The hillman, song

Lizzie O’Hara, singing in English
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In steps the Connaughtman and in steps me
Calling on the mistress, – I’m coming, sir, said she.
–Who put the coat ’n the bed where mine ought to be
– Oh, it’s blind you, silly clown, and blinder may you be!
Do you not see it’s a blanket that my mother sent to me?
– I’ve travelled this country three thousand miles and more
And buttons on a blanket I never saw before.


Probably the best known of early comic ballads, ‘Our goodman’ was adapted into Irish, used in a folktale as an ostensible lullaby, and rejuvenated in the Anglo-Irish day-by-day enumerative version of the ‘Seven drunken nights’ (BCHIOR). It is unlikely, however, that an older adaptation in a different spirit was traditional in Ireland: the Scots ‘Jacobite’ version in which the wife hides her cousin McIntosh ‘a Hielan rebel’ in the bed. Henry nevertheless published a text of it, which he seems to have taken from a Scots printed source, with an air obtained in Magilligan (D). Our North Derry texts are scantily preserved, but the diversity of airs used in the district indicates the ballad’s popularity there: a popularity certainly attributable to Scots influence.