Article MT137

The Hardy Sons of Dan

Football, hunting and other traditional songs
from around Lough Erne's shore

Musical Traditions Records' first CD release of 2004: The Hardy Sons of Dan (MTCD329-0), is now available.  See our Records page for details.  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] [Repertoire] [Song Ownership] [Afterword] [The Singers] [The Songs] [CD One] [CD Two] [Credits]

Track Lists:

CD One
1 -
2 -
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 -
8 -
9 -
10 -
11 -
12 -
13 -
14 -
15 -
16 -
17 -
18 -
19 -
Packie McKeaney
James McDermott
Philip McDermott
James and Paddy Halpin
Maggie Murphy
James Halpin
James McDermott
Red Mick McDermott
James and Paddy Halpin
Maggie Murphy
James McDermott
James Halpin
Red Mick McDermott
James Halpin
James McDermott
James Halpin
Red Mick McDermott
Maggie Murphy
James and Paddy Halpin
Adieu to Lovely Garrison
The Constant Farmer's Son
The Reaping of the Rushes Green
The Huntsman's Horn
Molly Bawn
Willie Rambler
Let the Wind Blow High or Low
Donagh Hill
To Reap and Mow the Hay
My Father's Serving Boy
The Thoughts of Long Ago
Bad Luck Attend the Old Farmer
The Hardy Sons of Dan
Johnny Harte
With the Old Navvy Boots On
Cavenagh Hill
The Wild Side of Life
The Kildallan Brown Red



CD Two
1 -
2 -
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 -
8 -
9 -
10 -
11 -
12 -
13 -
14 -
15 -
16 -
17 -
18 -
Big John Maguire
Maggie Murphy
Packie McKeaney
Mary Anne Connelly
Patsy Flynn
Maggie Murphy
Big John Maguire
Mary Anne Connelly
Tom Tinneny
Maggie Murphy
Patsy Flynn
Big John Maguire
Mary Anne Connelly
Big John Maguire
Maggie Murphy
Big John Maguire and daughter Kate
Patsy Flynn
Eddie Coyle
The Huntsman's Horn
Bonny Wood Green
Seek Not from Whence Love She Came
The Grangemore Hare
Young Edmund
Bring the Gold Cup Back to Newtown
The Lisburn Lass
The Clones Murder
Killyburn Brae
Willie Leonard
Lough Ooney
Lurgan Stream
The Green Fields of Ferbane
Seven Years Since I had a Sweetheart
The Town I Loved So Well
Barbara Allen
The Little Old Mud Cabin on the Hill



The story behind these recordings:

It was in late 1977 that the company I worked for in Southend, Essex, acquired a small factory in Chanterhill on the outskirts of Enniskillen in Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, that specialised in the production of high quality picture frame mouldings.  As I had recently qualified as a Management Accountant it was decided that I should begin regular visits there to set up reporting systems and a costing system.  I was natur-ally delighted at this prospect and considered it my duty to combine such tedious work with my obsession with traditional music (I had been researching and recording traditional singers and musicians in Suffolk for about seven years by this time).

Initially however, things did not go according to plan.  On my first few visits I was, quite rightly, not entrusted with the hire car which was assigned to another head-office man Tom Chadwick.  (Old Tom was a terrific character - a classically trained concertina player who in his youth played in a concertina band in the Music Halls of Manchester, regularly playing on the same bill as his hero - the great Billy Bennett).  Secondly, in the mid '70s, Fermanagh was not the safest place to be in the British Isles.  Situated on the border with the Republic and at the height of 'the Troubles', a genuine concern for safety, not eased by the oppressive presence of the Army on virtually every country road and lane, did not exactly make travelling around at night to remote villages and pubs much of a tempting prospect.  Frankly, I kept my head well down.

Two events however were to change this situation.  In the summer of 1978 I was driving from Belfast Airport to Enniskillen one beautiful afternoon (Tom had returned to England) and desperately wanted to watch the World Cup match between Peru and Scotland, and knew if I carried on to the hotel I would miss the bulk of it.  So, swinging off the main road at Fivemiletown, I went in search of a pub with a TV - not as commonplace at that time as today - and it was not until I got to the next small town of Tempo that I found one, ordered a pint of lager and made myself at home in the corner for the match.

Now I readily admit that I am not, and have never claimed to be, a great expert on the huge subject of Irish music and song, or a folk song collector, but Tempo had always stuck in my mind as being the location of the superb recording of The Auld Beggarman sung by Maggie and Sarah Chambers in the Fifties and issued on the classic Caedmon/Topic series Folksongs of Britain.  So, fortified with a few beers and encouraged by the friendliness of the few locals in the pub, I decided to chance it and ask a few questions.  Sarah's name drew no response (she had died many years previously) but Maggie's vaguely did, and soon after five or six children in the bar had their school holidays interrupted and were sent to various locations in town to make further inquiries.  About ten minutes later the girl sent to the Post Office returned with the information "It's Mrs Murphy he'll be wanting ...  out at Rose Cottage." Directions were supplied and I made the short trip up to Maggie's in Killaculla, just out of town.

Maggie was in the front garden of her delightful cottage and, having introduced myself and expressed my interest in her singing, warmly welcomed me in for a cup of tea and a chat.  A bit surprised no doubt at my visit (she knew nothing of the Topic LP) Maggie soon relaxed and talked at length about her songs and family tradition and readily agreed that on my next visit I could tape some of her songs.  Finally she agreed to sing one song - The Beggarman, if I could give her a lift to the bingo in town, which I gladly did.  This simple and pleasant arrangement was to become a regular routine over the next few years.

So, what with Peru winning, an altogether very satisfying day!


The next and totally unrelated event was to occur later that year near Christmas, when I was walking through the town of Enniskillen on a Saturday afternoon and in a record shop window I noticed a sign for an LP by a local traditional singer, Willie McElroy, which had recently been issued on the Outlet Label 3001.  What drew my attention was that the people who had been credited with assistance were Bernard and Attracta McGrath of The Pub, Brookeborough - a nearby village.  So I decided later that day to pay Brookeborough a visit and drove the few miles to find a village with three pubs in it, two of which were called The Pub, but with no other information.  I struck it lucky in the third pub where I immediately knew I had not drawn a blank, as above the bar there was a photograph of a very cheerful-looking Willie McElroy groping Dana!  - taken at a radio studio in Dublin when he went up there to be interviewed. 

Later that day, shortly afterwards in fact, Willie McElroy came into the pub and I was introduced to him by Attracta who left the two of us talking and I eventually convinced Willie to sing a couple of songs, which he was glad to do.  The main problem however was that although we seemed to get on very well, neither of us understood a word the other was saying, simply because the Fermanagh accent was far, far beyond anything that I could understand, while my South East Essex drawl bemused the entire multitude.  This appeared at the time to be an insurmountable problem for any attempts at interviewing or researching any of the local music.  I cannot stress how much this was a problem.  But a solution was readily at hand when Attracta phoned a local English woman, Jenny Hicks, with a view to helping out.  Now Jenny, who was a fixture on the London folk scene in the early 1960s (she used to run The Troubadour Club on Brompton Road), had been living in Brookeborough, where her mother had been a resident for many years, with her husband Michael, who was not only thoroughly immersed in the traditional cultures of the area, primarily hunting, livestock, running a farm, but was also a mine of inform-ation on local singers, the songs that they sung, where they sang them, etc.

Michael was also English, very top-drawer the pair of them and, most helpfully, extremely highly regarded in the local community.  Jenny turned up an hour later and after the initial weighing up on both sides it was generally considered that I was the right stuff and - I have to stress now - without Michael and Jenny's input and assistance for my project, none of these recordings would ever have been made.  The evening was concluded with a rather ramshackle sing-song by various local singers and would-be assassins attempting all kinds of unrelated and totally inappropriate songs but, from memory, a good time was had by all.

After a few very enjoyable visits to the pub in Brookeborough, my next major breakthrough was due entirely to the kindness and co-oper-ation of the landlord, Bernard McGrath.  Bernard and his wife had kept the pub in Brookeborough for about ten years and, although not a local man nor a singer, he had fallen absolutely and totally in love with the local singing style, in particular the songs of the hunt and the local football songs.  Bernard, in addition, had three very talented young teenage children, of whom at least one (Brian McGrath) has gone on to have a very successful career on the Irish traditional music scene.  All three children were exceptional musicians and regularly played in the small lounge at the top of the pub in company with older musicians such as Brian Breslin (grandfather of the remarkable young melodeon player Darren Breslin).  Bernard played me several rudimentary tapes that he had made in the pub and in neighbouring Newtownbutler.  Interestingly, he had never in fact heard Maggie Murphy.  The divide in Fermanagh appearing to be the main road between North and South, and Bernard being South of the road, little contact was made with people North of the road, very similar to the A12 in Suffolk and Norfolk.

Bernard often visited Newtownbutler, a very lively local place.  He was very partial to the singing of father and son Paddy and James Halpin who lived together (James was unmarried) in a small cottage a few hundred yards outside of the village, and one evening in the spring of 1979, Bernard kindly agreed to drive me to Newtownbutler to locate the two singers.  This was quickly done and again, as with Willie McElroy, I immediately knew I was in the right place, because the pair of them were sitting watching on an old black and white TV a film about hunting in the Chilterns.  Despite the fact that I had brought whiskey and tobacco for them, they showed very little interest in anything other than the film, but when it stopped we had a brief discussion and it was agreed that the following Friday they would come down to Brookeborough where I would record them in the McGraths' living room and after that the rest of the night would be their own.

Now before I go further I feel that I should give you some visual idea of the Halpins.  I mean no disrespect in this but they were physically Fermanagh's answer to Steptoe & Son.  Little Paddy wore a muffler, a little cloth cap, and he kept a bit of a back seat in the proceedings, while his son James was a large man, broad boned, very powerfully built, who spoke at great speed with a stammer which made communication even worse than normal.  They arrived at the pub about half past five on the Friday evening.  I had the afternoon off on a Friday in those days and had been in the pub for a fairly good while, so I was fairly relaxed about the whole proceedings.  Barely without a pause, they proceeded then to sing - my estimate would be something from a dozen to fifteen duets and various solo songs - until about half past seven.  At which point time was called on our proceedings - the McGraths wanted to have a break from serving in the pub - and we all trooped into the main bar to be joined later by Jenny Hicks and Maggie Murphy.

The Halpins did not know Maggie, although she was aware of them by reputation.  I believe Jenny probably knew Maggie from the bingo or the hunt, of which she was a keen follower, but immediately there was a rapport between the four of them and a large contingent of locals who had heard that the Halpins were at the pub.  Now sad to say, the recordings that I made that night and future recordings of James and Paddy, were almost entirely lost when my car was stolen in London later that year, 1979.  The only surviving tapes from Fermanagh were in fact three tapes made in that bar session round about nine o'clock, and those are presented where shown on the current CD.

Perhaps the most endearing memory I have (other than James duetting with Maggie on Honky Tonk Angels and being told by one of the locals that that there were plenty of women in Hollywood getting more money than she was for singing far worse) was of James, at the end of the evening, very gently and very discreetly picking his father up from the barstool and carrying him into the back seat of my car as I prepared to drive them back home to Newtownbutler.

The other major discovery that I made in this area was through the research of Jenny and Michael Hicks, who knew of the singer James McDermott from nearby Lisnaskea.  James was a terrific singer, a man probably in his early 60s, who lived in a very small cottage with his wife and ten children.  James was another who I would never have been able to record at home, since from memory his children showed precious little interest in his singing and it was agreed that the McGraths' pub would be the best place for me to record him, which we did in 1980, and the results can be heard on CD 1 of The Hardy Sons of Dan.

Now there were obviously periods when I was recording that it was not appropriate or possible for Jenny to accompany me; one such was a Sunday morning.  The Hickses kept a farm which kept them extremely busy and one very wet Sunday morning I went by invitation with Jimmy Halpin to Newtownbutler and Jimmy's idea was to knock on every house door in the main road of the village and to ask the inhabitant to sing us his songs: Jimmy obviously knew pretty well everybody in that street.  Now imagine, if you can, a hung over cost-accountant lugging a Uher tape-recorder up and down the High Street, accompanied by Jimmy who was in full Hibernian tartan uniform, on his way that afternoon to play in a pipe band at a local Gaelic football match: one that in fact his father had been banned from the previous year for running on the pitch and attacking the referee!

Jimmy was superb in introducing me to at least half a dozen singers on that occasion: sadly, few of the recordings survive.  They were all re-collected at a later stage.  The tragedy of this is of course that the one person I never recorded again was old Paddy, who sadly died in early 1980, and the recordings on this CD are the only ones I possess of his singing.

The best find that Sunday was Phil McDermott, whom Jimmy knew well.  A man of about 60, he recorded only two songs, The Reaping of the Rushes Green and The Roslea Hunt, but which I feel stand up against anything I recorded in Fermanagh.

Having recorded these, I made my way to the football ground to wish Jimmy good-bye and then returned to pick up the car which I had parked a few hundred yards from Phil's house.  Unfortunately, I found I had locked myself out, so while I was waiting for the RAC to get me out of bother, I decided to play the recordings which I had made of Phil that lunchtime.  Unfortunately, during the recording session Phil's wife had been frying sausages in the kitchen and although we did not hear the noise, when I played back the tapes, the overwhelming impression was of a very scratchy old 78 with a load of hisses, snaps and crackles.  So while I was waiting for the RAC I knocked on Phil's door, explained the situation and asked him to record them again, which he duly did.  The results of which you will hear on this CD.

Another person that we visited, myself and Jimmy, was a wonderful singer from the small hamlet of Wattlebridge, which lay about three miles outside Newtownbutler.  She was Mary Anne Connelly, a charming woman probably in her mid-60s who learnt her repertoire from friends and family.  Several of her children were in fact highly talented and very creditable local singers.  The one drawback with my recordings of Mary Anne Connelly is that Mary lived in a rural idyll.  The most beautiful country farm backed onto a cross roads so unfortunately the recordings that I've got on this CD are somewhat marred by birds singing, tractors tractoring, a little dog running round the base of the microphone stand and various neighbours looking in to find out what was occurring.  But I feel that the quality of singing far outweighs these small disadvantages: I present the recordings accordingly.

Another singer from Newtownbutler whom I greatly admired was a man called John Maguire, known as Big John Maguire to differentiate him from the better-known singer John Maguire from Roslea (because of the height difference - Big John was very well built, over six feet).  I came to know of him (although Jimmy had mentioned him on several occasions) when Jenny invited me to a drag-hunt in the village of Belturbet, just over the border in Co Cavan, and after the hunt Jenny and another man by the name of Willie Clerkin convinced me to track down John Maguire with a view to recording him.  Now this we did, although my input into the proceedings was minimal.  Willie Clerkin was a man of about five foot three, very broad built, and when we arrived at the Ulster Bar, which is where we were told John was, I introduced myself to him.  Big John said that he was too busy to sing, that he was in company and to visit him again later.  I don't know what Willie Clerkin said to him but within less than thirty seconds of Willie entering the bar he said, "Set the tape recorder up boy, we're going to go for it now."

Willie Clerkin lived with his two unmarried brothers in a cottage near Magharaveely, so remote that there were no roads to it.  We ended up that night in his cottage with another singer by the name of Patsy Flynn, a man in his 50s whom we had tracked down to a Hells' Angels bar in Clones, just over the other side of the border in Co Monaghan.  Patsy Flynn had a reputation locally as a very good singer - not unlike Kevin Mitchell.  We drove him over to Willie Clerkin's cottage and at three o'clock in the morning the recordings that appear on volume two of this CD were made.  Proceedings were constantly being interrupted by Willie's two brothers, who were so excited by having visitors that their generosity exceeded all necessity, and brown bread and trout were the order of the day for several hours.  Patsy's version of Barbara Allen was a particular favourite of Jenny's, one of the main reasons we had gone to seek him out; he was also highly regarded by Bernard McGrath, which was reference enough for me.

The other singer from this area was a man by the name of Tommy Tinneny who was in all ways the elder statesman of the local Newtownbutler singing crew.  To him, Paddy Halpin was "young Halpin".  Tommy was well into his 90s when I recorded him singing.  I'd been introduced to him by his daughter and he is one of the few instances where I recorded without assistance and made a cold call to a singer in Fermanagh.  In addition to The Clones Murder, Tom had a version of The Titanic, the ballad of the shipwreck, that lasted well over seven minutes and Tom was a very, very good singer.  Because of his age I did not record him at any great length and he died shortly after making these recordings.

On another occasion when Jimmy was unavailable - he had gone eel-fishing for the weekend - one of the faces around Newtownbutler and Brookeborough, a chap named Peter McDermott who showed great interest in the singing, a man approaching sixty I would say, very kindly offered to introduce me to a singer by the name of Red Mick McDermott.  So on the Tuesday we picked up Red Mick McDermott from Donagh, and drove him out to a bar in the afternoon with a view to recording him.  Now my hopes for this enterprise were not high: I was confusing Red Mick McDermott with another local man known as Mad Mick McDermott whose reputation was quite awesome and, from what I had seen of him, fully justified.

However on meeting Red Mick McDermott, a diminutive little man, my fears were allayed.  We settled into the Donagh Lounge and Grill and after a little liquid encouragement Red Mick began to sing.  He was unquestionably one of the most distinctive of the singers that I've recorded, but what you will not notice from the recordings is that although it was Tuesday afternoon, the bar was full of between a dozen and two dozen mainly young lads, who were presumably unemployed, with nothing better to do.  To their eternal credit they sat very quietly, listened to the proceedings and, despite the age difference between the singer and themselves, showed great respect for Red Mick and I got the impression, thoroughly enjoyed his singing.

Another rare example of me recording on my own took place after a hunt near the town of Maguiresbridge.  After the hunt, the huntsmen assembled in a pub room dominated by a large pool table.  The singers gathered around it, took their seats and, totally oblivious to me and my recording equipment, began to spend the night singing their local hunting songs and various other popular and comic songs.  One of the singers was a man called Eddie Coyle, a dairyman from Derrylin.  I've included his version of The Little Mud Cabin On the Hill, certainly not for its rarity, as, along with The Little Thatched Cottage Best Home of Them All, it was probably one of the most popular songs to be found in that area of Fermanagh during my time there.  I have included it not only because it is probably one of the most stylish versions of the song ever recorded or sung, but also because it demonstrates that hunting is one of the few pastimes shared by both sections of the community: it crosses the sectarian divide with no trouble at all.  People demanding the cessation of hunting would do well to recognise that in the troubled land of Ireland hunting is one of the few pastimes that bond together both sides of the community.

Another singer present that night in Maguiresbridge was a man by the name of Packie McKeaney, who was probably in his sixties, a well-built and upright, white-haired gentleman, with great charisma and highly regarded by the company.  He sang two songs for me that night, one of which opens the first CD.  It was some while later that I went to Derrygonnelly.  How I got to Derrygonnelly escapes me at the moment; it was a considerable distance from Newtownbutler and the area I was familiar with but I made the journey nonetheless.  I think it was probably in the company of Jenny Hicks.  When we arrived at the pub there was a disco on, so it was decided the four singers who had been assembled for our entertainment and Jenny and myself would go out into a large tin hut situated in the car park of the pub.  It was not an ideal recording studio: apart from the rather poor acoustics, several young lads from the town decided to throw stones at the tin hut which caused some consternation among the singers as a the sound was horrendous.  But again, I was lucky enough to meet Packie McKeaney and he sang a couple of songs on that occasion.  It was not for another twenty five years however that I was to discover that Packie McKeaney was in fact the father of the noted Fermanagh singer Rosie Stewart, from Derrygonnelly.  It also transpired that Rosie's brother, John, worked at the picture-framing factory where I did.

A few notes on the repertoire that I collected:

As I mentioned earlier, I am no expert whatsoever on Irish singing.  What I recorded was what was sung for me.  With the exception of a few songs I had been told singers knew and I had been interested in, I had very little input into what they recorded.  I made very few suggestions and basically left it up to them.  So what we have ended up with is a good cross-section of songs that the singers liked, that they felt worth recording and covered a large range of Irish traditional song in the late 1970s in a small area of Co Fermanagh and the fringes of Co Cavan.  Included are classic ballads, local songs, hunting songs, football songs, a little bit of Country & Western, a little bit of Irish folk pop.  Interestingly though, two important elements are entirely missing, one being comic songs.  None of the singers presented on these CDs featured comic songs to any great degree.  Although I recorded several during this period, the singers themselves appeared neither geographically nor socially to fit in with the aims of this CD: the singers were largely from areas outside of Fermanagh, primarily in Tyrone, and although well known to most singers, did not mix socially except on the odd occasion at hunting sessions.

The second great omission is those songs that I would describe as Republican songs.  Now it's interesting that when I did not have the tape-recorder with me but singing took place, these types of songs were very common amongst the local singers.  However, when I was recording, whether it was out of deference to myself or to Jenny, these were very seldom sung: in fact, looking through my whole collection I can only find two that would fit into this category.  Neither I feel was well enough sung to include in this collection. 

Another important difference from the norm concerns instrumental music.  There were local traditional musicians, many of whom played in the bars where I collected songs, but they tended very much to keep the two traditions, the music and the singing, distinct from each other.  This, as I say, is not usual in Ireland and in no way was influenced by myself.  The singers themselves seemed a tight-knit community who, while appreciating the music, did not see it as a natural companion to their night's singing.

All good things come to an end and unfortunately, around 1982, it was decided that the company where I was working was no longer commercially viable.  I blamed the import of cheap Japanese products: less generous souls back in Southend blamed me for spending all my time collecting folk songs and not getting a grip on the accounts.  Furthermore, when it was discovered back at head office that I had been out in some of the most dangerous countryside in these Islands, alone, recording in pubs, the reaction, I have to say, was not good.  It was decided to close the company down but I'm pleased to say that the management of the company staged a management buy-out and continued to operate.  As far as I am aware, the company is still in operation and doing quite nicely.  Sadly, although I would have loved to have stayed, amongst a veil of intrigue and double-dealing I was pulled out towards the end of 1982. 

Song ownership:

Unlike my experiences in Suffolk, I found it rare for a singer to claim a particular song as his own.  Many of the songs recorded and issued on this CD can be found in the repertoire of the other singers in this collection and also other singers whom I recorded at the time.  There seems to be no problem with this among the singers although, whether it is by accident or not, most of them would have their own particular songs that were generally recognised as being theirs.  They were known for the song.  This would not preclude anybody else singing it but most singers had one or two songs that they were associated with.  Many of the songs indeed were sung by several of the singers, particularly popular ones such as The Little Log Cabin on the Hill, Little Thatched Cottage Best Home of Them All, and in particular, rather surprisingly, the hunting and the football songs were common among all the singers.  It was very rare that a song appeared only in one man's repertoire, in fact I can think of only one example, Donagh Hill by Red Mick McDermott, that I did not record from another singer.  This as I say, was extremely different from my experiences in East Anglia where ownership of a song, a thorny problem, was extremely well-established and somebody who wanted to sing another man's song would invariably have to wait for that person to either die or give up on the singing and acknowledge that somebody else was able to take on board that particular song.


I have returned to Fermanagh on one or two occasions: in 1983 in the company of Peta Webb when we stayed with Jenny and Michael Hicks and we did a little bit of collecting; once, when I was very kindly invited to the launch of Maggie Murphy's CD (put out by John Howson on Veteran) at Derrygonnelly festival in 1995, along with two other collectors, John Howson and Seán Corcoran, to present Maggie with a copy of the CD, but on this occasion the only music to be heard was in fact at the festival.  Whether the music continues to this day, I am not sure.  I am fairly sure that the singing does continue, but whether in the same spirit or the same environment that I witnessed I have no idea.  I would really like to know.

Finally, I would stress that it was never my intention for these recordings to be made available to the public, commercially or otherwise.  Therefore it was very rare for me to make a second take of a song on a particular night and on most occasions I just left the tape-recorder running and picked up what was going on.  As I say, and I stress this, I am not a folk song collector; I consider myself to be a recorder of traditional singers and musicians.

However, thanks to the encouragement of Paul Marsh whose technical wizardry in enhancing field recordings has been used both professionally and enthusiastically, and with a great respect for the music, I feel that the end results are fully worthy to be made available to a wider, discerning and hopefully enthusiastic audience.

Keith Summers - Southend, February 2004

Has a quarter of a century really passed since Keith Summers and his tape recorder came to Brookeborough?  As newcomers to the area, Jenny and I went out several nights each week: the McGraths encouraged all sorts of singers and musicians in what was then a very old-fashioned little pub.  We would go out on the ceilidh, knowing houses where visitors were always welcome for an evening of gossip, tea and sandwiches and maybe a song or two.  The Maguiresbridge Hunt Club had its regular meetings in Eugene Smyth's bar to arrange the forthcoming fixtures and collect subscriptions (50p monthly), and after the evening's business Dougie Birney would sing Kilyfole Boasters and Eddie Coyle the Taglioni song.

But pubs change management, the new generation regard evening visitors or pub singers as an unwelcome interruption to the essential television, and if the old ways continue somewhere, I have lost contact and grown into a miserable old sod who prefers to stay at home in the evenings (so why did Keith ask me to write these notes?).

But the hounds still run: the increase in motor traffic and sheep farming makes it impossible to keep them on the old free-range system, and where once a dozen men would each bring one or two hounds to the meet, the tendency now is for one or two men to keep a dozen hounds each, with the rest of us reduced to a spectator role, and a loss of the competitive atmosphere which was so much a part of the Irish way of hunting.  But the hounds still make the same wild music, and when another club comes for a 'challenge hunt' we have not forgotten how to party afterwards, or how to abuse the performance of the visitors' hounds.

Michael Hicks - Maguiresbridge, March 2004

Some of the Singers:

John Maguire - or 'Big John Maguire' as he was affectionately known was born in 1914 in 'a neatly thatched cottage' on the shores of Lehinch Lake two miles from the border town of Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh.  It was in this cottage and around this area he spent a large part of his life, apart for a short spell in his youth spent in England seeking employment like so many others of his era.  It was during this time he met his wife Connie a strong and spirited Co Lois nurse, who like himself was also forced to leave her Irish home and seek employment overseas.  At the outbreak of the second world war they both returned to their lakeside cottage in Fermanagh with John making his living working on the Northern Railways until its closure.  Between them they raised nine children passing on to them their love of music and song.

'Big John' was indeed a big man both in stature and in character.  He was gifted with a great singing voice and had his own unique style of delivering a song.  His strong crystal clear voice always commanded attention and shushed many a crowded gathering.  He also had the knack of storytelling and could spin a good yarn effortlessly.

This part of Fermanagh is deeply steeped in old traditions and ancient sports which, though costing little in meagre times, repaid much in brightening up peoples lives.  'Big John' took an active interest in the upkeep of these traditions deriving much pleasure from the hunt and the cry of the hounds and also from music and song.

He was a man of the land and in mean and hungry times, with a large family to feed, he made use of all the assets provided in his local environment, with its plentiful lakes and woodlands.  He was a keen fisherman and hunted for game for the table with dog and gun.  He always had the best cabbage and spud crop for miles around.  He kept a few goats to provide milk and a yearly flock of pigs which give rise to many 'hairy' tales of smuggling them across the border.

It was from these sporting influences that many of his songs were derived e.g.  The Huntsman's Horn in the Early Morn or the great Newtown football songs The Hardy Sons of Dan and The Bold Fifteen.  With his life deeply touched by emigration and the loss of his two younger sisters to Australia never to return, his soulful rendering of songs of emigration such as The Green Fields Round Ferbane would bring a tear to a glass eye.  While however on the other hand he could make one laugh until one cried with his rendering of comic songs such as The Funeral.  'Big John' and a few others were the mainstay in keeping the traditional singing scene alive by sessions and swapping and exchanging songs by post, before modem technology e.g.  tapes, videos, CDs made this an easy matter.

On 4th April 2000 'Big John' went to his eternal reward at the ripe old age of 85 years having spent his lifetime keeping the tradition alive and enjoying every minute of it.

Kathleen Maguire Donnelly and
Chrissie Maguire Loran.

Philip McDermott was born in 1932 in the house where he lives now in Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh.  His father was a farm labourer and Philip was a general labourer in quarries and on the roads.  His mother sang a few songs and, in her day, she was asked out to friends' houses for sing-song evenings, when there was also fiddle and accordeon music and dances like the old-time waltz.  Philip learned The Reaping of the Rushes Green from his mother.  "My mother." he said, "was a notable singer of that one ...  Any party that was about here, they used to get her up into the houses to sing this song.  People tells me that I can't sing it nearly the way she could sing it."

Patrick (Paddy) and James Patrick (Jimmy) Halpin were father and son.  Paddy was born around 1895 in the coal-mining village of Blackridge, West Lothian, where his father worked in the pit.  They moved back to the family home outside Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh, where Paddy hired out to a farmer for six months.  He returned to Scotland, keeping in touch with the farmer's daughter, went home in 1932 to marry her, and returned with her to the Scottish mines.  They moved to Lehinch, Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh in 1934, and Paddy then worked in forestry for Lord Erne and in the quarries.  Jimmy was born in 1934 and went to school with his elder sister over the border in Clones, Co Monaghan.  In spite of having taken a commercial course, he preferred manual work, and was employed by Lord Erne and the Ministry of Agriculture in general labouring and as a stone mason.  He lived with his father until his father died, and he married at the age of fifty.

Paddy picked up many of his songs in Scotland and both he and Jimmy played the bagpipes in Lisnaskea Pipe Band and later in St Mary's Newtownbutler Pipe Band.  Paddy's daughter, Evelyn, taught Irish dancing, and, in the 1950s, she was active during the annual carnival fortnight in Newtownbutler, when the McCusker Brothers Ceili Band from Armagh and Eugene Leddy's Ceili Band from Cavan came to town.  The parish ran concerts and a drama group, and Jimmy, one of its main actors, was known for a song-cum-sketch entitled Guard Moriar-T-Y. Paddy and Jimmy were both keen on the hunting; they bred and kept hounds and the followed the hunt at weekends and enjoyed the social life in the pubs associated with it.  Jimmy had a rough manner, but, according to his wife, he never rose to anyone's anger and had the ability to shake anyone out of a bad humour.  He was regarded as 'the life and soul of any party', and was a well-loved character within his own community.

Mary Ann Connelly, daughter of John McMahon of Newtonbutler, Co Fermanagh, was born around 1910, and brought up her family in Wattlebridge.  She learned many songs from her mother.

Maggie Murphy was born in Tempo, Co Fermanagh, and has lived in and around that area all her life.  Her singing was first recorded for the BBC in 1952 by Seán O'Boyle and Peter Kennedy at the house of Mr Bob Woods at Bellyreragh where she was working in service.  "Sean was married to the daughter of Mrs Woods and he had heard that I sang while I was milking the cows and coming away from work."

Maggie spent her working life in service so it's maybe not surprising that she has several songs which feature serving maids/boys.  Maggie says of her days in service, "That time you were hired at a hiring fair.  Tempo fair wasn't a hiring fair - Trillick was a hiring fair and Enniskillen was a hiring fair.  It was 10th of May and 10th of November, every six months and you worked then for six months in a place and if you left before the six months then they kept your wages.  So you had to stay there whether you were starved or not."

"My father was a good singer surely, but he wasn't as good a singer as my mother and you could never learn a song from him, but I learned the whole songs from my mother singing them, and that was at home.  She'd sing them, then I'd sing along with her.  Then if I'd get them wrong she'd write them down for me.  She got her songs from her mother, but I never knew my Grannie."

The songs:

It's well-known that culture has little respect for geographical or political boundaries, so it's worth pointing out that Fermanagh shares a border with Tyrone, Donegal, Leitrim, Cavan and Monaghan and, consequently, the currency of the song tradition crossed borders too.

While we have gone to considerable lengths (see Credits at end of booklet) to get spellings of place and personal names correct, readers should be aware that some remain merely phonetic interpretations of what we believe the singers actually sang.  Further, many Irish place names come in several different and alternative spellings - we hope no one will take offence if our version is not the same as theirs.

Roud numbers quoted are from the databases, The Folk Song Index and The Broadside Index, continually updated, compiled by Steve Roud.  Currently containing almost 241,000 records between them, they are described by him as "extensive, but not yet exhaustive".  Copies are held at: The Vaughan Williams Memorial Lib-rary, London; Taisce Ceol Duchais Eireann, 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, 1882-98.  Laws numbers, where quoted, refer to entries in American Balladry from British Broadsides by G Malcolm Laws Jr, 1957.

CD One:

1 - Adieu to Lovely Garrison (Roud 17892)
Packie McKeaney
(Recorded by Keith Summers at Eugene Smyth's bar in Maguiresbridge, Co Fermanagh, after a hunt, Winter 1977)

Adieu to Lovely Garrison,
Where I was bred and born.
Though far away I love you still,
As the sunshine of the morn.
Your shady groves where I did rove,
With schoolmates one and all.
For to view the fish down in the lake
And the salmon at Scots Fall.

Adieu to Aghamuldowney,
Knockareven and Carranmore.
There's not a field within your plains
But I've travelled o'er and o'er.
Through Brolagh Bog, your sloping hills,
Decorated with heather green.
In the silent hours I'll sit and think
On the happy days I've seen.

Adieu to Farrancassidy,
Likewise to Belleek town.
On Lough Erne's banks it's Patrick stands,
And his equal can't be found.
Through Camlin Groves where youths still rove
And lovers gather there.
To enjoy the scenes that can't be found
At a pattern * race or fair.

Adieu to you Bundoran
With your beauty spread far and wide.
Your lovely strand, both gay and grand,
Washed by the Atlantic tide.
In the summertime the strangers come
Some pleasure for to see.
But alas it grieves me to the heart
To be far away from thee.

Adieu to you Lough Melvin
With your islands grand and gay.
Where I did rove with my true love
In the pleasant month of May.
To take a boat to go afloat
And to cross your waters blue.
And to climb up Sheehan Mountain
Its valleys for to view.

Adieu to Sheehan Mountain
Where the juniper nuts do grow.
If ever I return again
Sure it's there I'm sure to go.
Not forgetting Ballyshannon
On the winding banks of Erne.
Where the primrose grows in lovely rows
Among your Irish fern.

Now to conclude and finish,
To Kiltyclogher I'll bid adieu.
Where I spent many's the happy hour
In the valley of famed Kilcoo.
And if ever I return again,
I will visit you once more.
And I'll sing in praise of my infant days
Around Lough Melvin's shore.

Hear, Hear!

* pattern - local pronunciation of 'patron'; a rural holiday, usually on feast day of a local saint.

Since this is the title of Rosie Stewart's CD (Spring Records SCD1041) we presume the song appears there, too.  Garrison is in the north of Fermanagh, on the shores of Lough Melvin, just on the border with Co Leitrim.

2 - The Constant Farmer's Son (Roud 675, Laws M33)
James McDermott
(Recorded by Keith Summers and Jenny Hicks in McGrath's pub, Brookeborough, Co Fermanagh, 8.8.80)

There was a rich farmer's daughter,
In Limerick Town did dwell,
Bright, modest, fair, and handsome,
Her parents they loved her well.
She was admired by lords and squires,
But all their hope's in vain,
Ah, there was one, a young farmer's son,
Young Mary's heart did gain.

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

The fair being held near to this town,
Her brothers went straight away
They asked young Willie's company,
With them to spend the day.
The day being gone, and night came on,
They swore the race was run,
It was with their sticks the life they took,
Of her constant farmer's son.

As Mary on her pillow lay,
She had a frightful dream,
She dreamt she saw her true love dead,
Lying in yon pouring stream.
Mary arose, put on her clothes,
To seek her love did run,
Whilst pale and cold, she did behold,
Her constant farmer's son.

She took him by the lily-white hand
And she kissed him o'er and o'er.
And for to release her troubled mind,
She kissed him more again.
She gathered the green leaves off the trees,
To shade him from the sun,
And three nights and days, she passed away,
With her constant farmer's son.

Whilst hunger and pain kept creeping,
This poor girl wept with woe,
And for to find the murderers,
Straight homeward she did go.
Saying "Parents dear, and did youse hear,
Of this dreadful deed that's done,
For in yonder vale, lies cold and pale,
My constant farmer's son."

The doctor got their bodies
All for to practice on.
And in a madhouse cell, young Mary dwells,
For her constant farmer's son.

The plot of The Constant Farmer's Son was used in the 14th century by Boccaccio in The Decameron and later made the subject of poems: by Nuremberg poet Hans Sachs in the 16th century; and, in the early 19th century, by John Keats in his Isabella and the Pot of Basil

Based on an older song, The Bramble Briar or Bruton Town, which has been described as 'probably the song with the longest history in the English tradition', it owes its continued popularity to its appearance on nineteenth century broadsides.  A version from Hertfordshire in 1914 gives it as 'Lord Burling's (or Burlington's) Sister or The Murdered Serving Man

Quite a well-known song with 84 instances in Roud's Index - but although it is popular in Ireland, it would seem that only Josie Connors (Wicklow, on MTCD325-6), John Maguire (Fermanagh, on Leader LEE 4062) have been recorded, while Sam Henry heard it from May Logan in Derry, 1939, and it has only appeared in print there a couple of times.  However, it was found all over the southern half of England, from people like Henry Burstow (Sussex), Shepherd Hayden (Oxon), Eliza Small (Somerset), Billy Jordan (Lincs) and many other less well-known singers.

James McDermott can also be heard on We've Received Orders to Sail, Voice of the People, Topic TSCD662

3 - The Reaping of the Rushes Green (Roud 3380)
Philip McDermott
(Recorded by Keith Summers at the singer's house, Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh, 6.8.80)

As I walked out one morning,
It being in the merry month of May,
Me and my two white beagles,
Hoping to find some game to kill.
When I spied no one but Mary;
She appeared to me like a virgin queen,
She being at her daily labour
At the reaping of her rushes green.

She says.  "Young man, be easy!
Go on your way, aye, and let me be.
Do not toss or spoil my rushes.
Hard labour I have toiled by thee."
"If I toss or spoil them carelessly,
A far greener bunch I'll reap for thee.
So sit you down beside me;
Some pleasant stories I'll tell thee."
"I know it's hard to refuse thee,
Although you might lead me astray,
So I'll sit down beside you
'Til the morning dew melts fast away."

As my love and I sat courting,
It being 'neath yon green laurel tree,
And the small birds sang melodiously,
Changing their notes from tree to tree.
The larks sang loud in chorusly
While I embraced my virgin queen,
Mary, my love Mary
And her bonny bunch of rushes green.

Since my love and I got married,
Great riches she has gained by me.
She has servants to attend her
And to keep her from all slavery. 
Her waist grew long and slender. 
This whole wide world I'd reign for her,
For Mary, my love Mary
And her bonny bunch of rushes green.

This song was included on the Voice of the People volume on hunting songs; however - except for the incidental mention of beagles in the first verse - it has nothing whatever to do with hunting or poaching!  It almost goes without saying that any song which includes the phrase 'reaping of the rushes green' has nothing whatsoever to do with rushes either!  'Green rushes' almost always refers to virginity/purity, and this is certainly the meaning in this song.  Paddy Tunney also used to sing it.

Phil McDermott can also be heard on To Catch a Fine Buck was My Delight, VotP Topic TSCD668

4 - The Huntsman's Horn (Roud 12920)
James and Paddy Halpin
(Recorded by Keith Summers in McGrath's pub, Brookeborough, Co Fermanagh, Spring 1979)

The huntsman's horn in the early morn
Likewise a ringing cheer
Awakens all the echoes
In the woods both far and near. 
The hound within his cosy lair
He answers without fail
And to that call comes bounding
Over woodland, hill and dale.

Now this is an ancient custom
Of which Irishmen may brag. 
For with the noble wolfhound
Our forefathers chased the stag. 
This custom it has been kept up
As time rolls quickly on,
It would charm the heart of old and young
To hear the huntsman's horn.

Now, I have wandered from my path,
Excuse I now will take. 
And listen unto these few lines
That I will now relate. 
It's all about a hunt that
We had in Kilnacran
With the hardy boys from Newtown
And the boys from College Land,

The huntsmen scattered far and wide
To beat the fields with skill. 
The first place puss broke cover;
Was on Kilmore Hill;
She headed straight for Kilnacran
Like an arrow from a bow,
And soon the pack was giving tongue
To the cry of "Tally Ho!"

Then back across Corscreenagh
Both men and dogs they come,
Where another hare was quickly got;
Once more the pack gave tongue. 
Them Newtown men cheered Spinner,
As again the hill she ran. 
But the hardy boys from Follum
Cheered wee Countess to a man.

On the face of Ballywillin
Old Flogger he did view,
Wee Lightning Lass, that none could pass
Up to the front she flew.
Excitement was terrific
Such sport was never seen,
When wee puss was quickly brought to death
By the star of Derrameen.

For the fun was only started
In the place called Tantybulk. 
'Twas here that old Ned Crudden cheered
For our Gay Lad done the work. 
But going through Dramuskey scrub
Like a bolt from out the blue
Wee Freedom landed in the front
And she started for to view.

There was huntsmen gathered there that day
From Kilridd to Clonagur,
Back through Magheraveely
And from Lough Erne's shore. 
Here's a health to old Ned Crudden,
For sportsmen he's the star. 
For with wee Comely he did bring
The cup to old Loughgar.

This is Roud's only known collection of this song.  Kilnacran is in the Parish of Galloon in the southeast of Fermanagh, between Maghera-veely and Roslea.  James and Paddy Halpin can also be heard on There is a Man Upon the Farm, VotP Topic TSCD670

5 - Molly Bawn (Roud 166, Laws O36)
Maggie Murphy
(Recorded by Keith Summers in McGrath's pub, Brookeborough, Co Fermanagh, Spring 1979)

In the county of Derry
Where I was born and reared,
Around me a place
Called me wild roving blade.
I courted a wee girl
And she proved mine,
For the world would have blamed me
Had I left her behind.

For Molly went out
In a shower of hail,
And under a greedler [sic]*
Herself did conceal.
For Johnny being out shooting
He did not miss his mark,
But oh and alas
He shot her in the dark.

When Johnny went over
And saw she was dead,
A river of tears
In her bosom he shed.
Saying "Molly, lovely Molly,
I never intended that.
For I never but intended
In making you my wife."

For Johnny went home
With the gun in his hand,
Saying "Father, dear father,
I've shot Molly Bawn.
With her white apron round her
I took her for a swan,
But oh and alas
It was my Molly Bawn."

His father coming down
And his locks they were grey,
Saying "Son, dearest son, dear,
In your own country stay.
Stay in your own country
'Til your trial comes on,
And you never shall be taken,
Shoot a lass on my land."

But the night before the trial,
Molly's ghost did appear,
Saying "Uncle, dear Uncle,
Johnny Rundles I clear.
With my white apron round me
He took me for a swan,
But oh and alas
It was I, Molly Bawn."

All the girls of the country,
They seemed to be pleased
For to hear of Molly's misfortune,
The sad end she came to.
But all the girls of the country,
Put them all in a row,
Molly Bawn would shine through them
Like a diamond in snow.

For I shot that fair creature,
The flower of Dunmann,
I have shot that fair creature,
I have shot Molly Bawn.
With her white apron round her
I took her for a swan,
But to my great misfortune
It was my Molly Bawn.

*Grianan?  (Scots Gaelic) - a drying place for anything, especially peat.  In Irish it would be grianán which means a summerhouse or balcony.

An old ballad on the 'Swan Maiden' theme, so beloved by romantic poets.  It is a version of the Greek myth of Cephalus and Procris in which Procris, suspecting that her husband is about to visit a mistress, hides in a thicket to watch his progress.  In fact Cephalus was out hunting and, mistaking Procris for a deer, he killed her with a magic dart.

However, some scholars, including Hugh Shields, believe that this specific song may, in fact, be based on an actual event that occurred in Kilwarlin, Co Down in the early 1800's (see Hugh's Ulster Folklife article 'Some Songs and Ballads in use in the Province of Ulster...1845'.)

It's another extremely popular song (152 Roud instances) all over the British Isles, Ireland and USA, with a few versions found in Canada, just Sally Sloane in Australia - and none at all from Scotland.  The supernatural elements found in some versions indicate that it could be a very old song indeed, yet it still has enormous appeal, so that there are some 32 sound recordings.  Given its probable Irish origins, it's surprising to find only 8 other named sources, mostly from the North.

There's also a reel called Molly Bán - it is played by Joe Burke on Traditional Music of Ireland; the album which accompanied Breandán Breathnach's book of the same name.  There's also another song, called Molly Bán a Stóir, which is confusing since Bán and Bawn are pronounced more or less the same.

There are two versions of the ballad on the Voice of the People series, Molly Vaughan sung by Phoebe Smith (TSCD653) and Molly Bawn sung by Packie Manus Byrne (TSCD 656), as well as recordings from Walter Pardon - Polly Vaughan (MTCD305-6), and Harry Cox - The Fowler (TSCD512D).  American versions may be heard by Dan Tate (MTCD321), Phyllis Marks (Augusta Heritage cassette 008) and Hazel Stover (Augusta Heritage 009).

Maggie Murphy can also be heard on Linkin' o'er the Lea, Veteran VT134CD and on First I'm Going to Sing You a Ditty, VotP, Topic TSCD657, along with a nice photograph.

6 - Willie Rambler (Roud 3576)
James Halpin
(Recorded by Keith Summers in the singer's cottage, Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh, 7.8.80)

When I was young and in my prime,
My age was twenty-four.
'Twas then I left Lough Erne's banks,
To Scotland I sailed o'er.
Where I beheld a fair young maiden,
She being of high renown.
And they call her blooming Mary,
Or the pride of Glasgow town.

Now to this pretty fair one
I quite modestly did say,
"Would you agree to come with me
And show to me the way.
You know I am a stranger
That lately has sailed o'er
And they call me Willie Rambler,
From sweet Lough Erne's shore."

"Now if you are a stranger
And never was here before,
Would you agree to stay with me
And say you'll roam no more?"
Five hundred pounds she did count down
Saying "This will be your own,
If you bid farewell to Lough Erne's banks
And the friends you left at home."

"Oh how could I leave Lough Erne's banks,
Where my young Molly dwells.
With a blackbird and thrush in every bush,
And the lark in yon flowery dell.
With a blackbird and thrush in every bush,
Their music I recall.
In June, July and August
When the salmon leaps the fall."

A rare song - Roud only knows of another Len Graham 1970 recording of the Halpins, and a 1947 BBC one of Christy Johnston, also from Fermanagh.  Gabriel McArdle (from Kinawley, Co Fermanagh) sings this on the Dog Big Dog Little album (Claddagh CC51CD) where the sleevenotes (by Dermot McLaughlin) say:

Dermot adds that Gabriel learnt the song from Mick Hoy, of Derrygonnelly.  It's also sung by Carmel McDermott on the four-CD set A Call from the Musical Heart of Cavan; the album doesn't have a catalogue number, though its publisher is Cavan County Council/Foras Áiseanna Saothair.  Jimmy Halpin can also be heard on To Catch a Fine Buck was My Delight, VotP Topic TSCD668

7 - Let the Wind Blow High or Low (Roud 308)
James McDermott
(Recorded by Keith Summers and Jenny Hicks in McGrath's pub, Brookeborough, Co Fermanagh, 8.8.80)

As I roved out one evening,
Down by yon riverside,
A-gazing all around me,
Was an Irish girl I spied.
Red and rosy were her cheeks,
Gold yellow was her hair,
And costly was the robes of gold
My Irish girl did wear.

The sort of shoes that my love wore
Were of a Spanish brown,
The sort of shoes that my love wore
They were gilt and bound all round.
Crying, "Aroo*, what shall I do,
For the maid of A Stór mo Chroi**.
And may I go a-roving
And slight my own Molly."

The first time that I saw my love
I was sickened very bad.
All the request I asked her for
Was to tie up my wearied head.
I saw men as bad as thee,
To time you'll lament again.
For love it is a killing thing,
Did you ever feel the pain?

I wish my love was a red rose,
Growing in yon garden fair.
And me to be the gardener,
It's of her I would take great care.
There would not be a month in all the year,
But my love I would renew,
I'd garnish thine with flowers fine,
Sweet willow, thyme and rue.

I wish I was a butterfly,
I'd light on my love's breast.
Or if I was a blue cuckoo
I would sing to the morning clear.
I would sit and sing for you Molly,
For onst I loved you dear.

I wished I was in Dublin town
And my love along with me,
Money to support us and
To keep good company.
I'd ask for liquor of the best
And I'd pay before I'd go,
And I'd roll her in my arms,
Let the wind blow high or low.

* Aroo - a frequent interjection in Irish speech which probably comes from a thrua - 'O pity' ** A Stór mo Chroi - treasure of my heart.

A well-known song which is usually called The Irish Girl, and was known to the singer as The Blue Cuckoo.  Though, as it's little more than a collection of floating verses, it's difficult to know for sure what is and what isn't the same song.  Versions were widely printed on broadsides and in books.  Roud has 113 instances, though most of these are English.  The ten named Irish singers include Sarah Makem, Robert Cinnamond, Paddy Doran, Win Ryan, Mikeen McCar-thy and Mary Connors.

Although there are 28 sound recordings listed in Roud, only one is available on CD: that by Bob Copper on Coppersongs CD 2.

8 - Donagh Hill (Roud 17893)
Red Mick McDermott
(Recorded by Keith Summers and Peter McDermott in Donagh Lounge and Grill, Donagh, Co Fermanagh, 1980)

On the eighth of November
In the year of '68,
We had a desperate siege
On Colonel Madden's estate.
There came men down from Connons,
Aye, and from Loughnarye,
And they met on Donagh Hill,
All our dogs for to try.
Tally Ho, Hark away.

Well we all took the hedges
The hare for to rise.
And the music of big Jostler
It did us surprise.
The hare then she heard them
And she stole away.
She went over Mullyned
And aye, into Cornavray.
Tally Ho, Hark away.

Here she met with Tom McCusker
And this she did say.
"Sure, my life it depends
On big Jostler the day.
Also on Gaynor (Gainer?)
For it's him I do know.
And if they will see me
They will prove my overthrow."
Tally Ho, Hark away.

Well, the dogs they came chasing,
They were checked for a while.
But, sure, Gypsy and wee Charmer
Head them on in great style.
If you had a'been there,
Sure you will laugh your fill.
To seen Tom Halpin's Gaynor,
Going o'er Corenshin Hill.
Tally Ho, Hark away.

Now this hare he raced for Sallaghy
Into Drumcaw,
She turned over Screevagh
And the face of Moorlough.
She doubled on Moorlough,
Went round the lough shore again.
And went over Drumgole,
Aye, and into Drumraine.
Tally Ho, Hark away.

Now this hare he was tired,
He sat on the ground,
He waited for to listen
To the cry of the hounds.
When along come big Reddin,
He says "This hare he has laid down.
We will call off our dogs
And head on for Newtown."
Tally Ho, Hark away.

"Not at all" says Pat Doonigan,
"Sure that will not do.
We'll put him out again
'Til the dogs get a view."
When the hare he was starting
Sure they at him did fly.
But sure Halpin's big Gaynor,
Sure, he passed them all by.
Tally Ho, Hark away.

Well now up speaks big Gaynor,
These words he did say.
"In honour of my master
Didn't I show them the way.
There's not a dog in this country,
Aye, from famed Aghnaloo,
Nor around Kilafole,
But I could chase and view."
Tally Ho, Hark away.

There are three similar but different hare-hunting songs by Tom McClung on the LP Outlet OAS 3027.

9 - To Reap and Mow the Hay (Roud 12937)
James and Paddy Halpin
(Recorded by Keith Summers in McGrath's pub, Brookeborough, Co Fermanagh, Spring 1979)

I just come o'er from Erin's shore
To see how trade was going here.
Like many a rambling Irishman
I was forced to leave my home.
I left my sweet Dungannon, boys,
Where I spent my youthful days,
Where I whistled, fought and wrestled
In the County of Tyrone.

The landlord and the times was bad;
To reap the harvest off I went. 
When I saw my birthplace levelled;
I could no longer stay,
Then with my switch and reaping hook
I gave the sod a farewell look.
I started o'er to Scotland for
To reap and mow the hay.

I scarcely landed in this place
When I got employment there and then
To reap a field of barley
With about a dozen more.
There was men from Leeds and Lancashire,
From Birmingham and London, too. 
But my heart began to sicken when
I thought on days gone by.

Now, breakfast time it come at last
And every man threw down his hook,
And went up to the barn for
To have his morning meal. 
I had no money; I had no grub,
And how to find it was a job. 
I thought it better to work and fast
Than rob and go to gaol.

This thought had scarcely crossed my brow
When the farmer shouted, "Pat!" aloud,
"Come on up, man, and eat your fill.
I know you're far from home,
Far from your own little Shamrock shore.
Come eat and drink and say no more,
And stay with me a week or so
When I'm putting in the hay."

His only housemaid was a niece,
A young Scots lass about sixteen. 
She was comely, tall and handsome
And her eyes shone like the stars. 
Her father was a soldier bold
As ever did a rifle hold,
But he lost his heart's blood fighting
In the 1914 War.

So now, as they say in Ireland,
We'll gather up and we'll have a dance.
I'll tell her pleasant stories of
The green isle far away. 
We asked and got the old boy's consent
And to the clergy straight we went. 
When the sun was shining, boys,
Sure, we were drinking tea.

So it's now I'll go back to Ireland. 
I'd like see to the old place again. 
We'll sit and sing the praises of
The green isle far away. 
I'll bring my Scots lass home with me,
I'll dandle her youngster on my knee,
And once a year I'll Scotland see,
When I go to make the hay.

This is the only instance of this song in Roud's Index, but I know I've heard other versions of it.  A truly delightful, and quite modern, song; it's almost Paddy Halpin's life story - but with Ireland and Scotland's positions reversed!

10 - My Father's Serving Boy (Roud 1910, Laws M11)
Maggie Murphy
(Recorded by Keith Summers in McGrath's pub, Brookeborough, Co Fermanagh, Spring 1979)

You maidens all, both great and small,
Pay attention to my song.
There's none on earth I love so well
As my father's serving boy.

I lived between Dungannon
And the town of Aughnacloy,
But I'm living in Amerikay
With my father's serving boy.

Where is the man who will or can
A farmer's boy despise?
His bread to win he must begin
Before the sun doth rise.

My love and I are of a seed,
As I never will deny.
There's none on earth I love so well
As my father's serving boy.

My parents wished to have me wed
Unto a gentleman;
And at the church I was to meet
And join the wedding bond.

The night before, I stole away
Unto a village nigh,
Where I did meet my own true love,
My father's serving boy.

To Moville town we both went down
To where the Earthen (sic), she did lie,
And on that ship I sailed away
With my father's serving boy.

For when I landed on the other side
Our money was all gone,
Sometimes I was supported
By a good old Irish fund,

'Til a gentleman from Ireland
Who gave us both employ.
Some pounds a week I then received
From my father's serving boy.

I wrote to them a letter,
To the town of Aughnacloy:
Saying I was living in Amerikay
With my father's serving boy.

They wrote me back an answer
To Philadelphia town,
Saying if I would come back again
I would get five hundred pounds.

I wrote them back an answer,
That the truth I'd never deny,
That I was living in Amerikay
With my father's serving boy.

A song almost entirely restricted to the north of Ireland, and Roud's 17 examples only include three instances of it elsewhere; two from Travellers, and one from Canada.  It saw a number of broadside printings - at least four outside its home area - but doesn't seem to have caught-on elsewhere (though I've just been told that Tom Munnelly recorded it from Joe Mikey MacMahon in Quilty, Co Clare).  Moville, in Co Donegal, is one of the places where the migrant boats used to sail from.

11 - The Thoughts of Long Ago (Roud 2954)
James McDermott
(Recorded by Keith Summers and Jenny Hicks in McGrath's pub, Brookeborough, Co Fermanagh, 8.8.80)

Oh, tonight in fancy, come
And take a trip across the sea.
And meet our kind companions
In the place we long to be.
All stamped upon our memories
Are the friends we used to know,
And its just tonight we'll revel
In the thoughts of long ago.

Through little lanes and meadows
We will take a stroll once more
And meet the laughing boys and girls
That we met in days of yore.
The rivers, glens and moonlight nights
Have the same old charm still,
And the whistler on a summer's eve
Comes rambling o'er the hill.

So it's off we'll rove through yon green groves
With our young hearts light and gay,
'Til a golden glaze of the setting sun
At the close of an Irish day.
The music from the hills around
Re-echoed clear and true,
As down the path they'd wander
In the fragrant scented dew.

Can you recall, sweetheart of mine,
The place where I met you.
Your rosy bower of happiness
Where love's young dreams came true.
The air was filled with love's sweet songs
As I promised to be thine.
And it's you have forever pledged your word
That you would be always mine.

I shall ne'er forget when we set sail
Across the ocean blue,
How we stood on deck
And watched those mountains
Slowly fade from view.
The last glimpse of our golden shore,
Our hearts went up in prayer,
And it's God forbid that we'd e'er forget
Our dear little Isle so fair.

Hugh Shields recorded this song from Charlie Begley, of Magilligan, Co Londonderry, in 1961, and published it in his Shamrock Rose & Thistle, p.58.  That is Roud's only sighting of the song.  Strangely, we can't find any reference to Eddie Butcher recording it; if it was sung in Magilligan, he was bound to have known it.

12 - Bad Luck Attend the Old Farmer (Roud 17894)
James Halpin
(Recorded by Keith Summers in the singer's cottage, Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh, 7.8.80)

Come all you loyal servant boys
And attention pay to me,
'Til I relate the praises
Of a farmer's history.
It's all about the treatment
That he will give to you,
He'll promise you an easy time,
'Til he gets you in his clew*.

When the farmer wants a servant boy
To the hiring fair he'll steer.
He is so independent,
Sure, no one he does fear.
He'll ask you for to hire with him,
And if you do agree
He'll promise you an easy time,
But that you'll never see.

It's when you do go home with him
You are a happy man.
His daughter she will meet you
All with an open hand.
It's there she's sure to make for you
A rousing cup of tea,
But you'll get none of the Ingy buck**
Unto the coming day.

He'll light for you a candle
And show you up to bed.
It's there you lie the whole night long,
And you as cold as lead.
He'll trip upstairs and waken you
Just at the break of day,
And he'll send you off to fodder
With a big bag-load of hay.

Now the foddering it is over
And all things settled right.
He'll call you to your breakfast,
Indeed it is a sight.
With an Ingy pudding on the plate,
That's all you're sure to see.
And an ill-greased rusty pancake
And a cup of half-boiled tea.

He'll send you to the barn
With the flail all in your hand.
He'll tell you none to spare it,
Only buff it like a man.
And when an hour or two goes by
And I begin to fail.
Now I have no dependence
In their damned old Ingy meal.

Now the dinner it is coming on,
The truth I'll ne'er deny,
I'm afraid it'll be a lonesome one,
For I can smell no fry.
And to my sad misfortune,
I'm sorry to relate
It was a two-eyed beefsteak***
Was before me on the plate.

Now the dinner it is over,
Back to the barn I went.
It was to watch my master
That I was fully bent.
I knew he was a warrior
But then I was too late,
For the playboy that appeared to me
Had dinner on my plate.

Now the evening it is coming on
To foddering I did steer.
Bad luck attend the old farmer
If hiring this half-year.
It's one of them I'll never serve
The truth to you I'll tell.
For when they give you cabbage
Sure they grease them in the well.

So come all my loyal servant boys
And with me now unite.
Don't hire with any farmer
Either morning, noon and night.
But sail off to Amerikay,
To a land where you'll be free,
And pray to God in heaven above,
That his face you'll never heed.

* Clew - entanglement or clutches, ** Ingy Buck - Finbar Boyle tells me "The 'Ingy buck' is maize, which is still called 'Indian buck', or 'Indian corn' in my part of the country (Co Louth – Finbar hails from Dundalk).  It was first imported in large quantities during the big famine of 1847.  When ground it gives a yellow meal.  When my father discovered it in Brixton market sometime in the 1970s, he hadn't seen it since he was a boy, and arranged to get supplies sent to him so that he could use it for porridge." It's interesting that the Fermanagh farm servant didn't enjoy his Ingy Buck half so well as the Piemontese of northern Italy, where it's still something of a delicacy - and is called polenta.  *** Two-eyed beefsteak - salt herring.

The Halpins always called the song The Ingy Buck.

13 - The Hardy Sons of Dan (Roud 17895)
Red Mick McDermott
(Recorded by Keith Summers and Peter McDermott in Donagh Lounge and Grill, Donagh, Co Fermanagh, 1980)

Come all you Gaels of Erin's isle,
And listen unto me a while.
Until I relate the doings
Of our men, so grand are they.
They were named after that mighty man,
They called him The O'Connell, Dan,
Who struggled hard and done his best
To leave old Ireland free.

So hurray, my boys, for the Sons of Dan.
They were the men to strike a plan.
For to score a goal there was none so bold,
As the hardy Sons of Dan.

Now in the year eighteen and eighty nine
Our gallant men they were inclined,
To win some major honours
That would uphold their name.
Well, it was at Belturbet tournament,
Teemore's Shamrocks did lament.
For it was there they met the O'Connell Sons,
That came from sweet Drumlane.


Now in August when the days were warm.
Belturbet draped in yellow corn.
We met the Sons of Usnagh
On the top of Creaney Hill.
Twenty-one silver crosses was the prize.
It was The Champions of the ties.
Sure, Usnagh swore they'd wear them
Or they'd die upon that field.


Well although our boys were a wee bit small,
How manfully they took men and ball,
And very soon we scored a goal;
The cheering then began.
Oh their elder brothers, they did say,
"We knew that they'd not run away,
Disgrace the name that they had won,
The Hardy Sons of Dan."


Now the next club, boys, for to start some fun,
It was our great St Patrick's Sons;
There was no team to face them,
On account of their great name.
But the O'Connell Sons was called again,
Out tore these heroes from Drumlane,
And soon they showed those Paddies
How to play a football game.


Now the next news we received that day,
The Clones Bulldogs we must play.
They thought they were great chieftains
With a buffer and such men,
But the O'Connell sons that ne'er stood back,
They left the buffer on his back,
And soon they showed those Bulldogs
What honours we could gain.


Now the day we walked to Derrylin,
We only brought our second team.
How manfully we marched it,
Never thinking of their plan.
Eight clubs they'd picked for to get good men
For to sweep the title back from them.
But no!  they could not take it
From The Hardy Sons of Dan!

Drumlane, or Droim Leathan, is just a few miles south of Belturbet, in Co Cavan.  The 'Drumlane Sons of O'Connell' formed in 1886, and faded out of existence, probably in the inter-war years.  They re-formed in 1966, and its present ground, O'Connell Park, opened in 1986.  The GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) was founded in Thurles, Co Tipperary, on the 1st November 1884, and Drumlane joined in 1888.

It might be worth pointing out, to those who've never heard of him, that the team is named after Daniel O'Connell (1775-1847) the Kerry-born politician known as 'The Liberator' who founded the Catholic Association in 1823, aiming to secure Catholic Emancipation in Ireland.  He was elected MP for Ennis, Co Clare in 1828, but, as a Catholic was forbidden from taking his seat at Westminster.  However, his success was a significant factor in the introduction of the Catholic Emancipation Act the following year, which granted Catholics voting rights, albeit severely restricted by property qualifications.  Later Lord Mayor of Dublin, he instigated a major campaign for the repeal of the Union with Britain in the early 1840s.

14 - Johnny Harte (Roud 2929, Henry H.443)
James Halpin
(Recorded by Keith Summers in the singer's cottage, Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh, 7.8.80)

There was a rich farmer's daughter
That lived in the town of Ross. 
She was courting a private soldier
And his name was Johnny Harte. 
For six long months they courted
And her parents knew it none,
Sure, he was her only darling
Dressed up in a Highland plaid.

Says the mother to the daughter,
"I'll go distracted mad,
If you marry a private soldier
Dressed up in a Highland plaid. 
If you marry a private soldier,
It's then you'll be undone. 
Oh, Daughter dear, be advised by me
And get wed to a farmer's son."

"Oh, it's Mother, dearest Mother,
Ah, do not run him down. 
There's many's a private soldier
Has rose to high renown. 
There's many's a private soldier
Has followed the pipes and drums,
So I will not part with my soldier lad
For any old farmer's son."

'Twas early the next morning
This woman she went to Ross,
And went up to the Colonel
In hopes to find address. 
The colonel being a modest man
And upon her he did smile,
Saying, "Come here, my decent woman,
And I'll make it worth your while."

"Well I have an only daughter
And she's a foolish lass.
She's courting one of your soldiers
And his name is Johnny Harte.
She is courting one of your soldiers
And it really grieves my heart,
And I'd be more than grateful
If you'd send him away from Ross."

The bugle sounded for parade;
Young Harte he did appear,
And went up to the Colonel
Upon the barrack square. 
"If you court this woman's daughter
And me to find it out,
I'll send you on transportation
While the regiment's out on rout."

"Well, it's hard enough," young Harte did say
"For courting an Irish lass,
For to send me on transportation
And leave my love in Ross,.
But I'll court this woman's daughter
If for me she is inclined,
And I'd court your honour's daughter
Could I only gain her mind."

"Well done, well done," the colonel said.
"You are a noble lad.
I'll put stripes upon your shoulders
For these brave words you've said.
I'll put stripes upon your shoulders
And then you'll be a match
For the foremost farmer's daughter
That comes into the town of Ross."

So now they have got married
And their honeymoon is o'er,
They are as nice a man and wife
As ever was seen before. 
Young Harte became an officer
And with his darling bride
Now they live contented
Down by the Slaney side.

A song sung all over Ireland and found, among many other places, in Colm Ó Lochlainn's Irish Street Ballads, first published in 1939 - but that may not be the whole story.  Attracta McGrath said it was part of a longer song, and told Keith of an old man who attended a pub in which she worked as a girl, in Enniskillen.  On a Thursday (Pension day) he would sing half the song, and return to complete it on the Friday!

There is a BBC recording, from Teresa Maguire of Belfast, that appeared on volume 8 of the Folk Songs of Britain (Caedmon & Topic) some years ago.  Sharp heard a set from John Murphy in central London in 1908.

15 - With the Old Navvy Boots On (Roud 516)
James McDermott
(Recorded by Keith Summers in McGrath's pub, Brookeborough, Co Fermanagh, 8.8.80)

I'm a hard working cobee,
I lived on the line.
Nine months I have worked
In Newcastle-on-Tyne.
With the moon shining bright
And the stars shining on,
I was bound for my work
With the old navvy boots on.

I came home from my work
And I shaved off the beard;
Courting this young girl
I was highly prepared.
I went to her window,
Her light it was low,
And out of her slumber
My voice she did know.
And out of her slumber
She says, "Is it John?"
"Well it is then", says I,
"With th'ould navvy boots on."

She quickly arose
And she soon let me in.
It was into her bedroom
She landed me then.
She jumped into bed
With the blankets pulled on.
And I jumped in behind her
With me navvy boots on.

In nine months after
Or twelve I might say,
I was brought up to Court
In the very same way.
The judge found me guilty,
Hardly able to speak.
Well he says, "My young man,
You'll pay five bob a week."
"Five bob is too much
or a hard-working man."
So I left the Courthouse
With th'ould navvy boots on.

The navvies who dug the canals and laid the railways in Britain had, and earned, a reputation as hard fighters, hard drinkers and womanisers.  In 1839, Lieutenant Peter Lecount, assistant Engineer to Robert Stephenson while building the London to Birmingham railway, wrote of them:

Of the handful of songs that were made about the navvies (and one should not forget the famous reel, Navvy on the Line), this is undoubtedly the one that has survived the best.  It's known throughout these islands, but seems to have been most popular in Scotland.  Other CD versions are available by: Mary Delaney (MTCD325-6); Lal Smith (Rounder CD1778); and Jimmy McBeath (Topic TSCD660)

16 - Cavenagh Hill (Roud 17896)
James Halpin
(Recorded by Keith Summers in the singer's cottage, Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh, 7.8.80)

I'm bidding adieu to old Ireland,
I'm leaving the shamrock shore.
I'm crossing the foam from an Irish home,
My heart is sad and sore.
For leaving the friends of my youthful days,
With tears my eyes do fill.
When I think of the childhood days that I spent
Around dear old Cavenagh Hill.

No more will I see except in my dreams,
Your hunting fields so gay.
No more will I hear the sound of the horn
That lovely "Stole-away".
For a huntsman's drink and a huntsman's night,
For his sport's man's purest thrill.
Although I'm a long three thousand miles
Away from old Cavenagh Hill.

At times when I am toiling hard
My heart it'll not be there.
It'll wander back to Scotshouse town,
To the lads and lassies there.
And often I do long to return
To the land of the poteen still.
You'll all be there to drink my health
From the top of old Cavenagh Hill.

I oft times think on the days gone by
And the good old Scotshouse team.
I hope some fortune kind to send
To all of its members' being.
If ever I return again,
As I always hope I will.
They'll have won a cup
And they'll drink my health
From the top of old Cavenagh Hill.

So now kind friends I will bid adieu
For my ship she will soon set sail.
I'm leaving the land that gave me my birth,
My own dear Granuaile.
For the hunt and drink and the football team,
I sometimes see them still
Although I'm a long three thousand miles
Away from old Cavenagh Hill.

But now as the years have floated on,
Sad news we received one day.
That our gallant huntsman from Cavenagh Hill,
His life had passed away.
May the Lord have mercy on his soul.
With tears our eyes do fill.
We'll never more hear that sweet ringing cheer,
Of "McCabe" from Cavenagh Hill.

This might not be a Fermanagh song; the village of Scotshouse is just over the Monaghan border on the R212, south of Clones.

17 - Marrowbones (Roud 183, Laws Q2)
Red Mick McDermott
(Recorded by Keith Summers and Peter McDermott in Donagh Lounge and Grill, Donagh, Co Fermanagh, 1980)

"I'll sing you Billy's."

Oh there was an old woman in our town,
And in our town she did dwell.
She loved her own man dearly,
But another boy twice as well

With my right fol toor a laddie,
And my whack fol toor a lee.

Oh this old doll she went
Up to a chemist's shop,
Some stuff in it for to find.
For to see was there anything about the place,
That'd knock the old boy blind?


Now he says, "If you boil him eggs
And marrowbones,
And make him sup them all,
I'll guarantee in a fortnight after them
Oh, he'll not see you at all."


Well, she boiled him eggs
And the marrowbones,
And she made him sup them all.
But in less than an hour after them
He was trying to get through a wall.


Well, she walked him down,
She walked him down,
Aye, to the water's brim.
She says, "Thank God he'll drown himself
When I will shove him in."


Here the old doll she takes a running race
For to throw the old boy in.
But the old boy he drew to the one side
And she lit in it to the chin.


Sometimes she swam, sometimes she sunk
And loudly she did bawl.
The old boy roars at the top of his voice,
"I can't see you at all!"


At last she went to the bottom.
Oh, bad luck to the tear he'll cry,
Well she never heard that the neighbour
Meant to lift her petticoats high!


Roud's 185 instances show this to have been a pretty popular song, both in these islands and North America - and until fairly recently, too, if his 33 sound recordings are any indication.  Practically every book and journal available seems to have a version but, strangely, only one broadside printing is found in the Index.

18 - The Wild Side of Life
Maggie Murphy
(Recorded by Keith Summers in McGrath's pub, Brookeborough, Co Fermanagh, Spring 1979)

You didn't read the letters that I wrote you.
You asked me not to call you on the phone.
But there's something I wanted to tell you
So I wrote it in the words of this song.

I didn't know God made honky-tonk angels.
Sure I might have known
You'd never make a wife.
You gave up the only one that's ever loved you.
And went back to the wild side of life.

The glamour of the gay nightlife has lured you
To the places where the wine and liquor flows.
Where you wait to be anybody's baby.
And forget the truest love you ever knew.

I didn't know God made honky-tonk angels.
Sure I might have known
You'd never make a wife.
You gave up the only one that's ever loved you.
And went back to the wild side of life.

"Good girl, Good woman" ...  Applause.
"There's plenty getting paid high but couldn't sing as well, anyway.  Jimmy, there's plenty getting good money wouldn't sing as well, anyway."

Written by Arlie A Carter and William Warren, The Wild Side of Life was first recorded by Jimmy Heap and his Meloday Masters in the late 1940s, proving a minor Texas honky tonk classic for Lasso Records in Austin.  (His big break was in 1952 with Release Me.)  It was a monster US hit in 1952 for Texan Hank Thompson (over three months at number one, and became his signature tune).  Its cynical attitude inspired an 'answer record' by Kitty Wells called It wasn't God who made Honky Tonk Angels, which made her the first female artist in country music history with a million selling record.

19 The Kildallan Brown Red (Roud 5669)
James and Paddy Halpin
(Recorded by Keith Summers in McGrath's pub, Brookeborough, Co Fermanagh, Spring 1979)

"James Halpin, I want you to sing The Kildallan Brown Red.  Now, when you've taken a lock of draws of the cigarette."
"There's one"
"Just up it again"
"Here, I'll believe, I have one, maybe, that might beat the Kildallan Brown Red."
"Beat it?"
"Now I'll not scowd * now, I'd not scowd.  I'm not saying nothing, I'm not saying nothing now."
"That's fair enough."
"I might have one that might beat the Kildallan Brown Red."
"Can you imagine one that would beat it."
"A what?  A cock?  Do you have 'un?"
"No, a rooster.  A rooster now."
Friendly jeering ...
"I'm telling you.  I'm walking him, Barry; I'm walking him, Jimmy."
"I'll tell you one thing."
"Peter, Peter."
"You haven't one that'll beat one if you're paying the others now."
"A better one, a better one.  A Grandson!"
"Now I have followed them all down now.  I have seen them all followed down now."
"He fought three times and won three times."
"He fought four!  He fought four!"
"Aye, he won three of them."
"He won four!"
"Ah, fair play to him."
"I've the grandson of the Kildallan Brown Red?"
"A year?"
"A year?"
"After the Kildallan."
"He won the year again, a four year old."
"After the Kildallan?"
"Sing the song anyway!"

Ah, you sportsmen both loyal and civil,
I pray lend an ear to my song.
And when my few verses are over,
You'll see in your heart I'm not wrong.

It's all of a bird and his breeding,
Ah, the race of him's very well known.
He was bred by a man called the dealer,
And he come from the county Tyrone.

This bird was walked up in Kildallan,
By a man, aye, of great note and fame.
Brick-breasted, black red with white hackles,
He was cut out for the Monaghan main.

He was matched against a Piley from Leitrim,
A bird that was held in high esteem,
Who had fought at the main in Drumreilly,
And he won there 'twas plain to be seen.

'Twas him that licked Murray's old Blinker,
Aye, and laid their big oyster bird dead.
Sure it's plain now he never was conquered,
'Til he met our Kildallan Brown Red.

His bones they weighed seven pounds and over,
Without either feather or steel.
And the handlers how gladly they shook hands,
Like two pugilists going into the ring.

Now they met with a furious buckle,
Three times they both fell to the ground,
When the Piley he flew up the highest,
And he brought our Kildallan bird down.

The Kildallan lay under a brain blow,
He was dead on the pit for some time,
Until he got rid of his confusion,
While the Piley was still in his prime.

They were led back again to their stations,
For to fight like two soldiers for bread,
But his lot was to die on the spurs of
Our sporting Kildallan Brown Red.

Now the battle is over and ended,
And our bets we immediately drew.
Sure the Piley he called on the doctor,
For to try for to bring his life to.

Here's a health to you sporting Kildallan,
In the last main, some big birds I've seen.
Sure we have shocked the whole County Leitrim,
When we sent their old Piley home dead.

* Scowd - scold. 

Finbar Boyle tells us: "Birds are fought through the springtime, surivors are walked and well fed, and in the early summer 'mains' are held, mostly in fields that straddle the border, but sometimes in Kildare,Laois, Westmeath and Clare.  The survivors of the 'heats' are matched; 13/7 wins the main, and big, big money changes hands.  I think that the Leitrim Piley was probably a Polish breed (Poley).  Geordie Hanna asked me one time if I knew anyone that had a good Polish cockbird.  I did, actually - but I didn't tell Geordie.  The bird in question was a pet in a place I used to stay ..."

Bobbie Hanvey recorded this song - as The Moy Allen Brown Red - from Tom McClung, in Ballymacanallon, Co Armagh, in 1978, and it was published on Outlet OAS 3027.  Roud has no other examples.  Kildallan or Kildallon, Co Cavan, is a parish situated 3 miles from Killeshandra, on the Killeshandra-Ballyconnell road.

CD Two:

1 - The Huntsman's Horn (Roud 12920)
Big John Maguire
(Recorded by Keith Summers in the singer's house, Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh, 10.8.80)

The huntsman's horn in the early morn
Likewise a ringing cheer
It awakens all the echoes
In the woods both far and near. 
The hound all in his cosy lair
He answers without fail
And to that call goes bounding
Over woodland, hill and dale.

It has been an ancient custom
Of which Irishmen may brag. 
For with the noble wolfhound
Our forefathers chased the stag. 
This custom still has been kept up
As time goes quickly on,
It would charm the heart of old and young
To hear the huntsman's horn.

Now, I have wandered from my path,
Excuse I hope to take. 
Now, listen unto these few lines
Of which I will relate. 
It's all about a hunt that
We had in Kilnacran
With the sturdy boys from Newtown
And the boys from College Land,

Now, the huntsmen scattered out that day
To beat the hills with skill. 
The first place puss broke cover;
It was on Kilmore Hill. 
She headed straight for Kilnacran
Like an arrow from a bow,
And soon the pack they were giving tongue
To the cry of "Tally Ho!"

Then back to Corscreenagh
Both men and dogs did come,
Where another hare was quickly got;
Onst more the pack gave tongue. 
Then Newtown men cheered Spinner,
As against the hill she ran,
But the hardy sons from Follum
Cheered wee Countess to a man.

For this hare she went straight through Gortraw
She travelled with the wind,
Then turning quickly to the right,
She left the pack behind. 
Back across Gortbrannan and up by Highgate lawn
Some of the Newtown dogs were in the front
But they cheered them every one.

On the face of Bellawillen
Old Flogger he did view,
But wee Lightning Lass, that none could pass,
On to the front she flew.
Excitement was terrific,
Such sport was never seen,
But wee puss was quickly brought to earth
By the star of Derrymeen.

For the fun was only starting
In the place called Tantybulk. 
It was here Ned Crudden cheered
For oul Gay Lad done the work. 
Out through Ringavilla
And up by Kilroot Hall,
And back across the bottoms,
Sure, they chased her one and all.

Coming back across the valley
Ned gave another skirl.
He fired his old cap into the air, saying
"Come on, wee Comely, girl."
But going through Drumuskey scrub,
Like a bolt from out of the blue,
Wee Freedom landed in the front
And she started for to view.

There was huntsmen gathered there that day
From Kilridd to Clinagur,
Back through Magheraveely
And round Lough Erne's shore. 
Here's a health to old Ned Crudden,
For sportsmen he's the star. 
For, with wee Comely, he did bring
The cup till old Loughgar.

A slightly fuller version of CD1, track 4.  Again, this is Roud's only known collection of this song.  Big John Maguire can also be heard on There is a Man Upon the Farm, VotP Topic TSCD670

2 - Willie-O (Roud 179, Child 248)
Maggie Murphy
(Recorded by Keith Summers in the singer's cottage, Tempo, Co Fermanagh, 1982)

Oh early, early all in the spring,
When my love Willie went to serve the King,
The storm high and the wind did blow,
Which parted me from my sailor boy.

It's get for me, love, a small wee boat,
That it's on the ocean I mean to float,
From the lowlands low to the mainland sky,
That I might enquire for my sailor boy.

She just passed by one league or two,
When she met a captain with his ship crew.
Saying, "Captain, captain, come tell me true,
Does my love Willie sail on board with you?"

"What kind of hair has your Willie dear?
What kind of clothes does your Willie wear?"
"He wears a suit of the Royal blue.
And you'll know him by his heart so true."

"Oh no, my dear, your Willie is not here,
For he was drown-ded last night I fear.
In yon green island as we passed by,
It was there we lost your fine sailor boy."

She wrang her hands and she tore her hair.
Like a lady that's raked it in deep despair.
Saying, "Ha, ha, ho, what shall I do?
How shall I live when my Willie's gone?"

For she sat down for to write a song.
She wrote it broad and she wrote it long.
At every line she dropped a tear
And at every verse she cries, "Willie dear."

It's dig my grave both long and deep.
Put a marble headstone at my head and feet.
And on my breast put a cream white dove,
For to show the world that I died for love.

Roud's 112 instances show this to have been a pretty popular ballad, both in these islands and North America - and until fairly recently, too, if his 39 sound recordings are any indication.  Practically every book and journal available seems to have a version but, strangely, only three broadside printings are to be found in the Index.

3 - Bonny Wood Green (Roud 9246)
Packie McKeaney
(Recorded by Keith Summers in a hut outside a pub in Derrygonnelly, Co Fermanagh, 6.4.79)

Down amongst the green bushes
In bonny Wood Green,
Where me and my true love
It was often were seen.
As the years they rolled by,
Oh it was happy were we.
It was little she thought
That a soldier I'd be.

But early one morning
As the lambs they did play,
It was down to Kells Barracks
I there made my way.
It was there I enlisted
To fight for my Queen.
For a cause to uphold
I left bonny Wood Green.

In Larne harbour a troop ship
Lay waiting to sail.
Now sweethearts were weeping
While sisters looked pale.
We were dancing and singing
As the band they did play.
It was little we thought
On our graves far away.

Out on African soil
There's both diamonds and gold.
Now the scene of that struggle
For wealth I am told.
It was there many thousands
Were doomed to lie low,
In defence of their country
While it's facing the foe.

Away out in Flanders
At the back of the line,
We were talking on sweethearts
We left far behind.
When a young Irish soldier
Said "I've got a queen
And she works in John Ross's
In bonny Wood Green."

But early next morning
Whilst facing the foe,
A shot from the enemy
And he was laid low.
He called to his comrades,
Och, it was a sad scene,
"Take this message to Nellie
In bonny Wood Green."

Now if ever to Ireland
You happen to stray,
There is a neat little spot
Called Portballintrae.
Where the weavers and winders
Are plain to be seen.
They're weaving white linens
In bonny Wood Green.

The only example of this song in Roud is the 1954 BBC recording from Mrs Martha Gillen of Co Antrim.  It would appear to be an Antrim song, given the mention of Portballintrae, but there's no parish or townland called Wood Green anywhere nearby.

4 - Seek Not From Whence Love She Came (Roud 17897)
Mary Anne Connelly
(Recorded by Keith Summers and James Halpin in the singer's cottage, Wattlebridge, Co Fermanagh, 6.8.80)

I know a colleen in Ireland.
She's happy in old Donegal.
She's the belle of the valley she lives in,
And her figure is proper and tall.

Sweeter by far than the songbird,
Comes the rich tone of her voice.
And for the honey she gives me
Her sweet ruby lips for my choice.

Then ask me not where first I found her,
Seek not from whence love she came.
All that I know she's an angel,
And I'm not going to tell you her name.

I know a church crowned with ivy,
Sheltered with green leafy trees.
Sweet is the sound of the bell tone,
When it is borne on the breeze.

Soon will two hearts be united.
Soon will the bell toll the tale,
Over the hills and the valleys,
Over the sweet-scented vale.

Then ask me not where first I found her,
Seek not from whence love she came.
All that I know she's an angel,
And I'm not going to tell you her name.

Mary Anne Connelly learned both this song, the other two on this CD, and many others, from her father, John McMahon, a Fermanagh man who "Had a lot of old songs".  She can also be heard on As Me and My Love Sat Courting, VotP Topic TSCD665

5 - The Grangemore Hare (Roud 2883)
Patsy Flynn
(Recorded by Keith Summers, Jenny Hicks and Willie Clerkin, in Willie Clerkin's cottage near Magheraveely, 4.8.80)

On last Saturday morning
Our horns they did blow,
To the green fields of Tassagh
Our huntsmen did go.
For to meet the bold sportsmen
From round Keady town,
None loved the sport better
Than the boys from Maydown.

Now when we arrived
They were all standing there,
So we took to the green fields
In search of a hare.
It was not very long
'Til someone led a cheer,
Over high hills and valleys,
This puss, she did steer.

With our dogs all abreast
And this big mountain hare,
Sure the sweet charming music,
It rang through the air.
Straight to the black bank
For to try them once more,
This was her last sight
Round the hills of Grangemore.

These dogs they trailed on
To where puss, she did lie;
Sure she sprang to her feet
For to bid them good-bye.
Their music it ended,
Her cry we could hear,
Saying, "Bad luck to the ones
Brought you's Maydown dogs here."

"For last night as I lay
Content in my den,
It was little I was thinking
Of dogs or of men.
Ah, but early this morning
At the clear light of day,
I could hear the long horn
That young Toner did play."

"Well, now that I'm dying,
Sure the sport it is done,
No more through the green fields
Of Keady I'll run.
Nor feed in yonder valley
On a cold winter's night,
Or return to my den
When it's breaking daylight."

"I blame you MacMahon
For bringing Coyle here,
You've been at this old caper
For many's a year.
Each Saturday and Sunday,
You never give o'er,
Bringing packs of strange dogs
Round the hills of Grangemore."

Sam Henry published a version of this song - as The Hare of Kilgrain - in 1924, from the singing of William Sloan, from Dundooan, Co Donegal.  Peter Kennedy recorded it for the BBC from Jimmy McKee, in Armagh, in 1952, as The Granemore Hare, as did Robin Morton from Frank Mills, of Milltown, Co Tyrone.  It would seem to be an Armagh song, given the mention of Keady, and indeed, Granemore is a townland in the west of the parish of Keady.

6 - Young Edmund (Roud 182, Laws M34)
Maggie Murphy
(Recorded by Keith Summers in the singer's cottage, Tempo, Co Fermanagh, 1979)

Come all you loyal heroes
And listen unto me,
'Til Il unfold concerning gold
That leads so many wrong.
Young Mary being a servant maid
Who loved a sailor bold,
While on the main more gold to gain
As [for her] love, as we are told.

Seven long years now passed and gone,
Young Edmund he came home.
He brought the gold to Mary
And to her he did show,
That he had gained all on the main
Ploughing the lowlands low.

"My father keeps a public house
Down by yon beech-green isle.
Go there, go there and stop all night
Where you'll not be denied.
I will meet you in the morning.
Don't let my parents know.
That your name it is young Edmund bold
That ploughed the lowlands low."

Now Henry kept on drinking
'Til time to go to bed,
But little was his notion
That sorrow had crowned his head.
Said the father to the mother,
"Of his gold we will make a show,
And we'll send his body a-floating
Down in the lowlands low."

As Edmund on his pillow lay,
He had scarcely fell asleep,
When Mary's cruel father
Into his room did creep.
He stabbed him and he dragged him
Onto the beach below,
And he sent his body a-floating
Down in the lowlands low.

As Mary on her pillow lay,
She dreamt a frightful dream;
She dreamt she saw her true love lie
And his blood flow in a stream.
And early the next morning
To her father she did go.
For she owned she loved him dearly,
He ploughed the lowlands low.

"Where is the stranger slept here last night?"
Young Mary she did say.
"He's gone.  He's gone.  No tongues will tell.
Of his gold we will make a show.
For I sent his body a-floating
Down in the lowlands low."

"Oh it's Father, cruel Father.
You must die a public show.
For the murdering of young Edmund bold
That ploughed the lowlands low."

Now Mary's cruel Father
Neither night nor day could rest;
Thinking on the deed he'd done,
Well, guilt he did confess.
He was tried at last, his sentence passed,
For to die a public show,
For the murdering of young Edmund bold
That ploughed the lowlands low.

Now Mary she can wander
Down by yon beech-green isle
For to see the great big steamers
And small boats pass to and fro.
For to see the great big steamers
And small boats pass to and fro;
It reminds her of her Edmund bold
That ploughed the lowlands low

With 180 Roud entries, this ballad classes as one of the big ones - though the bulk of them are from North America.  Maggie is one of only four named singers from Ireland, and all are from the North.

Superb CD versions can be heard by Harry Cox (Topic TSCD667) and Geordie Hanna (TSCD653).  Sadly, Lizie Higgins' lovely Young Emsley is no longer available.

7 - Bring the Gold Cup Back to Newtown
or The Bold Fifteen (Roud 17890)
Big John Maguire
(Recorded by Keith Summers and Willie Clerkin in the Ulster Bar, Belturbet, Co Cavan, 3.8.80)

You may talk of great football
Down Cavan and Galway,
The famed Lilywhites
From the Plains of Kildare.
I'll sing you's a song now
In praise of another,
Who has took the gold cup
Out of Irvinestown's care.

On last Sunday morning
We left in a tempest;
Three hundred supporters
To cheer our lads on.
Down in famed Enniskillen
On the shores of Lough Erne,
The left-footed Reilly
Led the red and whites on.

In spite of inches of water
This game was a thriller.
The ball was thrown in
By Kevin McCann.
Irvinestown fought like champions,
They nearly out-ran us.
But Carey, Foster and Donegan
Played them to a man.

Joe McCormack's great backing
Kept Newtown attacking,
The Quinns and McDermott
Tried hard to get through.
Great football was played
By the Bent and Hugh Mickey,
But Irvinestown still had us
Three points to two.

When we turned over
We were covered in glory.
Three points in a row
Came from Master O'Neill.
Here's to Jimmy O'Hanlon,
Likewise Father Shannon,
No wonder we carried
Them out of the field.

To gain this great victory
It'll go down in history.
We've conquered two great teams;
Lisnaskea and Roslea.
Here's to Father McQuillan,
Ever ready and willin'
It was him and young Dermie
That carried the day.

Here's to this great team;
They played to a standstill.
They brought the gold cup
For the second time.
May they live on to next year,
These fifteen great champions,
And bring the gold cup
Back to Newtown again.

Given all the place-names mentioned in this song, it will be seen that Newtown is Newtownbutler.

8 - The Lisburn Lass (Roud 5694)
Mary Anne Connelly
(Recorded by Keith Summers and James Halpin in the singer's cottage, Wattlebridge, Co Fermanagh, 6.8.80)

Saying, you girls and boys where e'er you be.
I hope you'll listen unto me,
And for those few lines that I here write down
In praise of a maiden in Lisburn town.

She is tall and straight, likewise complete.
Like waxwork made from head to feet.
Yet my heart does rend when I do her pass,
For I'm deep in love with the Lisburn Lass.

The very next time I saw this maid,
I vowed she'd have my heart betrayed,
Till at length her parents did on me frown,
I was forced to list in Lisburn town.

"Oh Henry, dear", this maid did say,
"What tempted you for to list that day?
And leave your parents of high renown
And to go and list in Lisburn Town?"

Saying, "It's fare thee well father and mother too,
Unto you all I am bidding adieu.
All by my foes I am here cut down
For loving a maiden in Lisburn town."

The only other example of this song in Roud is that by Geordie Hanna of Derrytresk, Co Tyrone.  Lisburn is in Co Antrim, southwest of Belfast.

9 - The Clones Murder (Roud 2919)
Tom Tinneny
(Recorded by Keith Summers in the singer's house, Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh, 9.8.80)

You feeling-hearted Christians now
I hope youse will draw near,
And listen to these mournful lines
I mean to let youse hear.
Concerning poor John Flanagan,
His loss we do deplore,
Since he was cruelly murdered
We shall see his face no more.

He lived in the County Monaghan,
Not far from Clones town.
He came into the market,
Cashed a cheque for fifty pounds.
He little thought that morning,
As he left his father's door,
That he would be cruelly murdered
And we'd see his face no more.

For eight long months his body
Lay concealed in Clones town.
No word of him then could be got
When searched for all around.
Two men were carting dung away
And they saw a dreadful sight
The body they discovered there,
Which brought the crime to light.

The police came, and the dung was searched
And his body there was found.
He was brought out upon the yard,
But his body it was laid down.
The hardest hearted would relent,
It was dismal for to see.
But we hope his soul's in heaven above
Shine for all eternity.

He was an honest young man,
As all the people know.
He little thought in Clones town
There lurked a cruel foe.
It shook the County Monaghan
When they heard the news was true.
That he was cruelly murdered
And his age but twenty-two.

But suspicion rests upon a man
Who in Armagh gaol does lie.
For God will do what's just and true,
He rules the earth and sky.
The secrets of the sinner's heart
Is known to him each day.
And he who killed John Flanagan
With revengence must repay.

Our Lord Himself He gave command,
He says, "Thou shalt not kill."
Cain was marked out without a doubt
When Abel's blood did spill.
And on the general judgement day
None will escape their doom,
When earth and sea gives up its dead
From every silent tomb.

God comfort his poor parents,
Also his sisters dear.
For since they've heard of this dreadful crime
Sure, they have shed many a tear.
But we hope they will be united
On that bright and happy shore,
And meet again in Heaven where
They're ne'er to part no more.

See Robin Morton's Come Day Go Day p.163 for description of this real event of 1903.  There, the song is called Fee and Flannigan and it was sung by John Maguire, in Tonaydrumallard, Co Fermanagh.  Clones is only a few miles from Newtownbutler, but is actually just over the border, in Co Monaghan, and is also the setting for a well-known fictional murder recounted in Patrick McCabe's The Butcher Boy.

10 - Killyburn Brae (Roud 160, Child 278)
Maggie Murphy
(Recorded by Keith Summers in the singer's cottage, Tempo, Co Fermanagh, 1979)

For there was an old man about Killyburn Brae.
Right fol, right fol, tittie fol lay.
There was an old man about Killyburn Brae,
He'd a scolding old wife for the most of his day.
With me right fol at all, tittie fol lall,
Fol de lall, lall lall the dol lay.

One day this old man he walked out by the glen.
Right fol, right fol, tittie fol lay.
One day this old man he walked out by the glen.
He met an old Devil saying, "How are you then?"
With me right fol at all, tittie fol lall,
Fol de lall, lall lall the dol lay.

Now says he, "My old man,
I have come for your wife."
Says he, "My old man, I have come for your wife,
For I hear she's the plague and torment of your life."

So the Devil he hoisted her up on his back.
The Devil he hoisted her up on his back,
And away he went with the old dame into Hell.

For now that they land at the Devil's hall door.
For now that they land at the Devil's hall door,
He threw her right down with a slap on her face.

There were two little devils now playing at ball.
There were two little devils now playing at ball,
She leapt with her stick and she
Scattered their brains.

There were two little devils now, climbing a wall.
There were two little devils now, climbing a wall,
They said, "Take her away or she'll kill us all."

So the Devil, he hoisted her up on his back.
The Devil he hoisted her up on his back.
Nine years going away; seven days coming back.

Now says he, "My old man ,
Here's your wife safe and well."
Says he, "My old man ,
Here's your wife safe and well,
For we wouldn't keep her, not even in Hell."

"For I've been a Devil the most of my life.
For I've been a Devil the most of my life,
But I've ne'er been in Hell 'til I met with your wife."

So it's true that the women are worse than the men.
It's true that the women are worse than the men,
For, when they go down to Hell,
They get threw out again.

A version of the well-known ballad of The Farmer's Curst Wife, which gets 233 Roud entries, although most are from North America.  Robert Burns composed the ballad of Killyburnbraes from the older ballad version.  Maggie is one of only five named singers from Ireland.  Eddie Butcher, of Magilligan, had a version, and Seamus Ennis sang it.  Hugh Shields recorded it in Antrim and Derry, and a version sung by Margaret Dunne of Bellanagh, Co Cavan can be heard on the European Ethnic cassette Early Ballads in Ireland 1968-1985.

It was fortunate that Keith recorded it, as Maggie rarely sings it nowadays.  This version is not unlike that which was issued on 78 in the 1930s by Richard Heyward.

11 - Willie Leonard (Roud 189, Laws Q33)
Patsy Flynn
(Recorded by Keith Summers, Jenny Hicks and Willie Clerkin, in Willie Clerkin's cottage near Magheraveely, 4.8.80)

It was early one morning,
Willie Leonard arose.
And unto his comrade's
bedchamber he goes.
Saying, "Comrade, loyal comrade,
Let nobody know.
It's a fine summers morning
And a bathing we'll go."

To the lake of Coolfinn
These two comrades they came.
When who should they meet but
The keeper of game.
"Turn back Willie Leonard, do not venture in;
There are deep and dark waters
In the lakes of Coolfinn."

But Willie he jumped in
And he swam the lake round.
He soon reached an island,
It was soft boggy ground.
Crying, "Comrade, loyal comrade,
Do not follow in.
There are deep and dark waters
In the lakes of Coolfinn."

It was not long after
Willie's sister awoke,
And unto her mother
So sadly she spoke.
"I had a sad dream
About Willie last night.
He came to my room
In a shroud of snow white."

Her mother arose
And she went to the lake.
She called her son's name
And she wept for his sake.
Saying,"Sad was the hour
My Willie plunged in.
There are deep and dark waters
In the lakes of Coolfinn."

Now to see Willie's funeral,
It was a sad sight.
There were four and twenty young girls
They were all dressed in white.
There were four and twenty young men
All dressed in green.
Just to show he was drowned
In the lakes of Coolfinn.

Otherwise known as the Lakes of Cold Finn, Coolfinn, Coolfin, Col Fin, Cold Stream, Shallin, Colephin - or Willie Lennard - this ballad is extremely widely distributed throughout the English-speaking world (except Australia), despite having only 72 Roud entries.  Some scholars, including Phillips Barry, MacEdward Leach and G Malcolm Laws have tried to suggest that Willie was lured to his death by a water-woman who lived in the lake, thus linking the song with ballads such as Clerk Colville or Lady Alice (Child 42 and 85).  Today, there is little support for such supposition and, as Tom Munnelly so poetically put it, 'we must now let our Irish Clerk Colville sink, like Willie, beneath the waves'.  (Tom Munnelly, The Mount Callan Garland, Dublin, 1994.  p.105). 

Although there are several places in Ireland with similar names, it is probable that our story was originally set either at Loughinsholin, near Garvagh, in Co Derry, or Lough Sheelin, Co Cavan.  At one time the clan living around the latter were the O'Flynns.  The name of the song means 'the lake(s) of the island of the O'Flynns'.  P W Joyce collected it from Peggy Cudmore in Limerick in 1854 and printed it in 1873 - it also appeared in a number of other Irish and English broadsides shortly afterwards, which is possibly the reason it is so widespread. 

Given that it appeared in print during the lifetimes of many of the singers who knew it, the variety of titles the song has attracted - particularly since the published Lakes of Cool Finn would be so obvious a choice - is quite astonishing.  Some of the more interesting ones are Royal Comrade (Amy Birch following widespread Traveller tradition there), Johnny Bathin' (from Donegal), Billy Henry (Scotland), The Cruel Lake of Woolfrinn (New York) ...  and the almost inevitable 'Twas early One Morning.  For some reason, the song has remained popular to this day with Gypsies and other travellers. 

There are 24 sound recordings in Roud, of which those by Pop Maynard and Scan Tester (MTCD309-10), (Scan is also on Topic TSCD653), Mary Ann Haynes (MTCD320), Amy Birch (TSCD661), Sheila Stewart (TSCD515) and George Dunn (MTCD317-8) are still available on CD.

12 - Lough Ooney (Roud 2927)
Big John Maguire
(Recorded by Keith Summers and Willie Clerkin in the Ulster Bar, Belturbet, Co Cavan, 3.8.80)

You bards of this nation
And sons of old Ireland,
Come join in this deep consolation.
Now a hero of fame,
Noble Murray by name,
Is a friend of this old Irish nation.

He threw open his door
To the inflicted poor;
He never seemed callous nor puny.
He left word with his dear
To have cordial and beer
For all the distressed at Lough Ooney.

But on last Sunday morn
As Phoebus adorned,
The little birds sang so melodious.
He says to McAdam,
"We must have a sail.
Our pleasure boat's rigged and commodious."

Then down to the harbour
Those heroes did steer,
Where they manfully
Ploughed their brave billows.
Little they knew that their moments was few;
The cold sand would soon be their pillow.

Then the storm arose
And the waves they did roar,
The waves they appeared in great fury.
Their boat was upset,
They were cast over deck,
To sink in the sands of Lough Ooney.

Brave Murray swam on,
Thinking he'd reach the shore,
While the tumbling waves they rolled over him.
He turned on his back
When the waves they grew slack,
Expecting new strength to recover.

When a man from the shore shouts
"Turn you no more.
You'll reach the harbour more sooner."
But he says, "I am done and my race it is run.
Adieu to you, lovely Lough Ooney."

Bold McAdam swam on in the billows on high,
When he sees the poor councillor a-drowning.
He called up to Jove and the powers above,
But Neptune still seemed to befrown him.

Why didn't they stay from the water that day.
'Til that fatal hour was over?
But they couldn't see into futurity,
Or the strand, the most ways to recover.

Now royal and true
Was our heroes that drowned,
And the mothers and fathers of Juno.
Couldn't equal, couldn't equal
Our heroes that drowned,
Or that sank in the sands of Lough Ooney.

Robin Morton includes this song - again from the singing of John Maguire - in Come Day, Go Day, pp.58-60, but, beyond saying that Lough Ooney is just off the main road between Clones and Monaghan, he tells us no more about the song.

13 - Lurgan Stream (Roud 6881, Henry H.229)
Mary Anne Connelly
(Recorded by Keith Summers and James Halpin in the singer's cottage, Wattlebridge, Co Fermanagh, 6.8.80)

When to this country I first came,
My mind from love was free,
But the beauty of that female face
Did so enticeth me. 
Her teeth were like polished ivory
And her lips as sweet as the dew,
And her nut-brown hair flies in the air
Lovely to be seen.

Her eyes were like the violets blue
And her cheeks are like the rose,
And there's not another flower
In yonder valley grows. 
She's neat, she's sweet and handsome,
And her countenance serene,
And her place of habitation
Stands near to Lurgan stream.

This fair young maid made answer,
"My love, I cannot hide,
For I have no objection,
Young man, to be your bride,
And leave your parents' happy home
Where mirth and joy was seen,
So I will go over the sea with you
And leave sweet Lurgan stream."

"If you would come over the sea with me
I might get lots of blame.
You might fall in love with some other colleen
And leave me here in pain. 
Young men are false in general;
Perhaps you are the same.
So I will go over the sea with you
And leave sweet Lurgan stream."

Farewell to Letterkenny
That town of sport and fame. 
Likewise to Kilmacrennan
That stands near Lurgan stream;
Bundoran and Ballyshannon,
Ballinamallard and Coleraine,
And twice farewell to Ellen;
She's the pride of old Lurgan stream.

Rather a rare song; Sam Henry had it from Nellie M'Intyre (Co Derry) in 1928, and versions are known to Geordie Hannah (The Leargaidh Stream) and Kevin Mitchell (The Lurgy Streams).  Kilmacrennan lies a little to the north of Letterkenny, in Co Donegal.

14 - The Green Fields of Ferbane (Roud 17891)
Big John Maguire
(Recorded by Keith Summers and Willie Clerkin in the Ulster Bar, Belturbet, Co Cavan, 3.8.80)

I curse the day that I sailed away
From my dear little Isle so green.
On a foreign strand where I now stand
And a deep sea rolls between.
My thoughts they fly to when I was a boy,
E'er my worldly cares began,
My vision shows where the Brosna flows
Round the green fields of Ferbane.

Now my heart does sink when I stop and think
Of the times that are no more.
When I used to stray from my way from school
Round the green fields of Kilmore.
My only quest was a wild bird's nest,
And that oak tree lordly stands.
I spent those hours in the leafy bowers
Round the green fields of Ferbane.

Now that good old town with its roofs of brown,
I spent many's the happy night.
When I rambled away with my comrades gay
'Til the morning dawned full bright.
Those lads I see, with their smiles of glee,
As the years they backward span;
There are three or four I'll see no more
Round the green fields of Ferbane.

Now the lust for gold it soon grows cold,
When the heart gets sad within.
Old memories prey, sure, I rue the day
It's errant that I've been.
I'll turn my face from this awful place
As quickly as I can,
And I'll sail for home never more to roam
From the green fields of Ferbane.

This song's orignal title is The Green Fields Round Ferbane and it's a song from Co Offaly, hence the River Brosna reference, written by one John Doyle.

Joanie McDermott of ITMA supplied us with a copy of a monograph written by Brendan Ryan, principal teacher at Ferbane National School, concerning John Mary Doyle (1896-1969) who composed The Green Fields Around Ferbane:

Brendan adds that John never had 'the lust for gold' and 'had no ambition to be the wealthiest corpse in the graveyard'!

15 - Seven Years Since I had a Sweetheart (Roud 264, Laws N42)
Maggie Murphy
(Recorded by Keith Summers and Peta Webb in the singer's cottage, Tempo, Co Fermanagh, Summer 1983)

As Mary walked all in her garden,
A gentleman who was passing by
And as he viewed her he stepped up to her,
Saying, "Fairest lady would you fancy I?"

"Oh fancy you, a man of honour,
A man of honour you seem to be.
But what am I but a servant lassie,
And a servant lassie I mean to be."

"Oh do you see yon high, high buildings?
Oh do you see yon castle fine?
Oh do you see ships sailing on the ocean?
Those will be yours if you'll be mine."

"Oh yes I see yon high, high buildings.
Oh yes I see yon castle fine.
Oh yes I see ships sailing on the ocean.
They will not be mine, for I won't be thine."

"It's seven years since I had a sweetheart,
And seven more since I did him see.
And seven more I will wait upon him.
If he's alive he'll come back to me."

"I wonder why that you love a sailor?
I wonder why that you love a slave?
For he might be dead or he might be married.
Or the ocean deep might be his grave."

"Now If he's married I wish him happy,
And if he's dead then I wish him rest.
For no other young man will e'er enjoy me,
For he's the one that I do love best."

He put his hand into his pocket,
His lily-white fingers were long and small.
He pulled out a ring which was bent and broken.
At the sight of this to the ground she fell.

He picked her up into his arms,
Giving her kisses one, two, three.
Saying, "I'm your true love and faithful sailor,
Home from sea for to marry you."

"Now if you're my own true and faithful sailor,
Your face and features seem strange to me.
Doesn't seven years make an alteration,
And the ocean deep between me and you."

Now all you's fair maids must now take warning;
Never slight a true love when he's at sea.
For when he comes home he'll make you his own,
And take you out to Amerikay.

This is a version of that extremely well-known song - there are 322 instances in Roud - often called A Fair Maid Walking, The Broken Token or The Young and Single Sailor.  Indeed, I can find at least 40 different title-groups by which it has been known - which seems quite extraordinary.  If the several other 'broken token' sets of songs are added to it (all those Waterloo ones, for a start) we arrive at a huge body of song, which tend to suggest that the Martin Guerre scenario was not an unusual one ...  or, at least, one which was widely feared in the public imagination.

It tends to be thought of as an English song; but Roud has at least as many examples from Ireland, twice as many from Scotland, and around 180 from North America.  Of the 47 sound recordings listed, those by Mary Cash (MTCD325-6), Daisy Chapman (MTCD308), Cas Wallin (MTCD324) and Sarah Anne O'Neill (Topic TSCD660) are available on CD, plus a different recording from Maggie Murphy on Veteran VT 134 CD. 

16 - The Town I Loved So Well
Big John Maguire and his daughter Kate Maguire
(Recorded by Keith Summers in the singer's house, Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh, 10.8.80)

In my memory I can always see
The town that I loved so well.
Where we played school ball
By the gas yard wall,
We laughed through the smoke and smell.
Going home in the rain
Running up the dark lane
By the jail and down behind The Fountain.
Those were happy days in so many, many ways,
In the town that I loved so well.

In the early morn the shirt factory horn
Called women from the Creggan,
The Moor and the Bog.
When the men on the dole
Played a mother's role,
Fed the children and then trained the dog.
But when times got rough
They had had about enough,
And they took it all without complaining.
For deep inside was a burning pride,
For the town that I loved so well.

Now the music's there
In the Derry air,
Like a language we all could understand.
I remember the day
I earned my first pay,
When I sang in that small pick-up band.
There I spent my youth
And to tell you the truth.
I was sorry the day I left it all behind me.
There I learned about life
And I found me a wife,
In the town that I loved so well.

Now the music's gone but we carry on
Our spirit's well bruised, never gotten (broken).
We will not forget for our hearts are set
On tomorrow, and peace once again.
Now what's done is done and what's won is won,
And what's lost is lost and gone forever,
We can only pray for a bright brand new day,
In the town that I Ioved so well.

This is a contemporary song written by Phil Coulter in the early 1970s that has been sucked into the tradition and altered somewhat in the process.  Recorded by The Dubliners.

17 - Barbara Allen (Roud 54, Child 84)
Patsy Flynn
(Recorded by Keith Summers, Jenny Hicks and Willie Clerkin, in Willie Clerkin's cottage near Magheraveely, 4.8.80)

In Scarlet Town where I was born
There was a fair maid dwelling,
She was the prize of the ladies all,
Her name was Barbara Allen.

It was in the merry, merry month of May,
As the rose buds they were swelling,
Young Willie Young on his death-bed lay
For the love of Barbara Allen.

He sent his servants to her room,
To the place where she was dwelling,
Sayin', "My master begs that you come to him,
If your name be Barbara Allen."

Well slowly, slowly she got up,
And slowly she went to him,
And when she pulled the curtains back
Says, "Young man, I think you are a-dying."

"Oh, yes, I'm sick, I'm very sick,
And I never shall get better,
'Least I can view my own true love
My darling Barbara Allen."

"Do you recall in yonder town,
In the tavern you were drinking;
You drank a toast to the ladies all,
But slighted Barbara Allen?"

"Oh yes I recall in yonder town,
In the tavern I was drinking;
I drank a toast to the ladies all,
But my love to Barbara Allen."

As she was walking back to town
She met his (??) coffin;
Cried, "Bearers, bearers, lay him down
That I might gaze upon him."

"Oh, father, father, dig my grave,
Oh dig it deep and narrow.
Young Willie Young died for me today;
I will die for him tomorrow."

So they buried him in that old churchyard,
With Barbara there beside him,
And from his grave grew a red, red rose,
From Barbara's grew a briar.

They grew and grew and they twisted through,
Till they could grow no higher,
They grew and grew and they twisted through,
The red rose and the briar:
The red rose round the briar.

This is the most widely-known ballad I've yet encountered in Roud's Song Index, with an astonishing 802 instances (including 172 sound recordings) listed there.  Needless to say, it's found everywhere English is spoken - though Australia boasts only one version in the Index - and, very unusually, there's even one from Wales ...  although it comes from Phil Tanner in that 'little England', the Gower Peninsula. 

Several great versions can be found on CD these days.  Joe Heaney sings it brilliantly on the MT/Topic/CIC double CD The Road from Connemara (TSCD518D), Sarah Makem (TSCD668), Jane Turriff (Springthyme SPRCD1038), Jim Wilson (MTCD309-10), Bob Hart (MTCD301-2), Wiggy Smith (MTCD307), Phoebe Smith (Veteran VT136CD) and a compilation of a verse or two each from Fred Jordan, Jessie Murray, Charlie Wills, May Bennell, Thomas Moran and Phil Tanner on Classic Ballads II (Rounder CD1775).

18 - The Little Old Mud Cabin on the Hill (Roud 9271)
Eddie Coyle
(Recorded by Keith Summers at Eugene Smyth's bar in Maguiresbridge, Co Fermanagh, after a hunt, Winter 1977)

Go sell the pig and the cow and all,
And we'll take you far away,
For your dear old parents
You must leave behind.
Go and seek your fortune far away
In a land across the sea,
For in Paddy's land it's poverty you'll find.

Those were the words my mother spake
As I left old Ireland.
And the sad farewell is in my memory still.
As I placed that bundle on my back,
And I left for ever more,
From yon little old mud cabin on the hill.

Oh, for the roof was thatched with yellow straw,
And the walls were white as snow.
And the turf fire boiled the pot, I see it still.
Old Ireland's engraven in my heart,
It's the place where I was born,
In that little old thatched cabin on the hill.

I still can see the turf fire
With my mother by its side.
My dear old father sitting by her side,
His pipe is lit and the smoke ascends,
And they're thinking of the time
When they sent their darling boy across the tide.

No more I'll see them dancing on yon kitchen floor
To the music of the bagpipes loud and shrill.
No more I'll see the happy times
That we had in days of yore,
In yon little old mud cabin on the hill.

Oh, for the roof was thatched with yellow straw,
And the walls were white as snow.
And the turf fire boiled the pot, I see it still.
Old Ireland's engraven in my heart,
It's the place where I was born,
In the little old mud cabin on the hill.

Sam Henry published this song, from the singing of James Stewart, of Ballymoney, Co Antrim, in 1936.  It was also collected twice in the USA at about the same time.


All these recordings were made by, the photographs taken or supplied by, and the introduction and part of the song notes written by, Keith Summers.  My sincere thanks to Keith and to all the others who have so willingly contributed their time and expertise:

Paul Marsh - for sound transfers, digital editing and noise reduction, initial song transcriptions, and enthusiastic encouragement.

Peta Webb and Ken Hall - for transcribing Keith's notes and for invaluable critical judgement.

Rosie Stewart - for information on her Dad, Packie McKeaney.

Michael Hicks - for his introduction to the area, photos, checking place-name spellings and providing other local information.

Kathleen Maguire Donnelly and Chrissie Maguire Loran - for photos and the piece on their father, 'Big John'.

Michael Mc Phillips of Newtownbutler GAA - for information and photos of the team.

Geoff Wallis - for checking place-name spellings, checking the transcription of the lyrics, and providing a great deal of other local information.

Finbar Boyle - for checking the transcription of the lyrics, providing other vital information, and especially for solving the mystery of 'Ingy buck'!

Joanie McDermott of ITMA - for her assistance in tracking down song sources.

Danny Stradling - for proofreading.

Steve Roud - for providing MT with a copy of his Folk Song Index, whence came some of the historical information on the songs.  Also for help with finding songs and allocating Roud numbers to new entrants to the Index.

Tony Engle of Topic Records - for supplying tape recorder.

Booklet: song notes, editing, DTP, printing
CD: formatting, production

by Rod Stradling

A Musical Traditions Records production

[Track Lists] [Introduction] [Repertoire] [Song Ownership] [Afterword] [The Singers] [The Songs] [CD One] [CD Two] [Credits]

Article MT137

Top Home Page MT Records Articles Reviews News Editorial Map

Site designed and maintained by Musical Traditions Web Services   Updated: 13.3.04