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Help: Origins of Carrickfergus

DigiTrad:
CARRICKFERGUS


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Jack Hickman - Kingston, ON 03 Jan 00 - 12:22 AM
sam 03 Jan 00 - 06:16 AM
John Moulden 03 Jan 00 - 07:13 AM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 03 Jan 00 - 08:15 AM
banjerbob@aol.com 03 Jan 00 - 08:25 AM
John Moulden 03 Jan 00 - 11:15 AM
Peter T. 03 Jan 00 - 11:29 AM
John Moulden 03 Jan 00 - 06:08 PM
Jack Hickman - Kingston, ON 03 Jan 00 - 08:10 PM
Richard Bridge 03 Jan 00 - 08:26 PM
harpgirl 03 Jan 00 - 10:59 PM
Lonesome EJ 03 Jan 00 - 11:24 PM
John Moulden 04 Jan 00 - 05:49 AM
Neil Comer 04 Jan 00 - 05:53 PM
John in Brisbane 04 Jan 00 - 07:45 PM
Martin Ryan 06 Jan 00 - 08:52 AM
catspaw49 06 Jan 00 - 09:12 AM
John Moulden 06 Jan 00 - 02:31 PM
Neil Comer 06 Jan 00 - 02:52 PM
John Moulden 07 Jan 00 - 07:06 AM
Martin Ryan.(duplicate) 07 Jan 00 - 10:55 AM
John Moulden 07 Jan 00 - 04:31 PM
Mikal 07 Jan 00 - 08:12 PM
Áine 07 Jan 00 - 09:59 PM
Áine 08 Jan 00 - 10:05 AM
Peter T. 08 Jan 00 - 12:10 PM
Áine 08 Jan 00 - 12:14 PM
Susanne (skw) 08 Jan 00 - 01:52 PM
Martin Ryan.(duplicate) 08 Jan 00 - 06:42 PM
Martin Ryan.(duplicate) 08 Jan 00 - 06:45 PM
John Moulden 08 Jan 00 - 08:14 PM
Martin Ryan 09 Jan 00 - 10:35 AM
John Moulden 09 Jan 00 - 10:44 AM
Susanne (skw) 09 Jan 00 - 04:00 PM
Mikal 09 Jan 00 - 07:50 PM
Brakn 09 Jan 00 - 08:51 PM
Martin Ryan.(duplicate) 10 Jan 00 - 05:56 AM
John Moulden 10 Jan 00 - 09:15 AM
Philippa 10 Jan 00 - 08:12 PM
Áine 10 Jan 00 - 08:41 PM
Bruce O. 10 Jan 00 - 09:03 PM
Philippa 14 Jan 00 - 03:01 PM
John Moulden 14 Jan 00 - 03:51 PM
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Áine 14 Jan 00 - 06:08 PM
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George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 17 Jan 00 - 12:12 AM
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Neil Comer 17 Jan 00 - 12:05 PM
Peter T. 17 Jan 00 - 12:40 PM
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Martin Ryan.(duplicate) 17 Jan 00 - 06:05 PM
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Subject: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Jack Hickman - Kingston, ON
Date: 03 Jan 00 - 12:22 AM

Dear Friends:

I have been asked to determine if Carrickfergus is a traditional song, or can it be attributed to anyone specific. Also does it by any chance predate 1800.

I am slowly and methodically perusing every book of appropriate folk music I can find, but in the meantime I thought if anyone had the information to hand, it might speed me on my way. I've seen more obscure questionas asked on Mudcat, and usually they get answers.

Keep the Faith.

Jack Hickman


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: sam
Date: 03 Jan 00 - 06:16 AM

I want to know the same thing. I have heard that it was done at the turn of the century( 1900) in music halls. I've heard that the song is American in origin.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: John Moulden
Date: 03 Jan 00 - 07:13 AM

The first I heard of this song was from Dominic Behan who said that he had learned it from the actor Peter O'Toole, whose favourite song it was. Dominic recorded it in the early sixties. His words differed slightly from those sung by the Clancy's whose source is surrounded by the usual creative mist. I have never since heard any version which could not be traced to either of those, nor have I ever - and I have looked at most of the manuscript, ballad sheet, popular song book or book collections of Irish songs ever made - seen it in any prior form.

It is, as you say, a mystery. I'll give it some more attention.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 03 Jan 00 - 08:15 AM

If you look at the song, it seems to be similar to Waly, Waly/Water is Wide.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: banjerbob@aol.com
Date: 03 Jan 00 - 08:25 AM

I checked with my friend Stewart, who went to ireland last summer and actually played the tune on a hill overlooking the Castle Cerrikfergus (over 1000 years old). He maintains it is indeed an old tune, and he played it a lot in the pubs. FWIW


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: John Moulden
Date: 03 Jan 00 - 11:15 AM

I too could assert that this is an old tune but in the absence of evidence would not expect my assertion to be accepted. My experience of this song is as I stated it above - with the addition that Dominic Behan called it "The Kerry Boatman" and sings the first two lines - "I wish I was in Carrickfergus, In ELphin, Aoidtrim or Ballygrind,"

The Clancy's sing "Only for nights in Ballygrand" - which has never made any sense to me - and probably not to anyone else either, but who am I to quarrel with their authority?

Behan's book"Ireland Sings" (London, 1965) gives three verses of which he says, he wrote the middle one and the others he collected from Peter O'Toole.

In trying to make sense of a song and its context we can do no more than start with what we have.

The mystery as far as I am concerned has four elements - 1. Since thirty-five years of looking can find no trace of the song prior to Peter O'Toole - where could it have been up to then? 2. Is it about the County Antrim Carrickfergus: the other place names are either obscure (Aoidtrim - which is not Irish for Antrim (Aontraim) - or Ballygrind - which I cannot presently trace) but Elphin is in Roscommon) - and Kilkenny? Was the first place name originally Carrickfergus at all? 3. What about the KERRY boatman? 4. Why do I have a hunch that there is an Irish language original? - though any Irish versions are actually translations of these words?

There are currently no answers to any of these questions.

The thematic similarity to "The water is wide" is fascinating too and raises its own questions - was O'Toole the author?

This is not all suggested seriously - just a contribution to the breadth of the puzzle.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Peter T.
Date: 03 Jan 00 - 11:29 AM

The drunken ending is obviously about Peter O'Toole, whether by him or not....
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: John Moulden
Date: 03 Jan 00 - 06:08 PM

Just to add a final piece of information. The LP which contained Dominic Behan's performance was called "The Irish Rover" and was published in about 1963 by Doug Dobell from his record shop on Charing Cross Road, London and was numbered F-LEUT-2. Unfortunately I no longer have it - especially since the notes said something pithy about Peter O'Toole, Dominic Behan and drink.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Jack Hickman - Kingston, ON
Date: 03 Jan 00 - 08:10 PM

Wow, what a response. I likely won't be able to give my friend a definitive answer to her questions, I will certainly be able to give her some food for thought. Keep it up, folks, one never knows what might eventually. come out of this thread.

I do think that the suggestion of Peter O'Toole being the author of the song is really reaching. But that's what theories are all about.

Jack Hickman


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 03 Jan 00 - 08:26 PM

At Cambridge folk festival this used to be sung in the Guinness tent (as distinct from the beer tent) and there were many, many verses. But I cannot say which vcame first, the chicken or the egg.

Has anyone asked O'Toole?. I got the definitive answer to the puzzle of "The Gay Fusilier" by asking Pete Coe what he wrote (and one day I will get around to posting it too). HE 'fessed up.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: harpgirl
Date: 03 Jan 00 - 10:59 PM

well, it's a fiddle tune so maybe the tune came before the words...if Bruce O doesn't have some versions of it in his data base perhaps the words we sing are newer than the tune...we have talked about it a bunch before but I don't see the threads...harpgirl


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 03 Jan 00 - 11:24 PM

I've never been sure what the line about Kilkenny means- "Down in Kilkenny it is reported
On Marble tablets as black as ink
With gold and silver, I did support her..."

Is it the epitaph of his wife he refers to, or a marriage vow, or...


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: John Moulden
Date: 04 Jan 00 - 05:49 AM

Another final addition - The LP "The Irish Rover" was on the Folklore label and was reviewed in "Sing" for October 1961 as "Dominic Behan's new record"

A question - if it is a fiddle tune, is there any evidence of a performance in that form earlier than late 1961?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Neil Comer
Date: 04 Jan 00 - 05:53 PM

I am aware of an Irish language song of a same tune, but I can't quite remember where I heard it. The first line is 'do bhí bean uasal...' ( there was a noble woman)I'll try to get more info.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 04 Jan 00 - 07:45 PM

I sang this as part of a performance at the Woodford Festival in the last week. Before going on stage I racked my brain to try and remember what a Mudcateer had suggested were more sensible words for "I would support her" but could not. The main point here is that there has been a discussion here before on the lyrics - I haven't yet searched.

Also recall that I performed this as part of a series of concerts with the Fureys as the main stars. At interval I was complimented by a man in his late 60's (I guess) who was from Carrickfergus. He told me that he had grown up with the song/tune, but when I stop to think about it even a song composed in 1961 could almost qualify for that claim.

I'll be keen to see where this research leads us.

Regards, John


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Martin Ryan
Date: 06 Jan 00 - 08:52 AM

John

The only Gaelic connection I can think of is this: Sean O Sé, from Cork, used to sing a song to this air with Ceoltoiri Chuallan (Sean O Riada's seminal group). The first line was something like "Do bhí bean uasail, seal dá luath-sa..." - the opening phrase may well have been the title. I suspect its on the "O Riada sa Gaiety" album (now available on CD?. The theme was unrelated to C'fergus - and I've no idea where the words came from. May well have been written by O'Riada himself? This would have been around the early sixties. That suggests to me that one of the songs was well known at that time - and I suspect it was Carrickfergus!

I think I have always assumed that C'fergus was a stray branch of "The Water is Wide".

Regards


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: catspaw49
Date: 06 Jan 00 - 09:12 AM

Anybody try Max's new search engine on this yet? You'll find it interesting.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: John Moulden
Date: 06 Jan 00 - 02:31 PM

Thank you Martin, thant's the one - and when I think of it, I always assumed it came after Carrickfergus; but don't we always assume priority for whatever he hear first.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Neil Comer
Date: 06 Jan 00 - 02:52 PM

I knew that I had heard it somewhere before. Thanks for jogging my memory


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: John Moulden
Date: 07 Jan 00 - 07:06 AM

I've now searched, with the help of the Irish Traditional Music Archive, for references to either "Carrickfergus" or to "Do Bhí Bean Uasal" (They turned up 154 references to recordings of Carrickfergus - confusion is easy.)

In the first case - nothing appears prior to 1961. Concerning "Do bhí bean uasal" there are two significant references - an Irish language newspaper of 1905 (Iris Leabhar na Gaedhlige - spelling not guaranteed) and Donal O'Sullivan with Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin (eds) Bunting's Ancient Music of Ireland (Cork, 1983) (no 72). The notations edited date from the late 18th to early 19th century.

In neither case is the tune given the same as, nor does it bear any but occasional resemblance to, the one well known as "Carrickfergus."

The version of "Do bhí bean uasal" remembered by Neil and Martin was sung by Seán Ó Sé on a record "O'Riada sa Gaiety" (Gael Linn CEF 027) which selected a concert given by O'Riada in late 1969. The performance intermingled some of the Irish words of "Do bhí bean uasal" with some of the English words of "Carrickfergus" and used the air of Carrickfergus. These two sets of words (if those in Bunting are a guide) are not related.

Given the differences between the tunes of "Carrickfergus" and "Do bhí bean uasal" and the lack of connection between the texts, I am of the opinion (unless other evidence emerges) that their juxtaposition by Seán Ó Sé was no more than opportunism - two songs for the price of one and to a tune everyone knew.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Martin Ryan.(duplicate)
Date: 07 Jan 00 - 10:55 AM

Yes John - which suggests Carrickfergus is older than we have currently been able to prove!

Regards

p.s. Unless of course, theres a third....! No.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: John Moulden
Date: 07 Jan 00 - 04:31 PM

Sorry Martin, I disagree.

John


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Mikal
Date: 07 Jan 00 - 08:12 PM

My Uncle Joe used to love that song, but there are lines he sang differently. Knowing very little of the places and times, I am unsure as to the meanings.

He maintained that "Carrickfergus" refereed to the castle on the coast near Belfast. So the line he used was "I wish I was in Carrickfergus, Antrim, Dunluce, or the Belfast plain."

His other line that he sang differently was "And in Killkenny, she is recorded; on a marble stone there, as black as ink." He maintained the song to revere a lost love, now dead.

As to the age of the song, he claimed it was written by an Irish immigrant, in Gaelic, but fairly recently, say in the early 1900's. He claimed the English words were common in the Army among Irish/American soldiers.

However, Uncle Joe told a lot of stories, and this may not be true either.

Mikal (Now I have this song in my head...)


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Áine
Date: 07 Jan 00 - 09:59 PM

In 'Love Songs of The Irish' selected and edited by James N. Healey, Mercier Press, 1977, Mr. Healey has this to say about the song 'Carrigfergus' (his spelling) '... this song is ... of uncertain origin, and, in the various forms in which it is heard, incomplete. Nevertheless the effect of sadness comes over well -- from the air and an interesting obscurity in the words.' He gives the air as being 'traditional'.

-- Áine


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Áine
Date: 08 Jan 00 - 10:05 AM

Good morning, everyone! I did a search on the IRTRAD-L archives and came up with some interesting (in my humble opinion) stuff. This question of the origin of this song is beginning to make me a little 'batty'. I hope we can find an acceptable answer soon. -- Áine

IRTRAD-L archives -- January 1998 (#795) [Two ABC formats]

IRTRAD-L archives -- January 1998 (#824) [Discusses Carrickfergus and The Dargle]

IRTRAD-L archives -- January 1998 (#825) [another version of the tune in ABC]


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Peter T.
Date: 08 Jan 00 - 12:10 PM

Um, Aine, if you expect to be relieved of your battiness by a resolution of the origins of almost any Irish song, you are already too far gone to be helped....
top of the mornin' to you, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Áine
Date: 08 Jan 00 - 12:14 PM

Aren't you the clever article, Peter! Don't I know that there are as many opinions about where an Irish song comes from than birds in the sky! Notice that I said 'acceptable answer' -- I know too well that we'll never come up with a 'final' one -- and isn't that a large part of the fun in it!

-- Áine


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 08 Jan 00 - 01:52 PM

This is a very interesting thread. Twenty years ago, a German 'authority' on the Irish language and Irish songs assured her readers, in the magazine 'Folk Michel', that it was a macaronic song whose meaning got lost if you left out the Irish verses. John's research gave me second thoughts about the extent of her expertise … - Susanne


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Martin Ryan.(duplicate)
Date: 08 Jan 00 - 06:42 PM

John

Disagree about what? Apart perhaps from Mikal's comments above, we're still no further back than about 1960.It would probably halp if we separated tune and words but we're still not getting very far.

Regards

p.s. Now I'll go and look up Aine's IRTRAD links!


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Martin Ryan.(duplicate)
Date: 08 Jan 00 - 06:45 PM

I'm afraid I'm no wiser - do either of the tunes resemble the one we're discussing?

Regards


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: John Moulden
Date: 08 Jan 00 - 08:14 PM

My disagreement with Martin is on account of his saying that the evidence I cite regarding "Do bhí bean uasal" suggests that Carrickfergus is older than we have been able to prove. I'm agnostic in this area.

To clarify the material in the Irtrad-l archives. The first two references are to a tune, a dance tune known in various forms as "The Lady of the Lake" "The small pin cushion" or "Haste to the Wedding" - it is also associated with a Manx song, sometimes (however, unlikely this may seem) attributed to the French General Thurot called "The Capture of Carrickfergus" - thus the tune is also known by the name Carrickfergus. However, on playing over the version in Eloise Hubbard Linnscott's "Folk Songs of Old New England (DoverPublications Inc, New York, 1993) (pages 87-88) it proves to be a version of the Dance/Song Tune "Haste to the Wedding" and has no connection with "I wish I was in Carrickfergus.

The third reference is the air we would all recognise as Carrickfergus but it has no information about source or origin and takes our inquiry no further.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Martin Ryan
Date: 09 Jan 00 - 10:35 AM

John

I share your agnosticism, overall. I remain puzzled - but then - so do you!

Regards

p.s. Happy new year!


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: John Moulden
Date: 09 Jan 00 - 10:44 AM

Yes, and to you and Josie. Will you be in Wexford at the beginning of February?

You're right about my being puzzled - I can discover nothing earlier than Dominic and any indication which might lead to an earlier origin either for words or music looks spurious. Further, I'm ready to bet that the Clancy Bros got it from D and that everybody else's version derives from them - including the rash of additional verses which have appeared.

Incidentally (watch the tangent) Dominic Behan sang, on the same 1961 record "The Irish Rover" a song which he called "McAldine's Fusileers" and which began "As down the glen came McAldine's men .." What are the odds that this is the first appearance of this song too?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 09 Jan 00 - 04:00 PM

John - I thought it was certain Dominic had written McAlpine's Fusiliers? The Dubliners even credit it to him in their songbook. (Sorry about thread creep - should we start a new thread on this?) - Susanne


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Mikal
Date: 09 Jan 00 - 07:50 PM

Okay, sorry I was a bit vague in my post. Uncle Joe said he had heard it sung in Gaelic in the army during WWII, in the 40's. The tune was not quite the same though.

My father's tapes, (he did not sing, but left family history for us on cassette before he died, has him singing a snippet of the Gaelic, but his ability to carry a tune is highly suspect. I cannot tell from the tape if he is singing the tune "Carrickfergus" or "The Old Rugged Cross"! (Hey, the old guy had no voice to speak of!)

A quick "ask around" of the family found no one who currently knew the words Uncle Joe sang in Gaelic, and only a few of the older ones and I remembered him singing it at all. However, the two lines I posted are correct to his version.

Another myth we may never track down. Hmmmmm…

Mikal


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Brakn
Date: 09 Jan 00 - 08:51 PM

Re McAlpine's Fusiliers
I do that song and a couple of years ago someone stopped me when I said that it was written by Dominic Behan. This person maintained that it was written by a navi, who had been working in England, called Darkie McClafferty and that Dominic Behan had wrongly taken the credit.

Mick Bracken


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Martin Ryan.(duplicate)
Date: 10 Jan 00 - 05:56 AM

John

I've just had a look at "Ireland Sings" - I'd never noticed the song before. Behan's notes seem to suggest that he wrote the second verse of his 3 verse set, having collected the others from O'Toole. It's not like him to be so generous in his acknowledgement of sources! In fact it would rather ironic if DID write it and were not recognised for it.
That second verse mentions "Bredeen Vesey" as the poet's love. This looks like a nod to "Bridín Béasach" , a Raftery poem of which Mrs. Costelloe collected a long version as a song (JIFSS XVi, 56).
So - where did O'Toole get it?

Regards


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: John Moulden
Date: 10 Jan 00 - 09:15 AM

Martin, this time I am in agreement with all that you say - Peter O'Toole is still alive, I think - could he be asked?

I'm sorry to have started the herring about McAlpine's Fusiliers. There is a curiosity in the Dubliner's acknowledgement of Dominic Behan - it is said to be copyright by Essex Music - This is the company which published "Irish Sings" - but McA is not in that book, nor in Dominic's other songbook "The Singing Irish" which was published in 1967 by Scott Solomon, London. Did Dominic publish other books - individual songs were in 101 Scottish Songs and in the second Rebel's Ceili Song Book - but I've been aware of no other songbooks by him.

I'm going to transfer this query to a separate thread so that we may benefit from the knowledge of those who have not been following this one.


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Subject: Lyr Add: CARRICKFERGUS (Irish+English)
From: Philippa
Date: 10 Jan 00 - 08:12 PM

I have words to an Irish language/ macaronic Carrickfergus. Can we get further information Ó Riada's input to the song as recorded by Seán Ó Sé? I've long imagined that there was an older Irish song and that somewhere along the line (well before Ó Riada) someone who had heard a version of Waly, Waly / the Water is Wide grafted in English verses to the tune.

John M: our mutual friend Annraoi has a copy of Ó Muirthile, "An t-Amhrán Macarónach". It probably gives a date for its source of the text. And like O'Toole, Ó Muirthile himself could be contacted in case he has information.

Incidentally, the photocopy I was given of the macaronic text is titled "Carrickfergus" (not "Do bhí...") and the title is followed by a question in brackets, "Cé a chum?", meaning "who composed it?" This version is barely macaronic; it only has English in the last of the 4 verses. It's a love song, but the lyrics don't mention Carrickfergus or Kilkenny or a boatman. Places mentioned include Munster, County Clare and Howth (Beann Éadair)

Do bhí bean uasal seal dá lua liom,
's chuir sí suas díom fóraíl ghéar;
Do ghabhas lastuas di sna bailte móra
Mar go dtug sí svae ['sway'] léi os comhair an tsaoil.
Ach dá bhfaighinnse a ceann siúd faoi áirsí an teampaill,
Do bheinn gan amhras ar m'ábhar féin;
Ach anois táim tinn lag 's gan fáil ar leigheas agam.
Is go mbeidh mo mhuintir ag gol im' dhéidh.

Do shiúlaíos Éire is an Mhumhain le chéile
Is cois Beann Éadair ag lorg mná,
Is ní fhaca éinne ar fhaid an méid sin
Do dhein mé phléasáil ach mo Mhalaí Bán.
Mná na hÉireann do chur le chéile
Is nach mór an t-aeraíocht dom san a rá;
'Sé dúirt gach éinne a chonaic mo spéirbhean.
Go dtug sí svae léi ó Chontae an Chláir.

Tá an ghrian ag imeacht is tá an teas ag tréigean
Is an tart ní féidir liom féin do chlaoi,
Mar go bhfuil an geall orm ó Shamhain go Féabhraí
Is ní bheidh sí reidh liom go dtí Lá Mhichíl;
Ach geallaim féin daoibh nach mar gheall ar an méid sin
A d'iontaíos féinig i gcoinne na dí,
Ach mar gheall ar mo chéad searc a dhein mé thréigean -
Chuaigh sí ag bailiú déirce dá clann iníon.

Agus táim tinn breoite is mo chos dheas leonta
Ó ghabh an ógbhean úd tharam isteach;
D'iarras póigín uair nó dhó uirthi,
For I'd long to roam with my own sweetheart.
For I'm tired of drinking and I'm seldom sober!
I'm a constant rover from town to town!
But now I'm dying and my days are over -
Come Malaí, a stóirín, and lay me down!


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Áine
Date: 10 Jan 00 - 08:41 PM

A Phlippa, a chara,

Why don't you try translating those last few lines to Irish? The words fit the Carraigfergus tune to a 'T' -- and wouldn't it be wonderful to replace what has been lost?

-- Áine

P.S. My 'C' drive crashed about a week ago and I've lost your email address. Could you send it to me again, please? And by the way, a chuisle, your pictures were beautiful -- and the party looked like it was a lot of fun! - Á.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Bruce O.
Date: 10 Jan 00 - 09:03 PM

Those English lines in the 4th verse are in a song that A. L. Lloyd in Folk Song in England lists in his index as "The Water is Wide", although he neglects to give a title to the song on the page where to song is given. It's another conglomeration, and the verse in question belongs more properly to a song usually called "I'm a rover".

What is the age of the Gaelic text that Philippa gives? No documentation usually means there's real no basis for claiming any old origin for the song. John Moulden still has by far the most facts that I can see, and I've found that's almost always the case. Few can compete with him when it comes to history of Irish Songs.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Philippa
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 03:01 PM

No, "Do bhí bean uasal" isn't published in Ó Muirthile, "An t-Amhrán Macarónach". Which leaves us back to questioning someone like Seán Ó Sé, Rachel Ní Riada, Peadar Ó Riada, Tomás Ó Canainn (he wrote a book about Sean Ó Riada) about the Irish language song.

OIn one of his books, piper (engineer, singer, poet, author) Tomás Ó Canainn mentions a 1790 publication of a tune called "Carrickfergus" but the air is that of "Haste to the Wedding", not the song we know of as Carrickfergus or Do bhí bean uasal.(see John Moulden's message on this aspect of the topic)


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: John Moulden
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 03:51 PM

This is the gist of a message I will be posting in the thread on Carrick Fergus.

I mention, as does Philippa above a song about Carrickfergus to the tune "Haste to the wedding" According to Bruce O in the other thread this is "The Capture of Carrickfergus" by Thurot (a French General who did capture Carrick in 1760). There is reference to this song in Eloise Hubbard Linscott: Folksongs of Old New England in a way which led us to believe that the song was being ascribed to Thurot as author. I've just thought of a way round this (and we all should have thought of this - it is oral tradition we are discussing after all) - Instead of "The Capture of Carrickfergus" by Thurot, the song's title should be "The Capture of Carrickfergus by Thurot" - you can't say inverted commas.

I have a text of a song called "The siege of Carrickfergus" which was printed in Samuel Lover (ed) "Poems of Ireland" (Ward Lock and Co. London, 1858) - it is street balladish in style and can be sung to "Haste to the Wedding" I'll put it in the other thread.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Bruce O.
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 05:45 PM

I noted in the other thread (Feb. 1998) that Linscott's statement made no sense. I also requested, in vain, a copy of the ballad on the capture of Carrickfergus.

Quoting the 2nd edition, 1962, of Linscott's 'Folk Songs of Old New England', p. 87 (under the dance "Lady of the Lake")

'The tune "Come, Haste to the Wedding," of Gaelic origin, was introduced in the pantomime, "The Elopement," in 1767. This version is known as the Manx tune and was printed by the Percy Society in 1746. It is the basis of the Manx ballad, "the Capture of Carrickfergusby," written by Thurot in 1760.'

Garbled it remains (As in the Fiddler's Companion index on the Ceolas website)

In the Scottish Mansfield/St. Clair MS, c 1785, there are two songs directed to be sung to "Carrick Fergus", the first being "Come haste to the wedding" (or "Rural Felicity", both of which became alternative titles for the tune), and another that I've not seen, "O save ye dear Towdy, ye're welcome to Dublin". There may also be a song to it under it's "Dargle" title, one song called "The Dargle" commences "How happy are we", c 1770, but I have neither song nor tune. What confuses the matter is there's a different (9/8) tune also called "The Dargle" (in 'The Irish Fair', 1772). To further confuse matters there's a song called "The New Dargle", c 1770, that commences "Come haste to our wedding", whose song and tune I don't have. For all the names for the tune see the Irish tune index on my website.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Áine
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 06:08 PM

Dear Bruce,

When my C drive crashed recently, I lost all my bookmarks. Could you please provide a link to or the URL for your website? Thanks, Áine


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Bruce O.
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 06:19 PM

Sorry for typo above; that should have been 'by the Percy Society in 1846.'


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Subject: Lyr Add: BHI BEAN UASAL
From:
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 06:38 PM

Here is another macaronic version; this is the one sung by Seán Ó Sé on the recording "Ó Riada sa Gaiety". My source is a booklet, Amhrénleabhar Ógra Éireann, published in Dublin by Folens (8th edition, 1971)

BHI BEAN UASAL

Do bhí bean uasal seal dá lua liom,
's do chuir sí suas díomsa faraoir géar;
Do ghabhas lastuas di sna bailte móra
Ach d'fhag sí ann é os comhair an tsaoil.
Dá bhfaighinnse a ceannsa faoi áirsí an teampaill,
Do bheinnse gan amhras im 'ábhar féin;
Ach anois táim tinn lag is gan fáil ar leigheas agam.
Is beidh mo mhuintir ag gol im' dhéidh.

I wish I had you in Carrickfergus
Ní fada ón áit sin go Baile Uí Chuain
Sailing over the deep blue waters
I ndiaidh mo ghrá geal is í ag ealó uaim.
For the seas are deep, love, and I can't swim over
And neither have I wings to fly,
I wish I met with a handy boatman,
Who would ferry over my love and I.

Tá an fuacht ag teacht is an teas ag tréigint
An tart ní féidir liom féin é do chlaoi,
Is go bhfuil an leabhar orm ó Shamhain go Fébur
Is ní bheidh sí reidh liom go Féil' Mhichíl;
I'm seldom drunk though I'm never sober!
A handsome rover from town to town.
But now I am dead and my days are over -
Come Molly, a stóirín, now lay me down!

Can some Mudcat correspondent look up and find out if it is the same tune as the song? I found a reference to the tune "Do bhí bean uasal" in the Bunting collection on line in the 1855 writings of Dr George Petrie , who himself is well-known for his poetic translations from Irish to English. But I gather from John Moulden that this isn't the same air as the song we are discussing.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Annraoi
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 08:10 AM

Phillipa and John, I'm back. This may - or may not - be a good thing. I've been away from Mudcat for some considerable time, but dip-sticking brought me to this thread. Phillipa is quite right, I do have a copy of ó muirthile's book and it does contain a version of "Do Bhí Bean Uasal / Carrickfergus" but he calls it "The Young Sick Lover." The text seems to be a fairly complete one having 7 eight-lined stanzas. It seems to me to be a mixture of two songs, one Irish and one English. The Irish verses contain the typical internal rhyme patterns widely used in "amhrán" poetry dating from the C17 onwards and reaching its highest form in the C18. The English verses show an effort to incorporate these patterns but in a halting and inconsistant manner. Moreover, the "Handsome boatman" is too obviously the "Water of Tyne". Also, taking the Irish alternate verses 1, 3, 5, and 7, they make a unified song of a cuckolded young man. The English interpolations - and the more I think, the more I'm convinced that that is what they are - break up this unity and may show a society in a period of linguistic change and coming increasingly under the influence of English songs. Indeed one of the English verses is a paraphrase rather than a translation of the preceding Irish verse. Ó Muirthile gives as his primary source a broadsheet in Cambridge dating from the first half of the C19,. Thus the age of the song is pushed back by a full 120 years at least from its modern re-emergence in the 1960's. Among his other sources he gives another in Cambridge, one in the British Library, The version published in "Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge" March 1905 (already mentioned by John Moulden) and in "an Lóchrann" April, 1909. I hope that this is of some interest. Annraoi


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: John Moulden
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 11:39 AM

Thank you, Henry; but does Diarmaid Ó Muirthile give a real full reference to his Cambridge original?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Annraoi
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 06:10 PM

Unfortunately not, John. He merely says that it is to be found in the University Library as a ballad sheet published by Haly in Cork.He gives another Cambridge source,but this simply gives the printer of the sheet as John Troy, Limerick. I know nothing of ballad sheet sources, but maybe these names are of some significance to your good self. I was over doing some research in Cambridge last October and believe me, if you don't know what you're looking for, you'll spend a long time chasing your tail - that's providing you can gain access to the Library in the first place, it's not like your local Public Reading Room. However, I presume it is kept among the MSS collection and the staff in the Manuscripts Room will help if they have a definite reference. They will not instigate a cold search for you, which is reasonable. He does give the text as he found it and it is very hard to decipher, even for Irish speakers, as it was recorded in "phonetic" script based on English orthographic values. Henry


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: John Moulden
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 05:12 AM

Henry, I've been to Cambridge and have notes on the ballad sheets and song books there. The two significant collections of Ballads are those of Henry Bradshaw and Sir Frederic Madden. Both are indexed by title only in the Catalogue of the Bradshaw Collection (Cambridge, 1916) - I'll look it up. Madden has half a volume of Cork printed ballads.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE YOUNG SICK LOVER
From: John Moulden
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 08:13 PM

OK, you may all come round and see my red face - something I knew and had totally forgotten - and in consequence a lot of what I have been saying has had less foundation than it seemed. However, it does prove the worth of a forum such as this, almost invariably conducted in an atmosphere of respect and mutual exploration; each contributing and jogging hunches, aiding memory and combining clues.

Henry is responsible for my red face - he mentioned "THE YOUNG SICK LOVER" and it nagged me - a ballad sheet printed by Haly of Cork called "The young sick lover" - it's been a day long search but I find that I have a xerox of that very sheet, copied from the National Library of Ireland where it is filed in a portfolio by the key-word "Young" and my copy of it bears a note that it is largely Carrickfergus - I must be more systematic; I must be more systematic; I must be ....

It begins phonetically :

De vee ban osul, shol da lough lum
Es de chur, she souse dum forer gair,
[six more lines]

The second stanza is:

I wish I had you in Carrickfergus.
Agus ne fadde, o en nat shoon balle coun,
And I'll sail over the deepest water,
En naugh ne gra ga, agus ehe gallouh oum
The seas are deep, and I can't swim over,
No nor neither have I wings to fly,
I wish I met with some handsome boatman,
To ferry over my love and I.

[another stanza of 'phonetic' Irish]

And its Kilkenny it is supposed,
Where the marble stones are as black as ink;
With gold and silver I will support you,
But I'll sing no more 'till I get a drink;
I am always drunk, and seldom sober,
Constantly roving from town to town;
Now when I'm dead, and my days are over,
Come Molly asthore and lay me down.

[Irish stanza]

I've travelled this nation in desperation,
Through Flanders and all Germany,
And in my ranging and seranading,
My Molly's equals I could not see,
Her golden hair, and her limbs complete,
Her skin exceeds the lily fair;
It is what grieves me, that this fair one
Should take the sway from the County Clare.

[Final Irish stanza] (7 in all)

It thus appears that any criticism I may have levelled at Seán Ó Sé, Dominic Behan or Peter O'Toole was unjustified and as Henry says, given that Haly of Cork was printing around 1830 we have (with a certain amount of hindrance from me) successfully established a much firmer provenance for both Carrickfergus and the Macaronic. There are still questions - are Carrickfergus and Do bhí bean uasal really linked - do any of the macaronics bear clear relationship to one another - this is a question for Henry who is studying the matter. I'll send you a copy of the sheet.

The ones at Cambridge are not in either Bradshaw or Madden but among the series of volumes with press-marks SEL.2.93 to SEL.2.101 which are indexed in four card index drawers at the Rare Books Department. It would be worth getting them to look out the one printed by Troy of Limerick - differences are probable and will be revealing.

The text above begins to clear up the difficulty one contributor had in understanding the Kilkenny marble stones.

I'll confirm Haly's dates when I can get to a copy of the Bradshaw Index I cited above.

Sorry to be slow.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 08:26 PM

To be suspected of having written a song like Carrickfergus is the kind of criticism that I'd think Seán Ó Sé, Dominic Behan or Peter O'Toole would not be wholly averse to.

There's still the interesting question how the song got from 1830 to Peter O'Toole without anyone else ever apparently collecting it or putting it in print.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Henry/Annraoi
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 09:10 PM

Great stuff, John, At last I have contributed something of value to trad. song studies, as opposed to merely performing and hazarding guesses- albeit informed ones. Henry


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 17 Jan 00 - 12:12 AM

John, is the whole thing in "Phonetic" Irish? Or is there actual Irish words?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: John Moulden
Date: 17 Jan 00 - 05:23 AM

Two things - first, to answer George - there are seven stanzas - four of which are Irish and three English; the Irish is given, not in conventional Irish spelling or the Irish alphabet but in a phonetic form using Roman letters and employing (mostly) the phonetic values of English spelling. Henry expresses it well above.

This brings me to my second point, a query. Henry and Philippa refer to the author of An tAmhrán Macarónach as Ó Muirthile. My copy of "A short bibliography of Irish folk song" gives the author of this book as Diarmaid Ó Muirithe and credits him with the editorship of a book on "The Wexford Carols" - my copy of that book says it's by Diarmaid Ó Muirithe. He has also recently compiled a book on the Folklore of Wexford but nowhere is he other than Ó Muirithe. Is he confused or am I?

I omitted to say that the last line of the final stanza is not in Irish but English:

For I choose to go with my own sweet-heart.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Neil Comer
Date: 17 Jan 00 - 12:05 PM

I probably shouldn't make my way back to this thread at this stage, but the phonetic Irish may shed some light on Ballgrand/Ballycran. The lines seem to read- Agus ní fada ón áit sin Baile Ciúin/Cuain ( and not far from that place 'Quiet/Harbour Town. Agus ne fadde, o en nat shoon balle coun,

John, Could you send me the other Phonetic Verse that you mentioned, and i'll try to decipher it


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Peter T.
Date: 17 Jan 00 - 12:40 PM

Hats off to all the detectives on this thread. We illiterate peasants have been following this story with increasing anxiety. You should all be together in a dusty pub somewhere beside the library of your choice, handing the sheets around, buying and backslapping with each new piece in the puzzle. Meanwhile, in the other corner, someone breaks into a certain song. Keep up the fine work.
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: John Moulden
Date: 17 Jan 00 - 02:08 PM

Peter T has the right of it; none of this going to libraries has any point unless it allows us to make our or someone else's singing of a song more likely or more artistically convincing. Now that I've been reminded of the "extra" English verse, I may start singing this song again; it has been for far too long under the shadow of the Clancys.

Neil and Henry: the text is on its way (like the cheque is in the post) - I had (with my very limited knowledge of Irish) read that line as Baile Cuain/Ciúin and had the same thought.

And, Neil, you shouldn't be so diffident; anyone's seriously intended contribution is valuable, as this process has shown.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Bruce O.
Date: 17 Jan 00 - 02:36 PM

Let me add my congratulations. Good work.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Martin Ryan.(duplicate)
Date: 17 Jan 00 - 06:05 PM

John

That's "O'Muirithe" alright. Here's a reference you'll recognise.

Click HERE

Regards


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Henry
Date: 17 Jan 00 - 09:02 PM

Apologies all round, especially to you, John. Ó Muirithe is the gentleman's name. I must have been very tired when I misspelled his surname. Thanks to all who have contributed to this thread. Once more the value of the Intenet has been demonstrated. Henry


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Alice
Date: 30 Jan 00 - 10:44 AM

Thanks to you for providing another memorable Mudcat thread. To quote McGrath of Harlow's message,
"There's still the interesting question how the song got from 1830 to Peter O'Toole without anyone else ever apparently collecting it or putting it in print. "

Here is a mailing address to contact Peter O'Toole if anyone wants to ask him how he learned it.

Name: Peter Seamus O'Toole
Current residence: London
Address for correspondence: c/o William Morris Agency, 1 Stratton Street, London, W1X 6HB

Alice


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: John Moulden
Date: 30 Jan 00 - 11:19 AM

It would be better if only one person did this - and - since I've been the one insisting that no-one heard it in modern times before Peter O'Toole sang it for Dominic Behan - it had better be me - I will in time, communicate the result.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: alison
Date: 30 Jan 00 - 06:29 PM

Great job everyone....... Ballygrand never sounded right to me....

I'd love to see the rest of the Gaelige if Annraoi or Neil can sort it out....

slainte

alison


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Annraoi
Date: 30 Jan 00 - 08:09 PM

This has turned out to be quite an interesting thread and is leading in directions previously unthought of. I can't really add to what I've said already as investigation is ongoing and as yet some problems remain unresolved, not the least of which is the decipherment of some of the Irish lyrics which might reflect some idiomatic usages or word-forms not presently current. As soon as the water clears a little I'll be back. Glad to have been of service. Annraoi


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Áine
Date: 30 Jan 00 - 08:17 PM

Couldn't someone please translate the last verse of the lyrics given by Philippa in her post of 10-Jan-00 - 08:12 PM into Irish? That would give us something until one of the masters here give us the 'final' answer . . .

-- Áine


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE SICK YOUNG LOVER
From: GUEST,an effusive Philippa
Date: 30 Jan 00 - 08:28 PM

I am as red-faced as John. I was fairly sure I'd seen "Do bhí bean uasal" in An t-Amhrán Macarónach, but after a quick glance at the titles list of a library copy, I returned to Mudcat and said that the song wasn't there. Of course, I didn't recognise the title "The Sick Young Lover".
And I'm the first one who gave the wrong surname for the book's author. I was writing on the spot, from memory. It's rather like confusing "Robinson" and "Robertson". There is a contemporary Irish author named Liam Ó Muirthile.

And I also muddled my words when asking about the air in Bunting's collection. I know that the two bilingual versions I posted are both sung to the same air as the English language "Carrickfergus", but I was asking what is the tune called "Do Bhí Bean Uasal" in the Bunting collection.

I've been back to the library to copy the lyrics of "The Sick Young Lover" from Ó Muirithe. As Annraoi says, he gives the original spelling of the ballad sheet in the appendix and gives a transliteration (if this is quite the right term!?) to Irish Gaelic spelling in the main text. It would appear that the sheet John Moulden has is the same text as given in Ó Muirithe. I notice only a few spelling differences and these could be typos, or else different readings of unclear words on the ballad sheet.
Verse 1) Moulden: "forer", Ó Muirithe: "foreer" Irish: faraor,faraoir (woe)
Verse 2) Moulden: "gra ga", Ó Muirithe: "gra gal", Irish: grá geal (bright love)
Verse 6)Moulden: "sway", Ó Muirithe: "swag" (In this case I'd opt for John's version. Notice the loan word "svae" used in the first verse of the first lyrics I contributed. Some time ago, Annraoi had to explain the expression to me; as I understand it means to come out the best among the competition. In an Irish verse of the broadsheet as given in the appendix, the spelling is rendered "swaugh". In both verses in the main text, it's "sway".

At Alison's request, here is the standard Irish as given by Ó Muirithe:

THE SICK YOUNG LOVER

Do bhí bean uasal seal dá lua liom
Is do chuir sí suas dom, fairíor géar
Is do ghabhas le stúrach na mallaí móra,
Is gur dhein sí cuach díom i lár an tsaoil.
Dá bhfaighinnse a ceann siúd faor áirse an teampaill
Is go mbeinnse arís ar m'ábhar féin
Is anois ó táim tinn lag is ná fuil fáil ar leigheas agam,
Is gan ach mo mhuintir ag gol im' dhéidh.

I wish I had you in Carrickfergus
Agus ní fada ón áit sin baile cuain,
And I'd sail over the deepest water
I ndiaidh mo ghrá geal is í ag éalu uaim.
The seas are deep and I can't swim over,
No, nor neither do I have wings to fly,
I wish I met with some handsome boatman
To ferry over my love and I.

Is tá a fhios ag Éire nach mar gheall ar aon rud
do dhearbhaíos féin a dhéanamh di,
Ach mar gheall ar mo chéad searc do dhein mé thréigint
Agus í ag déanamh spré suas dá clann iníon.
Tá an fuacht is an teas ag gabháil le chéile,
Is an tart ní féidir liom féin a chloí,
Is go bhfuil an leabhar orm ó Shamhain go February,
Is ná beidh mé réidh leis go Féile Mhichíl.

And it's in Kilkenny it is supposed
Where the marble stones are as black as ink,
With gold and silver I will support you,
And I will sing no more 'till I get a drink;
I am always drunk and seldom sober,
Constantly roving from town to town;
Now when I'm dead and my days are over,
Come, Molly, a stór, and lay me down.

Is do shiúlas Éire is an Mhumhain le chéile,
Agus ar fad síos go dtí an áit go mbíodh mo ghrá,
Agus ní bhfuaireas aoinne ar feadh an mhéid sin
Do dhéin mé pleasin' mar Molly Bhán.
Mná na hÉireann is a dteacht le chéile,
Cé gur treason dom a lua ná a rá,
Is go b'é deir gach aoinne do chlois na scéalta
Go dtug sí an sway léi ó chontae an Chláir.

I travelled this nation in desperation,
Through Flanders and all Germany;
And in my raging and serenading
My Molly's equals I could not see.
Her golden hair and her limbs complete,
Her skin exceeds the lily fair;
It is what grieves me, that this fair one
Should take the sway from the County Clare.

Is táim tinn breoite is mo chos dheas leointe
Ó ghaibh an ógbhean tharam isteach,
Is gur iarras póigín uair nó dhó uirthí,
Is go bhfaighinn féin fóirthint ach suí lena hais.
'Ochón mo chrá, is mo chumha go dóite,
Gan an oíche romham go mbeinn pósta leat';
'Nílim fós is ní bheidh go deo leat,
For I choose to go with my own sweetheart'.

verse 6 isn't a translation of verse 5, but it's in a similar vein.
A Néill, ar bhain mé an dúshlán agus an spórt uait? Well, you can still entertain yourself comparing the three versions of Do Bhí Bean Uasal on this thread. And is there any reason to use the spelling 'déidh' in one verse and 'diaidh' in another?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: John Moulden
Date: 31 Jan 00 - 08:38 AM

I've just posted to Peter O'Toole, c/o his agent, a request for information on his knowledge of the song. Don't hold your breath.

The text I have is that printed on a ballad sheet by Haly of Cork (c 1840) - this is almost certainly (95%) a print identical with that used by Diarmaid Ó Muirithe.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Neil Comer
Date: 31 Jan 00 - 05:18 PM

Philippa, Buíochas le dia gur bhain tú an dúshlán uaim! I'll have a look back through the thread


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: alison
Date: 31 Jan 00 - 10:01 PM

Thanks Philippa....

slaine

alison


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 01 Feb 00 - 12:24 AM

Thanks to all for the great detective work. I had reported in another thread that an Irish old timer had learned it as a child. I reognise that this is hardly primary research A friens has just sent me this note re a recent visit to Carrickfergus.

"I don't know if I have already told you but when asking a cousin how to get to Carrickfergus and showing him the map he told me that this one (in the North) was not the one of which the song had been written. He claimed that there was another in the South. But try as we all could we did not find the other Carrickfergus.

I tend to think that he just couldn't stand such a beautiful song being linked to a North of Ireland Town although

he lives in the North himself.

Any possibility that there is another location in the South, likewise Bally____?

Regards, John


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Brendy
Date: 01 Feb 00 - 12:44 AM

And now for another definition!
I was always under the impression that this song originated in County Clare; The Fergus being the river that runs through Ennis.
I know nothing of the history of the song, and indeed some extensive research has been done already, as has been seen above.
The old gentleman who told me this was from Sixmilebridge in Co. Clare, and I had no reason to doubt his sincerity. Considering that most of the references in the song, despite the ambiguous name in the title, are in the southern half of the country lend credence to the idea that it is not indigenous to the North East.
Food for thought, again.
Breandán


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Annraoi
Date: 01 Feb 00 - 03:33 PM

A cautionary note is worth sounding at this juncture. It seems increasingly likely to me that the song is made up of at least two other songs, one quite conceivably from the North, hence Carrickfergus, so that to treat it vis a vis its ultimate origin as one unit might lead to dubious conclusion. As I have already said, I am awaiting texts from the Folklore Department in Dublin to firm up my own ides. Will keep the thread informed, though it might take a little while. Annraoi


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,John Moulden
Date: 06 Mar 00 - 02:44 PM

Peter O'Toole and the Young Sick Lover

I have had a telephone call (this afternoon) from Peter O'Toole's agency giving the following information concerning how Peter O'Toole came to have this song to communicate to Dominic Behan:

Peter O'Toole heard most of the song, words and tune, in 1946. from a Niall Stack, who called it Molly Ba/n - the agent said P O'T spent his childhood in Kerry so we assumed that was where - and it fits with the name used by Behan, which is otherwise inexplicable: "The Kerry Boatman."

Peter O'Toole's said that his version was augmented and altered later from a version sung to him in 1957 by the actor, Richard Harris. [This is a very stagey story.]

Peter O'Toole remembers singing the result to Dominic Behan who wrote it down.

There is thus a linear connection between Young Sick Lover, Molly Ba/n and "Carrickfergus."

Would there be any sense in asking Peter O'Toole to deconstruct what he now remembers?

I'm thinking of contacting Richard Harris' Agency - any better ideas?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Alice
Date: 06 Mar 00 - 03:42 PM

thank you, John, for getting this far! -alice


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 07 Mar 00 - 11:03 AM

Go for it John. I was heading in the same direction a month ago, and got as far as a Toronto actor who's a friend of O'toole's, but was imformed of your quest for the "Holy grail", so "go the last mile"! We wait with baited breath.

This is fun!

Rick


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 07 Mar 00 - 02:36 PM

Another request--Could someone please summarize the story, as it now stands? Maybe I have an attention deficit, or maybe my glasses need to be re-perscribed--but I have gotten thoroughly confused as to which melodies are in and which are out, which lyrics are connected and which aren't--And if someone could paste the appropriate links, for melodies in lyrics into one post--

Am I asking to much? If I am, sorry--this collective research is my favorite part of Mudcat--nnd I love this song, but know nothing about it--or should I say that I knew nothing about it?


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Subject: Lyr Add: MOLLY BAWN / FAIR MOLLY (Samuel Lover)
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 28 May 00 - 08:50 AM

This may not advance the cause at all but here are the lyrics to Molly Bawn. Regards, John

MOLLY BAWN (OR FAIR MOLLY).
Samuel Lover.

OH, Molly Bawn, why leave me pining,
All lonely, waiting here for you?
While the stars above are brightly shining,
Because they've nothing else to do.
The flowers late were open keeping,
To try a rival blush with you ;
But their mother, Nature, set them sleeping,
With their rosy faces wash'd with dew.
Oh, Molly Bawn, &c.

Now the pretty flowers were made to bloom, dear,
And the pretty stars were made to shine
And the pretty girls were made for theboys, dear,
And may be you were made for mine ;
The wicked watch-dog here is snarling, H
e takes me for a thief you see ;
For he knows I'd steal you, Molly, darling,
And then transported I should be.
Oh, Molly Bawn, &c.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Annraoi
Date: 28 May 00 - 04:23 PM

John from Brisbane (Fair Bris ? :-)) Different Molly Bawn, I'm afraid. I had thought I had all the necessary information for a paper on this song. Indeed, I had already started on it when one further possible link to exp[lain the occurrence of "Carrickfergus" so far south (the song appears to be Munster in origin) when a casual conversation with a friend revealed a direct link between the West Cork flax growing industry in the C19 and the Linen industry of the North. I must withold any publication til I suss this one last (?) link. Annraoi


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 May 00 - 06:25 PM

So that's three Molly Bán's, counting in this one


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: John Moulden
Date: 28 May 00 - 06:31 PM

At least five:

This one; Molly Bawn (Polly Vaughan); Molly Bawn, why are you pining; Molly Ban and Brian Og; and Molly Bawn so fair which has the line "The curve of her ankle a Duchess might covet" - Those were the days!

but it's not relevant.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Frank McGrath
Date: 28 May 00 - 07:07 PM

Mighty research Mouldy.

There's a letter in the post for you. No cheque though I'm sad to add.

God Belss and keep up the great work.

Frank McGrath


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 28 May 00 - 07:35 PM

Didn't expect the Molly Bawn to be relevant, just hoping to add a penny-wight to the accumulated knowledge. Interesting that John records five Molly B's. Regards, John


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Annraoi
Date: 28 May 00 - 09:11 PM

Steady, Mouldy !! It gets dangerous at our age !!! One could also add "Moll / Mal / Pol Dubh an Ghleanna" In "Carrickfergus" / "The Young Sick Lover", the reference is to "Molly, a stór" = Molly, my dear. Annraoi


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Alice
Date: 17 Sep 00 - 12:30 AM

Philippa (or someone) may we have a translation of the gaelic in the verses you posted? Thanks.

Alice


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Ian M.
Date: 02 Oct 00 - 05:51 AM

For what it is worth the sleeve note to O'Riada a sa Gaiety, written by Sean MacRaomoinn, attributes the words of Do bhí bean uasal to Cathal Bui Mac Giolla Gunn.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Moleskin Joe
Date: 21 Oct 00 - 09:21 AM

As a newcomer to the Mudcat I was fascinated by this thread. Having listened to DB and SoS and having read what George Petrie says about the song I would like to put forward the following theory, already hinted at by Annraoi. The song Do Bhi Bean Uasal, perhaps written by Cathal Bui MacGiolla Gunna who died in 1750, later had various English verses from different sources grafted on to it. Petrie says the air was well known in Clare and Limerick and that he got it from Patrick Joyce who had it from his father. Petrie , by the way, calls it An Bean Og Uasal. He then goes on to give as an example of the "English doggerel verses" that had become attached to it the 8 lines beginning "In Kilkenny it is..." It therefore seems quite possible that the Carrickfergus verse was grafted on completely independently of the Kilkenny verses. After all the Carrickfergus verse seems to come from an Ulster version of The Water Is Wide. Thereafter when the English verses were taken back out of Do Bhi Bean Uasal to make a song on their own we get the Carrickfergus we all know and love, which is really bits of two(or more!)completely separate songs.

The question then arises - who did this? In what form did DB get the song? Could it have been he who first sang the English verses only?

Comments anyone?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Alice
Date: 09 Nov 01 - 10:41 PM

Today I was listening to a CD of the cowboy singer Michael Martin Murphy, when I was suddenly jolted to attention by the melody of Carrickfergus. He was singing cowboy lyrics he had written using the same melody, a song called "Summer Ranges". In the CD notes he wrote, "This melody is an old Irish air, as are many of the cowboy songs of the 19th century. The words are mine, inspired by a magical summer in Red River, New Mexico when my daughter Laura, at age 13, won the rodeo queen contest. I was moved to compose a piece about the nostalgia we all feel for the summertime of life." M.M.M.

This thread is one of my favorites. Any word from Richard Harris?

Alice


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: michaelr
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 09:57 PM

I just found this thread. Fascinating reading, and topnotch scholarship! Especially since "Carrickfergus" has been one of my favorite songs since I first heard it sung (the Clancys version) in the 80s.
But why stop here? It's quite believable that Peter O'Toole could have gotten the song from Richard Harris since the two of them seem to have done a bit of carousing together in their younger days. And Harris released several albums of folk and other songs in the 60s. Do any Mudcat survivors of the great folk scare remember or even own these?
Seems worth a follow-up, and revival of this thread. Maybe one of you tireless detectives can find out how to contact Harris.
~Michael


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Jim McFaul
Date: 12 Jun 02 - 05:11 PM

Fascinating reading about one of my favourite songs, coming not far from Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland. One additional aspect that perhaps someone could confirm. In my student days, back in the sixties, a French student in my digs had a folk record containing a song which was definitely the same tune as 'Carrickfergus' but called if memory serves me right 'Son Valise'. My French friend insisted it was an old French song but was it simply a modern cover version? Apparently the words of the French version had a very similar theme as Carrickfergus I knew.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Wolfgang
Date: 13 Jun 02 - 06:47 AM

If 'valise' is correct it should be 'sa valise'. Nothing to find.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Philippa
Date: 02 Aug 02 - 08:02 AM

I notice that what was once ó now looks like an empty box - it may depend what computer your're using. On this one Niall Comer appears to be writing in Japanese, as do I on 30 Jan. See my unsigned message of 14 Jan. "na bailtí móra" should read ""na bailtí m&#ra", "Ní fada ón áit sin" should read "Ní fada ón áit sin"

George Petrie has already been mentioned, The song appears in his WAncient Music of Ireland" first published in the 1850s and also available in reprint editions (Dublin: Dolmen, 1968; Cork Univeristy Press, 2001) See the introduction written by Petrie in 1855. There he refers to an entry in Bunting: "The very common air called "The rambling boy," and a corrupted version of it, with a fictitious second part, which he calls Do bi bean uasal, or "There was a young lady," - obtained, as he states, from R. Stanton. of Westport, in 1802". I don't know (yet) what air Bunting published under that title, but Petrie has a bi-lingual song (much as given earlier in this thread) called "Bhí bean uasal" ...I'll type out lyrics and comments later.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Aug 02 - 09:58 AM

And ""na bailtí m&#ra" should read "na bailtí móra" I must have forgotten to type 243 after &# (using the type of code that seems least likely to be corrupted)

In the second part of the 19th century [The Petrie Collection of Ancient Music of Ireland, 2 vols, Dublin University Press 1855-82], George Petrie wrote (as has been summarised in a previous message)

"Of the words now sung to this air in the Munster counties, Mr [PW] Joyce has also given me a copy, as taken down by himself; but it presents such an incongruous piece of patchwork, half Irish, half English, collected, apparently, from recollections of various songs, that of the Irish portion a single stanza is as much as I can venture to select from it. This stanza, as Mr Curry acquaints me, belongs to the old Irish song which has given name to the melody, and which, though now rendered worthless by corruptions, was one of no ordinary interest and merit."

(I think that means he thought the original was of especial interest) Here is the "single stanza" (with old spelling) and Petrie's translation of it:

'Bí bean óg uasal,
Seal dá luadh liom,
'S do chuir sí suas dhamh,
Céd fáraoir gér;
Is tá ghábhar le stuaire
A m-bailtibh muara,
'S gur dhein sí cuag dhíom,
Ar lár an t-saoghail.
Dá bh-faghainn-si a cenn rúd
Fé lia 'san teampull, 'S go mbeinn arís seal
Ar m'ádhbhar féin,
Do shiúbhalfainn gleannta
'Gus beanna reamhar choc
Go bh-faghainn mo shean-shearc
Arís dhom' réir.

There was a young gentlewoman
And I, once talked of;
But she rejected me
To my sharp grief;
And then I took up with
A city dasher,
Who made a jackdaw of me
Before the world.
But could I get her head
Beneath the gravestone,
And that I once more
Were my own free self,
I would traverse valleys
And rough-topped mountains
To seek again more favour
From my old true love.

Petrie didn't have a high opinion of the English-language verses:

"Amongst the doggrel English verses sung to this air, as taken down by Mr. Joyce, there is a stanza which I am tempted to quote as an amusing example of the characteristic expression for tender sentiment, mixed with discordant levity and incongruity of thought, which are so often found in the ordinary Irish peasant love-songs, composed in the English language. Such incongruity, however, should, at least to some extent, be ascribed to the corruptions incident to verses having only a decaying traditional existence amongst a class of people still almost illiterate.

'Kilkenny town it is well supported,
Where marble stones are as black as ink;
With gold and silver I will support you, -
I'll sing no more till I get some drink!
I'm always drinking, and seldom sober;
I'm constant roving from town to town:
Oh, when I'm dead, and my days are over,
Come, Molly storeen, and lay me down.'

"It seems sufficiently apparent that the above stanza was not composed in one of those intervals of sobriety which the writer confesses to have been with him of rather rare occurrence."

What would Petrie make of the present popularity of those verses and of the "peasants" who sing them nowadays?!

Next step … can we unearth a manuscript from Mr Joyce?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Philippa
Date: 02 Aug 02 - 10:11 AM

Of course, it is possible that Joyce's informant had learned the song from a broadsheet!


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: spikeis
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 06:34 PM

I've just come back from my yearly jaunt to the emerald Isle, and met a very nice linguistics expert, whose hobby was ancient gaelic!! (whatever does it for you!!) And his twopenny worth is that the words are miss translated. The mysterious "Ballygran" is translated as - sort of "good home" -was the nearest he could explain, and the other reference to "In Kilkenny it is reported on marble stones there as black as ink" - is that it dates to the period where they were not allowed to practice their religion, and used to mark or lightly scribe the religious text on stone, so it could be "erased" when the need arose.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Joybell
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 06:59 PM

Great work. Just wanted to add my thanks too. I'm a long way from those wonderful dusty old libraries, but my heart is there.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,KEVIN
Date: 06 Apr 04 - 12:49 PM

G'day everyone!
Where have you all gone? Nothing since Oct '03?
I just watched the movie "The Matchmaker" and was greatly taken by a song sung in a contest in a pub in that movie. I found the song "Carrickfergus", and then found this site.
I cannot claim to have any knowledge of old Irish songs, but I really enjoy this music and have followed this thread from the first entry.
Please don't stop now!
Cheers,
Kevin


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Apr 04 - 02:21 PM

Kevin, with all the threads we have on this song, we may have exhausted it. Most of the information, however, is in this thread. I found a version and a comment on the version buried in another thread. I thought I'd post them here, to keep things together. I closed off the "Carrickfergus" threads that didn't go anywhere, to avoid splitting the discussion too much.
-Joe Offer-
Thread #29963   Message #381683
Posted By: Nynia
24-Jan-01 - 08:53 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Carrickfergus (full version?)
Subject: Lyr Add: CARRICKFERGUS

Mary tells me that I sing more verses than are currently in the DT, so here's the version I sing. Most people seem to sing Van's shortened version these days.


CARRICKFERGUS.

I wish I had you in Carrickfergus
Only four nights in Ballygrand
I would swim over the deepest ocean
The deepest ocean to be by your side
But the water is wide I cannot get over
And neither have I wings to fly
Oh I wish I could find me a handy boatman
To ferry me over to my love and die

The night was dark and the sky uneasy
The mighty ocean was tossed and wild
When my own true love, sweet Bridget Vessey
She crossed the ocean and left me behind
Left me behind to count my losses
And see my sweet darling in every glass
How sweet is living, but yet I'm crying
How long the dark night, it takes to pass

My childhood days bring back sad reflection
Of happy times spent so long ago
My boyhood friends and my own relations
Have all passed on like melting snow
But I spend my days in endless roaming
Soft is the grass and my bed is free
Oh to be home now in Carrickfergus
On the long road down to the salty sea

And in Kilkenny it is reported
On marble stones as black as ink
With gold and silver I did support her
But I'll sing no more 'till I get a drink
I'm drunk to the day and I'm seldom sober
A handsome rover from town to town
Oh but I am sick now and my days are numbered
So come all ye young men and lay me down

Twelve months from now in Carrickfergus
Enquire for me and you'll see my grave
The greenest turf in all of Ireland
Will cover me as I take my rest
My troubles done, my wandering over
I'll go no more, from town to town
I'm going home now to Carrickfergus
I'll get some young men to lay me down.

Nynia

Thread #29963   Message #382701
Posted By: GUEST,Annraoi
25-Jan-01 - 08:24 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Carrickfergus (full version?)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Carrickfergus (full version?)

Sorcha, indeed.
Carrickfergus is well discussed in former threads but the last word has not yet been said. The verses above quoted are non-traditional with the exception of one and four.
The earliest version was first recorded in ballad sheets from pre-Famine Ireland and was in both Irish and English. The latest examples collected in the field date from the 20th century and were also macaronic. In the re-popularisation of the song in the "revival" of the 1960's, the Irish verses were omitted, thus mutilating the song.

Annraoi


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Jul 04 - 09:55 AM

I have been told it is as old as some instruments that are made, in ireland it dates back to when they imigrated (im sure) as they wish they was in carraigfergus "the original name" so they must not of been there, its a song about home.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Stewart G
Date: 09 Jul 04 - 03:05 AM

Quite an amazing thread ! I came upon it in trying to deduce connections of The Water is Wide (which I presume to be largely an American (?) adaptation and abbreviation) and the obviously Irish "Carrickfergus" >

Carrickfergus would seem then to be an amalgam of an early Gaelic melody and song with the later infiltration of English verses...)not an unusual occurrence) ....the definite wherabouts of Carrickfergus is obviously still open to conjecture (?) but from some of above posts it would seem the origins of the Gaelic song are likely from the south of Ireland rather than the north.The modern English versions have obviously travelled far and wide like many other celtic ballads)
(As a Scot, I know the Ballygrand place name has been assumed by some to be the district of Ballygrant on Isle of Islay, close to the Antrim coast but this can be seen as yet another geographical super-imposition and further corruption from the gaelic "baile cuain" )

Anyway would it be fair to speculate that the melody would perhaps precede any of lyrics in evidence and that at any rate both must be from early 18th Century ?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 09 Jul 04 - 09:59 AM

I can't add anything useful on Carrickfergus, but there have been quite a few discussions here concerning The Water is Wide; probably the most comprehensive is Water Is Wide - First American Version.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 Jul 04 - 02:17 AM

probably I should remain silent with all this scholasticism(not even sure if thats a word!) in this thread.

However if I may pass on my own observations.

A couple of years ago I saw the Clancys do this on video. they prefaced it with an Irish poem, and it made their reading of it very clear. Afterwards I e-mailed Liam and he gave me the poem which was from the penguin Book of Irish poetry.

The song is about a drunkard who has been robbed of his capacity to act - go and see his love - maybe she's across the water - but more probably the gulf is because of what the drink has done to him. the marble stones black as ink are his future headstone. Togeteher the poem and the song was as stark and and intense as anything Robert Johnson achieved (and I love the work of RJ).

The Clancys were often accused of minstrelsy and offering a shobizzed up view of Irish music. But their reading of that particular song was a masterpiece of theatre.

Like millions of others I used to watch Val Doonican every week on his tv show sing this song and I used to think he probably fancied himself in his fancy pullover - a handsome rover from town to town....

Like I say a pleb's eye view....


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Big Tim
Date: 10 Jul 04 - 03:02 AM

Fair comment, wld. What was the name of the poem?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 Jul 04 - 04:07 AM

ah sorry big tim , you got rifling through me drawers, but I can't find that e-mail from Liam, and its on the last computer.

Maybe a Clancy's fan out there knows of which I speak.......it would be an impertinence to ask Liam again I suppose.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Betsy
Date: 10 Jul 04 - 10:40 AM

After all the wonderful effort everyone seems to have (enjoyably) expended on researching and sharing this thread - I hope this will give a different dimension to the matter and a wry smile may ( or may not ) be in order
I got this after a session last week from an English person who plays Irish Pipes :-

"When we were playing Carrickfergus I was trying to explain that (in my traditional version) there should be no rhythm on the accompaniment. Slow airs have long improvised pauses on the pipes. In versions like Van Morrison's of course there is no problem. I fear I may not have explained this very well since, when I am playing the pipes, it is hard to be diplomatic!"

I have been playing, accompanying and singing this song since I learned it ( I thought ) from the Clancy Brothers green book +/- 1965 and I was accompanying him on guitar using finger style at which I am competent - having played for many years now.
I am also one of those wierdos who never bought records, tapes or C.D.'s so have little knowledge of Mr.Morrisons efforts and I felt a bit Pee'd-off at this rebuff - in fact I thought it was quite rude.

As I said a different slant on the thread ........


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Fergie
Date: 28 Nov 04 - 08:31 PM

"And in Kilkenny it is recorded on marble stones there as black as ink".
In Kilkenny you will find a very dark grade of limestone that when polished takes on the appearance of black marble. Most of the older buildings are constructed from this limestone and many are dressed and inscribed, it was also favoured as material for making tombstones.

Fergus


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Tannywheeler
Date: 28 Nov 04 - 11:35 PM

I always thought of the line as:

"To ferry me over, my love and I..."    Only from hearing the Clancy's version, not from looking it up.    Tw


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Fliss
Date: 29 Nov 04 - 04:58 PM

A irish musician friend of mine Gerry Fox says he wrote the following verse after a drinking session with Brendan Behan and Peter O'Toole.

My childhood days bring back sad reflection
Of happy times spent so long ago
My boyhood friends and my own relations
Have all passed on like melting snow
But I spend my days in endless roaming
Soft is the grass and my bed is free
Oh to be home now in Carrickfergus
On the long road down to the salty sea

Gerry is in his 70s and was in an irish group in the 50s & 60s. He plays fiddle and was an All Ireland CHampion in his youth.

Ill ask him about it when I next see him at a session.

slan
fliss


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Johnnyboy
Date: 29 Apr 05 - 09:44 PM


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: MartinRyan
Date: 17 Dec 05 - 08:21 AM

Nicholas Carolan, Director of the Irish Traditional Music Archive presents a TV show of archive material on Irish Music, mostly from early TV programs. Last night he played a clip of Sean O'Se singing Carrickfergus (outdoors, accompanied by a 5-row button accordion, but that's another story!) in 1983. He (Nicholas) remarked that while the words could be traced to a Cork broadside called "The Young Sick Lover", mentioned above, he could find out nothing about the tune! O'Se sang with Sean O'Riada's Ceoltoiri Cualann and Nicholas strongly suspected that O'Riada had written the tune, some time n the 1960's.
Interesting.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Philippa
Date: 17 Dec 05 - 10:15 AM

the verse alleged to be by Gerry Fox is my favourite but is least frequently sung, perhaps because it is a recent addition


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: ard mhacha
Date: 17 Dec 05 - 02:58 PM

Martin, I never miss this programme, Carolan come up with some great footage, Sean O`Se could have had a better accompianist.

Although I have been to many a session, I never ever heard the song until around the late 1960s.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: JedMarum
Date: 17 Dec 05 - 03:08 PM

Great stuff!

I love the song ... sing it frequently. It always surprises me when a boisterous, busy, rousing crowded pub reuests the song, and sings along. Music hath charm ...

"the Water is Wide" reference certainly places no demands on these two song be related though, in my opinion. Many songs use whole phrases from one another without there being a need for direct relation. Water is Wide tells a wholly different story, even though the passing thought of a wide gulf between you and your home/love may be commonly expressed in both songs.

Thanks to all for their research and thoughts on this great song.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Guest, Big Tim
Date: 18 Dec 05 - 01:58 PM

A small aside, is Nicholas Carolan related to Professor Carolan who was murdered by the Black and Tans in 1920?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: MartinRyan
Date: 18 Dec 05 - 04:34 PM

Big Tim

Dunno - where was the Professor from?

Regards


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: ard mhacha
Date: 19 Dec 05 - 05:26 AM

Nicholas Carolan the presenter of, Come west along the road, is from County Louth.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Guest, Big Tim
Date: 19 Dec 05 - 08:16 AM

Martin: dunno where from originally but he was living in Drumconrda Road, Dublin in 1920. His house was being used as a safe house by Sean Treacy and Dan Breen. It was raided; two Tans killed, Treacy and Breen escaped; Tans killed Prof Carolan in retaliation.
(I visited the house recently: now owned by a religious order).

I don't know at which Uni he was a Prof, or what his subject was.

PS something more relevant: I have a copy of "Young Sick Lover" ballad sheet. The posting of it by John Moulden is absolutely accurate (as you would expect).


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: MartinRyan
Date: 19 Dec 05 - 12:09 PM

Ard Mhaca

I know Nicholas well - and will ask if there's a connection, when I get a chance.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,tmalone@bu.edu
Date: 16 Feb 06 - 05:47 PM

Thanks for the background of this great tune.

I am researching a variant of the tune in American Shape-note tunebooks.

Does anyone hear C'fergus in the below tune? It is noted in 1850's.

PARTING FRIENDS (the author says he learned the air from his mother)

http://www.pilgrimproduction.org/sacredharp/rockymt1996/music/29.mp3

or this one It is noted in 1844.

FULFILLMENT
http://www.pilgrimproduction.org/sacredharp/maquoketa/music/21.mp3


I also have one more from 1805.

i would love your thoughts and feedback on the possible relationship of these tunes.

All the Best,

Tom Malone
Boston University
www.SingIngalls.org
tmalone@bu.edu


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Hrothgar
Date: 17 Feb 06 - 05:59 AM

Been reminded recently of this verse (sung as a second verse), fromthe singing of Theo Bosch in the 1960s:

I lay me down here beside the waer,
Alone I'll rest me in my grief and woe
And if there's no-one who will assist me
Throughout this country I alone will go.
I'll go a-roving all through this nation
Through Meath and Connaught and County Down
Through Clare and Mayo to the County Wexford
Ah, but I'm weary now, so I'll lay me dowm

Now, in Kilkenny ...... etc.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Little Robyn
Date: 25 Feb 06 - 05:03 PM

Did MartinRyan ever contact Nicholas? Any answer yet?
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: MartinRyan
Date: 26 Feb 06 - 01:55 PM

Not yet! Haven't been in touch with him lately - but will do so at some stage
Regards


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,dobby
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 02:54 PM

Balllygrand is on the isle of islay, which would explain the nights in ballygrand and not ballygran ( LIMERICK). Ballygrand is directly north of Northern Ireland...i would swim over...
I GET a bit confused about the gender of the composer...in one moment he/she is saying ..i would find me a handsome boatman to ferry me over...then says my boyhood friends...also.. a handsome rover from town to town.....also then come all ye young men and lay me down.? was he gay? a tart? tomboy? curiousity. ps I am from Carrickfergus and singin it this saturday night...carolyn dobbin


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: MMario
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 02:57 PM

"handsome" is obselete synonym for "handy"

the "come all ye young men and lay me down" is (I'm told) a reference to pallbearers and burial


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Guest, Big Tim
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 03:56 AM

There's a Ballygrant on Islay, not Ballygrand.

"Young men" appears to be a modern invention. The line in "Young Sick Lover" ballad sheet is "come Molly astore (love, darling) and lay me down".

I suspect that the Clancy Brothers changed the lyrics quite a bit, as they did with many other songs, and this is the basis of most versions that we hear.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: MartinRyan
Date: 25 Jun 06 - 01:24 PM

Uh oh!


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Effsee
Date: 25 Jun 06 - 01:56 PM

Since this thread popped up, I had a look in the Digitrad at the lyrics and I realised it was different from a version given to me by the late John Doonan in the early eighties. He always thought that there was something missing in the tale and his researches in Ireland had discovered two new verses(at that time). So, essentially the same as DT but now with a new verse 2:-

Carrickfergus

I wish I was in Carrickfergus,
Only for nights in Ballygrant
I would swim over the deepest ocean,
Only for nights in Ballygrant,
But the sea is wide and I cannot swim over
Nor have I the wings to fly
I wish I could meet a handsome boatsman
To ferry me over, my love to find.

The night is dark, and the sky's uneasy,
The mighty ocean is tossed and wild,
When my true love, Bridget Vassey,
She crossed the ocean, left me behind.
Left me behind to count my losses,
And see my darling in every glass.
How sweet is loving, yet I am crying,
How long the dark night takes to pass.

My childhood days bring back sweet reflections
Of all those happy days of long ago,
My boyhood friends and kind relations
Have all passed on now like drifting snow.
I'll end my days an endless rover,
Soft is the grass, my bed is free.
Ah, to be back now in Carrickfergus,
On that lonesome road, down to the sea.

But in Kilkenny, it is reported,
They have marble stones there, as black as ink
With gold and silver I did support her,
But I'll sing no more 'till I get a drink.
I'm drunk today, and I'm seldom sober,
A handsome rover from town to town,
Ah, but I'm sick now, my days are numbered,
Come all you young men and lay me down.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Willa
Date: 25 Jun 06 - 05:44 PM

Effsee
I do sing the version with your second verse-it makes more sense to me that way.Do you have any more details of John Doonan's source?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Effsee
Date: 25 Jun 06 - 08:10 PM

Willa, I'm sorry I don't have any more details of John's source, he may have told me but it was a long time ago.......and strong drink had been taken! Where did you hear it from? Maybe this should be added to the DT ?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Elvis
Date: 30 Sep 06 - 10:56 PM

Absolutely fantastic this topic! Congratulations to you all!
Someone has e-mailed Loreena McKennitt asking from where she heard this song? =P


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Sep 06 - 11:05 PM

Maybe you could take care of that for us.?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Elvis
Date: 11 Oct 06 - 02:29 PM

I really tried to!
Today I received an answer, and look:

Dear Elvis,
Thank you for taking the time to send in your query regarding "Carrighfergus".   Loreena is away from the office at this time, preparing for the release of her new album next month, and so I haven't been able to discuss your query with her. I did a bit of research, though, and found this: http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=16707
Perhaps you will find something interesting in that discussion of the song.
Best regards,
Stacey.

Well, there is not an appropriated answer, but shows that this topic is really meaningfull! =)


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Billy Finn, Ballyshannon
Date: 21 Jun 07 - 09:06 PM

Surely Eamon De Buitlear, Sean O`Se, Paddy Molony or any of Ceoltoiri
Cualann or the Chieftains could confirm if the melody for Carrickfergus was indeed composed by Sean O`Riada.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Jun 07 - 01:43 PM

So Elvis sends off a query arising out of this thread, and back comes the answer citing this thread as a possible place to look for the answer...

I love that - it's like something out of a story. Or a song.

The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I've seen that road before
It always leads me here...


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Mark
Date: 24 Jun 07 - 06:41 AM

Can't help any with the origins of the song but I've just posted a great version of Carrickfergus on youtube. I'm biased I know as he plays in a band with me, but it's really worth a listen to Robbie's beautiful voice.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUKgtUzzXUw


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Mark
Date: 26 Jun 07 - 08:53 AM

Sorry I took down the last youtube clip.
The audio on this version is better

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_RMKkzJoJM


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,California Will
Date: 28 Jun 07 - 06:26 PM

Well, lads and coleens...you'll be after needin' some help with Irish history here, I see.

#1. Carrickfergus was the headquarters of the Scots-English army brought over to "pacify" the rowdy folk of Ulster and elsewhere, ya see.
#2. Kilkenny was the place where the Statutes of Kilkenny (i.e. "But in Kilkenny, the laws are written...") originated. These statutes prohibited Irish being spoken or Irish to intermarry with English or Scots. So, a love between one and t'other would have been prohibited, no matter how much gold and silver he had to "support her."
#3. Hence, the tale is one of some poor Irish lad probably in love with an English or Scots soldier's daughter. His "childhood friends and close relations" have likely been slain or immigrated away, and also likely he may have been a "rebel" and is "on the run," a vagabond wandering with no home, and a whiskey monkey on his back. Poor lad.

Hope this helps!


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,LiamA
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 06:06 AM

Hello all,

Interesting discussion here. As far as I can see, the title Do Bhí Bean Uasal [There Was A Lady] is from an 18th century macaronic ballad sheet, where verses in Irish (Gaelic) and English intertwine. The actual melody itself, although similar to "The Water is Wode" is not older than the 1960's. But the words themselves, in the Irish version are quite old.
"Do bhí bean uasal" is recorded as one of the best early examples of macaronic ballads in Ireland. Ó Riadas compilation includes this song (Ó Riada sa Gaiety) and it is a fine example of the Irish traditional music revival that occured from the 1960's onwards with the development of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: MartinRyan
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 07:43 AM

LiamA

Neatly summarised! The balladsheet is usually titled "The Young Sick Lover", as mentioned earlier. How confident are you about the 1960's origins of the tune? I'm inclined to agree but am open to persuasion either way!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Billy Finn, Ballyshannon
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 07:54 PM

So, I repeat, could people like Sean O Se, Eamon De Buitlear, Paddy Molony or O`Riada biographer Tomas O Canainn confirm if the melody for Carrickfergus was composed by Sean O`Riada? On the sleeve notes of the updated version of the 1969 album O Riada sa Gaiety, O `Riada is named as composer of the melody of the Carrickfergus. So, could somebody come forward and clear up the mystery? Nicholas Carolan is fairly sure that O`Riada composed the melody in the 1960`s.
Billy Finn


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: MartinRyan
Date: 05 Jul 07 - 05:54 AM

I would happily take Nicholas's word for it!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Billy Finn, Ballyshannon
Date: 10 Jul 07 - 08:42 PM

The sleeve note on Do bhi bean uasal (There was a lady) also known as Carrickfergus on O Riada sa Gaiety reads as follows
`Track 8 melody composed by Sean O`Riada ; inspiration taken from a traditional tune`.
So, somebody has definitely decided that O`Riada composed the melody.
Was the `traditional tune` mentioned in the blurb The Waters are Wide? This song does sound like a simpler version of the Carrickfergus air.
Billy Finn


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jul 07 - 08:08 AM

My final thoughts on the matter.
In this thread, we learn that Dominic Behan sang a version of Carrickfergus called The Kerry Boatman in 1963 and this featured on his LP The Irish Rover.
Well, if the 1963 version has the same melody as that which features on O` Riada sa Gaiety (1969), it is then less likely that O` Riada composed it.
Can anyone come forward to confirm if the melody on Behan`s song and the melody on the version in O`Riada sa Gaiety are one and the same?
The Irish Rover album is very difficult to locate...I haven`t heard Behan`s song.
It`s amazing that those close to O`Riada cannot clear the matter up once and for all.
Billy Finn


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Dec 07 - 12:02 AM

It is is all that I know, an Ed Reavy tribute and tune. His fiddle tune. . .

JFG


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Annessia Capps
Date: 14 Mar 08 - 12:37 PM

I have read a lot of the threads on this subject of Carrickfergus. The last thing I read was a thread from John Moulden, Someone named Henry, Phillipa, among other and they came up with a song called The Young Sick Lover that dated back to 1840 I believe. I am unsure if the tune is the same but words are almost exact. Everyone calls this song a love song but reading all the very many differing versions and verses I tend to feel that it is a song of love for country and wanting to go home to die. I have never found a Ballygrand while looking for it but the closest I have found is a cemetery called Bally Castle cemetery. Could the grand be a separate word describing the cemetery as being grand?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Big Tim
Date: 14 Mar 08 - 01:37 PM

The Young Sick Lover is definitely an early version of Carrickfergus as I've just checked my copy of the original ballad sheet by Haly, Printer, Hanover-Street, CORK. However, it doesn't mention Ballygrand. I think that the Clancy brothers may well have invented the name. It certainly isn't an Irish townland name. Ballycastle is a well known, fair-sized town in north Antrim. I don't think that it has anything to do with Ballygrand or Carrickfergus.

The music given by Behan in his book 'Ireland Sings' looks quite different from the music for Carrickfergus, but as I can't read music I can't say for sure.

If anyone who can read music wants to PM me an email address, I will send them the music for both songs.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Reiver 2
Date: 14 Mar 08 - 04:25 PM

The notes on Carrickfurgus in "Folksongs and Ballads Popular in Ireland" (Vol.I) just say, "A very evocative old song; parts of the lyrics can be found in the folksongs of most English-speaking countries. 'The Water Is Wide' is an English/Scots version which is also known in America." This raises the question, why only English-speaking countries? Is is possible that similar lyrics or sentiments exist in the folk traditions of non-English-speaking countries?

The Joan Baez songbook has this note for "The Water is Wide." "Originally part of a long Scots ballad, 'Lord Jamie Douglas,' all that remains are these few verses which constitute the emotional core of that ballad. Most singers know it in another form as 'Waly, Waly,' by which title it was known as far back as the early 18th century. It remains one of the most beautiful and evocative of all British lyric folksongs." "Lord Jamie Douglas" is not in the Digitrad. Nor do I find it in Child's "English and Scottish Popular Ballads." Child ballad #204, is titled "Jamie Douglas," but I can't see any resemblance to Carrickfergus, The Water Is Wide or Waly,Waly. That led me to think that "Lord Jamie Douglas" and Child's "Jamie Douglas are not the same.

But hold everything!! "The Viking Book of Folk Ballads of the English-Speaking World," (Albert B Friedman, ED., Viking Press, 1956), has this notation for "Jamie Douglas": "In 1681, after eleven years of marriage, James, Marquis of Douglas, head of the great Scottish family. formally 'put aside' his wife. The ballad of 'Jamie Douglas' registers the marchioness's complaint against James Lockhart of Blackwood (in reality William Lawrie, called Blackwood), whom she accuses of having maliciously alienated her husband from her. The ballad's dramatic first-person style deserves comment, but of greater interest is the curious connection between 'Jamie Douglas' and the lyric complaint, 'Waly, Waly, But Love Be Bonny'. As many as four stanzas of the lyric have infiltrated certain versions of the ballad. Since the lyric is so much more smoothly integrated than the ballad, one deduces that this moving lament of an abandoned girl about to become a mother is the older song. Seemingly the girl's situaation was so much like that of the discarded marchioness that borrowing was inevitable."

An interesting thing here is that the "Waly, Waly" expression appears in two stanzas of Version B but not at all in Version A (which is the only version in Child's book). Version B makes no mention of Jamie Douglas or "Blackwood." (There are a few lines in the two versions that ARE the same, but only a few.) Also, the girl in Version B, although no longer "a maid" appears to be childless (in the last stanza she laments, "if my young babes were born," while in the final stanza of Version A the marchioness says, "Fare thee well, Jamie Douglas! Be kind to the three babes I've born to thee." Version A is, thus a ballad based on actual persons, while in Version B the individuals are either un-named, unknown or fictitious.

It would seem that in many instances the supposed "links" between songs are very tenuous, sometimes involving only the borrowing of a line or two of the lyric or a reference to a similar situation or expression. I'm not sure if the "borrowing" of a single line or two can properly be considered evidence for a "source" of an entire song or ballad. Anyway, I doubt if this clarifies anything about "Carrickfergus," but may be of some interest to some researchers of "original" sources. And, oh, yes - if the song is based on "Jamie Douglas" it's older even than Peter O'Toole! ;-)

Reiver 2


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Annessia Capps
Date: 14 Mar 08 - 08:53 PM

I love the version sung by Oral Fallon (celtic woman) but i did not realize that there were so many questions about the song or so many differening versions and lyrics. It seems there is always someone out there trying to "make it better". Putting the music to the lyrics was a beautiful match up but I wish people would have left the lyrics alone. I have found so many differing versions it is hard to tell what the original lyrics might have been. I wonder if even the The Young Sick Lover is in its original form now that I have seen the corruption of those lyrics as well.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Annessia Capps
Date: 14 Mar 08 - 08:54 PM

Excuse the misspelling or "Orla" Fallon's name in the last post


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Greycap
Date: 14 Mar 08 - 09:32 PM

all the intellectual stuff aside, a great song and tune, isn't it?
I learned it from my Irish wife, who does a belting job on it. Luckily for me, I can play guitar(which she can't) so I do it from time to time on request.
I stayed a week as Dominic Behan's house guset in the mid-60's with Dave Brady, but never did find out any info on this lovely song.
Roger Knowles


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Mar 08 - 04:05 AM

This is what I said on this thread in 2004 and nobody found the poem I was talking about . However I did ask on the Liam Clancy message board and I got the answer:-

"probably I should remain silent with all this scholasticism(not even sure if thats a word!) in this thread.

However if I may pass on my own observations.

A couple of years ago I saw the Clancys do this on video. they prefaced it with an Irish poem, and it made their reading of it very clear. Afterwards I e-mailed Liam and he gave me the poem which was from the penguin Book of Irish poetry.

The song is about a drunkard who has been robbed of his capacity to act - go and see his love - maybe she's across the water - but more probably the gulf is because of what the drink has done to him. the marble stones black as ink are his future headstone. Togeteher the poem and the song was as stark and and intense as anything Robert Johnson achieved (and I love the work of RJ).

The Clancys were often accused of minstrelsy and offering a shobizzed up view of Irish music. But their reading of that particular song was a masterpiece of theatre."


HIGH AND LOW

He stumbled home from Clifden fair
With drunken song, and cheeks aglow.
Yet there was something in his air
That told of kingship long ago.
I sighed -- and inly cried
With grief that one so high should fall so low.

He snatched a flower and sniffed its scent,
And waved it toward the sunset sky.
Some old sweet rapture through him went
And kindled in his bloodshot eye.
I turned -- and inly burned
With joy that one so low should rise so high.

-- James H. Cousins


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 09 Jun 08 - 02:36 PM

The song sounds to me like an English translation of an Aisling
Ireland portrayed as a lost love
Outside of the traditional aisling theme, the words don't make a lot of sense.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Jun 08 - 03:39 PM

FWIW Peadar O Riada used to have a reference on his website under the section where he speaks of melodies composed by his father with the purpose of letting them drift off into the mainstream where he said they smiled, whenever Carrickfergus was played on the radio, at the thought of the royalties that could have been collected.

That reference is not there any more as far as I can see but may be worth pursuing.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 09 Jun 08 - 05:19 PM

"Outside of the traditional aisling theme, the words don't make a lot of sense."

Not to you, apparently. I don't know anything about the "aisling theme', but I find the poem quite moving - and the words to make a great deal of sense ...


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Andrés García
Date: 12 Jul 08 - 06:24 PM

I find the song absolutely great, I play it with my guitar and my fiddle. How interesting was to find the origin of the song.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,kevin Prior
Date: 01 Aug 08 - 07:02 PM

There is a ballad sheet in the Bodleian Library (accessed online), the words of which seem to be largely an amalgam of the songs which we know as Carrickfergus and Peggy Gordon. With some additional general purpose verses. It is dated as between 1780 and 1830. I cannot make out all the words, but those whch I can are below.

Bodleian Library
allegro Catalogue of Ballads

Copies: Harding B 25(894

I'm often drunk And Seldom Sober

Printed and sold by B. Walker near the Duke's
Palace, Norwich

MANY cold winters nights I've travelled,
Until my locks were wet with dew,
And don't you think I am to blame,
For changing old love for new.

Chorus
I'm often drunk and seldom sober
I am a rover in every degree
When I'm drunking I'm often thinking
How shall I gain my love's company.

The seas are deep and I cannot wade them
Neither have I wings to fly
I wish I had some little boat
To carry over my love and I.

I leaned my back against an oak
Thinking it had been some trusty tree
At first it bent and then it broke
And so my lover proved to me.

In London City ????? ?????
The streets are paved with marble stones
And my love she ??? ??? ??????
As ever trod on London ground

I wish I was in Dublin city
As far as e'er my eye could see
Or else across the briny ocean
Where no false love can follow me.

If love is handsome and love is pretty
And love its charming when first its new
So as love grows older it grows bolder
But fades away like the morning dew

I laid my head on a cask of brandy
It was my fancy I declare
For when I'm drinking I'm always thinking
How I shall gain my loves company

There is two nags in my fathers stable
They prick their ears when they hear the hounds
And my true love is as clever a young women
As ever trod on England's ground

You silly sportsmen leave off your courting
I'll say no more till I have drank
For when I'm dead it will be all over
I hope my friends will bury me


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Jeff
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 11:50 PM

I don't know if anyone is still out there but there are still a couple of holes in this history I wonder if anyone can help with.

First, as Billy Finn inquired almost two years ago here, is the Dominic Behan recording of "The Kerry Boat Song", recorded in 1960, the same tune as that later credited to O`Riada?? I finally have located a copy of the LP which should be in the mail shortly so I guess I'll be able to report if no one else can answer. Unfortunately it will be a couple of months before I'll be able to get my hands on the LP to listen to it.

And second, has anyone been able to tie down the respective contributions of Richard Harris/Peter O'Toole to the version performed by Behan? Would be nice to know and pehaps Mr. O'Toole still recollects.

Jeff


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 07:52 AM

Hi Jeff,
Dominic Behan recorded 2 versions of "Kerry Boatman" The first version on his l/P "Ireland Sings" has the same melody as thecommon version by the likes of the Clancy Brothers. The version on his L/P "The Irish Rover" is a variation, or inversion, of the origional melody, not really a different tune. Most posts on this topic concentrate on the lyrics, and related lyrics. The very same melody is used for a song called "An Gleanntan Uaigneach (The Lonely Valley), the lyrics of which are totally unrelated. Lasairfhiona Ni Chonaola has recorded this on her CD "Flame of Wine" and tells us she learned the song from her grandmother,Peige Bean Ui Chonaola of Inishmaan, the Aran Islands. So,did this tune origionally come from the Aran Islands or did the Islanders import it from the mainland?
It's a pity I did'nt know she recorded this when I went to see her perform last year.
                                     Domo


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Apr 09 - 04:23 PM

The Irish Rover LP actually came first in '60, Ireland Sings in '66. So what Domo you're calling a variation or inversion is actually the first recording we have. Was this the tune related to Behan by O'Toole -- it would seem so as Behan credits O'Toole on the LP. If that's the case was it indeed O'Riada who put the lyrics to the tune we now associate with the song sometime between the Behan recording in '60 and the Clancy's '64?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,GUEST, Roy McLean
Date: 16 Aug 09 - 07:20 PM

To Martin Ryan,
Sorry I havent managed to turn up anything really new about "Carrickfergus". Just all the old stuff about macaronics, "The Young Sick Lover", etc, etc. The problem is that most of the singers I come across are strictly "oral", ie. they do not keep written music of any kind, but just pass on songs orally between each other as part of the local folk tradition. However, I had/have extensive family connections in the Carrickfergus area and have turned up a few interesting points.

Firstly, just across Belfast Lough from Carrickfergus is the village of Ballygrot near Helen's Bay. This is an ancient place with a old hill fort. More importantly for the origins of the song, is the fact that local people tend to refer to it as, "Ballygrat" or Ballygrant", the GROT ending being far too germanic for the local tongue. Locals quite naturally assume the character in the song is fanatasising about crossing Belfast Lough from Carrickfergus to Ballgrat/Ballygrant to see his childhood sweetheart one last time. Interestingly, long ago there used to be local boat races from Carrick to Ballygrat. It seems to me that Ballygrat is more plausible for inclusion in the song than the often cited Ballygrant in Islay, Scotland, though many people do feel that the song has a distinct Scottish flavour. There are stories about homesick Scots mercenary soldiers many hundreds of whom must have passed through Carrickfergus over the centuries.

Secondly, I remember my grandmother, who was from Carrickfergus, talking about going to a place called Ballygrant as a child and her fond memories of it. It was as if it were a special place where local children played, so it would not have been across the lough. However, despite checking I can not find any place called Ballygrant on the Carrick side of the lough.

My own personal feeling is that this song is a mixture of different songs.

To Finn,
Sorry friend, the last line of the original Master Magrath is "Three cheers for ould Ireland" or "Good luck to ould Ireland" or something like that. There was no mention of "The Republic" which of course didnt come into existence until much later. Im afraid it was yet another cheap shot by the Dubliners who were not content with the noble, inclusive sentiment embodied in the phrase "Ould Ireland" and instead replaced it with the devisive and semi-sectarian "Republic". They were probably pissed off that Lord Lurgan(the owner and backer of Master Magrath) was a protestant Ulsterman, though like my protestant grandfathers he was no doubt proud to call himself an Irishman before the Dubliners and other bigots started telling people that only those who were republican and catholic were really Irish! By the way, it also should be, "she is the belle of Belfast City" as any songwriter worth his salt can tell you. Dubliners at it again. Just sing it over to yourself a few times - "Dublin" just doesnt sound right! You need the juxta-positioning between "Belle" and "Belfast" to make it really work.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Roy McLean
Date: 20 Aug 09 - 02:44 PM

On reading it over again I think my post above is rather unfortunately worded towards the end when I start going on a bit about the Dubliners. I seem to be accusing them of being bigots. This seems on reflection to be a bit unfair and I apologise for it. The point I am trying to make is that sometimes the Dubliners seem to be giving support, albeit inadvertently, to those bigots who like to proclaim that only those who are catholic and republican are really Irish. As far as I am concerned an Ulster Orangeman (which I am not by the way) is as Irish as someone in the Ancient Order Of Hibernians. The only difference between the Orangeman and the Hibernian, is that the Orangeman's ancestors fought the English twice - in the American war of Independence and in the Ulster Rebellion of 98! It is time we accepted that within Ireland there are two main traditions and got on with it, if only for the sake of our children! I believe each of these traditions has a right to have its music and other cultural output respected,recorded and recognised as being an intrinsic part of its essential Irishness. This is especially important as the musical tradition in the north from Antrim and Down across to Donegal is so rich and unique. At the moment this is not happening. Very few "protestant" songs are recorded by the main Irish folk groups. I can only remember two - "The Old Orange Flute" and "Roddy McCorley" out of hundreds! Sadly, for many people Ireland rather than the Republic stops at the border.

At the time of my last post, I was a liittle worked up as I had been having an argument with my friend Finn who maintained that "Master Magrath" was a republican song from Dublin. He based this largely on the fact that it ended with the words, "Up the Republic called Master Magrath". I was explaining to him that "Magrath" was a northern song written by a guy in Lurgan as far as I know, about a largely non political, Northern sporting experience and that the Dubliners had taken it upon themselves for whatever reason to change the last line and insert the reference to the Republic. What I call, "The pissing dog syndrome"!


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Kevin Prior
Date: 01 Sep 09 - 05:43 PM

Just a note. Luke Kelly turned up at a folk club I was at in St Albans in the early 60s. he sang a few songs, one of which was 'A Ballad of Master MgGrath'. At the conclusion of his singing he held up a book, which was 'Irish Street Ballads' published by Colm O Lochlainn in Dublin, and told the audience that it was one of the main sources for his songs. The last line of the song (as in the book was 'Three cheers for old Ireland says Master MgGrath'. i heard the other version later.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 10:24 AM

Master McGrath was a champion Greyhound that beat all the English champions


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Aingaelainn Ní Dhochartaigh
Date: 19 Jan 10 - 05:59 AM

Hi

I think we need to have a look at An Gleanntán Uaigneach, Lasairfhíona Ní Chonaola collected this from her Grandmother in the Aran Isles.

I believe this song could have been originally in Gaelic, then fused with English after.

There is a link on Lasairfhiona's website for the lyrics but it doesn't work, probably because there's a fádá in the title.

I asked once for the lyrics but never got a response. I could try again. If I translate them there may be a bit more info to work from.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: MartinRyan
Date: 19 Jan 10 - 10:32 AM

I think THIS is the song Laisirfhiona sings. If so, it's normally sung to another tune and has, I think, no connection to the Carrickfergus/Do bhi bean uasail family.

Regards

p.s. a sample HERE


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Billy Finn
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 03:19 PM

Still not really solved. It is a bit like the Turin Shroud...probably we will never know for sure.
Billy Finn.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Veronica
Date: 26 Mar 10 - 02:08 AM

Wow! Such dedicated people! I'm doing an essay on this song for one of my first year University subjects, and this site was such a well of information (even if it did sort of kill my printer!) Thankyou all for being so interested in this song.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 29 Jul 10 - 10:30 AM

As a Kilkenny man I can give you one answer, which I heard from a trad duo un Kytelers Iinn there about 8 years ago. They assured me it originated from an English chap, a sort of minstrel, who would come over to Ireland regulary and drift from town to town singing for his supper, usually made his way down from the north to Kilkenny where he lost his heart to a local girl and vowed to wed her. It's unclear what exactly became of him except he went away and became ill and presumably died. The marble as black as ink line refers to the fact that Kilkenny is built upon the finest reservor of lmestone in Europe, and particularly famed for it's black marble, which adorns many of the pubs and churches in the town, perhapd our minstrel carved his and his love's names on the marble. Might help to tell you I grew up in Ireland in the 5's and never heard this song till the 60's, dspite my grandmother being a fine trad musician and held weekly trad nights, I never heard it sung there. So that could support the theory that Behan wrote it

Desi C


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,John Moulden
Date: 30 Jul 10 - 05:36 AM

With reference to the recording by Dominic Behan on "The Irish Rover", it was issued in 1961 having been recorded in August 1960.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Carrickferfus fan
Date: 31 Jul 10 - 08:45 PM

Wow. An amazing thread spanning 10 years! A very interesting read. Well done to all the conributors.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Jeff
Date: 02 Sep 10 - 12:23 PM

"The Irish Rover LP actually came first in '60, Ireland Sings in '66. So what Domo you're calling a variation or inversion is actually the first recording we have. Was this the tune related to Behan by O'Toole -- it would seem so as Behan credits O'Toole on the LP. If that's the case was it indeed O'Riada who put the lyrics to the tune we now associate with the song sometime between the Behan recording in '60 and the Clancy's '64? "

Exactly the question my friend! Where did Clancy's get that version??
Hey this is an old thread but it doesn't mean we've lost interest...


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Dhuan
Date: 03 Sep 10 - 01:19 AM

I always thought it was about unrequited love - I wish I was up Carrie Fergus.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 07 Jan 11 - 07:42 PM

Posted this in the wrong thread ... apologies

I wandered into this debate years ago now. I hadn't heard the song for years until it surprisingly appeared on the "Nights in Ballygran" episode of Boardwalk Empire (incidentally the best version of the song I have heard, by Loudon Wainwright III).

I think we attach our own meanings to these songs. That's the most important thing. However, it's clear for me that the narrator has probably never been to Ballygran, so it doesn't matter where it is. Ballygran is where the love of his life went to, and where he longs for in his reflections.

I like the idea that the song is about an itinerant worker who left Kilkenny for the North-East in search of work, like so many others. While working in Carrickfergus, perhaps the happiest time of his life, he met a girl who was from, or who left for Ballygran. She was the one that got away. He regrets not chasing her, hence his longing to cross oceans to find her. Did he have a choice to follow her? Was she stolen from him? Who knows. He's old now, and reflecting with a sense of sadness and regret on his life. He never went back to Kilkenny. There's nothing for him there as all his childhood friends and family are now passed away (black marble reference). But he'll sing about the happier times when he's had a drink ... and then when he's had one too many ... he'll probably sing Carrickfergus again :)

Carrickfergus could be anywhere, Ballygran could be anywhere, Kilkenny could be anywhere ... it really doesn't matter that much. Carrickfergus is as nice a place as any for such a beautiful song.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: MartinRyan
Date: 14 Feb 11 - 05:24 AM

There's now a video of Sean O'Se singing this one on Facebook, with Nicholas Carolan's comments mentioned above (Irish, with subtitles).

Click here

Regards


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 14 Feb 11 - 10:06 AM

Jon, if you read the song again you'll see it is in Kilkenny that he met his love, and that is the story I've often hear having been born there. Story if true, from Kilkenny old timers, is he was something of a wandering minstrel, from Carrickfergus, possibly an Englaish soldier. Who fell ion love in KK, but unable to give up the roving life, left after promising to return to take her away (possibly to England or the North) but on return she had died. Most of the oild stones in KK graveyards are made of the unique black marble stones mined in nearby Castlecomer. Is it true, it's the story I've often heard there, but who knows?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 05 May 11 - 10:53 AM

Lots of theorizing here, especially trying to explain Ballygran/Ballygrot, 'marble stones,' and Kilkenny's anomalous presence in the song. But it all makes sense if you start with a visit to Google Earth! If you look at geography, the 'mysteries' of 'Carrickfergus' are really simple and quite straightforward.

Carrickfergus is a port on the north Irish Sea. Ballygrant is a village across the Irish Sea on Islay in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. It is about a day's sail north from Carrickfergus. Less than a mile from Ballygrant is the parish church and burial ground of Kilmeny. You can find these sites on Google Earth, and note their proximity.

Given the vague oral tradition of the song, Kilkenny is likely a mis-hearing on O'Toole's part. In both time and distance, Kilkenny is much, much farther from Carrickfergus than Kilmeny, and has no association with a place called Ballygrant. Nor is Kilkenny anywhere near the sea. So let's apply Occam's Razor to the song, and go for the simplest explanation:

'Carrickfergus' is simply the song of a man and his memories of a love across the sea at Ballygrant in Islay - a love now deceased and recorded on a 'marble stone as black as ink' in the burial ground at Kilmeny.

Here's my guess as to what the lyrics to Carrickfergus should be like:

                I
I wish I was in Carrickfergus,   
Only for nights in Ballygrant.
I would swim over the deepest ocean
To lie beside her, in Ballygrant.
But the sea is wide, I cannot swim over,
And neither have I wings to fly.
If I could find me a handy boatman,
I'd ferry me over to my love, and die.

                II
My childhood days, bring back sad reflections
Of happy times spent so long ago.
My boyhood friends and my own relations
Have all passed on now, like melting snow.
So I spend my days in endless roaming.
Soft is the grass, and my bed is free.
Ah, to be back now, in Carrickfergus,
On that long road down to the shining sea.

                III
Now in Kilmeny, she is recorded
On a marble stone there, as black as ink.
With gold and silver, I did support her.
But I'll sing no more now 'til I have a drink.
I'm drunk today, and I'm seldom sober,
A lonesome rover from town to town.
Ah, but I'm sick now, and my days are numbered.
So come all you young men, and lay me down.

-- Jack Maloney --


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: zozimus
Date: 05 May 11 - 09:05 PM

Nice one, Jack. After ten years reading this thread I find we should be looking up maps instead of Mudcat. I'll toss my SatNav in the bin and go back to maps!


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: michaelr
Date: 05 May 11 - 09:54 PM

Has anyone heard a sung version that has Kilmeny?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 10 May 11 - 10:47 AM

Side note: here is an 1868 account of a yacht race off Carrickfergus, which makes numerous mentions of a cutter named 'Kilmeny.' Proves nothing, but reinforces the association.

Google Books (click)


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: MartinRyan
Date: 10 May 11 - 11:49 AM

As mentioned in the other Carrickfergus/Black as ink thread:

'Kilkenny' is in the earliest printed versions we have i.e. the broadside "The Young Sick Lover" referenced in O'Muirithe's book on macaronic songs. No sign of Ballygran in any shape or form

Regards

.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: MartinRyan
Date: 10 May 11 - 11:54 AM

Incidentally - I enjoyed that yachting magazine very much. I have a copy somewhere of a book called "The Corinthian Yachtsman" from around the same period. It includes instructions on how to pay, dress and feed your crew!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 11 May 11 - 07:55 PM

Martin - at least we have documentary evidence that there indeed was a "handsome boatman" (i.e., skillful, adept) in 1868 who knew the waters between Carrickfergus and Ballygrant (or Baille a Ghrana) in Islay. The waters between Carrickfergus and Kilkenny are mostly in wee pitchers on the bars!


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Jack Maloney
Date: 13 May 11 - 01:53 PM

More interesting stuff. Ballygrant was a center for lead and silver mining in the 19th century, and a quarry for black Dalradian limestone (which, according to Wikipedia, is called 'marble' by stonemasons).

Gold ore is often associated with lead and silver mining. Here's a map which clearly shows "Dalradian complex with gold potential" running right through Ballygrant and Kilmeny:

http://www.scotgoldresources.com.au/scotwp/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/L-Map-1.jpg

So - Ballygrant/Kilmeny has an ancient cemetery, "marble stones as black as ink," silver and possibly gold minerals, and is across the sea from Carrickfergus and within reach of a "handsome boatman." That all adds up to a coherent story, doesn't it?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: michaelr
Date: 13 May 11 - 04:06 PM

Sure it does, Jack, and as I've said, an intriguing one -- but in the absence of proof, it will remain speculation.

I have a fond theory that the name "Sovay" (of the female highwayman song) is derived from "Solveig", the Danish version of "Sylvie". But I have no proof for that, either.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Jack Maloney
Date: 13 May 11 - 05:04 PM

Michael - Speculation? Proof? Do you have proof of the origins of your own favorite traditional songs? Do you know who wrote them, and when? The exact music, and the authentic, correct, original words?

Almost all traditional songs have been changed, adapted, recombined or reworked by many singers, in many locales, through many generations. Strands of different lyrical bits and pieces of verse have been hung on the framework of older tunes - sometimes reflecting the singers own experiences or local traditions, or simply what they thought they had heard. It's pretty difficult to pin down "proof," "authenticity" or "correctness" in traditional music.

The origins of 'Carrickfergus' are likely lost in time. Even an 1830s broadsheet is only a local snapshot of a moving target. The fact that this thread has been spun out this far suggests that the version commonly sung today raises many questions for which there are no proven answers. So however you want to sing it, it's speculation.

In a song about lovers separated by the sea, the leap from Carrickfergus to Kilkenny is an inexplicably long and waterless one that few handsome boatmen could navigate. But across the sea from Carrickfergus is a place called Ballygrant, with marble stones as black as ink, silver (and maybe gold), and a burial ground that sounds a lot like "Kilkenny." That's just speculation, of course... ;-)


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: michaelr
Date: 13 May 11 - 07:51 PM

OK, so I used the term "proof" as shorthand for something that would take more words to say. Point is, if anyone came forward saying "I heard so-and-so sing Carrickfergus, and he sang 'Kilmeny'", that would provide some support for your theory.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Jack Maloney
Date: 14 May 11 - 07:49 AM

The Islay connection for 'Carrickfergus' is pretty solid. Ballygrant, Islay is across the sea, reachable by boat, speaks Gaelic, quarries black stone, and attracted incomers in the 18th and 19th century to mine for silver (and possibly gold). Is there another Ballygrant - or anything sounding like 'Ballygrant' - with similar characteristics?

The Kilmeny connection is more theory - a noteworthy cemetery and church close by Ballygrant, with black 'marble' headstones, and a name that's remarkably similar to "Kilkenny." And a 19th century "handsome boatman" familiar with both Carrickfergus and Kilmeny.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Maurizio
Date: 03 Aug 11 - 02:05 PM

I just heard this most amazing song performed by Jim McCann;however,being a non-native English speaker I had real difficulties in understanding the lyrics(which sound great,nevertheless).Thanks for this fantastic thread which cleared all my doubts except one:I still don't get the meaning of "only for nights in Ballygran/Ballygrant/Ballygrat."Could it be "I wish I was in Carrickfergus,INSTEAD OF NIGHTS in...?"


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Jack Maloney
Date: 11 Aug 11 - 04:03 PM

Maurizio - The singer's only stated reason for wishing to be in Carrickfergus is "only for nights in Ballygrant." If he were in that Irish seaport,he might be able to find a boatman to get him across to Ballygrant in Islay, where he obviously had enjoyed nights with his loved one.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: meself
Date: 11 Aug 11 - 04:50 PM

So, really, he wishes he were in Ballygrant - why doesn't he just say so, and skip the middleman?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Jack Maloney
Date: 11 Aug 11 - 10:32 PM

Because he would have been four bars short.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Maurizio
Date: 21 Aug 11 - 12:10 PM

Many,many thanks,Jack!Couldn't have never figured this out by myself.Saluti from Italy!


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Desi C
Date: 21 Aug 11 - 04:56 PM

Many of us have researched this song thoroughly and none to my knowledge have found any reliable link to the song prior to the mid 60's when Behan recorded it. I think it is fair therefore to say it's not a traditional song. The various mysteries about the words I think can be explained. Behan said he wrote the middle verse and the lack of mystery in that verse alone I think proves it. Also he says he weote it down dictated by Peter O'Toole. Now I think we all know of his and Behan's liking of a drink,so you have two probable merry Irish men one trying to sing the words to the other trying to write them down, a situation not designed for much accuracy!
Add to that O'Tole was not a song writer so it seems this was a song he had heard somewhere and aren't songs transferred by one to another in that way part of the folk tradition whereby words and meanings rarely stay as they were meant to. 'The water is wide' is one of the most copied lines in Irish music and appears in some form in several Irish songs, the tune too is very likely traditional. The only real mystety for me is, Where did O'Toole find the song?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: MartinRyan
Date: 21 Aug 11 - 06:06 PM

Desi C

Many of us have researched this song thoroughly and none to my knowledge have found any reliable link to the song prior to the mid 60's when Behan recorded it.

Depends what you mean by "this song"! The Young Sick Lover , from which Carrickfergus appears to derive, is clearly much older.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Jack Maloney
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 09:31 AM

Desi C: "I think it is fair therefore to say it's not a traditional song."

How do you define "traditional"?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: michaelr
Date: 23 Aug 11 - 06:30 PM

Older than the `60s?

Don't go there!


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Jack Maloney
Date: 28 Aug 11 - 12:04 PM

Desi C says: "The various mysteries about the words I think can be explained. Behan said he wrote the middle verse and the lack of mystery in that verse alone I think proves it."

"Various mysteries"? What "mysteries"?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 07:26 AM

If anybody's wondering about the "handsome boatman": the word "handsome" often meant "adept, skilled, or clever," according to my dictionary.

That's the kind of boatman he wants.

Or, more recently, "she" wants. I've heard a woman sing the song with the pronouns suitably altered. Same goes for "Down by the Salley Gardens."

Identification of the singer with the song is now so complete that audiences apparently get very queasy if the pronouns don't match.

It's something that never bothered traditional singers. Unless told otherwise, everybody knew that the "I" of a song was fictional.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Jack Maloney
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 11:59 AM

You'd certainly want a handsome (i.e., adept, skilled, or clever) boatman to carry you over the 70 miles of Irish Sea between Carrickfergus, on the coast of Ireland, and Ballygrant, on Islay in Scotland's Western Isles. Those waters can be difficult for small boats.

Yet many a small boat made the journey in the 18th and 19th centuries, for there were jobs waiting for incomers at Ballygrant's busy stone quarry, and in the mines of surrounding Kilmeny parish (with silver, lead and gold ore). Some of those incomers were buried in the local churchyard of Kilmeny (not Kilkenny) beneath marble stones as black as ink.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 12:52 PM

Has the etymology of "Ballygrant" been given?

In 2000, "Philippa" reported that the macaronic lines in the ca1840 broadside read, "I wish I had you in Carrickfergus/ Agus ní fada ón áit sin baile cuain."

As Philippa acknowledged, the translation is not 100% reliable because the broadside prints the Irish lines phonetically.

Neil Comer then translated the "baile cuain" as "Quiet" or "Harbor Town."

"Harbor Town" sounds as though it would fit "Ballygrant." But is that really the etymology of the town's name?

The point is that the phonetic spelling on the broadside, as reported here, doesn't capitalize "Baile Cuain" as though it were a place name. If Ballygrant were intended, I'd expect to see an "r" in there somewhere. Of course, the (monolingual?) printer could have accidentally omitted it if there'd been one, just as he didn't think to capitalize.

I'm not rejecting the probability that Ballygrant was really meant. I'm just pointing out a detail that might or might not bear on the matter.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: zozimus
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 02:00 PM

Lets summarize:
Ballygrant was introduced into the song by the Clancy Brothers, and they are not going to tell where they got it. If it is their translation of baile cuain, that's their problem and has nothing to do with the origional song ,or Killemy or anywhere else.
Someone wished to compare Sean O Riada's "composed" melody to that of Dominic Behan's version . It is the same melody,as is sung by Clancy's and a few thousand others. O Riada orchestrated it or arranged it but it is the same.
Baile cuain translates as quite town, no mention of a harbour in either word.
The only real question is whether the lovel melody is older than teh composition of "The Sick Young Lover", and if so, wahat was it's title.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Jack Maloney
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 03:03 PM

Etymology - Ballygrant comes from the Gaelic baile a ghrana, "town of grain," referring to a Islay meal mill first recorded in 1686. Why go to great lengths to avoid the obvious connections between Carrickfergus (in Ireland) and Ballygrant (on Islay in Scotland's Western Isles)?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 03:42 PM

If Clancy-Makem are the ultimate source of "Ballygrant," they seem to have had a deeper insight into the geography of the area than one might expect.

Regardless of that, if "baile cuain" means "quiet town," the connection with Ballygrant - as likely as it may be geographically - starts to look like a rationalization or a coincidence, no matter who first placed it in the song. Surely there were several "quiet towns" separated by water from Carrickfergus?

The nature of the evidence (phonetic Irish from ca1840, and not necessarily a completely accurate representation) suggests that it's impossible to know either way.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: MartinRyan
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 05:00 PM

In modern Irish, the noun "cuan" (genitive "cuain") means harbour

The adjective "ciúin" means quiet.

The pronunciations are quite similar to the non-Irish ear.

On the air - note that Nicholas Carolan of the Irish Traditional Music Archive suspects, at least, that O Riada composed it. He would be well aware of Dominic Behan's connection to the song.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Jack Maloney
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 05:37 PM

"Baile cuain" is a bit of a stretch. To begin with, the song is about a place "over the deepest ocean" from Carrickfergus, so why keep trying to locate it in Ireland? Is there another "baile" anything, anywhere across the sea from Carrickfergus and easily reachable by boat, that makes any sense at all? The Carrickfergus/Ballygrant connections in the song are too numerous to be coincidental:

- "But the sea is wide..." Almost 80 miles of the turbulent North Irish Sea separate Carrickfergus from Ballygrant in Islay. You would definitely want "...a handsome boatman..." (i.e., skillful, clever, adept) to make that crossing.

- "Now in Kilmeny..." Kilmeny (not Kilkenny) is the parish in which Ballygrant is located. Kilmeny Church has a noteworthy burial ground in which there are numerous...

- "...marble stones as black as ink." The stones come from the nearby quarry, which was Ballygrant's primary industry in the 18th and 19th centuries. The common "Kilkenny" reference is a puzzle without an answer because it has no connection with either Carrickfergus or Ballygrant; it is apparently an artifact of Peter O'Toole's memory!

- "With gold and silver I did support her..." The other major employer in Ballygrant and Kilmeny Parish in the 18th and 19th centuries was lead and silver mining, which attracted miners from across the water. And Ballygrant lies over the Dalradian geologic complex, which is the source of gold being mined in Northern Ireland even today.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Jack Maloney
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 09:00 PM

P.S.

- If, as the song implies, the singer's beloved died in Ballygrant, she almost certainly have been buried in the parish churchyard at Kilmeny (not Kilkenny).


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 09:11 PM

I've reread this entire thread, and Jack's interpretation - including his controversial substitution of "Kilmeny" for "Kilkenny" - has the virtue of being the most coherent explanation of what the English part of the song is about.

If Peter O'Toole could have misheard "Kilmeny" as "Kilkenny," so equally could his 1946 source - and similarly all the way back to the printer of "The Young Sick Lover." The argument for "Kilmeny" rather than "Kilkenny" has the virtue of consistency, though in traditional texts that may not mean much.

If I understand it correctly, the weight of the evidence is that Sean O'Riada rewrote the original melody in the early '60s, but "rewrote" could mean almost anything. With no other likely candidates available, he presumably "rewrote" the tune O'Toole knew and which he taught to Dominic Behan. Given the lyrics, it isn't surprising that "O'Riada's" tune bears some resemblance to a familiar version of "Waly Waly."

It would be a kind of reverse snobbery to deny O'Riada's rewrite - if that's what it is - the status of a "traditional tune." We don't know how many brilliant folk melodies were improved over the centuries by outstanding, if anonymous, musicians. My guess is that it may have happened frequently.

What seems to be unexplained is the relationship of the English to the Irish lyrics on the broadside. Of course, that's a separate question entirely.

At any rate, singers remain free to dream up any interpretation that suits them to flesh out the lyrics in either language. That's what singers do. Jack's version, however, is more clearly rooted in probability than are the others - which is not the same as saying that it matches in every detail what the original author was thinking. We'll probably never know that.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Josh
Date: 30 Dec 11 - 06:13 AM

I must disagree with those who believe the author/singer wishes to cross the sea to Ballygran, to be with his love. And someone invoked Occam's razor to eliminate Kilkenny in favor of Kilmeny, assuming -- as many here have suggested -- that someone made a mistake between the two, since the names sound alike.

I too wish to invoke Occam's razor. But to my sensibility, the simplest, most direct interpretation of the verse must include NOT assuming someone made mistakes; one must first assume that the words mean what they say. Only if that leads to a blind alley should other possibilities be invoked.

To this end, then, I believe the author/singer WISHES TO BE IN Carrickfergus. Because he says "I wish I was in Carrickfergus." The confusion lies in the next line "Only for nights in Ballygran." This is NOT an expression of desire for Ballygran. Quite the opposite. He is singing: "I wish I was in Carrickfergus, If only for the nights I'm (sadly) spending in Ballygran."

I.e., the author is IN Ballygran, and wishes he could be in Carrickfergus. The other interpretation -- that he wants to be in Carrickfergus in order to ferry himself over the Ballygran -- is almost ludicrous. If he wants to be in Ballygran, he should be singing "I wish I was in Ballygran." Does he really want to be in Carrickfergus, a day's ferry ride away from his love in Ballygran? No. He is IN Ballygran, and wishes he were in Carrickfergus.

Just like the song says.

Likewise, "Kilkenny" means "Kilkenny," not Kilmeny. Kilkenny is on the same island as Carrickfergus, so it's reasonable (if far). Kilkenny is sometimes called the "Marble City." Kilkenny Marble, aka "Black Marble," has been widely exported for centuries.

And....many of the headstones in Kilkenny cemeteries are black. Have a look at the "Abbey And Church Cemetery,Inistioge,County Kilkenny,Ireland."

Hence, "There are marble stones there, as black as any ink."


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 31 Dec 11 - 12:04 PM

Josh - If you're committed to being literal (not always a good idea in folk songs), what about the next lines?

"I would swim over the deepest ocean
Only for nights in Ballygrant."

Not, you'll notice, "only for nights in Carrickfergus." In this song, "nights in Ballygrant" carries romantic implications, whereas nothing so desirable is implied in Carrickfergus. Is the singer complaining repeatedly about "nights in Ballygrant" because of discomfort? Insomnia? Bedbugs, perhaps? ;-)

Or is he somewhere in Ireland, wishing to be at the port of Carrickfergus where he can find "a handsome boatman" to ferry him over to Ballygrant? To me, that seems more likely.

Then faraway "Kilkenny" crashes into the song, unexplained and unexplainable except for its black marble, almost like a TV commercial - "and now, a message from our sponsor, Kilkenny Quarries Ltd."

But in fact, black marble is found in many places in Ireland and throughout the British Isles, including Ballygrant in Kilmeny Parish, Islay. Use Google Earth to see for yourself; from the air, the huge quarry is a dominant feature on the southwest side of Ballygrant village.

What we know for certain:
- Ballygrant, Islay, is across the Irish Sea from Carrickfergus
- Ballygrant is in Kilmeny Parish
- marble was quarried in Ballygrant
- silver was mined in Ballygrant
- Kilmeny churchyard has black marble stones
- Kilkenny is 160 miles from Carrickfergus, 220 miles from Ballygrant
- Kilmeny is 10 minutes' stroll from Ballygrant
- a lover who died in Ballygrant would likely be buried in Kilmeny churchyard

Of course, no one can absolutely prove anything about a traditional song, nor can one count on literal interpretation. Without a known and copyrighted source, traditional songs are open to every singer's personal interpretation. So if you think nights in Ballygrant are intolerable, and the leap to distant Kilkenny logical, by all means feel free to sing 'Carrickfergus' that way.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Lighter
Date: 31 Dec 11 - 01:41 PM

I agree.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Moleskin Joe
Date: 22 Mar 12 - 03:52 PM

I am very reluctant to start all this up again but some of the attempts to impose sense on these lyrics are really highly imaginative. I think Ballygrant is a complete red herring. I think the line "Only for nights......" must have been invented by the Clancys. If you listen to DB's recording that line refers to Carrickfergus and three other places, the last of which sounds like Bally Grine, but it's hard to make them out. Nothing about "nights". Ballygrine(?) is possibly a mishearing of Baile Ciuin.
Then follows the interpolation of the Waly Waly lines which in DB's version talk about ferrying over "my love and I". Thereafter if you substitute "she" for "it" in the Kilkenny verses you have a drunk man singing of his dead love.
DB introduces the song - "And here's Peter O'Toole singing about his native Kerry " so there is no need to associate the song with Antrim necessarily. There may well have been a Carrickfergus on the Clare Fergus.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 05:40 PM

Ballygrine, Baile Ciuin, Clare Fergus..the origins of the song 'Carrickfergus' are unknown - and likely unknowable. So you're free to make up anything you want, including improbable stories and places that have no logical connection and may not even exist. That's the magic of traditional song.

But if you're interested in singing about a plausible romance that might actually have happened, Ballygrant in Islay's Kilmeny Parish, where there are "marble stones as black as ink," and Carrickfergus across the Irish Sea, are real places with a historic connection that actually makes sense.

Your choice. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Claire Broderick
Date: 02 May 12 - 04:41 PM

This thread is incredible! 12 years in the making!

I am part of a folk group of ladies who sing traditional songs, sometimes traditionally, sometimes re-written from a female perspective, sometimes completely re-imagined. But always we wish to convey the story.

When I set out to arrange this beautiful tune for one of our stunning sopranos, I wanted to do justice to the story, as that is always what makes our music successful with our fans. I was very frustrated with the verses and words most widely available, as it seemed like they had been recorded from a drunkard who only remembered two verses and refused to sing on unless plied with drink.

Now I have gleaned a beautiful love story that I can't wait to arrange vocally so that we might bring this song to our fans. Thanks to everyone who so tirelessly worked to make this possible.

Claire Broderick
The Merry Wives of Windsor


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 May 12 - 07:58 PM

This the poem the Clancys used to introduce.

HIGH AND LOW

He stumbled home from Clifden fair
With drunken song, and cheeks aglow.
Yet there was something in his air
That told of kingship long ago.
I sighed -- and inly cried
With grief that one so high should fall so low.

He snatched a flower and sniffed its scent,
And waved it toward the sunset sky.
Some old sweet rapture through him went
And kindled in his bloodshot eye.
I turned -- and inly burned
With joy that one so low should rise so high.

-- James H. Cousins


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 02 May 12 - 08:21 PM

Well, thank you, Claire Broderick!


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: georgeward
Date: 03 May 12 - 02:13 AM

For what it's worth Claire, the value of the song for me has always lain in exactly what troubled you about it. I've known a number of aging men - some in Ireland, some elsewhere - whose lives are reflected better in "Carrickfergus" than in most of the many songs I know that self-consciously strive to reflect the "downtrodden"....fellows who really never had any prospects (perhaps society's failings or perhaps their own) beyond their dreams, who could never share those dreams except in moments when they were beyond their own control. No one would have thought them poets. Many would cross the street to avoid them. And yet some of them were poets, if only in the odd moments when the sensibility with which no one credited them broke through the haze of drink and sorry living.

They deserve a bit of poetry that sounds like them, and that captures us for a moment because it IS poetry...good poetry at that.

Sing the song with a good heart. But here's one request not to clean it up too much. The very sorrow, inadequacy and incoherence of it - well expressed - limn a truth about the human condition that goes deeper than the one old sot the song pretends to be about.Much deeper.

One person's opinion.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 03 May 12 - 08:46 PM

"...incoherence - well expressed..."

Interesting concept. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Aug 12 - 11:05 AM

Maybe it's "for nights" that is being misunderstood. I had always assumed he was singing "forninst to Ballygran". I can't find a reference but I promise you I have heard 'forninst' used to mean 'next to'.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: mayomick
Date: 25 Aug 12 - 08:56 AM

Molly O'Connor, she lived just forninst me,
And tender lines to her I wrote,
If you dare say one hard word again her,
I'll tread on the tail of your coat........ from Mush Mush

Formenst or forminst appears in Shakespeare I'm told . It's still used in parts of the north and west of Ireland. In the Ulster-Scots dictionary they have :   Fornenst ……opposite, directly in front of


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Aug 12 - 09:49 AM

For the geographically challenged: there is no Ballygrant 'forninst' Carrickfergus. But there is a Ballygrant across the Irish Sea from Carrickfergus. Easy to get hung up on a word if you don't look at the big picture. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 26 Aug 12 - 05:43 AM

Going right back to John Moulden's posts in 2000 re Dominic Behan's version, I have dug out my copy of Dominic's book, "Ireland Sings" (copyright 1965). As JM says, Dominic called it "The Kerry Boatman", and these are his notes at the end of the book.

"Before my friend, Peter O'Toole, rode a camel in the desert, he sang this song for me at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, in Stratford-on-Avon. It had a beginning and an end. I gave it the middle it has now, and I hope, Peter a cara, you approve."

Dominic's middle verse is not the same as the one in the DT. When I've a bit more time, I'll post the full set, if they are not already there.

AFAIK Peter O'Toole is still alive - he only announced his retirement from acting in July this year - could someone not ask him where HE got it from?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,John Moulden
Date: 26 Aug 12 - 09:09 AM

I did ask Peter O'Toole, his reply, transmitted though his agent, is above.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: meself
Date: 26 Aug 12 - 10:42 AM

See:   Date: 06 Mar 00 - 02:44 PM.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 27 Aug 12 - 08:06 PM

Sorry, I missed that, John, but thanks. (234 posts on this thread, and I did read a good few before posting!)


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 27 Aug 12 - 08:08 PM

Oops, 224, or now 226!


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Mah0ney
Date: 01 Feb 13 - 06:51 AM

Latest I heard is that it is two old irish songs put together which is why the words don't make sense. Behan did add a new verse.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,John Moulden
Date: 03 Feb 13 - 02:49 PM

If you read the whole of this thread, you'll see that most of the words communicated to Dominic Behan by Peter O'Toole mirror those of the macaronic 'Do bhí bean uasal' or ;Young sick lover' referred to and quoted above. There is no evidence that there ever were two songs from which Carrickfergus was contructed. Instead we have a fragment remembered by a actor who heard it in childhood which has been added to and adapted by several hands, minds, and imaginations since then. Careful reading and research are the only tools that will help anyone who wants to disentangle the strands - in this they have my blessing; however, conjecture and guesses, unless founded on fact and evidence, are of no blessed use whatsoever.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Apr 13 - 08:22 AM

What would the world be without conjecture and guesses? No mythology, no rumour and gossip, no wagering on the ponies. Why spoil the fun, John? ;-)


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Curmudgeon
Date: 17 Jul 13 - 10:44 AM

In reply to 13 April Guest - who I suspect is not unrelated to erstwhile contributor Jack Maloney - because most of us here would rather have facts than specious pilings of non-fact upon non-fact.

It seems clearly established by those who know (not me!) that both "only for nights" and "Ballygrand" are 1960s inventions of the Clancy Brothers who either could not understand or did not care what was being sung on one of Dominic Behan's recordings. Neither term occurs in any version before the Clancys', and so all this stuff about a lover sailing to Ballygrant in Islay and black marble at nearby Kilmeny is entirely irrelevant to the origins of a song which dates from the 1830s at the latest. To repeat, neither "only for nights" nor "Ballygrand" appear in any known version of Carrickfergus prior to the Clancy Brothers 1964 album "The First Hurrah!"

As earlier contributors have pointed out, Occam's razor is a wonderful tool. The song says there is black marble at Kilkenny, and Kilkenny is famous for its black marble (which is in fact limestone, but so what). So why look for somewhere else that has black marble and is not Kilkenny but has a similar name - particularly if you end up with an insignificant place on a small island in a different country?

Incidentally and probably finally, has anyone pursued the O'Toole angle any further? He is the somewhat improbable link between a Gaelic/English macaronic broadsheet published in Cork around 1830 and the two versions of Carrickfergus recorded by Dominic Behan in the 1960s. O'Toole says he heard/learned it in Kerry in 1946 (i.e. when he was 13 or 14), and Behan says Kerry is where O'Toole spent his childhood. But the Wikipedia article on O'Toole, based on his autobiography, says that he was born in 1932 in either Co. Galway or Leeds, Yorkshire (he has birth certificates from both, with different dates!) and by age 1 was definitely in the North of England where he spent the next 5 years travelling around local racecourses with his father who was an itinerant bookmaker. After that the chronology is a bit confused but he spent 7 or 8 years at a Catholic SECONDARY (i.e. age 11+) school in Leeds. So where is there room for a Kerry childhood that includes him at age 13/14? Not saying it's not possible; just saying it looks a bit difficult to fit in.

And another rather relevant thing from the Wikipedia article is that O'Toole said, apparently in a 2006 interview on US National Public Radio, that before he became a student at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1952 he had been rejected by the prestigious Abbey Theatre, Dublin "because he couldn't speak Irish". Without the Erse, what would a 14 year old O'Toole have made of someone singing - to who knows what tune - the 1830s macaronic but primarily Gaelic broadsheet "The Young Sick Lover"? Of course, O'Toole may have heard a watered down and anglicised version of the broadsheet - but who would have sung that in 1946 in the Gaeltacht?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Lighter
Date: 17 Jul 13 - 11:16 AM

Fascinating.

As I wrote earlier, "If Clancy-Makem are the ultimate source of 'Ballygrant,' they seem to have had a deeper insight into the geography of the area than one might expect."

Which is certainly not impossible.

Occam's Razor is of limited help in cases like this. It isn't foolproof: it's simply a guideline. It works best in the natural sciences where the possibilities in any given situation are comparatively limited. And it's valuable in law because verdicts must be reached (and sometimes they're wrong despite Occam). In folklore, where anything can change at any moment under the influence of God knows what, even in the mind if the same informant, the Razor loses much of its edge.

It becomes not a question of "why look?" but of what the preponderance of the known evidence indicates.

Curmudgeon's info on O'Toole very valuably expands that evidence.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,John Moulden
Date: 17 Jul 13 - 04:11 PM

O'Toole heard it from a man called, he told his agent, who told me, Niall Stack. That this was in Kerry is attested in the same way and by Behan's name for it - The Kerry Boatman. How he came to be there, given the detail in his autobiography, is moot but there are school holidays! Finally, relatively little of Kerry was a Gaeltacht in the 1940s and, even in those regions, many people sing songs in English; as they do today. I'm afraid that nothing that Curmudgeon says persuades me, save that he might take up his own suggestion of asking O'Toole himself.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Jul 13 - 03:00 PM

Curmudgeon says: "most of us here would rather have facts than specious pilings of non-fact upon non-fact."

Definitely curmudgeonly, that - for "specious pilings of non-fact upon non-fact" down the years could describe most traditional music.
Unless a song has a known original author (and copyright), any "fact" may turn out to be "specious."

The 'Carrickfergus' sung today is a stewpot stocked with ingredients from many and mostly unknown sources. As commonly sung, they make little sense, and invite much speculation. Neither O'Toole nor Behan nor Makem could vouch for any of it (other than Behan's acknowledged authorship of the middle verse). Groping for 'facts' in this stewpot is rather futile; any way you want to sing 'Carrickfergus,' it's likely "specious."

All we can do is what traditional singers have done for eons: gratefully take what we have from the past, and try to make a good story of it. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Jul 13 - 01:43 PM

From: GUEST,Curmudgeon
Date: 17 Jul 13 - 10:44 AM most of us here would rather have facts than specious pilings of non-fact upon non-fact.
_________________________________________________________________

Before anyone tries looking for "facts," consider this interesting entry from five years ago. You'll find familiar lines from 'Carrickfergus' mixed in with lines from other familiar songs. It's a perfect example of the traditional song stewpot from which only an optimist could extract a carrot of 'fact' - much less the "origins" of anything!
_________________________________________________________________

From: GUEST,kevin Prior
Date: 01 Aug 08 - 07:02 PM

There is a ballad sheet in the Bodleian Library (accessed online), the words of which seem to be largely an amalgam of the songs which we know as Carrickfergus and Peggy Gordon. With some additional general purpose verses. It is dated as between 1780 and 1830. I cannot make out all the words, but those whch I can are below.

Bodleian Library
allegro Catalogue of Ballads

Copies: Harding B 25(894

I'm often drunk And Seldom Sober

Printed and sold by B. Walker near the Duke's
Palace, Norwich

MANY cold winters nights I've travelled,
Until my locks were wet with dew,
And don't you think I am to blame,
For changing old love for new.

Chorus
I'm often drunk and seldom sober
I am a rover in every degree
When I'm drunking I'm often thinking
How shall I gain my love's company.

The seas are deep and I cannot wade them
Neither have I wings to fly
I wish I had some little boat
To carry over my love and I.

I leaned my back against an oak
Thinking it had been some trusty tree
At first it bent and then it broke
And so my lover proved to me.

In London City ????? ?????
The streets are paved with marble stones
And my love she ??? ??? ??????
As ever trod on London ground

I wish I was in Dublin city
As far as e'er my eye could see
Or else across the briny ocean
Where no false love can follow me.

If love is handsome and love is pretty
And love its charming when first its new
So as love grows older it grows bolder
But fades away like the morning dew

I laid my head on a cask of brandy
It was my fancy I declare
For when I'm drinking I'm always thinking
How I shall gain my loves company

There is two nags in my fathers stable
They prick their ears when they hear the hounds
And my true love is as clever a young women
As ever trod on England's ground

You silly sportsmen leave off your courting
I'll say no more till I have drank
For when I'm dead it will be all over
I hope my friends will bury me


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Felipa
Date: 25 Jul 13 - 03:30 AM

much catching up to do on this superthread
tattie bogle wrote
'Dominic's middle verse is not the same as the one in the DT. When I've a bit more time, I'll post the full set, if they are not already there.'

are the words here already or can tattie vogle get back to them?
what was the former version of 'only for nights in Ballygrand@ which people say first appears with Clancys + Makem 1964?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Chris Rust
Date: 04 Sep 13 - 09:42 AM

I've just worked through this thread and thanks to all the wonderful effort that has been put in.

My own interest is to find a version of the song that I feel OK about singing, "true to something" might be a simple way to put it without moving too far from the "current" version that people recognise. I'd like to summarise what I've found to be useful or interesting in this marathon discussion.

First there is little disagreement about the narrator, who has lived a sad life in the shadow of a lost love, maybe somebody they could not marry because of social differences and is now dying, possibly of alcoholic excess. It's not unusual that this person would like to travel in time and place to either where they were happy or where their lover is buried. "The Young Sick Lover" seems an obvious parent which is true to all that

I think there are two versions that appeal to me and both would make sense. First I was struck by California Will's contribution on 28 Jun 2007. He didn't seem to get any response, possibly because his style of writing was less respectful and more dogmatic than most others here. However the point that the statutes of Kilkenny prohibited marriage between two social groups, and poetically the idea that such statutes were "recorded" on the local stone all fits together nicely and makes sense of the rest of that verse as Will explains, even if the true history of the song is different.

However the idea that "she" is dead and recorded on a black marble headstone is also very appealing and probably easier for an audience to grasp.

Either way the distance between Kilkenny and Carrickfergus is not a problem but the idea that the woman is buried in Kilmeny works fine.

However nobody seems to have picked up Roy McLean's (20 Aug 09) reference to Ballygrat or Ballygrant as a small place near Carickfergus but over the lough, known to his Grandmother. That fits also with the alternative of a small peaceful village or harbour near Carrickfergus (Agus ne fadde, o en nat shoon balle coun). That was certainly what I was assuming from hearing the song and before I read any of this. I have always imagined the handsome boatman carrying the singer across a river or lough.

There's no problem with a story linking Ulster with the Western Isles of Scotland, the two have been very closely linked since the Stone Age partly because sea travel was greatly preferable to land travel before good roads were built.

But equally the words available could apply to somebody in exile, in Britain or further away, needing a way to cross the sea to Carrickfergus, or a boatman to take you over the Lough to Ballygrat works fine. Going to Carrickfergus to be in Ballygrat/Ballygrant works fine for me (like travelling to Rio to be on Ipanema Beach :o)

I'm not so comfortable with the Kilmeny version because the song is about Carrickfergus which is on the way there, in modern terms it's like singing about New York because you want to be in Chicago

So I have three songs that I might choose to sing but the third (C below) is not so satisfying:

A. The singer was prevented, by the Kilkenny statutes, from marrying a girl he met in Ballygrat, he dreams of seeing her before he dies.

B. The singer's lover is buried in Kilmeny, he dreams of going to to Carrickfergus where he can take a boat to be buried with her

C. Going back to the English text in the Young Sick Lover, somebody in Kilkenny seems to think that the singer is going to support this woman but actually it's too late, he is dying, and probably penniless.

So all I have to do now is make the smallest changes I can to ensure that the song is consistent to one of these versions so I can feel comfortable singing it. I don't delude myself that it will be historically correct or true to any early version.

Best wishes from Sheffield


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 05 Sep 13 - 12:25 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 06 Sep 13 - 03:42 PM

Try googling Harris & O'Toole Carrickfergus YouTube. It won't add much to the discussion, but it's interesting. Nice fiddle backing; my impression is that he was playing and they happened along and joined in. I think I may be safe in assuming drink had been taken.
JK


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Sep 13 - 10:49 AM

Try searching Google Earth for Ballygrand, Ballygran, Ballygrat - you won't find any of them. These are made-up names.

Try Ballygrant - you'll find it easily. It's on Islay, a whisky-producing island in Scotland. This real Ballygrant is across "the deepest ocean" only 72 miles from Carrickfergus. "The water is wide" there, and turbulent; you "cannot swim over." It would take "a handsome boatman" to ferry someone from Carrickfergus to Ballygrant - yet Irish laborers commonly made that crossing in the 19th century to seek jobs in Scotland.

Ballygrant has a pit where "marble stones as black as ink" have been quarried for centuries. The Ballygrant mines have also produced silver, and the area is known to have gold seams as well.

The burial ground nearest Ballygrant is Kilmeny, one kilometer away.

Is it just coincidence that the real Carrickfergus and Ballygrant, separated by wide water and deep ocean, a quarry for marble "black as ink," silver and gold, and a burial ground that sounds something like
Kilkenny, all occur with a 75 mile radius?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,David Ash
Date: 18 Sep 13 - 02:14 PM

Interesting that Carrickfergus is featured in the US television series Boardwalk Empire (series 1, episode 5, "Nights in Ballygran") in a scene set in the 1920s, and again just this week in the BBC's Peaky Blinders, set in 1919. So a song unknown before 1960 is mysteriously making its way backwards in time. If we want to know its origins, all we have to do is wait until box-set TV drama takes us back to when Fineen MacCarthy composed it after the Battle of Callann or some such.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,John Moulden
Date: 18 Sep 13 - 03:42 PM

The conjecture about 'Ballygrand' (2 posts above) is only tenable if one forgets that the name was probably provided by the Clancys who couldn't make out what Dominic Behan was singing. His first lines were - "I wish I was in Carrickfergus, In Elphin, Aoidtrim or Ballygrind," Of which the Clancys give the second half as 'Only for nights in Ballygrand".

This has led to column inches of conjecture. However, the only reliable placename (given in the Young Sick Lover) that corresponds in any way to Behan's Ballygrind is "Baile Cuain". So why not stick with that? It is plausible that it could be misheard, perhaps at a remove of several transmissions, as "Ballygrind". Baile Cuain, since it means Quiet Town could well be just the place for Chinese Whispers.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Sep 13 - 05:32 PM

Attempting to connect the nonexistent "Ballygrand/Ballygrat/Ballygrind" with an equally nonexistent "Baile Cuain" is an exercise in groundless conjecture. Who can be certain that even The Young Sick Lover is an original source? O'Toole, Behan, Clancys, whatever, 'Carrickfergus' is already a mishmash of booze-tinged memories, inventions, borrowings and interpretations that - in its most common form today - leaves as many questions as answers.

Trying to manufacture an 'authentic' version out of disparate bits and pieces recalled by an actor is clearly impossible. The best that can be done with 'Carrickfergus' is to make it into a plausible story that satisfies the singer and engages the listener. Do it any way that pleases you, and don't get hung up on dubious 'authenticity.'


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,John Moulden
Date: 20 Sep 13 - 07:56 AM

Guest - if you would identify yourself I might be able to assess your right to assume your superiority of thought and knowledge.

Baile Cuain is not non existent, it is suggested as the nearest plausible Irish rendering of an obscure phonetic 'balle coun' which is given in the ballad sheet of the Young Sick Lover. However, I concede that there is no place with that name - unless you allow further anglicisation, say to 'Ballycoan' (given on the OS maps as 'Ballycowan' which is an even nearer phonetic) and which does exist, near Lisburn in Co Antrim, but at a fair distance from Carrickfergus.

I was not attempting to join the debate about location but rather to suggest what Peter O'Toole or another previous singer might have heard that turned into Ballygrine in Dominic Behan's mouth. This too is conjecture but I'd rather that than stick with the Clancy's arbitrary and nonsensical 'Only for nights in Ballygrand'.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Sep 13 - 08:22 AM

Debating the origins of Carrickfergus is like trying to identify the original recipe for a stew after every visitor and passerby in the past two centuries has thrown ingredients into the pot. Give it up, boys, and just enjoy the lovely flavors! ;-)


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,JM
Date: 15 Dec 13 - 06:46 PM

Good night Peter.
Peter O'Toole and Richard Harris sing Carrickfergus


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Lighter
Date: 15 Dec 13 - 07:31 PM

Folk singing at its best, goddammit!

Thanks for the link, JM.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Dec 13 - 09:14 PM

I never understood why they didn't call in Peter to play Dumbledore when Richard Harris died.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,John Moulden
Date: 16 Dec 13 - 01:17 PM

I'm sorry we have no further opportunity to clarify the part played in the modern survival of this song by Peter O'Toole and Richard Harris. Suffice it to say that both were great actors and great characters with a breadth of wit, intellect and artistry that we are unlikely to see again; there'll be havoc in Heaven!


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Mar 14 - 03:45 PM

the question of Sean O Riada`s input into the melody of Carrickfergus is all the more interesting when we consider that Terry Moylan thinks he may have composed the melody for Port na bPucai, long considered an old Blasket island piece. Also, there is the mystery about the origins of the melody for Aisling Gheal which didn`t really emerge until O Riada was heard playing it on piano and harpsichord in the late 1960`s, although the words date back a bit.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,michaelr
Date: 14 Mar 14 - 06:42 PM

the question of Sean O Riada`s input into the melody of Carrickfergus is all the more interesting when we consider that Terry Moylan thinks he may have composed the melody for Port na bPucai...

By "he" do you mean O Riada or Moylan?


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 15 Mar 14 - 08:31 AM

'he' is obviously referring to O'Riada, who wrote or 're-worked' more than a few melodies to be 'let out into the tradition'. Port na bPucai among them (although the present form goes back to an air played by the Blasket fiddlers). There used to be a reference on Peadar O Riada's website to the knowing smiles he exchanged with his father whenever they heard Carrickfergus. There was also a reference to the royalties that could have been had for each time the tune was played on the radio (I am heavily paraphrasing from memory, the website changed years ago I believe). All in all enough to suspect Seán O Riada may have had some hand in the air of Carrickfergus as we know it today.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Apr 14 - 09:38 PM

"Try searching Google Earth for Ballygrand, Ballygran, Ballygrat - you won't find any of them. These are made-up names."

I just did. There's a Ballygran estate, not far from Kilkenny.
I don't think it's of much relevance, however. The insistence that it's Ballygrant on Islay is kind of putting me off even considering it.
Anything is possible, but I think the point that "Ballygrand" didn't enter into the equation until the Clancys' version is quite valid.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Seonaidh MacGriogair
Date: 13 May 14 - 07:07 AM

Interesting thread. My band have just recorded the song. We sang it at a gig the other night. At the end of the gig a guy from Islay told us that on the island there is a tradition that the song was written by one of the many Ulster men who came over to work in the marble quarry there. I could believe that. Just a continuation of an exchange of peoples and culture between Ulster and the Western Isles that has taken place for centuries.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: Amos
Date: 14 May 14 - 01:50 AM

The Loudon Wainwright version, for interest and contrast, can be found here on YouTube.

ANd let me add my voice to those who celebrate this remarkable, articulate, persistent thread!


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Billy Finn
Date: 31 May 14 - 02:46 PM

Just listened to the new Sean O Riada album of old piano and harpsichord tunes. Marvellous. The notes with it say that the melody for Do Bhi Bean Uasal were compsed by O Riada, based on an old version of Carrickfergus. Sean also plays a fascinmating version of Port na bPucai from 1971, which goes into jazzm with a menacing bass line. All the sources say that Sean Cheaist`s Blasket island version of Port na bPucai is different, so, it is most probable that Sean O Riada either added to the original or reworked it. Worth listening to. Not bad to have a traditional tune start with Sean O Riada.


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Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
From: GUEST,Billy Finn
Date: 04 Jun 14 - 04:58 AM

Just listened to Sean Cheast O Cathain`s version of Port na bPucai, courtesy of Peter Laban, and it is exactly the same as Sean O Riada`s version. So, Sean Cheaist played it before O Riada and the latter`s version is a reworking of the island original. Sean O Riada always said the original came from the Blasket islands and Seamus Heaney`s poem is just as relevant as ever. Probably, Carrickfergus was similar and one of Sean O Riada`s many achievements was to present these airs to the general public who weren`t familiar with them.


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