once popular in England, where the bridegroom entered the church on the arm of a bridesmaid and the bride follows accompanied by the bridegroom's man whose duty it was to give her away.

Other recordings: Frank Hinchliffe, Up In The North And Down In The South, Musical Traditions MTCD311-2

4-1 Patrick Sheehan (Roud 983, Laws J11)
Vincie Boyle, Mount Scott Mullagh. 
Rec.  November 2003

My name is Patrick Sheehan,
And my years are thirty-four;
Tipperary is my native place,
Not far from Galtymore;
I've come of honest parents
But now they're lying low,
And many the happy day I spent
In the Glen of Aherlow. 

My father died, I closed his eyes
Outside our cabin door;
The landlord and the sheriff, too,
Were there the day before;
And then my loving mother,
And sisters three also,
Were forced to go with broken hearts
From the Glen of Aherlow. 

For three long months, in search of work,
I wandered far and near;
I went into the poorhouse
To see my mother dear. 
The news I heard nigh broke my heart;
But still, in all my woe,
I blessed the friends who made their graves
In the Glen of Aherlow. 

Bereft of home, of kith and kin,
And plenty all around,
I starved within my cabin,
I slept upon the ground. 
But cruel as my lot was,
I ne'er did hardship know
'Til I joined the English army,
Far away from Aherlow. 

"Arise up", says the Corporal,
"You lazy Irish hound,
Why don't you hear, you sleepy dog,
The call to arms' sound"?
Alas I had been dreaming
Of days long, long ago. 
I awoke before Sebastopol,
And not in Aherlow. 

I groped to find my musket,
How dark I thought the night;
O, blessed God, it is not dark;
It is the broad daylight;
And when I found that I was blind,
My tears began to flow;
I longed for even a pauper's grave
In the Glen of Aherlow. 

Oh, Blessed Virgin Mary,
Mine is a mournful tale,
A poor blind prisoner here I am
In Dublin's dreary jail;
Struck blind within the trenches
Where I never feared the foe,
And now I'll never see again
My own sweet Aherlow. 

A poor neglected mendicant,
I wandered through the streets,
My nine months' pension now being out,
I begged from all I meet;
As I joined my country's tyrants,
My face I'll never show,
Among the kind old neighbours
In the Glen of Aherlow. 

Now Irish youths, dear countrymen,
Take heed of what I say,
For if you join the English ranks,
You'll surely rue the day,
And if ever you are tempted
A-soldiering to go,
Remember poor blind Sheehan
From the Glen of Aherlow. 

Patrick Sheehan was written by author Charles Kickham in 1857 to protest the arrest and imprisonment 'for loitering for the purpose of begging' in Grafton Street, Dublin, of a soldier of that name.  Sheehan had been blinded in the trenches before the battle of Sebastopol in the Crimea and had been discharged on a pension of sixpence a day which, at the time of his arrest, had expired.  He was sentenced to seven days imprisonment.

The ballad was soon to be heard in the streets all over Ireland, and was thought to have shamed the government into enquiring about the ex-soldier, to whom a life pension of a shilling a day was granted.

Ref: Songs of Irish Rebellion, Georges-Denis Zimmerman, pub.  Allen Figgis, Dublin 1967

Other recordings: Willie McElroy, The Fair at Enniskillen, Outlet OAS 3001

5-1 Peeler and the Goat (Roud 1458)
Martin Reidy, Tullochaboy, Connolly.
Rec.  July 1976

A Bansha peeler went out one night
On duty and patrolling O;
He spied a goat upon the road
And took her to be a stroller O;
With bayonet fixed, he sallied forth
And took her by the wizen O
And then he swore a mighty oath,
He'd cast her off to prison O.

Dowdled two lines.

"Oh, mercy sir", the goat replied,
"And let me tell my story O.
For I'm no rogue, no Ribbonman,
No Croppy, Whig or Tory O,
For I'm not guilty of any crime,
Rapacy or high treason O;
I'm badly wanted at the time
For this is the milking season O."

Dowdled two lines.

"Let the consequence be what it will,
A peeler's power I'll let you know.
I'll handcuff you, at all events
And march you off to Bridewell O.
And sure, you rogue, you can't deny
Before the judge or jury O,
Intimidation with your horns
And threatening me with fury O."

Dowdled two lines.

"This parish and this neighbourhood is
All peaceable and tranquil O;
There's no disorder here, thank God,
And long may it continue O.
And as for you, you rogue, I don't regard
Or sign for my committal O.
My jury will be gentlemen
And grant me my acquittal O."

Dowdled two lines.

Inspired by the introduction of the new police into Ireland by Sir Robert Peel in the 1830s, this satire, written by Jeremiah O'Ryan (Derby Ryan), gave rise to a number of imitations and parodies, including the song entitled The Peelers and The Pig which was published in Kidson and Moffat's collection, A Garland of English Folk-Songs

6-1 Banks of Sullane (Roud 9718)
Ollie Conway, Mullagh
Rec.  September 1973

It was early on a bright harvest morning
I strayed by the banks of Sullane,
To gaze on the beauties of nature
That grace every woodland and lawn.
The prospect was surely entrancing
As gay lassies in juvenile bloom
Promenaded by the banks of that river
That flows near the town of Macroom

I being airy and fond of recreation
To the riverside I ventured to roam,
'Til weary of my ramblings and rovings
I sat myself down by a grove.
I sat there some time meditating
'Til the sun her bright rays had withdrawn,
And a damsel of a queenly appearance
Came down by the banks of Sullane.

I rose with great joy and emotion
And accosted this vision so fair,
Who appeared to me like a Venus
Adorned with jewels most rare.
Were I ruler of France or of Prussia
Sure, 'tis with me you'd soon wear the crown,
And I'd join you in wedlock, my darling;
You're the beauty on sweet Masseytown.

We walked and we talked on together,
Inhaling the bright pleasant air,
Until in a voice unaffected,
She said, "See, my father lives there."
His presence to me was appalling,
With his cross angry looks and his frown
That pierced through my heart like an arrow,
On my way down to sweet Masseytown.

But now I'm retired from my rovings
With a heart full of sorrow and grief.
There is no one on earth to console me
Or to give me a moment's relief.
I will rove through the African desert
Until death summons me to my tomb,
For the sake of my charming fair Helen
That I met in the town of Macroom.

This is said to be one of the most popular English language ballads of the Ballyvourney and Coolea area in West Cork. 

Ollie couldn't remember where he learned it but, of the only two versions available in print, it most strongly resembles the set given in Tomás O Canainn's published collection of County Cork songs.

Elizabeth Cronin's son Seán wrote about the song, 'The poet Aherne from Clondruhid composed this, I think'.

Ref: Down Erin's Lovely Lee; Songs of Cork.  Tomás Ó Canainn (ed) (Gilbert Dalton; 1978).

Other recordings: Elizabeth Cronin, accompanying CDs to The Songs of Elizabeth Cronin, Four Courts Press, 2000

7-1 Constant Farmer's Son (Roud 675, Laws M33)
Tom Lenihan, Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay.
Rec.  September 1977

There was a rich farmer's daughter
Near Limerick Town did dwell,
She was modest, fair and handsome
And her parents loved her well,
She was admired by lords and squires,
But all their hopes were vain;
She had but one, a farmer's son,
Young Mary's heart would gain.

A long time young Willie courted her
And appointed the wedding day.
Her parents, they did give consent,
But the brothers they did say;
"There is a lord who pledged his word,
And him yous will not shun,
For we'll betray and we will slay
Your constant farmer's son."

There was a fair not far from there,
The brothers went straightway.
And asked young Willie's company
With them to pass the day.
The day being gone, the night came on,
They said his race was ran,
And 'twas with two sticks the life did take
Of the constant farmer's son.

As on her pillows Mary lay,
She had a dreadful dream,
She dreamt she saw her own true love
Lying in yon crystal stream.
Mary arose, put on her clothes,
To seek her love she ran,
But 'twas dead and cold she did behold
Her constant farmer's son.

The tears rolled down her ruby cheeks,
All mingled with his gore;
And to relieve her troubled heart
She kissed him o'er and o'er.
She gathered green leaves from the trees
To shade him from the sun.
Since that night and day she passed away
With her constant farmer's son.

Hunger it came on her
And she wept with bitter woe,
And to find out the murderer
She straightway home did go. 
"Oh parents dear, you soon will hear
Of this dreadful deed that's done,
For in yonder vale lies cold and pale
My constant farmer's son."

Up comes the eldest brother
And swore it was not he,
The same reply the youngest gave,
But swore more bitterly.
But Mary said, "Now don't ye run
Or shun the deed that's done,
You have done the deed and you will swing
For my constant farmer's son."

Those villains soon, they owned the guilt
And for the same did die.
The doctors got their bodies
For to practice by.
But Mary's thoughts both night and day
On her dead love did run;
In the madhouse cell poor Mary dwells
For her constant farmer's son.

This story of social misalliance and murder was probably old in the 14th century when Boccaccio used it for the plot of the fifth tale told on the fourth day in The Decameron.  It has persisted in one form or another down the ages, and appeared in the tradition as Bruton Town, or The Bramble Briar, a song which F J Child rejected when compiling his ballad collection.

According to one writer who described it as 'a doggerel version of Bruton Town', The Constant Farmer's Son was a re-modelling of that song by mid-19th century broadside printers which, he claimed, completely dislodged the earlier forms.

Tom learned the song from a written text supplied by Joe Gilligan, a native of Crusheen, and fitted his own tune to it.

Ref: The Wanton Seed, Frank Purslow, EFDSS Publications 1968

Other recordings: Josie Connors, From Puck to Appleby, Musical Traditions, MTCD235-6

8-1 Talk - belief in songs
Tom Lenihan, Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay
Rec.  July 1979

'Tis some story I'm passing on with the song all the time.  In the composition that was done that time, or the poets that was in it that time, they had the real stuff for to compose their songs; they had some story in it.  In today's poets there is no story in it, but the one thing over and over and over again.  But that time they had the real story for to start off the song and - the same as the song as I'm after singing there, The Fair Maiden in Her Father's Garden, well that happened some sometime surely; Michael Hayes happened; The Christmas Letter; as I say, all them old traditional stuff.  That old mother that got the letter for Christmas from her family.  All them things happened.

It was right tradition down along, and 'twas a story, something that happened.  You see, there's all a story, The Cailín Bán there again is a story handed down that happened.

9-1 Banks of the Nile (Roud 950, Laws N9)
Pat MacNamara, Kilshanny, near Ennistymon.
Rec.  July 1975

And I hear the cannons rattle,
Sure, my boys we must be 'way,
I hear the trumpets sound and sure,
We can no longer stay.
We're ordered out to Portsmouth
For many the long mile,
To cut down those blacks and Negroes
On the banks of the Nile.

"Now then, Johnny, lovely Johnny,
Now from me you will not go;
For the parting of you Johnny
'S the cause of all my woe.
The parting of you Johnny
'S the parting of my life,
So stay at home dear Johnny now
And I shall be your wife."

"Now then, Nancy, lovely Nancy, now,
Such things would never do;
Our colonel, he gave orders,
No women there must go,
We must forsake our own sweethearts,
Likewise our native isle,
And go once more to battle
To the banks of the Nile."

"And I'll cut off my yellow locks
And a soldier's suit put on,
Just like a gallant soldier brave,
Those roads I'll march along,
I'll fight and fold your banner
While fortunes cease to smile,
And we'll go once more to battle
To the banks of the Nile."

"Now your fingers, they're too slender
And your waist it is too small.
I fear you would not answer soon
When on you they may call,
Your delicate constitution
Would not bear that unwholesome clime,
And the hot and sandy deserts
Round the banks of the Nile."

"Then my curse may attend the war,
And the hour it first began,
For many the young Irish lad
From Ireland now is gone,
They are taken from their old sweethearts,
Likewise their native isle,
And their bodies has fed the wild birds
On the banks of the Nile."

Sure, now the war is over
And home they can return,
Back to their friends
And to those they left to mourn,
They shall roll them in their arms
And still, through length of time,
And go no more to battle
To the banks of the Nile.

Spoken: Now, that's it for you.

Songs on the theme of a young woman pleading with her soldier/sailor lover to be allowed to accompany him to the wars have appeared in various forms down the ages, one of the earliest of these being The Undaunted Seaman who resolved to fight for his King and Country, Together with His Love's Sorrowful Lamentation at their Departure, which is dated around 1690.  The subject has given rise to such songs as Manchester Angel, Lisbon and High Germany.

Banks of the Nile has been identified with the battle of Aboukir, Egypt, which took place in 1801, during the Napoleonic wars. 

Other recordings: Tom Costello, Tom Pháidín Tom, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, CL15; Unnamed singer (possibly recorded by R V Williams), A Century of Song, EFDSS CD02.

10-1 The Shannon Scheme (Roud 18468)
Nonie Lynch, Mount Scott, Mullagh.
Rec.  January 1992 by Tom Munnelly for The Department of Irish Folklore at UCD.

If I were Homer, the ancient roamer,
I'd write a poem on a noble theme,
And I'd sing the story and praise the glory
Of that wondrous project, The Shannon Scheme.

In Ballyally (Ballyalla?), 'neath oak and sally,
I sat me down and I dreamed a dream
Of more employment and more enjoyment
And happier homes through The Shannon Scheme.

'Twill light our houses, 'twill stitch our blouses,
'Twill milk our cows and 'twill churn the cream,
'Twill reap and mow, sir, 'twill spin and sow, sir,
This wondrous project, The Shannon Scheme.

In boats and barges as wide and large as
The Grecian Argos, that ship of fame,
And from old Portroe, sir, to Killaloe, sir,
The slates will come through The Shannon Scheme.

So lads and lasses, fill high your glasses,
And drink a toast to that noble scheme,
And praise those statesmen,
Those wise and brave men
Who boldly tackled The Shannon Scheme.

The Shannon Scheme for the Electrification of The Irish Free State, by harnessing the fall in the River Shannon between Killaloe and Limerick, was commenced in 1925 and completed in 1929 and, within six years, was supplying 85% of Ireland's electricity requirements.  The song was written in 1927 by Sylvester Boland; Nonie Lynch appears to be the only singer to have it.

This recording was made by Tom Munnelly in 1992 as we thought that the quality of our own later recording did not do justice to the singer.

11-1 Kerry Cock (Roud 544)
Jamesie McCarthy, Mount Scott, Mullagh.
Rec.  July 1976

Spoken: 'Tisn't so long now; you'll have to laugh at a lot of it. 

Oh, as I was walking down the road one day
I met one cock under a tree.
Oh, sure, I love my cock and my cock love me.
My cock, Kerry cock crew,
Every woman loves her cock and I love my cock too.
As I was walking down the road one day
I met one hen under a tree.
Ah, sure, I love my hen and my hen love me.
My hen chuck-a-chuck,
My cock Kerry cock crew,
Every woman loves her hen and I love my hen too. 

As I was walking down the road one day
I met one duck under a tree.
Ah, sure, I love my duck and my duck love me.
My duck wicky-wak,
My hen chuck-a-chuck,
My cock Kerry cock crew,
Every woman loves her duck and I love my duck too.

As I was walking down the road one day
I met one goose under a tree.
Ah, sure, I love my goose and my goose love me.
My goose guggle-gug,
My duck wicky-wack,
My hen chuck-a-chuck,
My cock Kerry cock crew,
Every woman loves her goose and I love my goose too.

Ah, as I was walking down the road one day
I met one goat under a tree.
Ah, sure, I love my goat and my goat love me.
My goat meggle-meg,
My goose guggle-gug,
My duck wicky-wack,
My hen chuck-a-chuck,
My cock Kerry cock crew,
Every woman loves her goat and I love my goat too.

As I was walking down the road one day
I met one sheep under a tree.
Ah, sure, I love my sheep and my sheep love me.
My sheep maa,
My goat meggle-meg,
My goose guggle-gug,
My duck wicky-wack,
My hen chuck-a-chuck,
My cock Kerry cock crew,
Every woman loves her sheep and I love my sheep too.

As I was walking down the road one day
I met one cow under a tree.
Ah, sure, I love my cow and my cow love me.
My cow moo,
My sheep maa,
My goat meggle-meg,
My goose guggle-gug,
My duck wicky-wack,
My hen chuck-a-chuck,
My cock Kerry cock crew,
Every woman loves her cow and I love my cow too.

As I was walking down the road one day
I met one big bull under a tree.
Ah, sure, I love my bull and my bull love me.
My bull mm-ooo,
My cow maw,
My sheep maa,
My goat meggle-meg,
My goose guggle-gug,
My duck wicky-wack,
My hen chuck-a-chuck,
My cock Kerry cock crew,
Every man loves his bull and I love my bull too.

This has been found extensively, both among children and adults, the children's versions being associated with a selection game, and the adult's as a test of vocal dexterity and breath control.  William Wells Newell described it as having been widely distributed throughout Europe and dating back to a remote past.  Nowadays it is probably best known in its re-written form as Old MacDonald's Farm.

Ref: Games and Songs of American Children, William Wells Newell, Pub.  Harper and Brothers 1883.

Other recordings: George Blackman; Wisborough Green, Sussex, Songs of Animals, Folk Songs of Britain, Topic 12T198; John Curtis, Newfoundland, Songs from the Newfoundland Outports, Folkways FE 4075

12-1 Lord Levett (Roud 48, Child 75)
Nora Cleary, The Hand, near Miltown Malbay.
Rec.  July 1976

Lord Levett, he stood on his own stable door,
And he mounted his snow-white steed.
Lady Anne Sweet Belle stood by his side,
For to bid him his last god-speed.

"Ah, where are you going Lord Levett?" she said,
"Ah, where are you going from me?"
"I am going to a land beyond the sea;
Strange countries I'd like to see."

"How long will you be, Lord Levett?" she said,
"How long will you be from me?"
"All for the sake of three long years,
Lady Anne Sweet Belle", said he.

"Ah, that is too long for true lovers to part;
And that is too long for me;
And that is too long for true lovers to part
And never again to meet."

As he was passing St Mary's Church,
A thought ran into his mind.
He thought he had a true lover at home,
And indeed, he dreamt she was dead.

"If she is dead", the captain replied,
"It's her you ne'er shall see."
"But I'll never sleep three nights of my life
'Til I see her dead or alive."

As he rode in to Saint Mary's Church,
And from that, to Erin Square,
It was there he heard the ring of a bell
And the people were mourning there.

"Oh what is this, this pretty fair maid?
Oh what is this?" he said.
Is it any of your friends that's going from home
Or is it any that's dead?"

"Oh yes, oh yes", the captain replied;
"The king's daughter is dead,
And she died for the sake of a noble young man,
Lord Levett, she called his name."

"If she is dead", Lord Levett, he cried;
"It's her you ne'er shall see;
But I'll never sleep three nights of my life,
'Til I see her dead or alive."

He was buried in Saint Mary's Church,
And she in Erin Square.
One of them grew a red, red rose,
The other a bonny briar.

They grew, they grew to the church steeple top,
'Til they could not grow any higher;
With a laugh and a tie in a true lover's knot,
And the red rose covered the briar.

Despite having been described as 'too, too insipid' by scholar Bertrand H Bronson, this ballad has proved immensely popular among traditional singers, particularly in the United States, where it was said by one writer to have been so prolific that 'some collectors groan when they hear the name'.

This popularity has been put down to the ballad's simplicity of sentiment, and Professor Child cited it as an example of why such compositions were intended to be sung rather than recited.

Dating back at least as far as the reign of Charles II, the ballad of Lord Lovell surfaced in 19th century London as a tavern song and in the repertoires of several music-hall performers in Britain and America.  It was used as a political parody by both sides during The American Civil War, the Confederate balladists having replaced Lord Lovell with Abe Lincoln and the Union side with Mansfield Lovell, the Confederate officer who lost New Orleans to the North. 

Ref: The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads, Vol.  2, B H Bronson, Princeton Univ.  Press 1962.

Other recordings: Walter Pardon, Put a Bit of Powder on it Father, Musical Traditions MTCD305-6

Clare Election songs:

13-1 Green Flag of Erin (Roud 18469)
Michael Flanagan; Luogh, Doolin.
Rec.  August 1974.

There is not in this wide world
An emblem so sweet
As the green flag of Erin,
No others I'd greet.
When above us it's waving,
Our hearts don't feel cold;
It's the banner of freedom,
The Green, White and Gold.

Beneath this banner of freedom
Many brave heroes died,
And throughout our sad country
Our foes we defied.
Sure, the Saxons, they thought that
Our courage was broken and cold,
'Til o'er Dublin we hoisted
The Green, White and Gold.

Our dear mother is happy
Again, you may see,
When a flag, it will wave
O'er a land that is free.
Let us pull well together,
Be valiant and bold;
A republic we'll have
'Neath the Green, White and Gold.

East Clare, I believe,
Wants a new brand MP.
And when making your selection
Take a straight tip from me;
Colonel Lynch and his sprouters
Our country have sold,
But it's DeValera we'll have
'Neath the Green, White and Gold.

14-1 DeValera Election Song (Roud 18470)
Nora Cleary, The Hand, near Miltown Malbay. 
July 1976

Ye men of the Banner County,
Now closely watch today,
And vote for your ancestors
In an independent way.

The seat is between two contests,
Their names you all did hear.
One is a Castle servant
And the other De Valeer.

Hold up your heads, strong parents,
Pay heed to what I say;
But for this noble heroes (sic)
Your sons would be forced away,

To fight the gallant German,
Who no power on earth do fear.
So on Tuesday next be sure and vote
For your man DeValeer.

He fought in the Rebellion
With his gallant comrades dear.
So don't forget to pay the debt
For your man DeValeer.

Coming as it did hard on the heels of the Easter Rebellion, the East Clare by-election of 1917 played a vital part in the movement towards Irish Independence.  Held at the time of the First World War, the election was fought largely on a pro-German ticket on the basis of 'my enemy's enemy is my friend'.

Newly released from prison and having narrowly avoided execution for his part in the Rebellion, Eamon DeValera easily took the seat with a resounding majority of nearly 3,000 votes, against his opponent Patrick Lynch.

15-1 Lismore Turkeys (Roud 9284)
Martin Reidy, Tullochaboy, Connolly.
Rec.  October 1977

One morning I chanced to go roving,
It being of a sweet month of May,
When flowers they were blooming most charming
And pleasant and blooming (ar)ray. 

I chanced for to meet with this fair one,
Her aspects so free and so rare,
And she going to the town of Dungarvan
At the very first dawn of day. 

She hastened her paces before me;
I told her to take her ease. 
But the more I advanced to discourse her,
The quicker she squelled (?) on the heel. 

I quickly stepped up to this fair maid,
I asked her how far was she going,
Or did she belong to Dungarvan,
Or where was her native home?

She said: "I belong to Lismore, sir,
Some turkeys I have for sale,
And I'm going to the town of Dungarvan,
For this is our market day."

I asked her if she'd want a driver,
As her donkey was going too slow,
And she'd be in full time for Dungarvan
And her turkeys would all be sold. 

In sweet Cappoquin I embraced her
And we called for a cruiscín lán (full jug). 
If I drank up a barrel of porter
This damsel she'd pay for all. 

When I found her so civil and jovial
I thought I might make her my own. 
I told her I owned a large farm,
As long as the lease would hold. 

"Besides, I have cattle and corn,
I have money that nobody knows,
And I'll have you as snug and as warm
As if you got all in Lismore."

While Kathy and I were discoursing
She used look at me now and again. 
Her apron belt she kept folding
And twisting it up in a ring.

We called for another full jorum (large jug)
'Til Kathy and I were pleased
And we slept till the market was over
And the turkeys by and by got cheap. 

"The curse of the crows may await you,
You tricked me, you naughty rogue. 
Or how will I go home to my father,
Or how will I face Lismore?"

"I'll have you before the recorder
At Waterford Town next March,
And I'll have you hung or transported
For trespassing against the law."

Although this was printed as a broadside in the 19th century by Haley of Cork and by Such of London, it has not made an appearance in published collections.  It has been found in Ireland, mainly on the east coast, and in Cork and Kerry in the south west.  A garbled four-verse fragment was recorded from Traveller Paddy Doran by the BBC in 1952.

Other recordings: Dungarvon, Paddy Doran, Record No.  18578, BBC archive . 

16-1 May Morning Dew (Roud 5405)
Kitty Hayes, Shanaway, Miltown Malbay.
Rec.  June 2004

The roses have faded and the Summer is o'er,
And the joys and the tidings of a long day is o'er.
I have longed for to wander
The green fields I once knew,
But they're faded and gone now
Like the May morning dew.

I went up on the hilltop and I looked all around,
The place seemed enchanted,
But no true-love I found.
I cursed the cruel tyrant that bade her adieu,
And I mingled my teardrops
With the May morning dew.

God be with my own parents,
They are now dead and gone,
Likewise my two brothers,
Young Michael and John.
It was with them I rambled,
The wild hare to pursue
As we tripped o'er the streamlets
In the May morning dew.

God be with my old homestead,
Not a stick, not a stone,
And all over the garden
Wild flowers have grown.
I miss my old neighbours
And the fond friends I knew;
They're all faded and gone now
Like the May morning dew;
They're all faded and gone
Like the May morning dew.

This song, evoking old age and the passing of time, while being very popular in West Clare, does not seem to have been recorded from traditional singers very often elsewhere; the only other two versions listed by Roud being from Ann Jane Kelly of Keady, Armagh in 1952 and Paddy Tunney of Beleek, Fermanagh in 1965.

Other recordings: Ann Jane Kelly, Record No.  18475, BBC Archive; Paddy Tunney, Record No.  29436, BBC Archive.  The Keane sisters of Caherlistrane, Co Galway, also have a version of it.

17-1 Banks of Sweet Dundee (Roud 148, Laws M25)
Michael 'Straighty' Flanagan, Inagh. 
Rec.  July 1976

'Tis of a farmer's daughter,
So beautiful, I'm told,
Her parents died and left her
A large amount in gold.
She lived with her uncle,
The cause of all her woe,
You soon shall hear how this fair maiden
Proved his overthrow.

Her uncle had a ploughboy
Young Mary loved so well,
And in her father's garden,
The tales of love did tell.
There was a wealthy squire,
Who oft came her to see,
But still she loved her ploughboy
On the banks of sweet Dundee.

One fine summer's morning
Her uncle went straightway,
Knocked at this maiden's bedroom
And into her did say:
"Arise, arise, my pretty maid,
A lady you may be,
The squire is waiting for you
On the banks of Sweet Dundee."

"A fig for all your squires,
Your lords and dukes likewise,
Young William, he appears to me
Like diamonds in the skies."
"Begone, unruly female,
You ne'er shall happy be,
For I will banish William
From the banks of sweet Dundee."

Her uncle and the squire
Rode out one summer's day.
"Young William is in favour"
Her uncle he did say.
"And it is my intention
To tie him to a tree,
And then to bribe a press-gang
On the banks of sweet Dundee."

A press-gang came to William
When he was alone,
He boldly fought for liberty,
But they were six to one;
The blood did flow in torrents,
"Pray don't kill me now", said he,
"For I'd rather die for Mary
On the banks of sweet Dundee."

This maiden fair was walking out
Lamenting for her love;
She met the wealthy squire
Down in her uncle's grove.
He clasped his hands around her:
"Stand off, base man", said she,
"You have sent the only lad I love
From the banks of sweet Dundee."

He threw his arms around her waist
And tried to throw her down.
Two pistols and a sword she spied
Beneath his morning gown.
Young Mary took the pistol,
The sword she used so free,
And she fired and shot the squire
On the banks of sweet Dundee.

Her uncle overheard the noise
And hastened to the ground
Saying, "Since you shot the squire
I'll give you your death wound."
"Stand off then" said Mary,
"Undaunted I will be."
The trigger drew, her uncle slew
On the banks of sweet Dundee.

The doctor then was sent for,
A man of noted skill,
And likewise came the lawyer,
For him to sign the will.
He willed all his gold to Mary,
Who fought so manfully;
Then he closed his eyes,
No more to rise
On the banks of sweet Dundee.

Widely popular throughout the English speaking world, this was described by Cecil Sharp as being 'known to every singer of the present day'.  It was even found as a capstan shanty with the words 'Heave away my Johnny, heave away' sung after every line.

While most versions, as here, have the two lovers being parted, never to re-unite, there are a number that end with William returning; and one broadside, An Answer to Undaunted Mary, describes his adventures at sea and his coming back in disguise in order to test Mary's faithfulness.

Other recordings: Walter Pardon, Norfolk; A World Without Horses, Topic TSCD515.

18-1 Blow the Candle Out (Roud 368, Laws P17)
Martin Howley, Fanore, north west Clare.
Rec.  July 1975.

And I came to my true love's window
To hear her mournful pain;
She arose up gently from her nap
To let her true lover in.
"I wouldn't wish it for five guineas love,
If they would find it out,
So hold me in your arms
'Til I blow the candle out."

"And your father and your mammy
In yonder bed do lie,
Embracing one another,
And why not you and I;
Embracing one another love,
And that without a doubt",
And I took her in my arms
And I blew the candle out.

Sure, the eighth month was over,
All but one day,
My love, he wrote me a letter
Saying he was going away;
My love he wrote me a letter,
And that without a doubt,
That he never would return again
For to blow the candle out.

And come all ye pretty fair maids,
A warning take by me,
Never let those false young men
An inch above your knee;
For they'll kiss you and they'll court you
Until your time be out,
They shall leave you where my love left me When he blew the candle out.

Usually associated with The London 'Prentice, which appeared in print in Thomas D'Urfey's Pills to Purge Melancholy in 1714, the plot of this song has surfaced in various guises, including the Scots song She Raise and Loot Me In, which was included twenty years later in William Thomson's Orpheus Caladonius.

A song on a similar theme, but giving the woman as an enthusiastic participant rather than a victim, was taken down by Cecil Sharp from a singer in Meshaw, Devon.  Petrie described it as 'a very objectionable street ballad which appears to have had a very extensive popularity in the Munster counties during the latter half of the last (18th) century'.

Martin learned the song from a Travelling woman named Hegarty.  "She was known as 'Mrs Stotered' because she was fond of the drink and used to say "I'm stotered" (from stocious - drunk).

Ref: Ancient Music of Ireland, George Petrie, Dublin University Press 1855.

Other recordings: Jumbo Brightwell, Suffolk: Who's That At My Bed Window, Voice of The People No.10 Topic TSCD 660. 

19-1 The Quilty Burning (Roud 18471)
Mikey Kelleher, Quilty and London.
Rec.  Autumn 1977

Oh the burning of Quilty, you all know it well;
When the barracks took fire
Where the peelers did dwell.
The flames bursted out, sure it was a great sight;
There were women and children out there all night.

Michael Dwyer, sure, he got a great fright.
He called on his wife for to rescue his life.
His daughter ran out and she roaring, "Ovoe,
Blessed light, blessed light, keep away from our door."

Then Micho Kenny, looked out through the glass,
And he saw Patsy Scully outside at the Cross.
"Oh Patsy, Oh Patsy, take out the poor ass,
For the whole blessed place it is all in a mass."

Michael Dwyer, he came down on the scene;
He ran down to the cross and called up Jack Cuneen:
"My house will be burned before 'twill be seen,
And my fool of a son is above in Rineen."

Then Paddy Shannon thrown out his old rags;
He stuck his poor missus into the bag.
"The burning, the burning, it started too soon;
'Twill be burning all night until next afternoon."

Then Paddy Healy came out in the flames;
He could see nobody there but the peelers he'll blame.
He went into Tom Clancy and told him the same:
"By damned", said Tom Clancy,
"'Tis now we want rain."

Father McGannon came down to the gate;
He says to the boys, "There's an awful disgrace,
For this old barracks is an awful state,
It's no harm to be banished and gone out the place."

Now to conclude and to finish my song;
I hope you'll all tell me my verses is wrong,
For this old barracks is no harm to be gone,
For many the poor fellow was shoved in there wrong.

Spoken: I suppose there was an' all.

The incident that gave rise to this song, now apparently forgotten, took place around 1920, when the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC.) barracks at Quilty, a fishing village a few miles south of Miltown Malbay, was set alight by Republicans.  Mikey appears to have been the only person to remember the song and told us that he recalls it being made by a group of local men shortly after the event.

We have been able to get very little information about either the song or the incident, apart from the fact that the 'Father McGannon' in the seventh verse was not, as we first assumed, a priest but was the nickname of a local man.  We once played this to a friend, the late John Joe Healy, a fiddle player from Quilty, who said of the Paddy Healy in verse 6, "That's my father he's singing about."

20-1 Croppy Boy (Roud 1030, Laws J14)
Tom Lenihan, Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay.
Rec.  September 1977.

Was early, early on the month of Spring,
When small birds whistled and sweetly did sing,
Changing their notes from tree to tree,
And the song they sung was 'Old Ireland Free'.

'Twas early, early on a Thursday night,
The yeomen cavalry gave me a fright,
The yeomen cavalry was my downfall,
And taken I was by Lord Cornwall.

'Twas in his guardhouse I was laid,
And in his parlour I was tried;
My sentence passed and my spirits low,
And to New Geneva I was forced to go.

As I was marching through Wexford streets,
The drums and fifes, they played so sweet;
The drums and fifes did so sweetly play,
And to New Geneva I was forced away.

As I was marching past my father's door,
My brother Willie stood on the floor;
My aged father did grieve full sore,
And my tender mother, her hair she's tore.

As I was marching o'er Wexford Hill,
Who would blame me to cry my fill?
I looked behind and I looked before,
But my tender mother I seen no more.

'Twas for old Ireland this young man died,
And in old Ireland his body lies;
And ye young people that do pass by
Say, "The Lord have mercy on the Croppy Boy."
Spoken: That's the old version of The Croppy Boy too, Jim.  I got that from Willie Clancy's old aunt, Mrs Jim Haren above at Clooneyogan, years and years ago when I was a young lad like Thomas there.

The term Croppy is popularly believed to refer to the custom, followed by participants of the 1798 rebellion, of wearing their hair cut short to show support for the French Revolution.  However, poet and playwright Patrick Galvin put forward a number of other, equally convincing explanations, which included the practice of punishing convicted felons by cutting off the tops of their ears, and a form of torture applied to rebels known as 'pitch cap'.  He suggested that a true explanation probably lay in a combination of these.

New Geneva was a military barracks near the village of Passage, Co Waterford, which was used as a prison and torture-house during the rebellion.  The name derives from an abortive project some fifteen years earlier, to build a city there for émigré intellectuals and watchmakers from Geneva.

Ref: Irish Songs of Resistance, Patrick Galvin, Pub.  Workers Music Association, 1956

Other recordings: Mrs Brigid Tunney; Where The Linnets Sing; C.C.E.  cassette CL44

21-1 Maid of the Moorlough Shore (Roud 2946)
Martin Reidy, Tullochaboy, Connolly
Rec.  October 1977

You hills and dells and flowery vales
That lies near the Moorlough shore,
You winds that blows on the Baltic shore,
Will I ever see you more?
Where the primrose grows and the violet blows,
Where the trout and the salmon plays,
With my line and hook, delight I took,
With the friends of my youthful days. 

As I roved out to see my love,
To hear what she might say,
Or to see if she'd take pity on me
Before I go away;
She says: "I loved an Irish lad
And he was my only joy
And ever since I saw his face,
I loved that soldier boy."

"Perhaps your soldier boy is lost
While on the raging main,
Or perhaps he's gone with another maid,
You may never see him again."
"Oh, if my soldier boy is lost,
He's the one I do adore;
Seven years I'll wait for him
On the banks of the Moorlough shore."

Farewell to Sewell's Castle grand,
Farewell to College Hill,
Where the linnet wades thy sparkling streams
And the falling Shann runs still. 
'Twas there I spent my youthful days,
But alas they are no more,
For cruelty has banished me
Far away from the Moorlough shore.

The title Maid of the Moorlough Shore at first suggests the location as being Murlough Bay, north Antrim, but it has also been found as Maid of Mourne Shore which places it further south.  This might explain Martin's reference to the River Shann, as an outlet to Lough Shannagh flows through Silent Valley from the Mourne Mountains, emerging out to the sea at Kilkeel, South Down.

Hugh Shields links it to this latter area with a local story of a miller's daughter betrothed to a fisherman, the marriage fixed to take place on the eve of Greencastle Fair.  Her lover is drowned in a storm and the girl, finding the body, loses her mind and is herself drowned.

Ref: Shamrock, Rose and Thistle, Hugh Shields, Blackstaff Press, 1981

Other recordings: Desmond Ward; Plum -bridge, Co Tyrone, Harvest Home No.1; Arts Council of Northern Ireland; Robert Cinnamond, Record No.  24840, BBC Archive.

22-1 The North Star (Roud 1019, Laws M21)
Martin Howley; Fanore, north west Clare.
July 1975

It was once I courted a pretty girl
And she lives near Bantry Town;
She was proper, tall and handsome
In every degree,
And her eyes, they shone like diamonds
And her teeth like ivory.

I being a farmer's only son,
My age being scarce eighteen;
This damsel fair, she is as fair as rare
As e'er the sun shone on,
And I having plenty, and she of a low degree,
Which made my parents slight my love
And prove my destiny.

They sent me to Americay my fortune for to try;
I sailed on board the North Star
Which now on the sea does lie;
But fortune proved kind to me,
A plank brought me ashore,
And I am in hopes to see my love
In Bantry Town once more. 

When I landed in Columbia shore,
No friends there could I find,
But the thoughts of my own true love
Still ran into my mind,
For three long days and three long nights,
The truth I'll let you know,
Still thinking on my cruel friends
That proved my overthrow.

On the third morning, before the break of day,
A lady, she stepped up to me
And those words to me did say;
"My lovely youth, tell to me the truth,
What's the cause of your misery,
Or do you belong to the human form,
Or where is your countery?"

"I am an Irishman", I said,
"The truth I will lay down;
My parents they are wealthy
And they lives near Bantry Town.
For the courting of a comely maid
They sent me far away,
And I got wrecked on the North Star
Which now lies on the sea."

This maid then fell in love with me
As the tears came from her eye.
She says, "Are you married to
The girl you left behind?
For I have gold at my command,
My riches they are great;
If you join with me in wedlock bands,
You'll be lord of my estate."

"To marry you, my fair lady
It's a thing I could not do,
For I'm already promised,
Bound under an oath that's true
To another fair lady, the truth I will explain,
And there's no other on this earth
Could e'er my poor heart gain."

The lady fell in deep despair
And those words to me did say,
"Here is one hundred pounds in gold
That'll take you o'er the sea,
For love, I find it better
Than gold or earthy store;
May the angel bright guard you home tonight
To your Bantry girl once more."

I have been unable to find any detailed information on the sinking of The North Star, but an Irish broadside entitled Sorrowful Lamentation on the Loss of The North Star describes the sinking of an Irish ship bound for America with the loss of around 470 lives.  A problem presented by the broadside text is that it gives the ship as having set sail on 8th December (no year given) and fifteen days out having sunk off the Welsh coast.

Martin learned his song from an Oranmore man named Michael Cahir "during the time of the Tans" (1922).

23-1 Battle of Billingsgate (recitation)
Patrick Lynch; Mount Scott, Mullagh. 
Rec.  22 July 2003.

In O'Connell's time in Dublin, there lived a woman by the name of Biddy Moriarty who owned a huckster's stall in one of the quays almost opposite the Four Courts.
She was a virago of the worst order; very able with her fists but even more formidable with her tongue.  From one end of Dublin to the other, she was notorious for her powers of abuse and indeed, even in the provinces, some of Mrs Moriarty's language had passed into currency.  The Dictionary of Dublin slang had been considerably enlarged by her, and her voluble impudence had almost become proverbial.
Now some of O'Connell's friends decided that O'Connell could beat her at the use of her own weapons.  Of this however, O'Connell was not too sure, as he had listened once or twice to a few minor specimens of her Billingsgate.  It was mooted once where the young Kerry barrister could encounter her, and some of the company rather too freely ridiculed the idea of O'Connell being able for the famous Madam Moriarty.
Now O'Connell never liked to be made little of, so then and there he professed himself ready for the encounter and he even backed himself in the match.  Bets were offered and taken, and it was decided that the contest should take place at once.  So the party immediately adjourned to the huckster's stall, and there was the woman herself superintending the sale of some small ware, a party of loungers and ragged idlers from about, because by now Biddy, in her own way, was one of the sights of Dublin.
O'Connell began the attack.
"How much do you want for the walking stick Mrs erm - erm - erm - erm - what's your name?"
"Moriarty is the name sir, and a fine one it is; have you anything to say agin it? It's one and sixpence for th'ould walking stick and, throw up sure, 'tis as cheap as dirt."
"One and sixpence for an old walking stick; whew - why you're nothing short of an impostor to go charging eighteen pence for an ould stick that cost you tuppence."
"Tuppence, tuppence your grandmother; are you saying 'tis cheating the people I am? Impostor yourself."
"Oh, I object", says O'Connell, "as I am a gentleman."
"Gentleman; hee-hee, gentleman, gentleman", says Biddy, "the likes of you a gentleman? Why you potato-faced pippin-sneezer, when did a Madagascar monkey like you ever pick up enough common, Christian decency to lose your old Kerry brogue?"
"Easy now, easy now", says O'Connell, in imperturbable good humour, "don't go choking yourself on such fine words, you whiskey drinking old parallelogram."
"What's that you called me, you murdering villain?" roared Biddy.
"I called you", says O'Connell, "a parallelogram, and a Dublin judge and jury will swear 'tis no libel."
"Oh hanam 'on Diabhal*! Oh holy St Bridget! That an honest woman like me should stand here and be called one of them parally - parally - parally bellygrums to her face; I'm none of your parally bellygrums, you rascally gallows-bird; you cowardly, sneaking, plate-licking blaggard."
"Oh no", says O'Connell, "and I suppose you'll deny you keep a hypotenuse in your house."
"'Tis a lie for you", says Biddy, "I never heard such a thing."
"But sure", says O'Connell, "all your neighbours know, not only do you keep a hypotenuse, but you have two diameters locked up in your garret and you take them out for a walk every Sunday."
"Oh, by all the saints, you hear that for talk, from one who claims to be a gentleman.  Why, the divil fly away with you, you mitcher** from Munster, and make celery sauce of your rotten limbs, you mealy mouthed tub-o-guts."
"Arrah; you can't deny the charge", says O'Connell, "you hapless old heptagon."
"Why, you nasty little tinker's apprentice", says Biddy, "If you don't mind your mouth I'll - I'll - I'll - I'll ..."
But here, here boys she gasped for breath, unable to hawk up any more words.  But O'Connell carried on the attack.
"While I have a tongue in my head I'll abuse you, you most inimitable poritory; look at her boys; there she stands; a convicted perpendicular in petticoats, and there's contamination in her circumference and she trembles with guilt right down to the extremities of her corollaries.  Ah, you're found out, you rectilinial antecedent of an equiangular old hag; you porter-swiping similitude of a bisection of a vortex."
Poor old Biddy was dumbfounded, and she only reached behind her on the shelf and took hold of a skillet and took aim at O'Connell's head.
So O'Connell beat a hasty retreat.  But it was agreed by one and all that O'Connell had won the battle of Billingsgate.

* Hanam 'on Diabhal - Your soul to the Devil.
** Mitcher - truant.

Daniel O'Connell, (1775-1847), political leader and leading opponent of The Act of Union, was renowned for his quick wit and his debating abilities and is said to have featured in the Irish oral tradition more than any other historical figure.  An excellent and extremely entertaining account of the folklore surrounding O'Connell is to be found in folklorist Ríonach Uí Ógáin's exhaustive work on him.

Patrick learned this from a Miltown Malbay man, Marty Malley.

Ref: Immortal Dan, Ríonach Uí Ógáin, Geography Publications, n.d. 

CD 2:

1-2 Lilting - Garden of Daisies (set dance) and Maggie in the Wood (polka)
Nora Cleary, The Hand, near Miltown Malbay.
Rec.  July 1976

Lilting, also known as mouth, puss or gob music, also as jigging, has played an important part in the preservation of Irish music, particularly in times when instruments were not, for one reason or another, readily available.  It was once used widely as a device for memorising and passing on tunes.

Skilled lilters provided the music for dancing when, for instance, it was considered a sin to participate in the morally dubious practice of unsupervised house dances, which were often raided by irate members of the clergy, who would break up the gatherings and, on occasion, destroy the offending instruments.

Nowaday lilting is usually used by singers to display their vocal dexterity and is one of the categories for which prizes are awarded at Fleadhanna Cheoil.

2-2 Doctor Crippen (Roud 18472)
Martin Howley, Fanore, north west Clare. 
Rec.  July 1975.

Ye sons of old Erin, from memory loyal,
Pray stand for a minute and listen a while.
The lines I have written will call for your pity,
Concerning the murder in London brave city

A victim, a lady, was just in her prime,
Who lived with her husband that committed the crime.
It's little she dreamt that it would be her sad end;
She had every comfort and plenty to spend.

Her husband, a slave, a man of great fame;
He was called Doctor Crippen, not a blot on his name.
He gave his wife poison and sent her to sleep,
And cut up her body and buried it deep.

Le Neve was his mistress, on her he did fawn,
He took all the jewels and put them in pawns,
And disguised her, he bought her a boy's suit of clothes,
And they both were arrested on board the Montrose.

Both were brought back their trial for to stand.
The news of the murder spread all through the land.
He said, "I am innocent", but the jury then rang.
"Oh then, Crippen, you are guilty and you now must be hanged."

The crime he committed made all the people rave,
As poor Belle Elmore's body lay cold in her grave.
Their blood cried for vengeance to heaven on high,
And Crippen was condemned on the gallows to die.

Doctor Hawley Harvey Crippen was hanged in London in 1910 for the murder of his wife, having been found guilty of poisoning her, cutting up her body and hiding it in the cellar of their home.

The capture of Crippen and his lover, Ethel le Neve, on board the SS Montrose en-route for Canada, was the first time radio had been used in connection with a murder case.

3-2 O'Reilly to America (Roud 270, Laws M8)
Michael Flanagan, Luogh, Doolin.
Rec.  August 1974.

As I roved out one evening
Down by a riverside,
It was there I spied a damsel
As the tears rolled from her eyes;
Saying, "This is a dark and stormy night",
Those words to me did say,
"My love lies on the raging seas
Bound for Americay."

"My love he is a tall young man,
His age is scarce eighteen;
He is the nicest young man
That ever your eyes have seen.
My father, he has riches great,
But O'Reilly, he is poor;
Although I love my sailor boy,
They cannot me endure."

"O'Reilly is my true-love's name,
Lived near the town of Bray;
My mamma took me by the hand
And those words to me did say:
Saying, 'If you be fond of O'Reilly,
Let him quit this countery,
For your father says he'll have his life
Or shun his company.'"

"Oh mother dear, don't be severe,
Where will I send my love?
For my heart lies in his bosom
As constant as a dove."
"Oh daughter dear, I'm not severe,
Here is five hundred pounds;
Send O'Reilly to Americay
And purchase there some ground."

So when she got the money,
To O'Reilly she did run;
Saying, "This very night, to take your life,
My father charged his gun.
Here is five hundred pounds in gold
My mamma sent to you;
So sail away to Americay
And I will follow you."

So when he got his foot on board
These were the words he said;
Saying, "Here is a true-lovers token,
I will break it into two";
Saying, "Half my heart and half my ring
Until I find out you."
They were not long sailing,
But scarcely three days,
When O'Reilly, he came back again
To take his love away.
The ship got wrecked and all was lost
And her father grieved full sore;
He found Reilly in her arms
And they drowned upon the shore.

He found a letter in her breast
And it was wrote with blood;
Saying, "Cruel was my father
Who thought to shoot my love;
So this may be a warning
To all maidens fair so gay:
Don't ever let the lad you love
Sail to Americay."

While widely acknowledged to be of Irish origin, this has also been found all over Britain and the United States, and was said to have been printed by all the important broadside presses.  Frank Purslow suggested in his note to the Hampshire version that the final verse had 'been added by a printer's hack who could not bear to see a song without a colourful and slightly moralising ending'.

Ref: The Constant Lovers, Frank Purslow, EFDSS Publications, 1972

Other recordings: George Dunn, Chainmaker, Musical Traditions MTCD317-8.

4-2 The Child in the Budget (Roud 2993)
Martin Long; Cloontysmarra, Inagh. 
Rec.  July 1975.

Come all you good people and to you I'll relate
A comical story that happened of late.
It's something that's pleasant, but not very long;
Perhaps it might come to the verse of a song.

Refrain: Rally fol the diddle ido, rally ring fol the dee.

It happened one evening in Kilkenny Street,
Where a whole batch of tinkers,
They chanced for to meet.
There was some from Roscommon
And some from Kildare,
And some from Tipperary and the divil knows where.

When they all met together, they began for to chat,
English and Irish and the divil knows what;
And like birds of one feather, they all did agree
To go down to Tim Lawlor's and kick up a spree.
When they all went together they crowded the hall;
For the best sort of liquor those tinkers did call.
O'Shanahan said, "'Twas for friendship we met,
And we never shall part 'til our whistles we whet."

They drank health around till their money ran out,
And one of the tinkers, he thought of a plan.
'Twas only the night before
That his wife was confined,
And into the budget he hammered the child.

Then he said to his comrades,
"It's from you I must part,
But when I return I will give you a quart."
With his child in his budget he never did stop
Until he went in to a pawnbrokers shop.

He said, "Mr Dumphry, I met with a friend,
And if you're in the habit of money to lend,
I'll lay by the budget, the hammers and shears,
And give me the price of a few gallons of beer."

The bargain was made then without no dispute,
He gave him the money and a ticket to boot.
The tinker walked out when the job it was done
Saying, "The boys of the village can laugh at the fun."

The tinker's old budget was laid by the wall,
And very soon after the child made a bawl.
The pawnbroker started and said to his wife,
"There's a child in the budget, I'll bet you my life."

The budget was opened without any delay;
The child, it was rolled in a small wisp of hay.
"We're fairly outwitted", said the pawnbroker's wife;
"We'll send for a nurse, sure, we won't let it die."

From laughing the pawnbroker
No longer could bear;
He made a present of the baby
Up to the Lord Mayor.
The Lord Mayor, he was laughing
Until he was near dead,
To think that old budget, it was but a bed.

Oh, the town it was searched and the tinker was found,
The pawnbroker settled and gave him a pound
To take away the budget, the child and the shears;
So now, my good people, the goods are redeemed.

This good natured piece, though very popular in Ireland, has not put in a public appearance very often, the only other recorded version available being that of Mary Ann Carolan of County Louth.  There appear to be no published texts.

The motif of a child being passed off to an either unwitting or unwilling recipient is a popular one in the tradition and can be found in England and Scotland for instance, in The Basket of Eggs and The Butcher and the Chambermaid.  Kerry traveller Mikeen McCarthy has a tale he calls Mikeen and the County Home in which the recipient, himself in his version, is left holding the baby after pretending to be a woman's husband in order to get a night's lodgings at a County Home, or workhouse, not realising she is about to give birth, and having to stay there for the length of the woman's confinement.  A budget is a bag or knapsack used for carrying tools.

Ref: And That's My Story, tales and yarns of Britain and Ireland, cassette and booklet, VWML005.

Other recordings: Mary Ann Carolan, Songs From The Irish Tradition, Topic 12TS362

5-2 Three Brave Blacksmiths (Roud 9768)
Vincie Boyle, Mount Scott, Mullagh.
Rec.  December 2003

Three brave blacksmiths,
Down in County Clare,
They wouldn't shoe a grabber's horse,
They wouldn't shoe his mare. 
They would not take his money,
For his threats they didn't care;
They'd rather go unshod themselves
Than shame the County Clare. 

Three brave blacksmiths
Were marched away to jail;
Off they went, quite content,
Their spirits didn't fail. 
They would not make apologies,
They would not offer bail,
And so they got their punishment;
A day for every nail. 

Three brave blacksmiths,
Coming home once more,
Met a crowd of loving friends
At the prison door. 
The people cheered behind them
And the music played before,
Until each blacksmith stood again
On his cabin floor. 

Three brave blacksmiths
Heard with grateful pride
From their wives and little ones
How they were well supplied;
Kept in every comfort
By the neighbours far and wide,
And in the fullness of their health
With joy they nearly cried. 
Blacksmiths, whitesmiths,
Tradesmen everywhere,
Farmers, labourers, see your model there;
Be you all as ready for the cause to do and dare
As the three brave blacksmiths
Down in County Clare. 

In 1888 in Miltown Malbay, three local blacksmiths, Maguire, Moloney and Heaney, were jailed for supporting the boycotting of a local landlord, Mrs Burdett Moroney, by refusing to shoe the horse of one of her employees.  They were sentenced to a day for every nail they would have used, a total of 28 days. 

The term 'grabber' in the first verse is an 18th - 19th century expression, an abbreviation of 'land-grabber', referring to a person who took possession of lands of evicted tenants.  The song was written by T D Sullivan, Land Leaguer and editor of The Nation, and was first published in 1888 in Prison Poems or Lays of Tullamore.  He also wrote God Save Ireland.

6-2 Caroline of Edinburgh Town (Roud 398, Laws P27)
Tom Lenihan, Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay.
Rec.  September 1977.

Now gentlemen and maidens,
Come listen to my rhyme,
'Tis of a lovely maiden
Who is scarcely in her prime.
She beat the blooming roses,
She was admired by one and all,
She being once a lovely Caroline
From Edinburgh Town.

Young Henry being a Highlander,
Sure, courting her he came.
Her parents came to hear of it,
They did not like that same.
Young Henry being a Highlander,
He stole her finest gown,
So away goes lovely Caroline
From Edinburgh Town.

They being no longer in London Town,
Scarcely one half year,
When Henry proved to his true love,
Unkind and most severe.
He says one day, "You must go and see,
For your friends, they did on me frown,
So be on your way without delay
To Edinburgh Town."

Oppressed with grief, without relief,
This fair one had to go
Into the woods to pick some fruit
That on the branches grew.
'Tis there some friends would welcome her
And more would on her frown,
And some would say, "Why did you stray
From Edinburgh Town?"

It was on a stone she wrote a note saying,
"Alas, I am no more."
A lock of her hair she did leave there
To grieve him more and more.
She gave three screams for Henry
And threw her body down,
And that was the last of Caroline
From Edinburgh Town.

In spite of the enormous popularity enjoyed by this song among traditional singers, it has come in for a great deal of criticism from collectors and scholars.  Malcolm J Laws described such pieces as 'cheap, vulgar and journalistic' and, in a somewhat patronising note to the Dorset version, Frank Purslow compared it to the melodramas 'which tatty little theatrical troupes performed in makeshift theatres at the village fairs'.  He suggested that it was so common that 'few collectors bothered with it'.  Gavin Greig treated it more kindly in stating, 'This is a favourite ballad with the folk-singer', and had the insight to admit that 'the tragic element is managed with very considerable skill'.

Ref: American Balladry From British Broadsides, G Malcolm Laws Jnr., pub.  American Folklore Society, 1957; Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection, Vol.  6, eds.  Shuldham-Shaw/Lyle/Petrie, pub.  Mercat Press, 1995.

Other recordings: Belle Stewart, The Stewarts of Blair, Topic 12T 138 / Ossian OSS CD 96

7-2 Sprightly Young Damsel (Roud 18473)
Michael 'Straighty' Flanagan, Inagh.
Rec.  July 1976

I'll sing of a sprightly young damsel
That lived in the county Kildare.
She was pretty, quite charming and handsome;
Her features were blooming and fair.
Her parents had great store of riches,
She was sprightly and funny with all,
But at night she was quite discontented
With her face turned up to the wall.

She got up very early one morning,
Complained of a pain in her head.
She dressed herself cosy and warm
And called her mamma out of bed.
"Ah", she says, "My dear mother I wonder why
My tears do abundantly fall;
Every night I do lie cold and shiver
With my face turned up to the wall."

She says, "My dear daughter be easy,
I guess what's the cause of your woe.
Won't you marry Seán Moore the fat miller
Who lives in the valley below?
For he has both money, land, riches,
A well furnished kitchen and hall,
And with him you never need grumble
With your face turned up to the wall."

"Don't you know my own darling Willie,
Who lives down at the lake?
His heart is both mild soft and tender,
He used me both early and late.
I'd rather my own darling Willie
Without e'er a penny at all,
Than thousands with that dusty old miller
Who'll leave me lying cold to the wall."

"Don't speak any more about Willie",
Her mother this instant replied.
"For 'tis neither my will or intention
That you should be ever his bride.
For he has neither money nor riches
Nor bacon in kitchen or hall,
Nor is he the man I intended
To keep you at night from the wall."

"Ah", she says, "my dear mother, I wonder
Why you should such nonsense uphold.
I find a great change in your temper
And crazy as you're getting old;
For when you were youthful and merry,
You'd give money, land, riches and all
In to some sprightly young fellow
Who'll keep you at night from the wall."

At this the poor mother relented
And seeing her dear daughter in grief,
And soon she quickly consented
To give her mind ease and relief.
And then she prepared a grand wedding,
Rice puddings, punch, whiskey and all
And married she was to her Willie,
Who rolled her far down from the wall.

"I think it far better in winter
When Willie goes off to the plough;
Go and get up his pail and his piggin,
And go milk his one horned cow,
Than thousands of money, land, riches,
And bacon in kitchen and hall,
Than to lie with that dusty old miller
Who'll leave me lying cold to the wall"

Piggin: a small wooden bucket with one stave projecting above the rim for use as a handle; it is also called a pipkin.

While the theme of the frustrated young woman longing for a husband is a popular one in the tradition (see Mikey Kelleher's Daughter, Dearest Daughter track 13-2), the only other version of this we have heard of was sung by Martin Long of Inagh.

Michael learned this from a ballad sheet which he recalled buying in Ennis Town in 1914.

8-2 Mac and Shanahan (Roud 5221)
Nora Cleary; The Hand, near Miltown Malbay.
Rec.  July 1976

Those Christmas times, mavourneen (my love),
Are not like the times of old,
When the lights of love shone merrily
And our pulses felt no cold.
The laughter of those two young hearts
Around our firesides merrily,
And the laughter of those young hearts
Are gone, a stór mo chroí (treasure of my heart). 

It was in a cold December's night
Those bloodhounds made their way
To Reidy's house in Newtown,
Not far from Doonbeg Bay. 
It was there poor Mac and Shanahan
In irons firm were bound;
They were placed in a lorry by Black and Tans
And brought to Kilrush Town.

Next day they were asked to give
The names of those, their comrades bold,
And were offered their full liberty
If their honour thus they sold. 
They refused quite definitely,
And said that they would rather gaze
On the cold dark gloom of a mother's tomb
Or seek a martyr's grave. 

All night those boys prayed fervently
To Almighty God on high
To enable them to die like Pearse,
Con Colbert and McBride. 
When morning broke those boys they woke
In their lonely prison cells;
Sweet memories did recall to them
Of their sweet fair Doonbeg.

Whilst both were thinking deeply
Of their young days at home,
When the pistol of a foreman
Came in the prison door. 
He handcuffed, chained and marched them
To a wait-on bus outside
And shot them on the Ennis Road,
Their hatred laws reviled. 

It was then the news went like the wind
That Micho Mac lay low,
Likewise Willie Shanahan,
The pride of sweet Doughmore. 
Their coffins draped in the tricolours,
Side by side are laid to rest
In that lonely churchyard of Doonbeg
With the noblest and the blest. 

Sure, methink I see poor Willie now
With his blue eyes fixed on mine,
Likewise dark haired Micho MacNamara
With his soft hands clasped on mine.
Sweet were their words, soft were their voice
And kind were they to all.
It was sad to say those heroes
Got such a sad downfall.

They're dead today, those heroes,
The sons of Granuale.
May the Heavens parch and scorch the tongues
By which their lives were sold,
My curse on those who spied on them
For the ready Saxon gold.

In the December of 1920, two young Republicans, Michael MacNamara and Willie Shanahan, were arrested in Doonbeg, south west Clare, by a group of Black and Tans, members of the auxiliary force that had been brought to Ireland to assist in suppressing the growing opposition to British rule.  The pair were taken to the barracks at Kilrush where they were tortured and eventually murdered.  This song, which appears to be an accurate account of the events, is one of the most popular from the War of Independence period in Clare and is still frequently heard there.

Other recordings: Tom Lenihan, Mount Callan Garland, Comhairle Bhéaloideas Éireann.

9-2 I Left My Hand (Roud 5586)
Pat MacNamara; Kilshanny;
Rec.  July 1975

Ah, I left my hand on her toe, saying,
"What's that my dear?"
"That's my toe, tippen toe; hiden go, dingle doe,
Sit by the fire and draw near."
I left my hand on her heel, saying,
"What's that my dear?"
"That's my heel, hollow back,
That's my toe, tippen toe; hiden go, dingle doe,
Sit by the fire and draw near."

I left my hand on her shin, saying,
"What's that my dear?"
"That's my shin, shanky shank, that's my heel hollow back,
That's my toe, tippen toe, hiden go, dingle doe,
Sit by the fire and draw near."

I left my hand on her thigh, saying,
"What's that my dear?"
"That's my thigh, thicken fat, that's my knee, nacken nack, that's my heel, hollow back,
That's my toe, tippen toe, hiden go, dingle doe,
Sit by the fire and draw near."

I left my hand on her belly, saying,
"What's that my dear?"
"That's my belly, umble gut, that's my thigh, thicken fat, that's my knee, nacken nack, that's my heel, hollow back,
That's my toe, tippen toe, hiden go, dingle doe,
Sit by the fire and draw near",

I left my hand on her diddies, saying,
"What's that my dear."
"Oh, that's my milk, milky milk, that's my belly, umble gut, that's my thigh, thicken fat, that's my knee, nacken nack, that's my heel, hollow back,
That's my toe, tippen toe, hiden go, dingle doe,
Sit by the fire and draw near."

Spoken: Oh God, I couldn't.

This was taken down by Cecil Sharp in England and Gavin Greig in Scotland, though, from their notes, both collectors were uncomfortable with it.  Sharp re-wrote it with the comment, 'The words, as I took them down, were too coarse for publication.  I have, however, been able to re-write the first and third lines of each verse without, I think, sacrificing the character of the original song'.  He suggested that the song is of some antiquity.

Greig's version came from Katie Steven of Pitsligo, Aberdeenshire, under the title Johnny Jiggamy.  The collector wrote: '(the words) illustrate the gross note of the songs that were current enough, even among women, it seems'.  The Vance Randolph Collection contains a description of a game connected with the song in which a man touches the parts of the woman's body mentioned.  Here the song is stated to have been of British origin and to be 'eighteenth century at the latest'. 

Ref: Roll Me In Your Arms, Vance Randolph, ed.  Gershon Legman, Univ.  of Arkansas Press, 1992

Other recordings: Sid Hollicks, (Tippertoe-Billygoe-Lairyo), Helions Bumpstead NLCD 5

10-2 The Old Armchair (Fair Margaret and Sweet William) (Roud 253, Child 74)
Martin Howley, Fanore, north west Clare.
Rec.  July 1974

Knight William was sitting on his old armchair,
Lady Margaret was sitting on his knee.
"My father", she said, "would think it a disgrace
For to have me get married unto thee."

"If that be the way, Lady Margaret", he said;
"If that be the way", said he;
"For in three weeks time till [t'will] all be at an end
And my brave royal wedding you shall see."

Lady Margaret was sitting on her top room window
And she combing down her yellow long hair;
Who would she spy but Knight William
And his newly-wedded wife,
And they going for to take the fresh air.

Then she threw away her ivory combs
And tied up her yellow long hair.
She threw herself down from her top room window
And was never seen there any more.

It was at the dead, dead hour of the night
When all souls, they were asleep.
In comes the ghost of Lady Margaret
And she stood by Knight William's bed side.

"Knight William, Knight William,
Knight William", she said,
"How fast you were asleep.
It's now you're enjoying your newly-wedded wife,
And you left me all in my winding-sheet;
Whilst the lily and the rose,
Or the covering in my clothes,
My true-love has sent me to sleep."

Knight William caught [got?] up
And he called his merry men,
He called them by one, by twos and threes.
He dressed them all up in a scarlet of red,
And himself in a suit of green.

They rode, they rode to Lady Margaret's house
And tipping so gently at the ring,
But none was as ready as Lady Margaret's brother
For to go up and let Knight William in.
"It's often and often I kissed those ruby lips,
And it's fondly thou has kissed mine;
But I vow and declare, Lady Margaret", he said,
"That I never shall kiss any one but thine."

Lady Margaret was buried in Lady Mary's Church,
Knight William was buried in a bow [bower];
And it's over Lady Margaret grew a red rose,
And it's over Knight William grew a briar.

They grew, they grew for seven long years,
Until they could not grow no high.
They grew, they grew to a true lover's knot,
And the red rose covers the briar.

The ballad of Fair Margaret and Sweet William was first quoted in part in the Beaumont and Fletcher play The Knight of the Burning Pestle in 1611, the first full text being a broadside or stall copy published in Percy's Reliques in 1767.

While it has been found in the oral tradition in England and Scotland, it seems to have survived best among singers in the United States; all other sound recordings are American.  The only other version to have turned up in Ireland was in the Percy manuscripts and had been written down by the mother of the Bishop of Derry in 1776.

Martin learned his version "when I was very young" from a travelling woman named Sherlock some ninety years ago.

Ref: The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (vol 2), Francis James Child (ed) Dover edition 1965

Other recordings: Evelyn Ramsey, (Little Margaret), Far in the Mountains, Musical Traditions MTCD321-2; Almeda Riddle (Lady Margaret), Battles and Hymns From The Ozarks, Rounder 0017

11-2 The Half Crown (Roud 16988)
Vincie Boyle, Mount Scott, Mullagh.
Rec.  November 2003

'Twas lately DeValera set out in the Dail,
Said the population of Ireland was beginning to fall,
And then to prevent it and not let it down,
To every child born he'd give a half crown.

I'm a young single man and I'm fed up of life,
I lately set out in search of a wife.
I married a widow and we both settled down,
And I'm doing my best
For the blooming half crown.
The job, it proved harder than people may think;
The night we got married, sure, I ne'er slept a wink.
The wife, she keeps at me, she calls me a clown,
And said I'm doing nothing
For the blooming half crown.

I'm a young married man and I'm tired of life,
Half killed and half crazy from this strap of a wife;
If we haven't a family 'tis me she will drown,
I'm in a hell of a fix
For the blooming half crown.

Since the blooming thing started I'm nearly half dead;
Last night we broke down all the springs in the bed;
Said she, "It's no use for I'm now sixty three."
"Oh bedad then", says I,
"There's no half crown for me."

So now I resemble a half hungry goose;
Every bone in my body disjointed and loose.
The people when pass me, they say with a frown;
"The cause of your death will be the half crown."

So all ye young fellers who're about to be wed;
Check your wife's age before going to bed;
Don't have her to tell you, as mine told me,
There's no half a crown from a three score and three.

In 1944, despite considerable opposition, the DeValera government introduced a family allowance of two-and-sixpence for every child after the second.  This gave rise to several songs, including this one.

Vincie heard this sung by members of his family when he was young but had forgotten it.  He put it together from memory with the help of a neighbour, Pat MacNamara (Paddy Mac).

Other recordings: Andy Cash, Wexford traveller, From Puck to Appleby, Musical Traditions MTCD325-6

12-2 O'Reilly from the County Kerry (Roud 4720)
Martin Reidy; Tullochaboy, Connolly.
Rec.  July 1980

As I roved out one summer morning
To view the sweet flowers of May;
I fell courting a pretty fair maid,
She appeared to me like the queen of May.

I asked her kindly would she marry
Or would she be so as to be a sailor's wife.
"Oh no, kind sir, I'd rather tarry
And to the sweet single life."
"Oh fairest creature, the pride of nature,
Why do you differ from all female kind?
For you are youthful, fair and handsome,
And to marry you I am most inclined."

"Oh no, kind sir, I now must tell you,
I have promised for these five years or more
To one O'Reilly from the County Kerry,
Which often fills my heart full sore."

"Oh had I you in Phoenix Island,
One hundred miles from my native home,
Or in a valley where none would find us,
'Tis there you'd consent love, to be my own."

"You have not me in Phoenix Island,
Or one hundred miles from my native home,
Or in a valley where none would find us,
So I'll ne'er consent then to be your own."

"However, you're like the swan in th' ocean,
Making motion with both your wings.
Your snow-white breast love, would be a portion
For a lord or a noble king."

"For you are youthful, fair and handsome,
For you are fitting to be a queen.
I wish I'd lay on the battlefield wounded,
Before your beautiful face I'd seen."

"For in the morning when I cannot see you,
My heart lies bleeding for you all day.
And in the evening when I can't come near you,
For those that are bound love, they must obey."

"And youth and folly make young men marry,
And leave them sorry another day.
But what can't be cured must be endured love,
So farewell darling, I must go away."

Found throughout Ireland, this has been localised to a number of areas, the sailor given as being from Leitrim, Kerry, Limerick or Cavan.  In Colm O'Lochlainn's Irish Street Ballads it appears as O'Reilly From The County Kerry, or The Phoenix of Erin's Green Isle.  Containing several 'floater' verses, it is reminiscent of a number of other songs, particularly of the 'Broken Token' variety.

Martin learned it from neighbours as a young man; the tune he sang it to is the same as the one he used for his longest song, The True Lover's Discussion.

Other recordings: Tomás Ó Coisdealbha (Thomas Costello - Tom Pháidín Tom) of Spiddall, Connemara, Traditional Songs and Singers, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann cassette.

13-2 Daughter, Dearest Daughter (Roud 1570)
Mikey Kelleher, Quilty and London
Rec.  1977

"Oh mother, dearest mother,
What's going to happen me?
Oh mother, dearest mother,
My style of ever free.
For you know the world have troubled me
Those seven long years and more,
Late and early, tired and weary,
Sick from lying alone."

"Oh daughter, dearest daughter,
I'll buy for you a cow."
"Oh, no mamma, oh, no mamma,
For that wouldn't please me now;
For indeed, the world have troubled me
Those seven long years and more,
Late and early, tired and weary,
Sick from lying alone."

"Oh daughter, dearest daughter,
I'll buy for you a sheep."
"Oh no mamma, oh no mamma,
For that wouldn't let me sleep.
For indeed, the world have troubled me
Those seven long years and more,
Late and early, tired and weary,
Sick from lying alone."

"Oh daughter, dearest daughter,
I'll buy for you a horse."
"Oh no mamma, oh no mamma,
For that's ten times worse than that.
For indeed, the world may troubled me
Those seven long years and more,
Late and early, tired and weary,
Sick from lying alone."

"Oh daughter, dearest daughter,
I'll get for you a young man."
"Oh yes mamma, oh yes mamma,
For I think you really can.
A young man to me, for one nights sleep
Is better than all your horse sheep and cow;
He'll hold me tight, he'll hold me tight,
And mother, I'm sleepy now."

"Mamma and papa
In one bed both do lie,
Embracing one another,
And so will my love and I,
Embracing one another,
And that without a doubt,
I'll roll him in my arms tight
And I'll blow the candle out."

Known sometimes as Whistle Daughter Whistle, with the appropriate whistling motif, this seems to have taken on several forms, from being a bawdy song which tells of a frustrated young woman wishing for a man, to a children's game in which all the animals mentioned are imitated by the singer.  William Wells Newell described it as being identical to a German, Flemish and French round of the fifteenth or sixteenth century, in which a nun or monk is tempted to dance by various offers.

The earliest reference in English appears to be in a manuscript from Wiltshire dated 1740, though it seems to have survived longest in Ireland.  We have recorded it on three occasions, from Mikey and Tom Lenihan, both of West Clare, and from Tipperary Traveller, Mary Delaney.  Mikey's version seems to have picked up a final verse from Blow the Candle Out, another bawdy song (see Martin Howley 18-1).

Ref: Games and Songs of American Children, William Wells Newell, pub.  Harper and Brothers 1883.

Other recordings: Mary Delaney, From Puck to Appleby, Musical Traditions MTCD325-6

14-2 Girl from Clahandine (Roud 18474)
Michael Flanagan; Luogh, Doolin.
Rec.  August 1974

And I was born near St Bridget's Well
Beneath a tildren (?) stream,
And when I picture in my mind,
Oh, its memory, thoughts and dreams,
It nearly breaks my aching heart
And it leaves me in troubling mind,
When I think of dear old Derreen
And the girl I left behind.

I went down to Liscannor
For to bid my friends adieu,
And I stood a while at Birchfield Gate,
Oh, the country for to view:
I viewed along that seashore
Where I spent many a time,
And it's then my poor heart nearly broke
For the girl I left behind.

Early the next morning
With a sad and broken heart,
I told my comrades all around,
With them I had to part,
With my girl's arms around my neck
And her eyes with tears were blind,
Sure, I tore out from her arms
On the road to Clahandine.

But it's now I'm in Americay,
Strange faces I meet there;
But there is none so true or kind to me
As my own dear girl at home;
But when I'll have made pockets of shining gold,
I'll return and make her mine,
And it's then we will live happy
In a cot in Clahandine. 

According to the singer, this was composed locally by Tom Flanagan, a policeman, but it has obviously been re-written from the popular The Girl I Left Behind to place its location around North Clare.  Saint Bridget's Well is at Liscannor a few miles south of Luogh.

15-2 A Stór Mo Chroí (Treasure of My Heart) (Roud 3076)
Ollie Conway, Mullagh.
Rec.  September 1973

A stór mo chroí, when you're far away
From the home you'll soon be leaving;
For its manys the time by night and by day
Your heart will be sorely grieving.
For the stranger's land may be bright and grand
And rich in its treasures golden;
You may pine, I know, for the long, long ago
And the love you'll soon be leaving.

A stór mo chroí, in the stranger's land,
There'll be plenty of welt and wailing;
Where the gems adorn the great and the grand,
There'll be faces with hunger paling.
Though the road may be tiresome and hard to tread,
And the lights of the city may blind you,
Return a stór, to Erin's shore,
And the love you're leaving behind you.

A stór mo chroí, when the evening mist
On mountain and valley is falling,
Won't you turn away from the throng and the bliss,
And maybe you'd hear me calling;
For the sound of a voice that you'll surely miss,
Of somebody's speedy returning,
Aroon, aroon, won't you come back soon
To the love that is always burning.

This was written by Brian O'Higgins, (Brian na Banban) 1882-1949, IRA member, Sinn Fein TD and founder of The Irish College at Carrigaholt, South West Clare.  It almost certainly owes its great popularity to the singing of Seán 'ac Dhonncha of Carna, County Galway.  It was also sung and played as a slow air on the pipes by Miltown Malbay piper, Willie Clancy.

Other recordings: Mick Flynn, The Lambs in the Green Hills, Topic 12TS369.

16-2 The Titanic (Roud 18475)
Jamesie McCarthy, Mount Scott, Mullagh.
Rec.  July 1976

You landsmen all, on you I call,
And gallant seamen too,
When I relate on the sad fate
Of the passengers and crew,
On board of The Titanic
That lately did sail o'er,
In joy and cheer in going their way,
Their fortune to pursue.

The Titanic called at Queenstown
Upon a Thursday,
And eight hundred emigrants
From Ireland sailed away.
Their hearts were light and merry
As on the deck did stand,
But little was their notion
Some would ne'er again see land.

For four long days she ploughed the sea,
As everyone have read,
And at ten o'clock that fatal night
Our ship struck an iceberg.
Some passengers being in their beds,
They received an awful shock,
When the captain shouted from the bridge,
"I fear our ship is lost."

When the ship struck the iceberg
It was mournful to see
Each mother rushing frantically
Trying to save her family.
When the crew of the Titanic
Did all his best to save
The women and the children
All from a watery grave.

In other lands the grief is all
For wealthy millionaires,
But still our Irish lads went down
With braver hearts than theirs.
Although in consecrated clay
They are not laid to rest,
And they'll never be forgotten
In the green isle of the west.

And for their calm repose with God
I continually pray,
A loving last and long farewell
To them, 'til judgement day.

The sinking of The Titanic on 14th April 1912, described at the time as 'the most appalling shipping disaster in the history of the world', gave rise to a great number of songs.  According to D K Wilgus, 70 have been collected, 14 of which were found in Ireland.

I have been unable to find another example of this particular version, though it does have some similarity to an Irish broadside entitled The Sorrowful Lamentation on The Loss of The North Star (see notes to track 22-1).

17-2 My Good Looking Man (Roud 3340)
Nonie Lynch, Mount Scott, Mullagh
Rec.  July 2003

When I was sixteen years of age,
A damsel in my prime,
I daily thought on wedded life
And how I'd spend my time;
I daily thought on wedded life,
Its beauties I did scan.
I sighed and sobbed both night and day
To get a nice young man.

The wish I wanted soon I got
One Sunday afternoon,
As home from church I gaily walked,
I met this fair gossoon.
He looked so neat about his feet,
To win him it was my plan,
And that very day I fell in love
With my good-looking man.

He pledged to me the words of love
And I said his bride I'd be.
He pressed me fondly to his breast
Saying, "Oh, you are my dear."
He pressed me fondly to his breast
As to the church we ran;
And there and then I got wed
To my good-looking man.

Scarcely were we wed three months,
One Sunday afternoon,
My gentleman, he did step out
Just on our honeymoon.
I did not go along with him,
For to watch him, it was my plan,
And soon a flashing young lass I saw
With my good looking man.

He pledged to her the words of love,
Just as he had done to me;
He pressed her fondly to his breast
Saying, "Oh, you are my dear."
He pressed her fondly to his breast
As to my home I ran,
And there I patiently did wait
For my good-looking man.

The clock was just on the stroke of ten
When my gentleman stepped in.
"Where have you been, oh Johnny dear,
Where have you so long been?"
"To church, to church, kind love", he said,
But this I could not stand,
By heavens, the tongs I did let fly
At my good-looking man.

I blackened his face, I broke his nose,
In ribbons I tore his clothes;
I seized the poker from the stove
And hit him across the nose.
He looked just like a chimney-sweep
As out the door he ran.
Ah, the divil a girl fell in love again
With my good-looking man.

Described as a late nineteenth century broadside, this appears only to have turned up in Canadian and American collections.  MacEdward Leach, in his note to a version from Lower Labrador recorded in 1960, somewhat priggishly wrote - 'This seems not to have been recorded before in oral tradition, which fact is good evidence that the folk are generally discriminating'.

Ref: Folk Ballads and Songs of the Lower Labrador Coast, MacEdward Leach, National Museum of Canada, 1965

18-2 Mr Woodburren's Courtship (Roud 36, Child 46)
Pat MacNamara, Kilshanny, near Ennistymon
Rec.  July 1975.

Now an old man's fair daughter
Walked down a narrow lane,
She met with Mr Woodburren,
The keeper of the game.
He said, "My pretty maiden,
And weren't for the law
I'd have you now right in my bed
While you lie next the wall."
"Now then, go away young man", she said,
"Now, and do not trouble me,
Before I lie one night with you,
You must get me dishes three:
Three dishes you must get for me;
Supposing I eat them all,
Before I lie one night with you,
Sure, at either stock or wall."

"For my breakfast you must get for me
A bird without a bone;
For my dinner you must get for me
A cherry without a stone;
For my supper you must get for me,
Sure, a bird without a gall,
Before I lie one night with you
At either stock or wall."

"Oh then, when the bird is in its egg
It really has no bone;
When a cherry is in its blossom,
Sure, it really has no stone;
The dove, she is a gentle bird
And she flies without a gall,
Come you and I in one bed lie
While you lie next the wall."

"Ah then, go away young man", she said,
"Now, and do not trouble me,
Before I lie one night with you,
You must answer me questions six:
Six questions you must answer me
When I'll set forth them all,
Before I lie one night with you
At either stock or wall."

"What is rounder than a ring,
What is higher than the tree?
What is worse than womankind,
What is deeper than the sea?
What bird sings best, the heath bird's first,
And where the dew first fall?
Before I lie one night with you
At either stock or wall."

"Now the globe is rounder than the ring,
Heaven is higher than the tree;
The divil is worse than womankind,
Hell is deeper than the sea;
The thrush sings best, the heath bird first,
And there's where the dew first fall,
So come you and I, sure, in one bed lie,
And you lie next the wall."

"Oh then, go away young man" she said,
"And do not trouble me,
Before I lie one night with you,
You must answer me questions three:
Three questions you must answer me
When I set forth them all,
Before I lie one night with you now,
At either stock or wall."
"You must get for me some winter fruit
That in December grew;
You must get for me a mantle
That ne'er a weave went through;
A sparrow's horn, a priest unborn,
To join us one and all,
Before I lie one night with you,
Sure, at either stock or wall."

"Now then, my father had some winter fruit,
Sure, that in December grew;
My mother has a mantle
That ne'er a weave went through;
A sparrow's horn is easy got,
There's one in every claw;
And Benedict was a priest unborn;
So you lie next the wall."

So now, to conclude and to finish my song,
This couple they got married
And happy they do long;
Because she being so clever, sure,
She did his heart enthral,
He caught her in his arms
And he rolled her from the wall.

While the riddling form of song is extremely ancient, it has been suggested by B H Bronson among others, that the courtship narrative in this ballad is a comparative latecomer.  He described it as having been 'thoroughly overhauled in quite modern times'.

As well as in this present form, it has been found in numerous guises: as a nursery rhyme (Perrie, Merrie, Dixie, Dominie); a straightforward love song (I Gave My Love a Cherry); and in the South West United States as a cante-fable.  A version from the Lower Labrador Coast entitled The Devil and the Blessed Virgin Mary introduced a religious aspect into the plot, but all other versions seem to have been secular.

Ref: The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads, Vol.  1, B H Bronson, Princeton Univ.  Press 1959.

Other versions: Willie Clancy, Come Let Us Buy The Licence, (Voice of the People) Topic TSCD951; Duncan Williamson, Put Another Log on the Fire, Veteran Tapes VT128.

19-2 Erin's Lovely Home (Roud 1427, Laws M6)
Michael 'Straighty' Flanagan, Inagh,
Rec.  September 1977

When I was young and in my prime,
My age just twenty-one,
I acted as a servant unto a gentleman.
I served him true and honest,
And very well it's known,
But in cruelty he banished me
From Erin's lovely home.

And where want (?) he did banish me
I mean to let you hear;
I own I loved his daughter
And she loved me as dear.
She had a large fortune, but riches, I had none,
And that's the reason I must go
From Erin's lovely home.

'Twas in her father's garden
All in the month of June,
We were viewing all the flowers,
All in their youthful bloom.
She said, "My dearest William,
If along with me you'll roam,
We will bid adieu to all our friends
In Erin's lovely home."

Sure, I gave consent that very night,
Along with her to roam
From her father's dwelling,
It proved our overthrow.
The night was bright, by the moonlight
We both set off alone,
Thinking we'd get safe away
From Erin's lovely home.

When we landed in Belfast,
Just by the break of day,
My love, she then got ready
Our passage for to pay.
One thousand pounds she counted down,
Saying, "This shall be your own,
But do not mourn for those we've left
In Erin's lovely home."

'Tis of our sad misfortune
I mean to let you hear;
'Twas in a few hours after
Her father did appear.
He marched me back to (H)Omagh Jail
In the county of Tyrone,
And there I was transported
From Erin's lovely home.

Now when I heard my sentence passed,
Sure, it grieved my heart full sore,
But parting from my true love,
Sure, it grieved me ten times more.
I had seven links upon my chain,
For every link a year,
Before I can return again
To the arms of my dear.

While I lay under sentence
Before I sailed away,
My love, she came into the jail
And this to me did say:
"Cheer up your heart, don't be dismayed,
For I will ne'er you disown
Until you do return again
To Erin's lovely home."

Circulated widely as a ballad sheet, some versions of this bear the indelible stamp of the printer's influence with a first verse which opens, 'All ye that are at liberty, I pray you lend an ear'.  Colm O'Lochlainn first got it from a friend in Belfast who had learned it in Irish.

It was to be heard extensively in England, sung, as one writer put it, 'by singers as English as the land they tilled'.  It was also found in Scotland by Aberdeenshire collector Gavin Greig, who was told that "… it was the most popular of songs, and that everyone who could sing at all, sang it."

Refs: The Foggy Dew, Frank Purslow, EFDSS Publications, 1974; Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection, Vol.  6, eds.  Shuldham-Shaw/Lyle/Petrie, pub.  Mercat Press, 1995

Other recordings: Mary Ann Haynes: Here's Luck to a Man, Musical Traditions MTCD320; Geordie Hanna, On the Shores of Lough Neagh, Topic 12TS 372

20-2 Donnelly (Roud 863)
Martin Howley, Fanore, north west Clare.
Rec.  July 1975

I spied a jolly woman
And she coming from the ball,
Sure, th'ould jolly tinker met her
And he soldering against the wall.

Wisha, good old Donnelly, brave oh sir, says she,
Wisha, good old Donnelly, you are the lad for me.

I spied a jolly woman
And she nutting in the wood,
But when the tinker saw her,
Sure, all his budget stood.
As I went to the bar
For to have a glass of gin,
Th'ould tinker followed after me
And he said, "We'll have it again."

"And if you were an honest Irish lad
As I took you for to be,
You'd have a pint all in your hand
And a kid belonging to me."

"And if you were an honest Irish woman,
As I took you for to be,
You should have a pint all in your hand
And you come to the road with me."

As I went up the stairs
For to dress the feather bed,
Th'ould tinker followed after me
And he said, "We should be wed."

As I came down the stairs
For to bolt and bar the door,
Th'ould tinker followed after me
And he tripped me on the floor.

I put a whistle to my mouth
And blew both loud and keen,
There was four and twenty tinkers
And they bounding in for speed.

This has been around since at least 1675 when a fourteen-verse version was entered in the Stationers Register but since then it has been slimmed down somewhat, while still retaining its celebration of bawdry.

Martin's version is more subtle than many, such as those to be found in collections of rugby songs, and is similar to the one we recorded from Travelling woman, Mary Delaney.

Other recordings: Mary Delaney, From Puck To Appleby, Musical Traditions MTCD235-6

21-2 Cailín Deas Cruíte Na mBó (Lovely Girl Milking the Cows) (Roud 3139)
Tom Lenihan, Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay
Rec.  July 1976.

It being on a fine summer's morning,
As the birds sweetly tuned on each bough,
I heard a fair maid sing most charming
As she sat a-milking her cow. 
Her voice was enchanting, melodious,
Which left me scarce able to go,
And my heart it was soothed with solace,
By the cailín deas crúite na mbó. 

I courteously did salute her:
"Good morning, most amiable maid,
I am your captive slave for the future.'"
"Kind sir, do not banter," she said,
"I am not such a precious rare jewel
That I should enamour you so,
I am but a plain country girl,"
Says the cailín deas crúite na mbó. 
"The Indians afford no such jewel
So precious or transparent clear. 
Oh, don't refuse to be my jewel,
But consent and love me, my dear. 
Take pity and grant my desire,
And leave me no longer in woe.
Oh, love me, or else I'll expire
Sweet cailín deas crúite na mbó."

"I don't understand what you mean, sir,
I ne'er was a slave yet to love. 
These emotions I have no experience,
So I pray these affections remove. 
To marry, I can assure you,
That state I will not undergo. 
So, young man, I pray you'll excuse me",
Says the cailín deas crúite na mbó. 

"Had I the wealth of great Homer
Or all on the African shore,
Or had I great Devonshire's treasure
Or had I ten thousand times more;
Or if I had the lamp of Aladdin
And had I his genies also,
I would rather live poor in the mountain
With the cailín deas crúite na mbó."

"I beg you withdraw and don't tease me,
I cannot consent unto thee. 
I'm prepared to live single and airy
'Til more of this world I see. 
New cares they would me embarrass,
Besides, sir, my fortune is low,
And until I get rich I'll not marry",
Says the cailín deas crúite na mbó. 

"A young maid is like a ship sailing,
She don't know how far she may steer,
For in every blast she's in danger,
So, consent love, and banish each fear. 
Take pity and grant my desire
And leave me no longer in woe. 
Oh, love me, or else I'll expire,
Sweet cailín deas crúite na mbó."

A four verse parody entitled The Pretty Maid Milking Her Goat taken down from a Pennsylvania miner, Daniel Walsh of Centralia, Colombia County by George Korson, has as a first verse:

It was a cold winter morning
As I went to work for my grub,
I heard a maid sing most charming
As she sat on the heel of a tub;
Her mouth was both large and commodious,
A small boy might skate down her throat;
Her bull-frog bass voice was melodious,
As she sat there milking her goat.

The accompanying note reads: 'The Pretty Maid Milking Her Goat, for all its mocking text, is sung to one of the loveliest of all Irish melodies'.  The only other Irish recording listed in the Roud Index is from Mrs Martha Gillen from Antrim, made by the BBC in 1954.

In his note to the song in Mount Callan Garland, collector Tom Munnelly points out that the singer had the following verse as the penultimate one, but refused to sing it in the presence of women for fear of giving offence.  The singer has omitted it here.

An old maid is like an old almanac,
Quite useless when once out or date. 
If her ware isn't sold in the morning
At noon it must fall to low rate. 
Oh, the fragrance of May is all over
The rose leaves its beauty, you know. 
All bloom is consumed in October,
Sweet cailín deas crúite na mbó.

Ref: Pennsylvania Songs and Legends, George Korson, pub.  John Hopkins Press, 1960

Other recordings: Martha Gillen, Antrim, BBC record 21840.  Recorded by Seamus Ennis.

22-2 The Blas Tom Lenihan, Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay.
Rec September 1977

If you press too much on the words you'll knock the good of the music out of it.  If you draw it out too long you'll knock the music out of it of course.
You have to judge for yourselves; there is a right way and a wrong way, as I say.  You must wait and put the blas on it.  The blas, that was what the old people used to use.
If you didn't put the blas in the song; whatever meaning the blas means, I don't know, but 'twas often said to me and I singing a song: "You puts the real blas in the song." You have to draw out the words and put the blas in the song.  You see now, the blas is the drawing out of the words and the music of it.

Blas - relish, taste, good accent.

23-2 The Tangaloni (Roud 3569)
Martin Reidy, Tullochaboy, Connolly
Rec.  October 1977

There are new fashions out of late,
I cannot tell the reason.
There are new fashions out of late,
A dress for every season.

With me ring fol ah, rally do ri ra,
Me ring fold da ra loni.
And it's all about a new topcoat
They call the Tangaloni.

Ah, I went to town the other day,
I met with great disaster,
I bought a pair of skating boots,
For to be a skating master.
And as I went skating on the ice,
And there I stood aloney,
And the ice, it broke, and down I went,
And I wet my Tangaloni.

I met a maid upon the road,
On me she took compassion.
She said, "Young man, draw in to the fire,
For I know you're in a passion."
And as I drew so near to the heat,
And there I stood aloney,
And she said, "Young man, keep up from the fire,
Or you'll burn your Tangaloni."


This girl, she had a little dog,
On him she christened Tony,
And every time I kissed the maid,
The dog'd bite my Tangaloni.


And I must buy a jaunting car,
And I must buy a pony,
And I must hire a servant maid
That'll brush my Tangaloni.

A Taglioni, referred to here as Tangaloni, was a type of overcoat popular in the 19th century which was named after a celebrated Italian family of professional dancers.

Other recordings: John Loughran, Co Tyrone, Harvest Home 2, Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

24-2 Farewell to Miltown Malbay (Roud 5228)
Kitty Hayes, Shanaway, Miltown Malbay
Rec.  June 2004

Farewell to Miltown Malbay,
A long and sad farewell,
The sorrow in my heart today
No words of mine can tell,
I'm parting from my dear old friends
And the scenes I fondly love,
May happiness attend them all
And blessings from above.

A bright and pleasant youth was mine
Among the good folk there,
No kinder hearts could e'er be found
Than those that throb in Clare,
And oh how sad and crushed I feel,
My tears they fall like rain
As I look my last upon the place
I'll never see again.

From Barr an Bhaile up to the Square
I often took a stroll,
And rambled out the Ennis Road,
Where Robert's was my goal,
To play a game of Outs and Combs,
For pass the time away,
While listening to traditions old
And legions (legends) of Mal Bay.

And oft times too, we sought Pat Burke's,
Where we had many a spree,
Where Garrett Barry, with his pipes,
Filled our young hearts with glee,
And with young and old out dancing sets
Upon the kitchen floor,
The joy and fun that I had there
I never will have more.

The sea is gemmed with twinkling stars,
The sun shines bright today.
The rocky shore is fringed with foam
From Spanish Point to Freagh,
The virgin [verdant] fields go rolling down
From Ballard to the sea,
Oh! what a soul-entrancing sight
Is spread out there for me.

The Angelus its melody
Is ringing in the air,
Men bare their heads and silently
To Mary breathe a prayer.
If e'er I find this act devout
Beyond the ocean foam,
'Twill bring memory my last day
I spent in my old home.
Farewell to Miltown Malbay,
Farewell to one and all.
The sights I've seen , the joys I've had,
I often will recall;
For with my heart I love that spot
Where I was born and nursed,
And where, upon those sun-kissed flags,
I crawled about at first.

Spoken: Sin é (That's it)

This was composed by Miltown Malbay poet Tomás Ó hAodha (Thomas Hayes, 1866 - 1935), and included in a collection of his poems, The Hills of Clare, which was published in 1922.  Like another of his compositions, Going to the Fair, usually known as Nora Daly, it caught the imagination of singers from the area, where it is still to be found in the local song repertoire.

Robert's was the house of a widower named Robert Cummins where the neighbours used to gather for a game of cards.  Garrett Barry was a blind itinerant piper who had a strong influence on the local music tradition.

Other recordings: Tom Lenihan, Mount Callan Garland, Comhairle Bhéaloideas Éireann, 1994.


We would like to thank the following who helped with this project:

The Recordings and Photos:

Please note, these are field recordings made mainly in the singers' homes, but also in cars, bars and, on two occasions, at public performances, so the sound quality may reflect the circumstances in which they were made.

All photographs by Pat Mackenzie except Nora Cleary (Liam McNulty), Mikey Kelleher, and Jamesie McCarthy (family photos).

All royalties from this production will be donated to the Irish Traditional Music Archive.

The CD case cover photo of is of a dolmen on Mount Callan.  It is known locally as leaba Diarmuid agus Graínne (Diarmuid and Graínne's bed) and a local legend tells of how the couple were eloping, pursued by Fionn Mac Cumhaill, when they stopped to rest on Mount Callan.  To make themselves a bed, Diarmuid carried the two side stones under each arm and Graínne carried the top stone, which measures 12ft by 4ft, in her apron.  Folklore also has it the a woman who sleeps under the stone is guaranteed fertility.

Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie - October 2004

[Track Lists] [Introduction] [The Singers] [CD One] [CD Two] [Acknowledgements]

Article MT148

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