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The Plains of Boyle /Dinny O'Brien's Hornpipe


         The Plains of Boyle' is a popular Irish session hornpipe. To the east of Boyle, Co. Roscommon, are rich flat limestone grasslands, known as the Plains of Boyle, noted cattle pastures. The tune was in the repertoire of many of the great Irish musicians including Sligo fiddle player James Morrison, Sliabh Luachra accordion player Johnny O'Leary and Clare Uilleann piper Willie Clancy. The second tune takes its name from Dinny (Denis) O'Brien who was the fiddle and concertina playing father of button accordion player Paddy O'Brien (1922-1991) from Nenagh, Co. Tipperary. This tune also goes under the name of 'The Broadway', 'The Gift' and 'The Flowers in May'.

Tune notes by John Howson












































Cunning Cobbler


A story a story to you I will tell,

Concerning of a butcher who in London town did dwell.

Now the butcher he possessed a charming little wife,

And she loved the little cobbler, she loved him as her life.

Refrain: With-a-fal-da-riddle-I-doh, tiddy-fa-lal-the-day.


Now the butcher went to market to purchase an ox.

The cunning little cobbler as sly as any fox,

Put on his Sunday clothing a courting for to go,

To the jolly butcher's wife because he loved her so.



The cobbler walking down the street stepped in in the butcher's shop.

The butcher's wife knew what he meant and bid him for to stop.

He said, "My little darling have you a job for me?"

The butcher's wife so smiling said, "I'll go upstairs and see."



She went up to her bedroom and gave the snob a call,

Saying "I have got a job for you if you have brought your awl,

And if you do it workmanlike, some cash to you I'll pay."

"I thank you," said the cobbler and began to stitch away.



Now while the cobbler was at work a knock came at the door.

The cobbler crawled beneath the bed and laid upon the floor.

"Lay still" said the butcher's wife, "What will my husband say?"

And then she let the policeman in, along with her to play.



The butcher came from market and put them in a fright:

The policeman quickly ran down stairs and soon was out of sight,

The butcher's wife so nimbly, locked up the bedroom door,

And in her plight she quite forgot the cobbler on the floor.



And that night the butcher was lying in the bed.

"There's something in here very hard," unto his wife he said.

She said, "It is my rolling pin." The butcher gave a laugh,

"How come you roll your dough with a policeman's staff?"



The butcher flung the truncheon underneath the bed,

There it broke the chamber pot and cracked the cobbler's head.

The cobbler shouted, "Murder!" The butcher said, "Who are you?"

"I am the little cobbler come to mend the lady's shoe"



"If you're the little cobbler, you come along with me,

"I'll pay you well for mending shoes before I've done with thee."

He locked him in his bull's pen, the bull began to roar,

The butcher laughed to see him toss the cobbler o'er and o'er.



Early next morning when people were about.

The butcher rubbed his face in blood and let the cobbler out.

He pinned a ticket on his back and on it was the news:

"I am the little cobbler come to mend the ladies shoes."



The cobbler was so frightened, home he quickly run.

His coat and britches were so torn he nearly showed his bum.

His anxious wife did meet him and he shouted out "Oh Lor,"

"My dear," he said, "I'll never go out stitching any more."



         This song is often entitled 'The Cunning Cobbler Done Over' or 'The Cobbler and the Butcher'. Ralph Vaughan Williams described it, when it was published in the EFDSS Journal in 1906, as; “a modern example of the kind of rough fun which we find in Chaucer's 'Clerk of Oxenforde'. The song was collected all over southern England by 20th century folk song collectors usually with very similar word sets. This is not surprising as it was widely published by the major 19th century broadside printers, including in London: Such, Fortey, Disley, Catnach and Hodges. What is unexpected is that it does not seem to have appeared in other parts of the country (with one exception in Lincolnshire) although many of the provincial printers in the north and the midlands also favoured the song. Other recordings can be heard from Sussex's George Spicer (RCD11778 'Songs of Seduction'), Norfolk's Walter Pardon (TSCD514 'A World Without Horses') and Suffolk's Alec Bloomfield (VT154CD 'Good Hearted Fellows').

Song transcribed and song notes: John Howson



















































The Steamboat /Nelson's Hornpipe


          Septimus remembers his father Sam calling the first tune 'The Steamboat'. It is a popular English hornpipe both in the North and the South. In Scotland it is included in James S. Kerr's 'Merry Melodies Vol. 1', no.7 (pub. 1890s) and under the title 'Tim the Turncoat' it is no.895 in Francis James O'Neill's 'The Dance Music of Ireland' (originally pub. 1903). The 'Steamboat Hornpipe' was also in the repertoire of the 19th century Tyneside fiddler and composer James Hill (c.1815-c.1860), to whom it is sometimes attributed, although this has not been definitively ascertained. The second tune was also popular all over England and in Scotland under a number of titles including: 'The Bridge of Lodi', 'Down Back o'Shoddy', 'Lochmaben Hornpipe' and 'Huntsman's Hornpipe', and is similar to a tune collected by Cecil Sharp in 1910 from fiddle player Charles Baldwin in Newent, Gloucestershire under the title of ‘The Gloucester Hornpipe'.

Tune notes by John Howson



















































Lancashire Man's Advice to his Son


Oh my old father used to say to me -

Here's a piece of good advice I'd like to give to thee.

It's so simple but thee seems so very dense,

The head's full o' summat, but it's not full of sense.


Now if I should dee it would be God help thee,

If thee didn't bear this moto in thy head.


Now tha mun hear all, and tha mun say nowt,

Tha mun take all, but tha mun say nowt.

While this weary earth thou art upon,

Always look out to number one,


For tha to have all, and tha mun pay nowt,

And tha'll soon have money on the shelf,

But if ever tha does anything for nothing.

Tha mun do it, do it for thi self.


         Emma learned this comic ditty from her father. An early recording of Emma singing this song was made by folk song collector Fred Hamer who included it in the book 'Green Groves' (EFDSS 1973). It probably comes from the pen of one of the many regional musical hall artistes of the late nineteenth century and although this version is firmly set in Lancashire dialect the song was probably more common in Yorkshire. Steve Gardham recorded it from Norman Creaser in Bossall, near Stamford Bridge and he also got a version from Dorothy Collis of Kirkbymoorside who remembered it from her uncle. Under the title 'A Yorkshireman's Advice to his Son' and in a cut down version of: 'Hear all, see all, say nowt; eat all, sup all, pay nowt, an' if ivver thou does owt for nowt allus do it for thissen' it was printed on mugs and post cards, and was a light-hearted swipe at shrewd, thrifty Yorkshire people.

Song transcribed and song notes: John Howson














































Christie Barry's /The One that was Lost


         The first jig was learned from Sean McCusker from Co. Tyrone, who was one of Darren's biggest influences. It comes from the well-known Co. Clare flute and whistle player Christy Barry who wrote it in the 1970s, and is often called his 'no. 2 jig'. It is related to banjo player Tony O'Sullivan's composition 'The Butlers of the Glen Avenue'. The second jig, which is in E Dorian, was composed by another button accordion player Paddy O'Brien (1922-1991) from Nenagh, North Tipperary, who was the son of the renowned fiddle and concertina player Dinny (Denis) O'Brien. (see track 1)

Tune notes by John Howson




















































Knife in the Window


It was early one morning when poor Polly was sleeping.

When into her bedroom a soldier came creeping.

Refrain: Singing fal-da-ral-doddle Jack fal-da-rol-day


"My dearest Polly can I come to bed with you?"

She smiled and replied, "I'm afraid you'll undo me."



"My dearest Polly I will not undo you."

She smiled and replied, "Then you can come to bed with me."



"My clothes they fit tight love, I can not undo them."

She smiled and replied, "Then you must take a knife to them."



"My knife it won't cut love, for it ain't worth more than a cinder."

She smiled and replied, "There's a knife on the window."



His tight clothes fell off him, and into bed tumbled.

I'll leave you to guess how the young couple tumbled.



Now if maidens were like moorhens, they would build in the rushes,

Look how the young men they could use their short brushes,



Three month had been over, poor Polly was weeping.

For she knew she had got it by snoring and sleeping.



Six months had been over, nine months came asunder.

The baby was born with two knives on the window.



         This song, which is related to 'Hares on the Mountain' was obviously popular in East Anglia; in fact most of the versions in the Roud database, with the title 'Knife in the Window', are from Norfolk and Suffolk. Cecil Sharp also noted it down in Somerset in 1906 under the title 'Sally My Dear', but he altered the words as he felt that the subject matter was somewhat unsavoury. His unedited version was eventually published in 1958. Jack's version tells the complete story and his last line, with the baby being born with 'two' knives in the window, is unusual. Peter Kennedy recorded other full versions from Harry Cox of Catfield, Norfolk, Alex Bloomfield of Benhall. Suffolk and Harry List at Sweffling, Suffolk. Keith Summers also recorded it from Charlie Whiting of Southolt, Suffolk which is not far from where Jack Stannard lives. A version recorded in Essex sung by Ernest Austin is included on VT135CD 'The Fox & the Hare' which interestingly has both the 'Knife in the Window' and the first two verses of 'Hares on the Mountain' combined.

Song transcribed and song notes: John Howson


















































Beautiful Ohio


         The tune for the song 'Beautiful Ohio' is credited to Mary Earl, a pseudonym used by composer Robert A. King (real name Robert Keiser: 1862-1932), and it is thought to be an adaptation from an earlier tune in waltz time. Although the tune is dated 1914 the song, written by Ballard MacDonald, was not published until 1918 when it became a best-seller. In 1969 it was adopted as the official state song of Ohio and some twenty years later they approved revised lyrics written by an Ohio attorney, W.B. McBride.

Tune notes by John Howson



















































The Fisher's Cot

My thoughts in fancy take their flight to days when but a boy,
When carelessly I wandered through my beloved Mountjoy.
I have seen great lands and mansions grand and cities fair and gay,
But no finer spot than a fisher’s cot on the banks of sweet Lough Neagh.

God bless you Derrylaghan, King’s Island and Clonoe,
Likewise sweet Killycolpy, Clontoe and Old Ardboe.
It was God that planned that enchanted strand from Toome to Washing Bay,
But he ne’er forgot the fisher’s cot on the Banks of Sweet Lough Neagh.

Now I was told that there was gold and wealth in foreign parts,
But millionaires can have their cares, in fact have broken hearts.
But a heart so light or a smile so bright you won’t find far away,
As what you’ve got in a fisher’s cot on the banks of sweet Lough Neagh.

I have met some friends now of my youth who too were forced to roam,
With tear-filled eyes they recognise there’s no such place like home.
And if God would grant one wish they’d want and for that wish they pray,
It’s a peaceful bed to lay their head on the banks of sweet Lough Neagh.

Where is that pretty colleen now with whom I went to school?
Perhaps she took a woman’s vows and filled the Golden Rule.
And I’m alone and far from home no children fine or gay,
Sad is my lot, from the fisher’s cot on the banks of sweet Lough Neagh.

And now, dear friends, my muses end and I am coming home once more,
In some shady nook to bait my hook along the emerald shore.
My net to trawl, and my line to haul, and my boat to bring to bay,
Never more to roam from my cherished home on the banks of sweet Lough Neagh.

         This is also known as 'The Banks of Sweet Lough Neagh', not to be confused with the song by this name in the Sam Henry Collection (H158) which is a totally different song. 'The Fisher's Cot' is thought tohave been written by Jimmy McGurk of Carland, near Dungannon who wrote many songs around the turn of the 20th century. It became a family song and Sarah's brother Geordie Hanna also sang it: a recording of him singing it can be heard on a compilation CD called 'The Fisher's Cot', which was produced by his family fifteen years after his death in 1987.

Song transcribed and song notes: John Howson
















































The Pear Tree


Now me and two other boys went on a spree,

On our way we met a pear tree,

Up this pear tree I did climb,

For to get some pears I felt inclined.

Refrain: To me aye to me oh, to me wack-fol-a-daisy,

Wack-fol-the-riddle-oh, wack-fol-the-day.


When up this pear tree I’d got landed,

The two other lads from me they squandered.

Was not the pears that pleas-ed me,

But a man and a woman came under the tree.



Now with sweet kisses he embraced her,

Swore for many a mile he’d chased her,

Pulled off his coat to save her gown,

When suddenly the pears came rattling down.



Now I shook this pear tree just like thunder,

The man and woman ran away in wonder.

Were not the pears that pleas-ed me,

But a damn’ good coat left under the trees.



Now off to town I ran like fire,

The owner of the coat being my desire.

The owner of the coat was never found out,

So I got a damn good coat for nowt.



Now all you boys take warning from me,

Never go courting under a pear tree.

Never take off your coats to save her gown,

For the pears will then come rattling down.



         This is a rare song which has seldom been seen in print. It is included in Shela Douglas's collection 'Come Gie's a Sang' with the text coming from Dave Marshall of Perthshire, but as Ian Russell points out in the 1987 Folk Music Journal “Before 1970 'The Pear Tree' was virtually unknown to scholars”. In Sheffield two versions were recorded, one from Frank Hinchliffe and the other from his cousin Grace Walton, while Mike Yates recorded it from Kentish Gypsy Joseph Jones and Neil Lanham recorded it from Ernest Grimwood in Suffolk. Frank Hinchliffe's version can be heard on EFDSCD02 'A Century of Song'.

Song transcribed and song notes: John Howson










































Jim McKillop's Reel


          A reel written by Jim McKillop of Cushendall, in the Glens of Antrim. It was written for his daughter so it is also known as 'Maeve's Reel' and is related to 'The Stage Reel'. McKillop started playing music at an early age, first on accordion and then after travelling the world in the Merchant Navy as a marine engineer, he moved on to fiddle. This was at the age of twenty six and after just four years, without formal tuition, he won the 1976, All Ireland Fleadh Ceoil (Senior Title), Fiddler of Aileach and Fiddler of Oriel competitions.

Tune notes by John Howson













































The Man Behind the Bar


He deserves a hero’s medal for the lives he has saved,

And on the role of honour his name should be engraved.

He needs a lot of patience, the way he stands the strain,

Because the bunk he has to swallow would drive a man insane.


He pays the highest licence, he pays the highest rent,

He settles with his agents if he don’t take a cent.

And when it comes to paying bills he’s jolly on the spot,

He pays for what he sells you, whether you pay or not.


And if you walk into his place he greets you with a smile,

Be it a workman dressed in overalls or a banker dressed in style.

Be you English, Irish, Dutch or French, it doesn’t matter what,

He treats you like a gentleman until you prove you’re not.


It matters not the aches and pains, the hardships he endures.

He never tells you all his troubles but you always tell him yours.

And if the weathers’ hot or cold or turns to rains or snow.

It’s up to you to tell him, he ain’t supposed to know.


Should he sit down to read the news, some fool with half a jug,

Pulls up a chair beside him and start to chew the rug.

They say that Job had patience, a more patient man by far

Than Job could ever hope to be, is the man behind the bar.


Yet the preacher in the pulpit and the lecturer in the hall,

Will tell you that the churches are against him one and all,

But if the church should decide to hold a fair, a bazaar,

They start by selling tickets through the man behind the bar.


But soon the time has come when he must shuffle off this mortal coil,

Hang up his coat and apron no more the hours to toil.

When Gabriel sees him coming he’ll leave the gates ajar,

‘Cos he knows he’s had his hell on earth, has the man behind the bar.


         Reg learned this barman's litany when he was a boy in his father's pub, The Potter's Arms in Leafield, Oxfordshire. The origins of the poem would seem to be North American and there are sightings of it printed on a bar towel in Vancouver and on a mirror behind a bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. There is also a framed copy on the wall of McSorley's Old Ale House, the oldest saloon in New York City. McSorley's was opened in 1854 but in Joseph Mitchell's 'Up in the Old Hotel: and Other Stories' (Vintage Books 1993) he describes how the poem was hung on the wall during a refurbishment in the 1930s. With four additional verses 'The Man Behind the Bar' is included in 'Badger Bars and Tavern Tales - ‘An Illustrated History of Wisconsin Saloons' by Bill Moen & Doug Davis (Guest Cottage Inc. 2003) where the author is given as ‘Hasty Peter’.

Story transcribed and song notes: John Howson





















































T'owd Sow's Getten Mezzeles


What shall we do with old sow's head?

Make a better oven than's ever made bread.

Bread or teacake, any mortal thing.

T'owd sow's getten mezzeles and she's dead poor thing.


Now what shall we do with old sow's snout?

Make a better pepper pot than ever came out.

Pepper pot, salt pot, any mortal thing.

T'owd sow's getten mezzeles and she's dead poor thing.


Now what shall we do with old sow's legs?

Make a better bed prop that ever propped beds.

Beds or tables, any mortal thing.

T'owd sow's getten mezzeles and she's dead poor thing.


Now what shall we do with old sow's tail?

Make better hammer shaft that ever drove a nail.

Nail or tin tack, any mortal thing.

T'owd sow's getten mezzeles and she's dead poor thing.


         This song, which is obviously related to the ubiquitous 'Herring’s Head' is, under the title 'Sow Took the Measles', more common in America than in England; in fact American folk singer Burl Ives even recorded it. In the Roud folk song database most of the nineteen entries come from the U.S.A. Those from the British Isles come with a variety of names including, from Scotland: 'The Cat's Ta'en the Measles', in Cumberland: 'T’oald Boar' and in Co. Durham: 'Wor Pig's Heid'. While in Yorkshire, where it seemed most popular, it has been called: 'T’awd Sow' and 'The Dead Pig' and on the north Yorkshire coast where Denys comes from it's called: 'T’owd Sow's Getten Mezzeles'.

Song transcribed and song notes: John Howson











































King of the Fairies


         An Irish set or long dance which is a Dorian mode hornpipe. One tale attached to the tune has it that 'The King of the Fairies' is a summoning tune, and if played three times in a row during a festivity the King must appear. Once
summoned, the King assesses the situation, and if the gathering is to his liking he may join in; if however, he does not find it to his liking he may cause great mischief. King of the Fairies' appears to be derived from a Jacobite tune called 'Bonny Charlie,' which appears in many 18th century Scottish and Northern English publications. It was collected in the 19th century in Ireland by P. W. Joyce ('Old Irish Folk Music and Songs' 1909) under the title 'Your Old Wig is the Love of My Heart'.

Tune notes by John Howson














































The Iron Frost


The year of the Iron Frost -

People doesn't remember it now but it was a long time ago...

Not that long ago.


Everything freezed up in the whole country like a piece of iron.

Couldn't get the spuds out of the pits in the fields,.

Couldn't get the bucket into the well to get water out of it,

Famine was facing the people.

And in our parish there was a man had a small wife and large family,

And she started to nag, and everyone knows there is no one who can nag like a wee woman -

God made them wicked but he made them wee.


"God bless us and save ,us" she was saying,

"There's a man laying there, not lifting a hand to save us.

We'll all be dead in this house of the hunger and he doesn't give a damn,

And what am going to make these childers breakfast in the morning,"

and so on until the man couldn't sleep.

Tossed and turned the whole night,

And a great thought came into his mind,

"By God," says he, "There's plenty of pheasants, wild duck, and rabbits and hares and blackbirds.

And would be wrong with a blackbird or two if you had them in the pot? Make a good pot of soup."

"And oh God", he says, "If I could only get my hands on a gun."

An awful pity he wasn't living now.

Ah no bother at all getting a gun.


Then he remembered the old parish priest.

Someone told him that when a parish priest got a parish,

he always got a gun to go along with it.

"See I'll go up and ask him in the morning,"

And up he went.

Parish priest came to the door, "What do you want?"

An awful nice man about his own house.


"I'm looking for the lend of your gun." says he,

"Shoot a rabbit or a hare or something to make a pot of soup for the childer."

"Who told you I had a gun?"

Says he, " A smart man told me that you had a gun."

"Whoever he is, he's too smart."

"I have a gun", he say, "but it's a Queen Anne muzzle loader. Very dangerous weapon."

"Seeing the circumstances you're in I'll give you the gun", he says.

"The lend of it. But I must show you how to load it."


"Put the butt of the gun on the toe of your boot", says he.

"And keep the barrel up straight.

And keep your head well away from it.

Remove the ram rod from the bottom of the barrel and put it under your arm."

"Then," he says, "You put in the cap."

"Then," he says, "You put in the powder."

"Then," he says, "You put in the wad."

"Excuse me now father," says the man, "What's this wad you're talking about?"

"Oh a bit of brown paper or sheep's wool or anything at all to separate the shot from the powder.

Put it in and take the ram rod and ram it down tight.

Remove the ram rod again, put it under your arm, put in the shot, then put in another wad.

And ram that down tight and for the love of God don't forget to pull out that ram rod!

If you put up the gun and pull the trigger and the ram rod's stuck in the barrel.

I just don't know what would happen."

So he gave him the gun and the cap and the powder and the wad and the ram rod

and the blessings of God and sent him off.


Away over the townland of Cloghinny, he saw nothing worse looking than himself.

Come on down the Longfield Road not a bird in a bush or rabbit in a field.

On over Sparrow Hill, nothing there, tramped Moane's bog, no good.

Come out on the Maphoner Road, tramped about it was coming on evening.

He was hardly fit to walk with the hunger.

And says he, "Before I go home I'll just go down to the Mill Dam.

You never know there could be something on it."

Down he goes to the Mill Dam and two wild ducks got up out of the reeds on the far side,

and started to fly round the dam.


Down with the gun, in went the cap - the ducks were getting higher and higher.

In went the powder, in went the wad, rammed down tight - ducks still getting higher.

In went the shot, in went the other wad - up went the gun ram rod and all and he pulled the trigger.

And there was an explosion that was heard in the county Monaghan.

They hear one every day now and they pass no remarks.

The man was flung heels over scritter into a big clump of whin bushes,

What did he fall sitting on, only a big mountain hare.

Put his hand down and lifted him up by the two lugs and put him into the bag.

And when he looked up into the sky, he near died when he saw what he saw.

The two ducks coming down like that and the ram rod stuck through the two of them.

Plop right into the middle of the Mill dam.

One end of it sticking in the ice and the two ducks stuck on it.

"Well fit and be damn but", says he, "Am I the boy that's in luck."

And he went out with the hobnailed boots on him onto the ice.

An awful dangerous trick to be at.

And went over, and when he went over to where the ram rod was sticking down through the ice.

The two eyes nearly fell out of his head, when he saw what he saw.

One end of the ram rod sticking down through the ice into the back of a big seventeen and a half pound weight salmon.

Well he wouldn't have known what weight it was but there happened to be scales on it's back.

He'd put the heel of his boot like that, to break the ice, to get the salmon out.

And the minute he struck the ice with the heel of his boot the whole ice gave away around him and down he went,

and a big sharp lump of ice cut the head off him, clean and clever.

He great presence of mind he put his hand out like that and caught by the fringe and popped it back on again,

and with the hard frost it stuck on.


Lifted his salmon, his two wild duck, the mountain hare and lands home,

and throws the whole lot up on the table and says,

"Now that's plenty of boiling, stewing and cooking."

Says he, "For now It might keep you from grousing ."

And went up and sat down at the fire.

And you know on a cold day when you're out, you have big long drop on your nose.

And he was sitting up at the fire. She was going up with the pot to put it on and she saw the drop on his nose.

And she says, "Wipe that drop of your nose." She said, "You'd turn an ass from his oats.

Looking at you sitting there. You dirty devilish."

Couldn't leave the poor man alone.

And at that time the pocket handkerchief hadn't been invented.

When a man or a woman or a child went to blow nose, that's the way they had to do it.

The poor man put up his finger and thumb to blow his nose.

And he flung his head in to the fire!


         This is a story that John's colleague Len Graham heard him tell many times and he says about it, “The ‘Iron Frost' is a great story and I first heard it told, but not as well delivered as John's version, in the Glens of Antrim over 50 years ago. I believe it's a story that John heard in his youth, probably in his grandfather's house in south Armagh.” There were two great frosts in the 18th century, one in 1709 and another in 1740. This brought most of Europe to a standstill and created Ireland's first famine known as Bliain an Áir, (The Year of Slaughter). One commentator observed that the temperature plummeted so greatly in Ireland that potato stores, in straw-covered clamps in the ground, were turned to inedible pulp. The gun the Priest has in the story is said to be Queen Anne (1665 -1714), again placing the story in that period.

Story transcribed and song notes: John Howson



































































Cuckoo Waltz


         This tune was written in 1920 by J.E. Jonasson with lyrics added by Alan Stranks. It became a popular semi-novelty number with many bands, one of the earliest being Bob Smith's Ideal Band in Glasgow who recorded it on a Beltona 78rpm record (no. 1705). It also entered many country musicians' repertoires and a good example is a recording made by Keith Summers of mouthorgan player Tom Williams from Stowupland, Suffolk leading a session in the Chelsworth Peacock, which can be heard onVTC8CD 'Many a Good Horseman.

Tune notes by John Howson














































Brisk Young Sailor


A brisk young sailor courted me,

He stole away my liberty.

My liberty, with a free good will;

With all his faults I love him still.


There is an alehouse in this town,

Where my true love can sit himself down,

And take another girl on his knee,

And don't you think it's sad grief to me.


Sad grief, sad grief, I'll tell you for why,

Because she has got more gold than I.

The gold it will melt and the silver will fly,

And then she'll become a poor girl like I.


I wish to God my baby was born,

Lay smiling in his daddy's arms.

And I'm laid in my grave alone,

With green grass growing over me.


Sad grief, sad grief, I'll tell you for why,

Because she has got more gold than I.

The gold it will melt and the silver will fly,

And then she'll become a poor girl like I.


Oh dig me a grave most wide and deep,

Put tomb stones at my head and my feet,

And on my breast lay a turtle dove,

For all this world I died for love.


         A widespread song in England, Ireland, Scotland and North America, with over two hundred different references in the Roud folk song database. Often called 'Bold /Brisk Young Farmer / Lover' /'The Alehouse' /'Tavern in the Town ' /'I Wish my Baby it was Born' or simply and probably most commonly 'Died for Love'. Often the song starts with verses about a father finding his daughter hanged and then continues with story we have here and a similar version published in Roy Palmer's 'Everyman's Book of Country Songs' (Dent 1979) continues with a final verse of: “I wish, I wish but it's all in vain, I wish I was a maid again, But a maid again I never will be, 'til an apple grows on an orange tree.” Another similar rendition to David's can be heard sung by his cousin Geoff Ling on TSCD660 'Who's that at my Bed Window?' In England this song was popular with the Gypsy community and in the West Country it is often called 'Over Yonder's Hill'. Versions in this form can be heard sung by Jean Orchard (who learned it from her mother Amy Birch) in Devon (VT151CD 'Holsworthy Fair') and Viv Legg, in Cornwall (VT152CD 'Romany Roots').

Song transcribed and song notes: John Howson










































Mickleby Fair


Our old fella went to Mickleby Fair,

He bought three horses and yan was a mare,

Yan was blind, t’other couldn’t see,

Yan had it’s head where it’s tail ought to be.


To me jack, wack folly-diddle-die

To me jack, wack folly-diddle-die.


Now our old woman was (side a snape?)

She bakes side cakes that nane could eat,

Some made of brass and some made of bran,

Now they rattled in your belly like an old tin can.


To me jack, wack folly-diddle-die

To me jack, wack folly-diddle-die.


There is an old peggitt up stands behind the door,

‘Cause poor lass, many a long hour

A washing and a scrubbin’ from morn ‘til night

Old bags of Glory is never out of sight.


To me folly diddle-die-do, folly-diddle-day.


         Denys learned this song locally when he was young. The first verse comes from a song which is most commonly called 'Brian O'Lynn'. The song was widely collected in Ireland, North America and England, particularly in Yorkshire. The second verse usually turns up in in another song from that county: 'Mutton Pie', also known as 'The Yorkshire Farmer', but the third verse remains a mystery. In some versions the fair mentioned is Wibsey, Sedgefield or Lockington but Denys's version has been localised with Mickleby, which is half way between Whitby and Staithes, close to Lythe where he was brought up.

Song transcribed and song notes: John Howson

















































The Pigeon on the Gate /Lad O’Beirne's


          'The Pigeon on the Gate' is no. 648 in Francis James O'Neill's 'The Dance Music of Ireland' (originally pub. 1903) and is one of the most popular reels amongst Irish musicians. It has stood the test of time, and has been recorded by numerous old style and modern solo musicians and ceili bands. The second reel also has an interesting pedigree being written by James 'Lad' O'Beirne who was the son of Philip O'Beirne and early teacher of Michael Coleman the Sligo fiddle player. Coleman moved to America and when 'Lad' arrived in New York as a teenager in 1928 he was taken to meet the, by then, famous Coleman. They played some tunes together and Coleman was so moved by the memory of his former teacher that he put down his fiddle and wept. He and 'Lad' O'Beirne became close friends and associates.

Tune notes by John Howson
















































As Soon as I Touched my Seaweed


Last summertime I thought I'd go to Dover by the sea,

I thought I'd like to bring a bunch of seaweed home with me.

It tells you when it's going to rain and when it's going to snow,

And if anyone should ask me what they'd like to know -

With me seaweed in me hand,. I got into the train.

Oh all the pubs were closed when I got out again.

I thought I wanted a drink, of thirst I thought I'd die,

And as soon as I touched me seaweed,

I knew it wor going to be dry.

Oh tee-i-tee-i-tee-eye, tee-iddly-iddly-eye.

tee-i-tee-i-tee-eye, tee-iddly-iddly-eye.


I had a row the other night, me wife she said to me,

"Get up and make a fire you fool, I'm as cold, as cold can be."

I got up then and got the coal and then I struck the match,

And I stood before the fire, as happy as could be,

Began to feel it warm round my anotomy.

My shirt was all alight and I forget me not.

And as soon as I touched me seaweed,

I knew it was going to be hot.

Oh tee-i-tee-i-tee-eye, tee-iddly-iddly-eye.

tee-i-tee-i-tee-eye, tee-iddly-iddly-eye.


Now in all me happy married life I've never had a row,

'tilt someone put the poison in and things have altered now.

Me wife and me got into bed the other Thursday night,

She put her cold feet on me back and she kick with all her might.

Oh I fell upon the floor, back in the sheets she rolled,

And there I laid a trembling, shivering like a mould.

She took the sheets and quilts and again in them she rolled,

And as soon as I touched me seaweed,

I knew it was going to be cold.

Oh tee-i-tee-i-tee-eye, tee-iddly-iddly-eye.

tee-i-tee-i-tee-eye, tee-iddly-iddly-eye.


         One of Emma's father's favourite songs, this humorous music hall song was written by Fred Earle and published by Francis Day & Hunter in 1905. It became popular with traditional singers as it spread around the country, usually with the location in the first line localised. Mike Yates recorded it from Harry Upton in Balcombe, Sussex (see Topic LP SP104 'Why Can't It Always be Saturday'), Keith Summers recorded it from Fred List in Blaxhall, Suffolk, Gwilym Davies recorded it three times in Gloucestershire from Reg Hannis (Cranham), Archer Goode and Bill Cooper (both Cheltenham) and I also recorded it from Denys Troughton in Staithes, North Yorkshire.

Song transcribed and song notes: John Howson




















































Sam Fawcett's Quadrilles


         Septimus learned these from his father Sam who remembered them being played for part of a quadrille set. The term quadrille came to exist in the 17th century, within military parades, in which four horsemen and their mounts performed special square-shaped formations or figures. In the mid-18th century this evolved into an intricate dance, with a square formation of four couples. There were usually five parts to the dance with the music for each being popular dances andsongs from that time. The tunes Septimus plays are probably combinations of a number of tunes and within the second, a part of 'Flee as a Bird' is identifiable. This is no.366 in James S. Kerr's Merry Melodies Vol. 2' (pub. 1890s) where it is called a ‘Clog Dance'.

Tune notes by John Howson









































The Bush of Australia


As I sat out one day by those Oxberry banks,
Where the maidens of Australia they play their wild pranks,
By a shady green bower I sat myself down,
Where the birds sing so gaily and chanting all round,
In the forests of happy Australia,
Where the maidens are handsome and gay.

I had not been long in that beautiful scene,
Where the fields are delightful, the trees ever green,
When a lovely young damsel to me did appear,
From the banks of the river she quickly drew near,
She’s a native of happy Australia,
Where the maidens are handsome and gay.

She took off her clothes and before me she stood,
As naked as Venus just corne from the flood,
Looked me in the face and smiling, said she,
“This is the robe that Dame Nature gave me,
On the day I was born in Australia,
Where the maidens are handsome and gay.”

She leapt in the water without fear or dread,
Her beautiful limbs she quickly outspread,
Her hair hung in ringlets, it’s colour was black,
She said, ‘You can see how I swim on my back,
In the streams of my native Australia,
Where the maidens are handsome and gay.”

Being tired of swimming she came to the brink,
“Assistance,” said she, “or surely I’ll sink.”
Like lightning I flew, took her out by the hand,
I put out my foot, she fell down on the sand,
And I entered the bush of Australia,
Where the maidens are handsome and gay.

When the eighth month had passed and the ninth month had come,
That beautiful damsel she brought forth a son,
The father was sought for, but could not be found,
Until she remembered the day on the sand,
Where I entered the bush of Australia,
Where the ladies are handsome and gay.

        Tom learned this song in the Thorpe Morieux Bull from Blind Harry Souter who would stop singing if he heard a woman's voice in the pub. A similar story is told about Jim Cargill, an eighty year old singer (in 1973) from Randwick, New South Wales, who had learned the song from his father. Before he would allow himself to be recorded he insisted that the windows be closed “just in case the landlady heard any of the verses”. Usually known as the 'Maid of Australia' the first line mentions the banks of the Oxberry. This river doesn't seem to exist but the Hawkesbury River, which runs 25 miles north of Sydney, is the most likely location for the encounter. This seems to be a rare song in England, possibly because the risqué subject matter kept it out of the early folk song collectors note books. The one county where it was collected was Norfolk. Sam Larner of Winterton sang a version and the only other available recordings are from Harry Cox (TSCD600 'Hidden English' and TSCD512D 'Bonny Labouring Boy') and Walter Pardon (TSCD514 'A World Without Horses').

Song transcribed and song notes: John Howson






























































Madam Bonaparte 


         'Madame Bonaparte' is a set dance, having parts of unequal length, in this case a flowing extension in the second part, so a special dance is set to the tune. The tune is named in honour of Bonaparte's first wife, the Empress Josephine, probably reflecting the Irish sympathy with powerful Catholic France and the hope that Napoleon might at some point aid the cause of Irish independence. According to Donal Hickey's 'Stone Mad for Music: The Sliabh Luachra Story' (Marino Books 1999), 'Madame Bonaparte' was associated with blind piper James Gandsey, 'the Killarney Minstrel', who died in 1857 at the age of 90. The tune continued to be popular with Uilleann pipers and amongst many others Leo Rowsome, Sean McAloon and Tommy Kearney recorded it, as did the Northumbrian piper Billy Pigg.

Tune notes by John Howson

















































The Barley Mow


Here's good luck to the pint pot, good luck to the Barley Mow.

Here's good luck to the pint pot, good luck to the Barley Mow.

It's pint pot, half pot, gill pot, any (vitality?), quality, quantity,

Try a little drop more.

Here's good luck, good luck to the Barley Mow.


Now here's good luck to the quart pot, good luck to the Barley Mow.

Here's good luck to the quart pot, good luck to the Barley Mow.

It's the quart pot, pint pot, half pot, gill pot, any (vitality?), quality, quantity,

Try a little drop more.

Here's good luck, good luck to the Barley Mow.


Here's good luck to the gallon etc. ..............................


Barrel ....




Barman ....


Brewer ....


Queen ....


King ....


John ....


Us ....


Now I eat when I'm hungry and I drinks when I'm dry.

Good luck to the Barley Mow.

If the moonshine don't kill me I'll live 'til I die.

Here's good luck to the Barley Mow.


         One of the earliest texts for the 'Barley Mow' occurs in James' Henry Dixon's 'Ancient Poems, Ballads and Songs of the Peasantry in England’, published in 1846. It became the most popular drinking toast in the English traditional song tradition, particularly at Harvest Suppers or to finish the evening's singing in a rural pub. It was found all over the country and was particularly popular in East Anglia, where Ralph Vaughan Williams noted in down in Tibenham, Norfolk in 1911. It became the anthem of the Blaxhall Ship in Suffolk where Peter Kennedy filmed Arthur Smith singing it in 1952 (see the BFIVD920 'Here's a Health to the Barley Mow'). Other sound recordings include: Harry Chambers from Suffolk (VTC2CD 'Songs Sung in Suffolk'), Reg Bacon from Essex (VT150CD 'Heel & Toe'), George Fradley from Derbyshire (VTCD6CD 'It Was on a Market Day - One') and George Spicer from Sussex (TSCD663 'They Ordered their Pints of Beer….').

Song transcribed and song notes: John Howson












































Paddy Fahy's


         It is unusual to have an East Anglian stepper dancing to an Irish reel, but this happened spontaneously when Cyril met Lucy on a visit she made to Suffolk with Reg Hall. The tune comes from East Galway fiddler Paddy Fahy who is not in the habit of naming his tunes, which are thus invariably called 'Paddy Fahy's'. It is supposedly reported by accordion player Joe Burke that Fahy, who has composed over 70 melodies to date, said he named each of his tunes after himself so that there would be no mistaking who composed them!

Tune notes by John Howson



























































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