Search

 

The 1978 Recordings

In 1978, Aidan O’Hara returned to the Cape Shore in the company of folklorist and song scholar Kenneth S Goldstein and a young folklore student, Hugh “Hoodie” Rowlings. With the support of a Canada Council grant, they revisited many of the people whom Aidan had encountered on previous visits to the Cape Shore. They used a professional quality microphone and Nagra reel-to-reel recording machine to make full-track recordings. Most of their recording took place in quiet settings rather than the lively times that feature in Aidan O’Hara’s other recordings.



The 1978 Recordings

Now playing: The bleach of Strathblane / Mike McGrath
Previous
Next
  1. The bleach of Strathblane / Mike McGrath

    The bleach of Strathblane / Mike McGrath

    The bleach of Strathblane, song (As I roved out one morning in May …) In this Scottish song, a young man proposes to a woman. Though she initially refuses, she relents when the young man threatens to propose to someone else. He, however, proves inconstant and leaves. The “bleach” refers to the hills around Strathblane where local women laid their laundry to dry.

  2. The bonny bunch of roses / Anthony Power

    The bonny bunch of roses / Anthony Power

    The bonny bunch of roses, song (I overheard a female talking …) 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.  Anthony’s version omits some of the lines that clarify the relationship of the characters, but the singer compensates by rearranging the order of the verses to create a coherent narrative. Most notably, the characters of Napoleon and his son are merged. Historically inaccurate, the song tells a tale of military expansion, of resistance met, and of the ultimate defeat of the invading forces by the opposing allies.

  3. Brennan on the moor / Patsy Judge

    Brennan on the moor / Patsy Judge

    Brennan on the moor, song (It's of a fearless highwayman the truth to you I'll tell …) Probably of Irish origin, this broadside ballad tells the story of folk hero and highwayman Willie Brennan, who was tried and hanged in Clonmel in 1804. Some versions of this song place Brennan in the mountains near Limerick; other versions depict Brennan on the highways of North Cork and South Tipperary.  Patsy Judge’s version references the Comeragh Mountains, perhaps a nod to the ancestry of the people of the Cape Shore, whose origins were mainly in Ireland’s southeast.

  4. Colonna's lone shore / Denis McGrath

    Colonna's lone shore / Denis McGrath

    Colonna's lone shore, song (I will sing the word of young wandering Nellie ...) Written by Andrew Sharpe during the early 19th century, this song describes the death of a soldier at the Battle of Corunna on 16 January 1809. The focus, however, is on the reaction of the soldier’s sweetheart when word of his death arrives back in Scotland. Song collector Robert Ford writes in Vagabond Songs and Ballads of Scotland:  “Andrew Sharpe had observed that, since Herdman’s departure, Ellen Rankine was greatly changed. Her passionate blue eyes had begun to fade, and her luxuriant brown hair, the pride of better days, to get tangled and dry; but when the news of his death came she sank into helpless idiocy, and despite the careful watchings of her distressed parents, she stole from them in a luckless moment, and, taking the back of the hill, went crooning and singing for a whole week away through the Howe of Strathmore” (1904:84).

  5. The cottage by the sea / Jack Mooney

    The cottage by the sea / Jack Mooney

    The cottage by the sea, song (To a little seaside village came a youth one summer's day …) Jack Mooney learned this song from his mother, Esther (Careen) Mooney, who was originally from Point Lance, Newfoundland. This song tells the story of a young man who visits a seaside village. He engages in what he thinks is a harmless flirtation with a local woman, leaving her at the end of the summer. He returns a year later when he realises that he loves her, but discovers that she has died of a broken heart.  This song was recorded as “Just goodbye I am going home,” by American old-time singer-songwriter Roy Harvey on 9 September 1930 (Columbia 15609-D). 

  6. The days of the week / Stan McGrath

    The days of the week / Stan McGrath

    The days of the week, song (On Monday morning as I roved out …) Also known as “A week’s matrimony” or “The woeful marriage,” this comic broadside ballad tells the story of a whirlwind courtship and marriage that ends in violence and mental instability.  Stan McGrath learned this song while working away from the Cape Shore in the lumberwoods.

  7. Fain Waterloo / Caroline Brennan

    Fain Waterloo / Caroline Brennan

    Fain Waterloo, song (It happened to be on a fine dewy morning …) This song tells the story of a soldier reuniting with his sweetheart. He tests her fidelity by leading her to believe that he died at the Battle of Waterloo. When she proves herself true, he reveals that he is her sweetheart by showing her the broken token that they shared.  Versions of this song are quite common in eastern Canada, including Newfoundland. Kenneth Peacock published a version in Songs of the Newfoundland Outports 3 (1965:1014–1015), as did Greenleaf and Mansfield in The Ballads and Sea Songs of Newfoundland (1933:172–173), under the title “The plains of Waterloo.”

  8. The fair Fanny Moore / Patsy Judge

    The fair Fanny Moore / Patsy Judge

    The fair Fanny Moore, song (Yonder stands a cottage all deserted and alone...) This murder ballad most likely has its origins in the Irish or English broadside presses, though it is much more commonly heard in North American contexts. Newfoundland song scholar Anna Kearney Guigné speculates that the song gained “new life in the New World through its dissemination by way of oral tradition in such contexts as the lumber camps alongside such media as print and recordings” (2016:122).  In other versions of this song, the wealthy suitor is named Randal and Fanny’s true love (a poor shepherd) is named Henry. In Patsy’s version of the song, the names are used interchangeably; it seems probable that this was simply a memory slip.

  9. Fireman's story of a brave volunteer, recitation / John Joe English

    Fireman's story of a brave volunteer, recitation / John Joe English

    This recitation tells the story of the heroic deeds of a train engineer who rescues a woman from being run down by a train. He is grossly disfigured in the incident, but she nevertheless falls in love with him and proposes marriage.

  10. The forest was covered in bushes / Patsy Judge

    The forest was covered in bushes / Patsy Judge

    The forest was covered in bushes, song (One night as the moon it shone bright and shone clear …) Elsewhere this song is known as “The False-hearted lover,” “A week before Easter,” and “The false bride.” It tells the story of a man whose sweetheart marries someone else. The protagonist witnesses the marriage and consummation before announcing that he will die of a broken heart. The text was published as a broadside as early as 1690; it was recorded widely during the 20th century.

  11. Golden Bay / Anthony Power

    Golden Bay / Anthony Power

    Golden Bay, song (In nineteen hundred and twelve, my boys for Golden Bay set sail …) Composed by brothers Henry Nash (Sr) and Bernard Nash who fished together in Golden Bay, this song describes a whaling expedition that left Branch in 1912. The crew caught a whale, but it rotted before they could sell it for the thirty pounds in gold that they expected to receive.  Henry Nash (Sr) was the father-in-law of Anthony Power, who performs the song here. 

  12. The Irish colleen / Jack Mooney

    The Irish colleen / Jack Mooney

    The Irish colleen, song (I went to a party consisting of four …) This song describes a party at which four toasts are proposed: a Welsh girl toasts a leek, a Scottish girl toasts a thistle, an English girl toasts a rose, and an Irish girl toasts a shamrock and Ireland.

  13. Jack was a sailor on board a whaler / Caroline Brennan

    Jack was a sailor on board a whaler / Caroline Brennan

    Jack was a sailor on board a whaler, song (Jack was a sailor on board of a whaler ...) This children’s son features a sailor named Jack. A friend asks him to pay a debt, and Jack responds, “You’ll have to wait till my ship comes in.” When Jack later survives a shipwreck and his friend makes the same demand, Jack gives the same excuse.  Though the song follows a standard verse-and-refrain form, the metric structure of the song is somewhat unusual: verses are sung in triple metre and choruses are in duple metre, matching shifts in the narration from third to first person.

  14. The lady in the east / Bride Judge

    The lady in the east / Bride Judge

    The lady in the east, song (There was a lady in the east …) This broadside ballad tells a tale of murder and heartbreak. A young woman falls in love with her father’s clerk; she persists with the romance despite her father’s objections. Her father then shoots her and her lover commits suicide. In Songs of the Newfoundland Outports 3, Kenneth Peacock observes that this ballad seems to have survived mainly in Atlantic Canada (1965:726–8).

  15. Mackenzie's dream / John Joe English

    Mackenzie's dream / John Joe English

    Mackenzie's dream, song (One night of late I chanced to stray, from a shore so far away ...) John Joe English learned this song from his uncle, John English. The protagonist of the song, Mackenzie, dreams of all the heroes of Erin standing together against tyranny.  At the end of John Joe’s performance, Aidan O’Hara speculates that the song’s origins might have been in the Young Ireland movement. The song is more widely known as the 19th-century Irish broadside ballad, “McKenna’s Dream.” John Joe sings the song in triple metre, a slowed-down version of the melody for “Suíl, a ghrá.”

  16. Morrissey and the Russian bear / Denis McGrath

    Morrissey and the Russian bear / Denis McGrath

    Morrissey and the Russian bear, song (Come all ye gallant Irishmen wherever that you be …) This ballad relates the tale of 19th-century Irish prize-fighter Johnny Morrissey and a boxing match that lasted twenty-eight rounds between him and a Russian sailor

  17. My boy Willie / John Joe English

    My boy Willie / John Joe English

    My boy Willie, song (The sailing trade is a weary life …) This English broadside ballad is also known as “The sailor boy” or “Sweet William.” It is widely anthologised and recorded, with variant versions transforming Willie from a sailor to a lumberjack. It recounts the pain of a woman who is left behind when a loved one goes to sea and dies far from home.  This song was among John Joe English’s favourite songs.

  18. The northeast gale / Denis McGrath

    The northeast gale / Denis McGrath

    The northeast gale, song (Ye hardy sons of Newfoundland pay attention to my song ...) Composed by Walt Young, this song tells the story of a gale that arose off the coast of Newfoundland on 18 June 1906. Several fishing craft from Placentia Bay that were fishing off Cape St Mary’s were caught in the storm and men were lost at sea.

  19. Paddy in New York / John Joe English

    Paddy in New York / John Joe English

    Paddy in New York, song (Of an elderly man I'm going to tell you …) This comic song tells the story of an Irishman who goes to live in New York. Outraged when a barman overcharges for whiskey, he starts a fight, kills the barman, and is supported by other Irishmen in New York.

  20. The schooner Annie / Caroline Brennan

    The schooner Annie / Caroline Brennan

    The schooner Annie, song (Young and old I pray make bold, and listen to my tale ...) Composed by Peter Leonard (1890–1964) under the title “Jim McCarthy,” this song recounts the story of a ship (the Annie) that left St John’s in 1915 with a cargo bound for Placentia Bay. The schooner was caught in a gale and, despite the best efforts of the crew, was eventually lost. The crew, however, was rescued by a passing ship, the Monarch.

  21. The schooner Mary Ann / Mike McGrath

    The schooner Mary Ann / Mike McGrath

    The schooner Mary Ann, song (Oh ye landsmen that live on the land, it's a little do you know …) Strong shipping links connected Newfoundland and New York during the 19th and early 20th centuries. This song tells the story of a smallpox outbreak on a ship travelling this route. In Songs of the Newfoundland Outports 3, Kenneth Peacock publishes the title of this song as “Bound down to Newfoundland” and observes that, though the subject matter might point to its being quite an old song, the reference to the Statue of Liberty dates its composition to after 1886 (1965:905–6).

  22. The scolding wife / Caroline Brennan

    The scolding wife / Caroline Brennan

    The scolding wife, song (I got married to a scolding wife about twenty years ago …) This broadside ballad is well known on both sides of the Atlantic (Guigné 2016:326). Though typically received as a comic song, it treats of a difficult theme: an abusive wife and the misery she brings on her husband.