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Entries Related To: song

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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Skip, skip, skip to my Lou, song

Ursula O’Hara, singing in English

Skip, skip, skip to my Lou, song / Ursula O’Hara, singing in English

Some say the divil’s dead, song

Mary Heaney, singing in English

Some say the divil’s dead, song / Mary Heaney, singing in English

Teddy bear, teddy bear, song

Carol Carson, singing in English

Teddy bear, teddy bear, song / Carol Carson, singing in English

Thart fá dtaobh de’n bhaile, song

Tessie Molloy, singing in Irish

Thart fá dtaobh de’n bhaile, song / Tessie Molloy, singing in Irish

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 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.

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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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The bonny hills of Scotland

Eta Nash

The bonny hills of Scotland / Eta Nash

The bonny hills of Scotland, song (On the bonny hills of Scotland where bluebells they do grow … ) Known as “The Paisley officer,” “India’s burning sands,” “The new recruit,” and “Bonny Scottish Mary,” among other titles, this song tells the story of a woman disguising herself so that she can go away to war with her true love. It ends with her death on the battle field.  In Shamrock, Rose and Thistle, Hugh Shields notes that the song is common in Canada and the northeastern United States. He speculates on the song’s Ulster origins, noting that the fullest references to the text are found in northern regions of Ireland (1981:97). 

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The brave volunteer

Henry Campbell

The brave volunteer / Henry Campbell

The brave volunteer, song (One cold stormy night in the month of December …) The song tells the story of a widow lamenting the loss of her husband, whose ship sank off the shore of Galway. In this version of the song, the protagonist (whose name is Henry) leaves to seek his fortune, but how remains unclear. Another version of the song, recorded on a 19th-century ballad sheet held in the Bodleian Libraries (Bod7845) specifies that Henry has volunteered to fight as a mercenary for a Portuguese king. 

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