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Banna's banks

Caroline Brennan

Banna's banks / Caroline Brennan

Banna's banks, song (As down by Banna's Banks I strayed one evening in May …) This 18th-century broadside ballad is more commonly known as “Molly Asthore.” Composition is credited to Wexford politician George Ogle (1739–1814). The protagonist of the song wanders by the shore (Co Kerry), thinking back on an estranged lover.  Caroline Brennan learned this song from her grandmother.

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The broken-hearted milkman

Tom Murphy

The broken-hearted milkman / Tom Murphy

The broken-hearted milkman, song (I’m a hard-working milkman in grief I’m arrayed …) Originally published as “Polly Perkins of Paddington Green” during the mid-19th century, this song was composed by Harry Clifton (1832–1872), a London-based music-hall songwriter. The version sung by Tom Murphy replaces the references to the London locality with references to Ireland.

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This is east

Frankie Nash

This is east / Frankie Nash

This is east, song (This east and this west; soon I’ll learn to say the rest …) This short children’s song is told from the perspective of a ten-year-old, bragging about all of the things he’s learned.  Frankie Nash learned this song for a school concert when he was only ten years old. He claimed that Aidan O’Hara was the first person outside of Branch to hear it.

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The bonny bunch of roses

Tom Murphy & Minnie Murphy

The bonny bunch of roses / Tom Murphy & Minnie Murphy

The bonny bunch of roses, song (By the margin of the ocean, one morning in the month of June …) The lyrics of this ballad take the form of a conversation between Napoleon Bonaparte’s widow and his son. She warns her son of the danger of challenging England, Ireland, and Scotland—the bonny bunch of roses—and the folly of attacking Russia.  It is quite similar to another version of this song collected from Anthony Power in the neighbouring town of Branch by Aidan O’Hara. Tom and Minnie Murphy’s version of this song is remarkable as an example of duet singing, a practice that is comparatively rare in traditional Newfoundland singing. 

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Lonely Banna strand

Frankie Nash

Lonely Banna strand / Frankie Nash

Lonely Banna strand, song (Being on a Friday morning all in the month of May ...) This song tells the story of an incident that took place in the lead-up to Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising. Sir Roger David Casement (1864–1916) attempted to gain German support for a rebellion against British rule. Due to a series of mishaps, the Irish rebels never received the arms that the Germans attempted to supply. Casement was arrested, tried for treason, and executed for his part in the plot.  Aidan O’Hara speculates that Frankie Nash probably learned this song from a Newfoundlander who served alongside an Irishman with nationalist sympathies at the end of the First World War. Many Newfoundlanders served in the British forces.

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Quigley and Picco

Bernard Nash ; Tom Murphy

Quigley and Picco / Bernard Nash ; Tom Murphy

Quigley and Picco, song (Ye sons of Erin please pay attention …) Originally published in the St John’s Evening Telegram on 24 December 1891 (vol. 13/291:19) and reproduced as “Quigley on Picco” in James Murphy’s Old Songs of Newfoundland (1912), this song was composed by Johnny Quigley—the “Bard of Erin” (for details about Quigley and the history of this song, visit the GEST Song Index). During the 19th century, sectarian tensions marked Newfoundland society and politics. Though tensions between Catholic and Protestant populations were dissipated through political negotiations, power sharing, and alliances between partisans, there were moments of violence during the 1870s and ‘80s.  When Aidan O’Hara recorded “Quigley and Picco” a century later, those present remarked that one had to be careful about singing such songs; there was a time when performing it would have been considered treasonous.

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The girl who slighted me

Gerald Campbell

The girl who slighted me / Gerald Campbell

The girl who slighted me, song (And I'll go down to yonder valley …) This song tells of an unhappy courtship. After being slighted by his sweetheart, the (male) protagonist of the song curses the girl in question and leaves Ireland for America.  One of the more common variants of this song is known as “Courting is a pleasure,” and Kenneth Peacock published another version in Songs of the Newfoundland Outports 2 under the title “In courtship there lies pleasure” (1965:465–466).

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The girls from Newfoundland

Henry Nash

The girls from Newfoundland / Henry Nash

The girls from Newfoundland, song (There's a girl in St. John's Harbour that I'm longing now to see …) This wartime song is sung to the tune of “The yellow rose of Texas.” The protagonist is a soldier remembering his sweetheart in St John’s, Newfoundland.

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The barque in the harbour

John Hennessy

The barque in the harbour / John Hennessy

The barque in the harbour, song (The barque in the harbour, I went roaming on shore …) Also known as “The Spanish lass,” “The young Spanish lass,” and “The Indian lass,” this broadside ballad probably has its origins in 1820s Britain (Guigné 2016:347). It tells the story of a sailor who goes ashore, meets a local woman, and then leaves her to return home. 

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The hills of Glenswilly

Bernard Nash

The hills of Glenswilly / Bernard Nash

The hills of Glenswilly, song (Attention fellow countrymen come here my native news …) Written by Michael McGinley of Donegal, this song laments the necessity of leaving Donegal for a foreign land. Song collector Jim Carroll notes that McGinley may have composed the song while he travelled to New Zealand in 1879 aboard the “Invercardill.” The lyrics seem to indicate a political cause for emigration through the references to exile and raising a green flag over the hills of Glenswilly. 

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Thomas Trim

Gerald Campbell

Thomas Trim / Gerald Campbell

I'm Thomas Trim, song (I’m Thomas Trim a swell young man …) Gerald Campbell learned this song from his father, Henry Campbell. Henry Campbell sang “Thomas Trim” in a school concert around 1910. The song describes a young dandy going on promenade to show off his finery

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In Yorkshire city

Bride Judge

In Yorkshire city / Bride Judge

In Yorkshire city, song (Oh, in Yorkshire city there dwelled a maiden …) This murder ballad tells the tale of a woman who falls in love with her father’s servant. He poisons her when she declines his proposal, and then, stricken by remorse, he kills himself. The song exists in many variant versions of the lyrics; it is also known as “Oxford city,” “The cup of poison,” “The jealous lover,” or, simply, “Jealousy.”  The melody given here is used also for other songs performed by Cape Shore singers.

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