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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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Bells of Shandon

Ellen Emma Power

Bells of Shandon / Ellen Emma Power

Bells of Shandon, song (With deep affection and recollection, I often think on those Shandon Bells …) This song was composed by the Rev Francis Mahoney (Father Prout, 1804–1866). In this nostalgic song, the protagonist remembers the sound of the church bells being rung in St Anne’s Church, Shandon, Co Cork.

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Conversation about music for dancing and types of dances

Patsy Judge & Bride Judge

Conversation about music for dancing and types of dances / Patsy Judge & Bride Judge

Patsy Judge performs several examples of “cheek” or “gob” music (i.e., dance music performed with the voice only), simultaneously explaining where these tunes were most likely to appear within the set dance.  The examples appear in the following order: “There was an old woman” (jig), “Tatter Jack Walsh” (jig), “All the way to Connickmore” (single), “Haste to the wedding” (jig), “The girl I left behind me” (single), “Girls in the salthouse” (single), “Mother wouldn’t beat him” (single), “Irishman’s shanty” (single), “Pop goes the weasel” (jig), “Green grow the rushes-o” (reel).

Down by the riverside

Minnie Murphy

Down by the riverside / Minnie Murphy

Down by the riverside, song (When I was young and in my prime my age scarce twenty-one …) This song tells the tale of a man whose parents force him to marry a woman of higher social status, forsaking the woman he loves. He later murders his wife because he cannot live with his choice. He is sentenced to hang for his crimes.  After Minnie Murphy finished her performance, one of the men present in the room comments that he sometimes heard this song in the lumber camps of western Newfoundland. Little is known about the origins of the song, though the reference to Wexford Gaol suggests a possible southeast Ireland connection. Variants, including that collected by MacEdward Leach from John James of Trepassey, Newfoundland, have been recorded almost exclusively in Newfoundland.

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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.”

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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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India's burning shore

Tom Murphy & Minnie Murphy

India's burning shore / Tom Murphy & Minnie Murphy

India's burning shore, song (As I strayed beneath those lofty pines on India’s burning shore …) Also known as the “Irish Patriot,” this song tells the story of a man whose wife and child are killed when he refuses to fight for his landlord’s rebel army. He takes revenge by killing his landlord and thereafter must forever live in exile, though he dreams of returning to Ireland to be buried beside his wife.  The origins of this song are unknown; Robert B Waltz and David G Engle note that it is found predominantly along North America’s eastern seaboard. The song seems to have had some popularity in lumbering camps during the early 20th century.

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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.

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Just before the battle, mother

Ellen Emma Power

Just before the battle, mother / Ellen Emma Power

Just before the battle, mother, song (Just before the battle, mother, I am thinking most of you …) Composed by George Frederick Root, the sheet music for this song was originally published in Chicago in 1863. It was quite popular during the American Civil War, particularly among Unionist soldiers. 

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Patrick Reilly

Emma Doyle

Patrick Reilly / Emma Doyle

Patrick Reilly, song (My name is Patrick Reilly and the truth I will make known …) This ballad relates the story of a certain Patrick Reilly, who plans to emigrate to America to seek his fortune. His sweetheart asks him not to leave, and then accuses him of attempted murder when he persists in his intent. Reilly is charged and sentenced to die. He never sees America.  Variants of this song exist throughout Newfoundland. For example, a version was published by Kenneth Peacock in Songs of the Newfoundland Outports 1 (1965:159–160). Another variant was collected by MacEdward Leach.

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Siúl a ghrá

Ellen Emma Power

Siúl a ghrá / Ellen Emma Power

Siúl a ghrá, song (Oh I'll go up in yonder hill …) Ellen Emma Power introduces this song as simply, “an Irish Song.” It tells the story of a woman whose lover has gone to France; she is left behind to wait for his unlikely return.  Though the Irish language had died out in Newfoundland by the early 20th century, certain words and phrases persist as evidence of the strong linkages between the two islands. In Ellen Emma Power’s performance, the pronunciation of the Irish words is phonetic only; the meanings of the words have been lost. 

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The Blackwater side

Caroline Brennan

The Blackwater side / Caroline Brennan

The Blackwater side, song (Ye lads of this nation of low and high station, I pray pay attention and listen to me …) Caroline Brennan introduces “The Blackwater side” with a story about her grandmother, “Irish Biddy,” and the time that she spent working in the Sweetman Company’s sail loft in Placentia. This was one of the songs that she sang to remember Ireland.  The song tells the story of a couple who court on the banks of the Blackwater. A variant version of “The Blackwater side” was collected by Kenneth Peacock in 1951 and published in Songs of the Newfoundland Outports 2 (1965:503–504).

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