Part of Article MT055

Joe Heaney
Interview transcript - part 8



Part 8:  The Remaining Songs.

JH: Now I have said The Banks of Claudy was, what we call at home, a first cousin - There Was a Lady in Her Father’s Garden.

The Banks of Claudy   (Roud 266)

‘Twas on a fine summer morning, all in the month of May,
Down by a flowery garden where Betsy she did stray.
I overheard a female in sorrow to complain,
‘Twas all for her true lover who ploughed the raging main.

I went up to this fair maid and took her by surprise.
I owned she did not know me for I was in disguise.
I said ‘my pretty fair maid, my joy and heart’s delight,
How far have you to travel this dark and dreary night?’

‘Kind sir the way to Claudy Banks, if you would please to show,
And pity a maid in distraction, for I’ve so far to go.
I am in search of a young man and Johnny is his name,
And it’s on the Banks of Claudy I’m told he does remain.’

‘This is the Banks of Claudy, the very place you stand,
But don’t depend on Johnny, for he’s a false young man.
Oh don’t depend on Johnny, for he’ll not meet you here,
But come with me to yon green woods no danger need you fear.’

‘And it’s six long months I’m bitter, since Johnny left the shore.
He’s crossing the wild ocean where foaming billows roar.
He’s crossing the wild ocean for honour and for gain.
And I am told the ship was wrecked all on the coast of Spain.’

And when she heard those dreadful news, she fell in deep despair,
With a wringing of her hands and a tearing of her hair.
‘Since Johnny he has left me, no other man I’ll take,
But through lonesome glens and valleys, I’ll wander for his sake.’

Then when he heard her loyalty, he could no longer stand.
He took her in his arms, saying ‘Betsy I’m the man.
I am this faithless young man, the cause of all your pain,
But since we met on Claudy Banks, we’ll never part again.’
 

JH: There’s two different Claudys in Ireland.  There’s one on the coast of Leitrim, and there is one in Roundstone, Connemara.

EM: Where?

JH: Roundstone, Connemara.

EM: Which one is this that’s in the song?

JH: No, honestly, I can’t tell you which of them.  If I did I might be telling you wrong.  I can’t tell you which of the Claudy banks is meant, but they’re both called Claudy banks.

(Break)

The Rocks of Bawn   (Roud 3024)

Come all you loyal heroes wherever that you be.
Don’t hire for any master, 'til you know what your work will be,
For you must rise up early, from the clear daylight 'til dawn.
And I’m afraid you’ll never be able to plough the rocks of Bawn.

My shoes they are well worn now, my stockings they are thin.
My heart is always trembling, I’m afraid I might give in. 
My heart is always trembling, from the clear daylight 'til the dawn.
And I’m afraid I’ll never be able to plough the rocks of Bawn.

And my curse attend you Sweeney, you have me nearly robbed.
You’re sitting by the fireside with a dudeen in your gob.
You’re sitting by the fireside from clear daylight 'til dawn.
And I’m afraid you’ll ne’er be able to plough the rocks of Bawn.

And I wish the Queen of England would send for me in time.
And place me in the regiment, all in my youth and prime.
I would fight for Ireland’s glory from clear daylight 'til dawn.
But I never would return again to plough the rocks of Bawn.
 

EM: What’s the My Boy Willie?

JH: Well, I’ll sing my version of it.

My Boy Willie   (Roud 273)

Photo by Brian Shuel ‘Twas early, early all in the spring,
My love Willie went to serve the King.
The raging sea and the winds blew high.
They parted me from my sailor boy.

The night is dark, I can find no rest.
The thought of Willie lies in my breast.
I’ll search the woods and moorlands wide,
Hoping my true love to find.

Oh father, father, build me a boat,
On the ocean that I may float.
I’ll watch the ships as they sail by,
Hoping to find my sailor boy.

She wasn’t long on the ocean blue,
When a big ship came into view.
Oh Captain, Captain, come tell me true.
Is my love Willie on board with you?

‘What sort of suit did your Willie wear?
What sort of shoes did your Willie wear?’
‘He wears a jacket of royal blue.
But you know my love for his heart is true.’

‘Your love Willie, I’m sad to say,
Was drowned at sea the other day.
On yon green island as we passed by,
We buried three more and your sailor boy.’

She wrung her hands and tore her hair.
Then she fell in deep despair.
And with every sob she shed a tear.
And every tear was for Willie dear.

‘Oh father dig my grave both long and deep.
Place a tombstone at my head and feet.
On my breast place a turtle dove,
So the world will know that I died of love.’
 

JH: The Lonely Woods of Upton.  Upton is a place in Cork, you see.

The Lonely Woods of Upton (The Upton Ambush)   (Roud 9695)

Many a home is filled with sadness and with sorrow;
Many a heart is filled with anguish and with pain.
See how Ireland how she hangs her head in mourning,
For the men who died at Upton far away.

Let the moon shine bright tonight along the valley,
Where the heroes of Republican ambush lay. 
May they rest in peace those men who died for Ireland,
Near the lonely woods of Upton far away.

Some were thinking of their mothers, wives and sweethearts;
More were thinking of their good old Irish homes.
Did they think of how they fought along the valley,
As they marched out from Cork City to their doom.

It wasn’t long 'til the cry went out ‘fix bayonets’.
Manfully they fixed them for the coming fray.
Manfully they fought and died to free old Ireland,
Near the lonely woods of Upton far away.

Some are sleeping ‘neath the waters of Cork Harbour;
More are sleeping ‘neath the good old Irish clay.
But their voices seem to cry out ‘God save Ireland’,
From the lonely woods of Upton far away.

Let the moon shine bright tonight along the valley,
Where the heroes of Republican ambush lay.
Their voices seem to cry out ‘God save Ireland’,
From the lonely woods of Upton far away.
 

EM: Is that a common song, Joe?

JH: Well, it’s a very popular song in Ireland.

EM: Is it?  Popular where?  All over Ireland?

JH: All over Ireland.  You couldn’t sing a better song in Ireland than that.

EM: What’s the episode it refers to?

JH: It refers to the Black and Tan period.  1921 - 22.  And the reason I sang it for you now is because I was told there was a song in America, the air was more or less the same and that’s why I sang it for you. 

EM: The Moon is Shining on the Wabash.

JH: I know one in particular about the American Civil War, refers to a man, O’Brien from Tipperary.  It’s a very old song

EM: Can you remember it?

JH: Oh, I remember it all right.  Well he led the army, of the North against the South and he fell in love with the Major’s daughter and the Major didn’t like it.  O’Brien from Tipperary.  My father often said to me it’s the best song he ever sang.

O'Brien From Tipperary   (Roud 3105)

O’Brien from Tipperary is the subject of my tale.
Before the Civil War began, to America he came.
He was of good character, his spirits were light and free,
And by a plan he won the North against the enemy.

‘Twas on a Thursday morning the Major he did swear,
‘You did insult a soldier all on the barrack square’.
‘You may thank your daughter,’ said O’Brien, ‘or else I’d have your life.’
The Major then a sword he drew and thought to end his life.

O’Brien received a pistol with an eye both sharp and keen.
Like a gallant soldier, he quickly took his aim.
In order to defend his life, he fired the fatal ball,
And he lodged it in the Major’s breast, it made the tyrant fall.

As soon as the report was heard, the guards all ran around.
He was taken prisoner in irons firmly bound.
Court martial on O’ Brien was held immediately.
He was sentenced to be shot, far from his friends and own country.

When O’Brien received the sentence, no fear of death did show.
Unto his execution, he manfully did go.
By a holy priest from Clonmel Town, he was prepared to die.
In hopes to get a pardon from the Lord who rules on high.

The coffin was got ready, he was ordered to kneel down.
The sergeant with a handkerchief, his eyes he firmly bound.
The soldiers on the other hand, all guns they did prepare,
And many a soldier for O’Brien shed a silent tear.

They were ordered to fix bayonets, all ready for to fire.
Before one trigger could be drawn, the Major’s daughter did appear.
In a voice as loud as thunder, ‘Come set the prisoner free.
I have a letter of reprieve is granted unto me’.

She quickly seized O’Brien and she took him by the hand.
‘Rise up my bold Tipperary boy, you are now at my command.
It’s true I am in love with you, though you took my father’s life.
He had vengeance sworn against you, I would never be your wife.’

So now to conclude and finish and see what love can do.
She’s married to O’Brien, she is both loyal and true.
She saved him from the fatal ball, her one and only joy.
And now she is in New York City with her bold Tipperary boy.
 

EM: Marvellous song.

J.H: And er … a feeling in that song.  There’s action, I mean, tension, everything.  The bayonets were fixed.  Everything was ready for the fire.  There’s everything, you know, in that song. 

PS: Did that actually happen, Joe?

JH: Well, as far as I know, Peggy.

EM: Was O’Brien a real figure?

JH: Oh, he was a real figure.  He took a stance with the North and he fell in love with the Major’s daughter.  The major didn’t like him for falling in love with the daughter and the only excuse he had with O’Brien, said "You insulted a soldier" and he pulled out on O’Brien, and O’Brien produced a pistol and shot the Major.  And then to show you how much she thought of him, she more or less had a confession from her father that he was sorry for what he did and that was a reprieve for O’Brien.  That song has everything.  It has, er, loyalty, sadness, tension, love and a happy ending. 

EM: That tune that you sing to it, which I know as The Banks of the Nile.  What other texts do you have to that?  Is that a common tune in Ireland?

JH: It’s the only tune I ever heard to that song and it’s the only song I heard to that tune.

EM: Very common in Scotland

JH: Is that right?  Well, it’s the only song I have to that tune, English or Gaelic.

JH: Caroline and her Young Sailor Bold, we call it at home. 

Caroline and Her Young Sailor Bold   (Roud 553)

It’s of a nobleman’s daughter, so handsome and comely was she.
Her father possessed a large fortune of forty five thousand in gold.
He had but one only daughter Caroline was her name we are told.
One morning through her drawing room window, she espied a young sailor bold.

His cheeks were as red as the roses, his eyes were as black as the jet.
Caroline took her departure, went out and young William she met.
She said ‘I’m a nobleman’s daughter possessing some thousands in gold.
I’ll forsake my father and mother, and wed with the young sailor bold’.

She dressed herself up like a sailor in her jacket and trousers of blue.
Three years and a half on the ocean, she spent with her young sailor bold.
Three times her true love got shipwrecked, each time to him she proved true.
Her duty she did as a sailor in her jacket and trousers of blue.

Her father he wept and lamented, the tears from his eyes often rolled,
Until they arrived safely in Galway, Caroline and her young sailor bold.
Caroline came home to her father, in her jacket and trousers of blue,
Saying ‘Father, dear father, forgive me I own that I have troubled you.

Oh, Father, dear father, forgive me.  Deprive me of silver and gold.
But grant me my request, I’m contented to wed with my young sailor bold’.

Her father embraced young William and dressed him in sweet unity,
Saying ‘Your life will be spared until morning.  Together and married you’ll be’.
They got married and Caroline’s portion of forty five thousand in gold,
And now they live happy together, Caroline and her young sailor bold.
 

JH: That’s the pre-tale of the fox chase.  What he did before he was chased.  And then the chase goes on after in music.  But this is exactly what he did.  They sing in prose before they start chasing him.  Right -

Madrín Rua (The Little Red Fox)

An Maidrín Rua / The Little Red Fox
An maidrín rua, rua, rua
An maidrín rua atá gránna.
An maidrín rua atá ina luí sa luachair
‘S barr a dhá chluais in áirde.


(Little red fox, red, red fox
Little red fox so ugly
Little red fox lying in the rushes
With the tops of his two ears upright.)

“Good morrow fox”.  “Good morrow Sir”.
“Pray what is that your eating?”
“A fine fat goose I stole from you,
And will you come and taste it?”

Oh no indeed, ní áil liom í; (I don’t like it)
Ní bhlaisfead pioc de ar aon chor (I would not taste any bit of it at all)
But I vow and swear that you’ll dearly pay
For my fine fat goose you’re eating!”

An maidrín rua, rua, rua …

Tally-ho lena bhonn, tally-ho lena bhonn!  (on his trail)
Tally-ho lena bhonn ‘s é ag gáirí
Tally-ho lena bhonn, tally-ho lena bhonn!
Agus barr a dhá chluais in áirde.  (And the tops of his two ears upright)
An maidrín rua, rua, rua …

 

EM: What does that mean, that Gaelic chorus, that Madrín Rua whatever it is, red …?…

JH: You little red fox, you little red fox.  You little bad looking red fox.  And you little fox that sleeps all day and your two ears above you.  48.  The term used for a fox here ('Maidrín Rua') literally means 'little red dog'.  The line would translate 'Little red dog, red, red, red'. (ÉÓB)48

EM: Is this always sung like this, Joe, part English and part Gaelic?

JH: Yes, always sung like that, part Gaelic and part English.  By the way, the fox couldn’t understand Gaelic and the man had to speak to him in English. 

(Much laughter)

JH: The Bold Tenant Farmer.  Well you know how The Bold Tenant Farmer came to be made at all.  In Ireland long ago, especially during the penal days, if a landlord didn’t have somebody to do his dirty work, he sent his own son around to collect his rent off the people, and if they couldn’t pay him, they either had to hunt him away or be nice to him, so, nine cases out of ten, he was kicked away through the fields, you know, because, nine times out of ten, they didn’t have the rent to give him.  And they didn’t let him wait to collect it, they kicked him, hunted him away.  And this is one story of one of them.  It happened in County Cork.

The Bold Tenant Farmer   (Roud 5164)

One evening of late into Bandon I strayed and down Clonakilty was making my way.
At Ballinascarthy some time I delayed and I wet my old whistle with porter.
Then I spit on my fist and I raised up my stick and down the coach road like a deer I did lep.
I cared not for bailiffs, landlords or old Nick, and I sang like the lark inthe morning.

Chorus:
Diddle e hie diddle e hat dill lidle lal day.
Diddlee I dill diddle I dill diddlee I dill dal lay.
Tarry diddle ee hi dill diddlee hi dill dall day.
Diddlee ri tal dal eedle dal la ra. 

And I scarcely had travelled one mile up the road when I heard a dispute in a farmer’s abode.
The son of the landlord, an ill looking toad and the wife of the bold tenant farmer.
‘Oh what is the devil come over you at all, when I call for the rent sure I get none at all.
At the next sessions you’ll pay for it all, or you’ll take the high road to Dungarvan’.

Chorus:

‘Oh hooray for the bold tenant’s wife’ she replied, ‘you’re as bad as your daddy on the other side.
Our National Land League will pull down your pride, for it’s able to bear every storm’.
‘Oh your husband was drinking in town last night, shouting and bawling for bold tenant’s rights.
Our plan of campaign will give him a fright, for he’ll never bear all our storm’.

Chorus:

‘If my husband was drinking then what’s that to you?  Sure I’d rather he drink it than give it to you. 
You skinny old miser, you’re not worth a chew and your mossy old land is no bargain’.
So I shouted hooray and she shouted yoo hoo, and through the green fields like Old Nick he then flew.
Saying ‘God help the landlords and old Ireland too.  Agus fagaimis suid mar ata se.

Chorus:

Agus fagaimis suid mar ata se.

(Lilts chorus and last line of last verse).
 

JH: Agus fagaimis suid mar ata se means ‘we leave that as it is’.  What they call it at home; port béal they call it.

EM: Do they?  Puirt beul is in Scotland anyway, er …

JH: Of course there’s the difference - if you’re playing for somebody to dance and if you were singing a lullaby, if you’re humming a lullaby and if you’re humming a lament.  Three different ways, you know.  Humming a lament, you know, like The Fairy Boy or a lullaby, humming for somebody to lilt a song (?) 
49.  Humming the tune of a song, rather than lilting it, presumably. (FM)49

EM: How does The Fairy Boy go?

JH: This is the air to The Fairy Boy I heard now.  At the moment, there’s a different air they play.  This is the air I heard at home now about the woman who came outside the lios50.  'Lios' = fairy castle. (FM)50  The lios is where the fairy king is supposed to live.  Her baby boy died and she came out to the lios appealing for him to give her back her baby boy, which is the only boy she had and this is the old air we had at home to it

The Fairy Boy   (Roud 9293)

A mother came as stars were paling, wailing round a lonely stream.
Thus she cried as tears were falling, calling on the fairy king,
‘Why destroy a mother’s treasure, courting him with a fairy joy?
Why destroy a mother’s blessing, why for steal my baby boy?

(hums tune)

O’er the mountains through the wild woods, where in childhood he longed to play.
Where the flowers are freshly springing, there I wander day by day.
There I wander, growing fonder, how the child that made my joy,
And the echoes wildly calling to restore my baby boy.

But in vain my tears are falling, tears are falling all in vain.
He now sports with the fairy treasure, he’s the pleasure of their train.
So fare thee well, my child forever, in this world I have lost my joy.
In the next, we’ll ne’er shall sever, there I’ll find my baby boy.

(hums tune again)

So fare thee well, my child forever, in this world I have lost my joy.
In the next we ne’er shall sever, there I’ll find my baby boy.
 

(Break)

EM: What do you call it, Joe?

JH: As I Roved Out or The Deceived Maiden.

As I Roved Out (The Deceived Maiden)   (Roud 3479)

And as I roved out on a May morning, on a May morning quite early,
I met my love upon the way, but oh lord she was early.

Chorus: And she sang lilttle lidle diddle idle dum and she hidle deedle dum and she hidle deedle doo and she landy.

Oh how old are you my pretty fair maid, how old are you my darling?
She answered me quite modestly, sixteen come Monday morning.

Chorus: But she sang …

Do you want to marry me, pretty fair maid, do you want to marry me darling?
She answered me quite modestly ’Oh I would but for my mammy’.

Chorus: But she sang …

play Sound Clip ‘Won’t you come to my house on top of the hill when the moon is shining brightly?
I’ll arise and I’ll let you in and my mammy won’t be hearing.’

Chorus:

And I went up to the top of the hill when the moon was shining brightly.
She arose and let me in but her mammy wasn’t hearing.

Chorus:

She took my horse by the bridle and reins and led it to the stable
There is plenty of oats for the soldier's horse, as fast as he can eat it.

Chorus:

She took me by her lily white hand and led me to the table.
‘There is plenty of wine for the soldier boy as fast as he can take it.’

Chorus:

And she went up and dressed the bed, she dressed it soft and easy.
I went up and I rolled her in.  ‘Oh my lassie are you able?’

Chorus:

And it’s there we stayed 'til the break of day and the devil a one did hear me.
I got up and put on my clothes, ‘Oh my lassie I must leave you’.

Chorus: But she sang …

‘Then when will you return again and when will we get married’.
‘When broken delft make Christmas bells it’s then we will get married’.

Chorus:

Now a pint at night is my delight and a gallon in the morning.
The old women are my heartbreak but the young ones are my darling.

Chorus:
 

(Break)

JH: You were looking back on them [thinking of] Ireland when he was sitting on a stone somewhere in New York.

EM: sings ‘I’m sitting on a stone, Mary’

JH: No, no, not that at all.  Oh, no. 

EM: Because that’s a music hall song.

JH: This what I call Erin grá mo chroí, which means Ireland, Love of my Heart - (break) - I don’t know, I suppose it’s the place where I come from that suffered so much in times gone by, that mostly all the songs they had were sad, you know - (break) - Because, you know, at the time these songs were made it was a crime to speak [the Gaelic language] - (break) - Most of the songs I sing, first of all are Gaelic, secondly they are sad, because at the time these songs were composed and made, it was a crime to speak the Gaelic language.  It was an offence under sentence of death to speak the Gaelic language and, of course, the people were persecuted in every way if they did speak the Gaelic language, and therefore nearly all their songs were sad, because it was illegal for them to learn how to speak English in case they’d know what everybody else was talking about.  That is the reason most of the songs you’ll hear from Connemara are sad songs and most of them are Gaelic, because when my mother was going to school if she had learned one word of English, she was beaten for it because they didn’t want her to know what they were talking about.  The rule that was ‘they’re better’, if she knew what they were talking about she was their enemy.  She didn’t have to understand them, if she understood them, they didn’t like her.  That’s true.  That’s why all the songs are sad.  Mostly about people who suffered, you know, all the time.  Because, I’m afraid they had nothing to laugh about them times.  51.  This is a confusing passage and it is a pity that it could not have been transcribed in its entirety.  So far as I have been able to ascertain, Irish people have never been prohibited from speaking English.  However, the suppression of Gaelic was an ongoing feature of British colonial policy at least from the days of the Kilkenny Statutes of 1366.  It is possible that Heaney is referring to a practice, introduced along with the National School system in 1831, of making school pupils wear sticks tied around their necks.  Any adult, hearing a child speaking Gaelic, was expected to cut a number of notches on the stick, equivalent to the number of Gaelic words used.  A child turning up at school with notches on his or her stick was then beaten by the schoolteacher in proportion to the number of notches.  This means of enforcing English occupational rule upon the innocents of Ireland was known as the 'tally system'.  See Breandán Ó Conaire's introduction to Douglas Hyde; 'Language, Lore and Lyrics', Ó Conaire, ed. Irish Academic Press, Blackrock, 1986. (FM)51

EM: No, they sure didn’t.  Well what song are we having now?

PS: Erin grá mo chroí?

(Break)

JH: Well this is about an emigrant who was in New York and he was looking back, how it broke his mother’s heart that he had to go away and he was thinking of the turf fire burning at home at night while he was in a foreign land.

Erin Grá mo Chroí   (Roud 14056)

At the setting of the sun, when my daily work was done,
I wandered to the sea shore for a walk.
I being all alone, I sat down upon a stone,
To gaze on the scenery of New York.

Chorus:

Oh Erin grá mo chroí, you’re the only land for me,
You’re the fairest spot my eyes did e’er behold.
You’re the bright star of the West, and the land St Patrick blessed,
You’re far dearer than silver or of gold.

The turf will burn bright on the hearth at home tonight,
The snowflakes will fall fast on a Winter’s day.
St Patrick’s day will come and the shamrock will be worn,
In my own native isle so far away.

Chorus:

It broke my mother’s heart when from her I went to part.
Will I ever see my darling any more.
Not until my bones are laid in a cold and silent grave,
In my own native isle so far away.

Chorus:
 

(Break)

JH: Well, er, the Englishman (?) is called Patsy McCann.  It’s about a desperate man who had a big fat daughter and he wanted her at any cost to get married off to somebody and the man who owned the daughter, as we’ll say, he was going to give ten golden sovereigns and a fine legged stool and a big feather bed to Patsy McCann.  Poor Patsy made the mistake of marrying the daughter so it’s not a long song, it’s a very pithy song.  We say, it can tell a long story in a short way.

Patsy McCann   (Roud 13970)

There’s a man by the name of Mike Hogan, he’s plaguing me out of my life.
He has a fine daughter named Bridget and he wants me to make her my wife.
She stands six foot four in her stockings, her waist would mine equal three,
And whenever I try for to kiss her, sure my elbows reach just to her knees.

Chorus:
Patsy McCann will you marry my daughter, oh Patsy McCann if the girl you’ll wed,
Ten golden sovereigns down I will give you, a three legged stool and a fine feather bed.
St Peter, St Paul and St Patrick are the picture that hangs on the wall.
I will throw them all in to the bargain if you’ll marry my daughter at all.

So I married this old Bridget Hogan and she’s mine now for better or worse,
But the blessings that she should have brought me, they soon turned into a curse.
She bites me, she kicks me, she flays me, and she ties me lest I’d run away.
But this six foot four beauty’s a caution, but her father was worse for to say.

Chorus
 

(Break)

JH: … called The Harp Without the Crown - the name of a boat.  No, the name of the flag the Irish boat had when she was leaving Ireland.  And Thomas O’Brien was the name of the boat and the flag that she hung from her foremost mast was the Harp Without the Crown.

The Harp Without the Crown   (Roud 7989)

play Sound Clip Oh Thomas O’Brien it was the ship’s name and she sailed from Dublin town,
Commanded by an Irishman, Tom Russell was his name.
Commanded by a Fenian bold and hailing from Dublin town,
And the flag that she flew from her foremost mast was The Harp Without the Crown.

Chorus:
Singing hurrah, boys, hurrah for the girls of Dublin town,
And hurrah for the bonny green flag and The Harp Without the Crown.

It was the seventeenth of March, being on St Patrick’s Day,
Our boat sailed out from Dublin town to …?… they braved the day.
The crew being all young Irishmen and hailing from Dublin town,
And the flag that they flew from the foremost mast was The Harp Without the Crown.

Chorus
 

JH: I wish I knew more of that.  Well, they were coming to England to do some damage, but that’s all I know of the song.  I believe there’s more of that song, you know.

EM: The Harp Without the Crown?

JH: The Harp Without the Crown - you know, the Crown was the British Crown, but they put up the harp and took down the flag, which was the flag they had in Ireland at the time.

(Break)

EM: The tennis?

JH: The Tennis Right was the name of the boat and Captain Coulston was the name of the man who was running the boat and they sailed from Derry Quay.  I got this from an old man at home and unfortunately he didn’t remember all the words.  He was so old that he’d forgotten most of the words, but I got this much off him anyway.

The Tennis Right (Captain Coulston)   (Roud 1695)

Ye noble sons of Granuaile, attention one and all.
Come listen to my story while those lines I will unfold.
It's all about Captain Coulstone that hero stout and bold,
Who fought his way across the seas that never was controlled.

From Derry Quay we sailed away the weather it was fine;
All bound for New York City, it was our whole design.
The number of our passengers were a hundred and fifty two
And they were all teetotallers excepting one or two.

For eighteen days we sailed the sea, right well the wind it blew
And early one morning a mermaid came in view.
The captain cried ‘Make fast my boys, a storm will now attend
And if not the mercy of the Lord, we’ll never reach the land’.

For three long nights the storm it raged, the sea ran mountains high.
But every man played his part to save the Tennis Right.
The captain and his lady, they came on deck each day,
Viewing with satisfaction our trip to Americay.

On the thirteenth day away from land, our lookout gave a shout.
It caused our hearts great terror when his words they rang about.
‘A pirate ship is coming all from the eastern sky
Oh now my lads you must prepare to defend the Tennis Right.

When the pirate ship came up to us, we fought as ne’er before.
Our lads they died right manfully but the tyrants lay in their gore.
The pirates they surrendered just at the break of day,
And we landed them as prisoners all in Americay.
 

(Break)

JH: Peadar Pheats they call them in Gaelic - the same man who had Morrissey and the Russian Sailor.  …?… a lot about that song.  But God, I’ve been looking for that The Tennis Right …?…

EM: The Tennis Right?

JH: The Tennis Right was the name of the boat. 

(Break)

JH: …probably the way he heard it, you know.  I’m telling you what he said to me.  Actual words, you know.  52.  Ó hÉanaí clearly says 'Tennis Right'.  it is possible however that Joe's source got mixed up and that the 'correct' title is 'The Tenant's Rights'.  If so, it would be a reference to the movement of that name which arose in the 1870s, and which aimed to secure fair rents and proper tenure for the tenant farmers of Ireland. (FM)52

EM: Yes, but names do get changed.

JH: He probably, you see, caught it up in that way, that he said the Tennis Right, you know, because, as you know, he was a native village speaker and wherever he got it, don’t ask me where he got it.  And the same man who had The Maid of Sweet Gurteen.

(Break)

PS: This is the air of The Cruel Ship’s Carpenter?. 

JH: Is it?

The Maid of Sweet Gurteen

In Dublin fair city, in Dublin’s fair town,
There dwelt a pretty maiden, her name was Mary Brown.
She courted a sailor for several long years
And at the beginning, he called her his dear.
 

EM: It’s lovely, that. 

JH: … ’the huntsmen they all gathered round all for to dig the grave / And they dug the ground and there they found the missing body laid’.  She was missing, you see, and they found her but he didn’t want them to.  He was in love with her, she let him down, he took her out and killed her and put her on the moor.  53.  Three songs are confused here.  The verse which Ó hÉanaí sings comes from a murder ballad, usually known as 'Pretty Polly' or 'The Cruel Ship's Carpenter'(Roud 15).  However, he also had a love song, not sung during the interview, which he called 'The Maid of Sweet Gurteen' (Roud 3025).  He recorded this latter for Peter Kennedy in 1959 (BBC recording 25570) and a version of the song may be found in O'Lochlainn, 'Irish Street Ballads'.  It is an entirely different song to 'The Cruel Ship's Carpenter'.  Finally, the lines which Heaney speaks, 'the huntsmen they all gathered round all for to dig the grave / And they dug the ground and there they found the missing body laid' come from a separate song, 'The Old Oak Tree'.  This is also a murder ballad, but has no connection with 'The Cruel Ship's Carpenter' (Roud 569). (FM)53

(Break - during which the conversation switches to Eanach Cuain, a drowning ballad composed by the County Mayo poet Antaine Raiftearaí - Anthony Raftery)

JH: There is a translation, but I don’t like the translation at all.

PS: When did this happen?  1925?

JH: Well, I’ll tell you what happened.  In 1925, Annaghdown (Eanach Cuan) is a place in East Galway and if they wanted to go to a fair, they had to go to Galway and this particular day they were going to Galway to sell sheep and to buy a wedding trousseau for four or five couples who was in the boat and was going to get married when they come back to Annaghdown the next day.  And on the way, and between Galway and Annaghdown there’s only about a mile and a half by lake - it’s not a sea, it’s just a calm lake - and they were going into the river in Galway - they were off the lake and coming into the river under what they call the salmon weir in Galway and one of the sheep, there was twenty seven people including women and men and nineteen sheep in the boat, and one of the sheep put his foot through the bottom of the boat and one of the men took off his báinín (jacket), which is the original style there, a báinín - you know the báinín?  It’s made out of wool - pure sheep wool; he tried to stick it in the hole and the whole boat fell in and there was eleven men and eight women drowned out of twenty seven within sight, er, Newcastle in County Galway.

PS: Is that a true story, Joe?

JH: It’s a true story, yes.  Now Raftery, the blind poet, which lived at the time and who died in 1835.

EM: 1835?

PS: 1935.

EM: 1935

JH: No, 1835.  Sorry, I should have said 1825.  He died in 1835 and he composed this song I suppose in 1830.

JH: The original is in Gaelic, but the start of the song is Má fhaighimse sláinte is fada a bhéas tráchtadh - but my life is spared I’ll be long relating of the boat that sailed out from Annaghdown.  That is the start of it.  I haven’t the translation, but the Gaelic.

Eanach Cuain (Annaghdown) 54.  On a calm sunny morning on the 4th of September 1828, a boat full of 31 happy young people left the village of Annaghdown to sail about eight miles down Lough Corrib to go to a fair in Galway Town.  They were within two miles of their destination when one of about ten sheep on board put its foot through the bottom of the old leaky boat.  One man folded a piece of cloth and shoved it into the hole.  Another man tried to force the cloth into the hole with the heel of his boot but, instead knocked out the plank from the bottom of the boat.  The boat filled with water in an instant.  Terror and panic overtook the passengers and 18 young people perished.
This great lament was composed by the legendary folk-poet Antoine Raiftearaí (1784-1835) from Cill Liadáin near Kiltimagh in County Mayo.  Blinded by smallpox in childhood, Raiftearaí spent his adult life wandering about County Galway playing the fiddle, singing and composing songs.  He made an enormous impression on the people of the west of Ireland and is still widely regarded as the greatest Gaelic folk-poet of that region. (ÉÓB)54

Má fhaighimse sláinte is fada a bhéas tráchtadh
Ar an méid a báthadh as Eanach Cuain,
Mo thrua amárach gach athair ‘s máthair
Bean ‘s páiste atá ag sileadh súl.
A Rí na nGrásta, a cheap neamh ‘s Párthas
Nár bheag an tábhachtach dúinn beirt nó triúr?
(Ach) Lá chomh breá leis gan gaoth ná báisteach,
Lán an bháid acu ag scuabadh ar siúl!

Ansiúd Dé hAoine dá gcluinfeá an caoineadh
Ag tíocht gach taobh is greadadh bos.
An lá tar oíche, trom tuirseach cloíte,
Ní raibh ceo le déanamh ach ag síneadh corp.
A Dhia ‘s a Chríost, a d’fhulaing an íobairt,
Is tú a cheannaigh go fírinneach an bocht ‘s an nocht,
Go Párthas Naofa go dtugair saor leat
Gach créatúr díobh dhar thit faoin lot.

“Baile Chláir” a bhí in aice láimhe,
Níor lig an t-ádh dhóibh a dhul aníos;
Bhí an bás chomh láidir níor thug sé cairde(as)
Dh’aon mhac máthar dhár rugadh riamh.
An scéal a ceapadh dhóibh an lá seo a mbáite,
A Rí na nGrásta, nár bhocht an ní,
Á gcailleadh uile gan loch na sáile
Le seanbhád gránna ‘s iad láimh le tír.

Milleán géar ar an ionad céanna,
Nár lasa réalt ann ‘s nár éirí grian!
A bháigh an méid úd a thriall in éindí
Go Gaillimh in éineacht go moch Déardaoin.
Bhris an bád ‘s báthadh na daoine;
Scaip na caoirigh anonn sa snámh.
A Dhia nach ansin a bhí an t-ár mór déanta
Ar aon fhear déag ‘s ochtar mná.


If my health remains there will long be talk
Concerning the number drowned out of Eanach Cuain,
My grief tomorrow every father and mother
Woman and child that are shedding tears.
Oh King of Grace who created heaven and Paradise,
Would two or three have been no small matter?
But on such a fine day without wind or rain
To sweep away a full boatload!

And there on Friday, if you had heard the crying
Coming from every side and the beating of palms.
The day after night, weary, tired and overcome
Without anything to do but stretch out bodies.
Oh God, oh Christ who suffered sacrifice,
It is you that truly redeemed the poor and the naked,
To Holy Paradise may you freely take
All those poor creatures on whom misfortune fell.

The 'Baile Chláir' was close by
But luck did not let them come up;
And Death was so strong he gave no quarter 55.  Joe says Death did not befriend ('cáirdeas') anyone.  More usually It is 'cáirde' (credit or respite etc.). (ÉÓB)55
To any mother’s son that was ever born.
Their fate on this day of their drowning,
Oh King of Grace, was it not wretched indeed,
To loose them all without lake or brine
In a rotten old boat and hay close to land.

Bitter reproach on that same spot
May star never shine there or the sun never rise!
That drowned all those that went together
To Galway early on Thursday.
The boat fell apart and the people were drowned
The sheep scattered and swam away
And God, wasn’t it then that a great slaughter was effected
On eleven men and eight women.
 

JH: There’s eighteen verses in that, but four verses can tell the story.

(Break)

EM: Beautiful song.

PS: Unintelligible question.  (Peggy appears to ask whether this is a true story.)

JH: … definitely true, and tragic and how it can happen passing a lake - it’s only - it’s as calm as that floor and when they were turning into the river, the boat was so rotten and they wasn’t told about it.  There was nineteen of them, eleven men and eight women within a sight of Newcastle in Galway.  It’s unbelievable.  I suppose if somebody said now that that boat was burned the other day, nobody would believe it happen nowadays, would they?  There was almost an awful carry-on on that boat too.  Well that happened in 1825.  I was wrong there, sorry.  I made a mistake there - I should have said eighteen instead of nineteen, you know. 

(Break)

PS: Long a-Growing.  Is that what you call it, Long a-Growing, Joe?

JH: No, My Bonny Boy is Young, we call it.  That’s the name we call it now - My Bonny Boy is Young and Growing.  My Bonny Boy is Young.

My Bonny Boy is Young   (Roud 31)

The trees they grow tall and the grass it grows green.
The time has come and passed, my love, since you and I have been.
It’s a cold and bitter night, my love, that I lie here alone.
For my bonny boy was young, but he’s gone.

And oh father, dearest father, you’ve done to me what’s wrong,
You have married me to my bonny boy, his age it was too young.
For he was scarce sixteen years of age and I was twenty one,
But my bonny boy was young and growing.

Oh daughter, dearest daughter, I done to you no wrong,
When I married you to your bonny boy whose age it was too young.
For he will prove a man to you when I am dead and gone,
For your bonny boy is young and growing.

Oh daughter, dearest daughter, I’ll tell you what I’ll do.
I’ll send your love to college for another year or two.
And whilst he is in college, he will wear a ribbon blue,
So the girls will all know that he’s married.

As I was walking down by the college wall,
I spied four and twenty college boys all playing with their ball.
It’s there I spied my own true love, the fairest of them all,
For my bonny boy was young and growing.

And at the age of sixteen, he was a married man,
And at the age of seventeen, the father of a son,
And at the age of eighteen years, o’er his grave the grass grew green.
Cruel death had put an end to his growing.

I’ll buy my love a shroud of the oriental brown,
And whilst I sit and sew it, so my tears they will roll down.
I will weep and I will mourn him until the day I die,
But I’ll rear his bonny son while he’s growing.
 

PS: What’s the oriental brown?

JH: Well I was told, something the old women used to knit a long time ago for somebody who died.

EM: It’s extraordinarily like the Scots version.

(Break.  The conversation switches to The Valley of Knockanure.)

JH: … And you know in Ireland every six months, the priest comes around to give advice and confessions to the old people, you see, in the cottages.  And there’s one particular house they come to every time.  Well this day they came to Knockanure in County Kerry and it was in 1922 and there was two wee lads, Éamonn Dalton and Danny Welch was on the run up in the hills and five lorry loads of Black and Tans came to hunt them.  And they had a boy, a fourteen year old boy called Con Dee bringing them messages to tell them how the Tans was behaving, and the Tans, fifty Tans, hundred Tans, I should say, surrounded them with rifles and they told Con Dee to get away somewhere and bring a message to the village that they were willing to die to save the village.  And the two fellows died.  But the people, the old people coming, as they do there, they come along, old women and men and to spare them, the two lads fought to the death with a hundred Black and Tans up on the hill and saved the village from ruin, because if they ran back to the village, the lads were afraid the Tans would come back and probably kill innocent people.

The Valley of Knockanure  (Roud 13971)

You may boast and speak about Easter week or the heroes of ninety eight,
Of the gallant men who roamed the glen to victory or defeat.
The men who died on the scaffold high were outlawed on the moor.
Not a word was spoken of two young lads in the valley of Knockanure.

‘Twas on a summer’s evening those two young lads sat down.
They were waiting on a brief despatch to come from Tralee town.
It wasn’t long 'til Lyons came on sayin' "Time’s not mine nor yours.
Look out we are surrounded in the valley of Knockanure."

Young Dalton grabbed a rifle and by Welch’s side he stood.
He gazed across the valley and over toward the hill.
In the glen where armed men with rifles fired galore,
There were Dalton, Dan and the Black and Tans in the valley of Knockanure.

One shot from Dalton’s rifle sent a machine gun out of play.
He turned to young Lyons and said ‘Now try and get away.
Keep wide of rocks, keep close to nooks, and cross by Freeny’s moor,
And Danny and I will fight or die on the valley of Knockanure.

The summer sun was sinking fast on Kerry by the sea.
The pale moon it was rising over sweet Tralee.
The twinkling stars they shone so far out on the dreary moor,
And when Dalton died, the banshee cried on the valley of Knockanure.

God bless our bold Sinn Féiners, wherever they may be.
Don’t forget to kneel and pray for that hero brave Con Dee.
He ran among the Kerry hills to the rich man and the poor.
Salt tears he shed for those he left dead in the valley of Knockanure.

Our hero boys were stout and bold, no counsel would they take.
They ran among the lonely glens where the Black and Tans did lay.
The women of the uplands gazed out across the moor,
Watching Dalton and Dan fighting fifty to one on the valley of Knockanure.

And ‘twas God who sent those boys to life, but did not say how long,
For well we knew that England’s crew would shoot them right or wrong.
With our rifles fixed right up to fire and bullets quick and sure,
We’ll have revenge for those young men on the valley of Knockanure.

Young Éamonn Dalton and Danny Welch were known both far and wide,
On every hill and every glen they were always side by side.
A republic bold they did uphold, they were outlawed on the moor,
And side by side they fought and died on the valley of Knockanure.

I met with Dalton’s mother, those words to me did say,
"May the lord have mercy on my son, he was shot in the getaway.
If I only could kiss his cold, cold lips my aching heart would cure,
And I’d lay his body down to rest in the valley of Knockanure."
 

(Break)

PS: The Jolly Tinker

EM: Look, we’re used to taking - (break) - and don’t be shy, for God’s sake and give us the whole thing.

PS: What do you call it, Joe?

JH: (laughs) The Jolly Tinker.

The Jolly Tinker   (Roud 863)

As I was walking down the street, on a door I chanced to knock.
‘Oh,’ says I, ‘my pretty female, have you any holes to block?’
‘Oh indeed I have mush indeed I have.
With my right-ful-dee-ful-daddle-do indeed I have.’

And she took me by the arm and she led me through the hall.
‘Oh bejaysus’ said the servants ‘Has he come to block us all?’
‘Oh indeed he hasn’t, mush indeed he hasn’t.
With my right-ful-dee-ful-daddle-do indeed he hasn’t’.

She took me up the wooden stairs to show me what to do.
And she fell on the feather bed and I fell on it too.
Oh indeed I did, mush indeed I did.
With my right-ful-dee-ful-daddle-do indeed I did.

She got a-hold of a tumbler and she knocked upon the wall,
To let the servants know, my lads, that I was playing ball.
Oh indeed she did, mush indeed she did.
With my right-ful-dee-ful-daddle-do indeed she did.

She put her hand into her pocket and she pulled out twenty pounds.
‘Oh, take this, my jolly tinker, and we’ll have another round.
Oh indeed we will, mush indeed we will.
With my right-ful-dee-ful-daddle-do indeed we will.’

She put her hand into her pocket and she pulled out her gold watch.
‘Oh take this, jolly tinker, for bejaysus you’re no botch,
Oh indeed you’re not, mush indeed you’re not.
With my right-ful-dee-ful-daddle-do indeed you’re not’.

Oh I’ve been a jolly tinker now for forty years and more,
But such a rusty hole as that I never had before.
Oh indeed I didn’t mush indeed I didn’t.
With my right-ful-dee-ful-daddle-do indeed I didn’t.
 

(Break)

EM: Is that well known?

JH: Well, it’s well known but it’s not often sung.

EM: There aren’t many songs like this in the Irish repertoire?

JH: In Gaelic there is.

EM: but not in the Anglo-Irish repertoire?

JH: No, no.

(Break)

There was a jolly lady coming from a jolly ball.
She met a jolly tinker slashing piss against the wall.
Oh indeed she did, mush indeed she did.
With my right ful-dee-ful-daddle-do indeed she did.
 
(Break)

JH: Whiskey Ó Roudeldum-Row is the name of the song.  I wish you would understand it.

Whiskey Ó Roudeldum-Row

Whiskey ó roudeldum row
Whiskey ó roudeldum cailleachaí
Whiskey ó roudeldum row
Bainne na ngabhar ‘s é a theannadh léi.

Chonaic mé sagart sa nGleann,
‘S a mhagairlí feannta ag na driseachaí;
Bheirim mo mhallacht go deo
Dhon té nach mbíonn aird ar a chuid aige!

Whiskey ó roudeldum row…….

Bhí me lá ag imeacht san aer,
Shíl mé go mbáfaí sa gcladach mé
Chuir me mo bhod i mo bhéal
Faitíos go gcaillfinn mo mhagairlí.

Whiskey ó roudeldum row…….

Chuir mé mo bhean chun na trá,
Shíl mé go mbáfaí sa gCladach í,
D’éirigh mé suas ar an ard
‘S dhamhsaigh mé hornpipe jig uirthi.

Whiskey ó roudeldum row…….

Is daingean atá pis insna mná-
‘Sé mo léan cráite nach dtiteann sí-
Dá bhfaighinnse í i locháinín trá
Gheobhainn mo sháith ‘s tuilleadh dhi.

Whiskey ó roudeldum row…….

Dhá bhfeicfeá an Sagart Ó Néill-
Bhí sé gan léine, gan muinchille
Bhí sé ina bhléin ina mhé(?)
‘S ar maidin inné, ina mhinistéir

Whiskey ó roudeldum row…….

Bhí mé, lá, thoir i mBl’Áth’n Rí-
Chuaigh cailín an tí ar leaba liom;
D’fhuail sí síos thrí mo thaobh
Nach dochar dhon tsaol a bheith magadh fúm.


Whiskey ó roudeldum row
Whiskey ó roudeldum old women
Whiskey ó roudledum row
Goat’s milk, and ply her with it.

Whiskey ó roudeldum row
Whiskey ó roudeldum old women
Whiskey ó roudledum row
Goat’s milk, and ply her with it.

I saw a priest in the glen
And his balls were flayed by the briars
I curse forever
He who doesn’t look after his own!

I was, one day, flying through the air,
I thought I would drown in the shore
I put my prick in my mouth
For fear I would lose my balls.

I sent my wife to the strand
I thought she would drown at the shore
I went up on the height
And I danced a hornpipe jig on her.

Tight are women's cunts
It is my sore sorrow that she does not fall -
If I could catch her in a pool on the strand
I would take my fill and more, of her.

If you saw Father O’Neill
He wore neither a shirt nor a sleeve
His groin was uncovered (ina mhé?)
And yesterday morning he was a (Protestant) minister.

I was, one day, east in Athenry
The girl of the house went to bed with me;
She pissed down my side
And misfortune to everybody for making fun of me.
 

JH: Well, the last verse says that he was one day in Athenry and the maid of the house went to bed with him.  She pissed down by his side and ever since everybody was laughing at him. 

EM: Really?  And the hero of this song is the priest?

JH: No, the hero of the song is the man and his wife, you see, did everything she wanted with everybody.  And he was one day travelling through the sky, he said, and he thought he’d fall down in the middle of the ocean, and he put his thing in his mouth in case he’d lose it.  That’s true.

EM: Good God, what an extraordinary idea!

(Break)

JH:“… a song the children usually sing at home.  Well, it’s about a child who wanted her mother to let her go to the fair, as she wanted to meet this shoemaker and she was only ten years of age, but she insisted on her mother letting her go because she loved this shoemaker so much and they call it The Gréasaí Bróg, which means a shoemaker.  And this girl was determined and she wasn’t even ten.  And they all sing this at school and this is the way it goes.

Beidh Aonach Amárach i gContae an Chláir / Gréasaí Bróg

Beidh amárach i gContae an Chláir,
Beidh amárach i gContae an Chláir,
Beidh amárach i gContae an Chláir,
‘S cén mhaith dhom é, ní bheidh mé ann.

‘S a Mháithrín, an ligfidh tú chun an aonaigh mé?
A Mháithrín, an ligfidh tú chun an aonaigh mé?
A Mháithrín, an ligfidh tú chun an aonaigh mé?
A Stóirín ó, ná héiligh é!

Níl tú an deich nó an aon dhéag fós,
Níl tú an deich nó an aon dhéag fós,
Níl tú an deich nó an aon dhéag fós,
Nuair a bheas tú trí déag beidh tú mór.

‘S a mháithrín, an ligfidh tú chun an aonaigh mé?

B’fhearr liom féin mo ghréasaí bróg,
B’fhearr liom féin mo ghréasaí bróg,
B’fhearr liom féin mo ghréasaí bróg,
Ná oifigeach airm faoina a lásaí óir.

‘S a mháithrín, an ligfidh tú chun an aonaigh mé?


There will be a fair tomorrow in the County Clare,
There will be a fair tomorrow in the County Clare,
There will be a fair tomorrow in the County Clare,
What use is that to me for I won’t be there.

Dear Mother, will you let me go to the fair?
Dear Mother, will you let me go to the fair?
Dear Mother, will you let me go to the fair?
Little love, don’t ask it!

You are not ten nor eleven yet
You are not ten nor eleven yet
You are not ten nor eleven yet
When you are thirteen you’ll be big.

I would prefer my shoe-maker
I would prefer my shoe-maker
I would prefer my shoe-maker
To an army officer with his gold lace.
 

JH: Some of the verses are repeated, you know, because that’s the way they do.

EM: But you say the kids learn this at school, do they?

JH: Oh, yes, they do, at school.  That’s one school song and another is [The Queen of Connemara] - (break) - Oh, no I’m not saying it’s similar, it’s a very old one with the children around our [area]  It’s about the only English one they do sing.

The Queen of Connemara   (Roud 13972)

My boat can safely float in the teeth of wind and weather,
And outsail the fastest hooker between Galway and Kinsale.
When the white foam of the ocean and the sea runs white together,
Oh she rides in her pride like a seagull through the gale.

Chorus:
She is sweet, she is neat, she’s a beauty in every line,
The Queen of Connemara, she is that bounding bark of mine.

When she’s loaded down with fish and the water lifts her gunwale,
Not a drop she’ll take aboard her that would wash a fly away.
From the fleet she speeds up quickly like a greyhound from his kennel,
'Til she lands her silver store of fish in old Kinvara Bay.

Chorus

There’s a light shines out afar. It keeps me from dismaying,
While the skies are pink above us and the sea runs white with foam.
In a cot in Connemara, there’s a wife and wee one praying,
To the one who walked the waters once, to bring us safely home.

Chorus
 

EM: The children sing that, do they?

JH: They do, and that’s an old one.

(Break)

Captain Wedderburn   (Roud 36, Child 46)

A gentleman’s fair daughter walked down a narrow lane.
She met with Captain Wedderburn, the keeper of the game.
He said unto his servant ‘If only for the law,
I’d have that girl in bed with me and she’d lie next to the wall’.

‘Musha, go your way, young man,’ she said, ‘and do not bother me,
Before you and I on one bed lie, you must answer me questions three.
Three questions you must answer me and I’ll set forth them all,
Ere you and I on one bed lie and I lie next the wall.

For my breakfast, you must get for me a cherry without a stone,
For my dinner, you must get for me a chicken without a bone,
For my supper, you must find for me a bird without a gall,
Then you on and I on one bed lie, and I’ll lie next the wall.’

‘A cherry when in blossom surely has no stone,
A chicken when its in the egg surely has no bone,
The dove it is a gentle bird, it flies without a gall,
Then you and I on one bed lie and you’ll lie next to the wall.’

‘Now go your way, young man’ she said ‘and do not me perplex,
Before you and I on one bed lie, you must answer me questions six.
Six questions you must answer me and I’ll set forth them all,
Ere you and I one bed lie at either stock or wall.’

Oh, what is rounder than a ring, what’s higher than a tree,
Oh, what is worse than women’s wrath, what’s deeper than the sea,
What bird sings best, what flower buds first and on it the dew first fall
Then you and I in one bed lie and I’ll lie next to the wall.’

‘The world is rounder than a ring, heaven is higher than a tree,
The devil is worse than women’s wrath, hell is deeper than the sea,
The lark sings best, the heath buds first and on it the dew first fall,
So you and I on one bed lie and you’ll lie next to the wall.’

‘You must find for me some winter fruit that in December grow,
You must get for me silk mantle that’s neither warped nor worn,
A sparrow’s horn, a priest unborn that’ll wed us two in twa,
Then you and I on one bed lie and you’ll lie next to the wall.’

Oh my father has some winter fruit that in December grow,
My mother has a silk mantle that’s neither warped nor worn.
A sparrow’s horn is easily found, there is one on every claw
And Mitchelllis (Melchizidek) was a priest unborn, so you’ll lie next to the wall.’
 

The Old Man Rocking the Cradle   (Roud 357)
I am a young man, I’m rocking the cradle,
Rocking the baby that nobody owns.
I am an old man, I’m alone at the table,
Watching the baby that nobody owns.

Chorus:
Oh ro oh ro, ro my baby,
Perhaps your own daddy, you never will know.
I’m here all alone, I’m rocking the cradle,
Rocking the baby that’s never my own.

My wife is a flirt who married for money,
She stays out all night until the cock crows.
Take warning, dear Harry, if you ever marry,
Be sure that the baby you rock is your own.

Chorus:
Hushaby lu, hushaby baby,
Perhaps your own daddy …

Haloo, hallo, oh ro my baby,
Hush-a-bye-baby and hush-a-bye oh.
Hu ro, hu ro, oho my baby,
Perhaps your own daddy you never will know.
 
JH: That’s about the best I can do, Peggy, at the moment.


Footnotes:

(ÉÓB) denotes authorship by Éamonn Ó Bróithe
(FM) denotes authorship by Fred McCormick
48.   The term used for a fox here (Maidrín Rua) literally means 'little red dog'.  The line would translate "Little red dog, red, red, red".  (ÉÓB)

49.  Humming the tune of a song, rather than lilting it presumably.  (FM)

50.  Lios = fairy castle.  (FM)

51.  This is a confusing passage and it is a pity that it could not have been transcribed in its entirety.  So far as I have been able to ascertain, Irish people have never been prohibited from speaking English.  However, the suppression of Gaelic was an ongoing feature of British colonial policy at least from the days of the Kilkenny Statutes of 1366.  It is possible that Heaney is referring to a practice, introduced along with the National School system in 1831, of making school pupils wear sticks tied around their necks.  Any adult, hearing a child speaking Gaelic, was expected to cut a number of notches on the stick, equivalent to the number of Gaelic words used.  A child turning up at school with notches on his or her stick was then beaten by the schoolteacher in proportion to the number of notches.  This means of enforcing English occupational rule upon the innocents of Ireland was known as the 'tally system'.  See Breandán Ó Conaire's introduction to Douglas Hyde; Language, Lore and Lyrics, Ó Conaire, ed. Irish Academic Press, Blackrock, 1986.  (FM)

52.  Ó hÉanaí clearly says "Tennis Right".  it is possible however that Joe's source got mixed up and that the 'correct' title is The Tenant's Rights.  If so, it would be a reference to the movement of that name which arose in the 1870s, and which aimed to secure fair rents and proper tenure for the tenant farmers of Ireland.  (FM)

53.  Three songs are confused here.  The verse which Ó hÉanaí sings comes from a murder ballad, usually known as Pretty Polly or The Cruel Ship's Carpenter (Roud 15).  However, he also had a love song, not sung during the interview, which he called The Maid of Sweet Gurteen (Roud 3025).  He recorded this latter for Peter Kennedy in 1959 (BBC recording 25570) and a version of the song may be found in O'Lochlainn, Irish Street Ballads.  It is an entirely different song to The Cruel Ship's Carpenter.  Finally, the lines which Heaney speaks, 'the huntsmen they all gathered round all for to dig the grave / And they dug the ground and there they found the missing body laid' come from a separate song, The Old Oak Tree.  This is also a murder ballad, but has no connection with The Cruel Ship's Carpenter (Roud 569).  (FM)

54.  On a calm sunny morning on the 4th of September 1828, a boat full of 31 happy young people left the village of Annaghdown to sail about eight miles down Lough Corrib to go to a fair in Galway Town.  They were within two miles of their destination when one of about ten sheep on board put its foot through the bottom of the old leaky boat.  One man folded a piece of cloth and shoved it into the hole.  Another man tried to force the cloth into the hole with the heel of his boot but, instead knocked out the plank from the bottom of the boat.  The boat filled with water in an instant.  Terror and panic overtook the passengers and 18 young people perished.

This great lament was composed by the legendary folk-poet Antoine Raiftearaí (1784-1835) from Cill Liadáin near Kiltimagh in County Mayo.  Blinded by smallpox in childhood, Raiftearaí spent his adult life wandering about County Galway playing the fiddle, singing and composing songs.  He made an enormous impression on the people of the west of Ireland and is still widely regarded as the greatest Gaelic folk-poet of that region.  (ÉÓB)

55.  Joe says Death did not befriend (cáirdeas) anyone.  More usually It is cáirde (credit or respite etc.).  (ÉÓB)

Part of Article MT055


Introduction Interview Part 1 Interview Part 2

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