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Entries Related To: love-marriage

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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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).

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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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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.

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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 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 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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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.

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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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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). 

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