Carrowclare, song

Robert Butcher junior, singing in English
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On a fine and summer’s evening as my walks I did pursue
The flowers were blooming fresh and fair, they had a verdant hue.

And as Luna spread her golden rays disclosing many’s a scene
I overheard a youthful pair conversing on the green.

[As the skylark dropped her evening notes, left Nature quiet and still,
For to hear their conversation I was forced to use my skill.]

By the corncrake loudly calling they my footsteps did not hear
And the hawthorn proved my trusty friend and to them I drew near.

Till at length he broke the silence and he unto her did say
– It’s I’m about to sail away to fair Columbia’s shore
On board of that great ship called Britannia and strange lands I will explore.

When she heard of his departure she her arms around him threw
And the falling tears that bedimmed her eyes they wet her locks with dew.

–  For it’s when you reach Columbia’s shore some pretty maids you’ll find:
Dressed in their country’s fashion, you’ll soon bear me from your mind.

–  Oh, no, no, my dear, where’er I roam in distant lands to toil
I will ne’er forget the days we spent when sailing on Lough Foyle.

– Oh, no, no, my dear, where’er I roam a stranger’s fate to share,
I will ne’er forget the hours I spent with you around Carrowclare.

Then he clasped her to his bosom while the tears did gently flow,
He says, – we will get married, love, and that before I go.

For it’s if I were to leave you here and go across the foam
What pleasure would there be for me if I left you at home?

Then she gave consent to marry then, her young heart kind and true;
They joined their hands in wedlock’s bonds,  what more could fond lovers do?

And from Derry quay they sailed away on breezes fresh and fair
And now we are in America, far, far from Carrowclare.


Jimmy McCurry, the blind fiddler, lived at Carrowclare on the shore of Lough Foyle, where in 1969 I met his great-nephew Bob McCurry –6913, interview, and p. 20 above. Of the songs by Jimmy which have comedown to us this is the most traditional in theme and style, being partly adapted from a well-known Ulster ‘eavesdropping song’, ‘Dobbin’s flowery vale’ – see Index. The latter ended with a  lover’s parting, and so did Jimmy’s song when I first heard it from Eddie Butcher in 1954 (B1, cf. A). But Eddie did not like this ending; later he told me that he had added eight more lines of text to it in which the pair got wed and emigrated together. He have me these extra verses, and by 1961 was regularly singing them as proper to the song (B14). His nephew Robert heard and learned them from a neighbour, so giving us an interesting version, orally transmitted, of a song the joint authorship of which is fully documented. Complete textual variants of Eddie’s verses, 10–13, are given in the Notes as obtained over the period 1954–69.

Sam Henry identified the lovers, presumably from local enquiry, as a boy called Moore and a girl called Peoples.