1 Herring’s Heads sung by Johnny Doughty, Camber Sands, Sussex, 1976. Roud 128.
In came the Herring, the King of the sea,
I think it high time our anchor to weigh.
For it’s hazy weather, blowing weather,
When the wind blows it’s stormy weather.
So begins a late 18th century broadside, The Fishes’ Lamentation, subtitled A New Song. Well, the song may have been new then but the notion that the herring was king of the sea was certainly not; and just as the wren was seen as the king of the birds - fit for ritual slaughter - so too was the herring the embodiment of some ancient, and widespread, regeneration ritual. The great majority of Roud's 84 instances are from England.
The late Fred Hamer collected a very similar version of the song from Arthur Brace of Kempston in Bedfordshire (issued on the cassette The Leaves of Life - Vaughan Williams Memorial Library Audio Cassette VWML 003, 1989).
Other recordings: Mikeen McCarthy (Co Kerry) - Topic TSCD 664. Phoebe Smith (Suffolk) - Veteran VT136CD. Ted Chaplin (Suffolk) - Veteran VT 105.
2 Burke’s Engine sung by Tommy & Gemma McGrath, Ross, Co Waterford, 1965. Roud 9228.
Actually a version of The Kilkenny Louse House, but the compilers mis-heard the name of the proprietor, one Buck St John, and transliterated it as 'Burke's Engine'. It's a fairly rare piece - the only other known instance is the 1952 BBC recording of Christy Purcell, in Belfast, who titled the song Carrick-on-Suir. Freddy MacKay also used to sing The Kilkenny Louse House - the same song, the same words, the same events, but somehow totally different, and there's now another version available by Mary Delaney on From Puck to Appleby (MTCD325-6).
3 Untitled Schottische played on the concertina by Scan Tester, Horsted Keynes, Sussex (rec. Croydon), 1964.
A typical Tester piece - a unique tune, un-equal bar lengths, not quite 32 bars in total of very assured playing in the southern English off-beat schottische style.
4 You Canna Put It on to Sandy sung by Jimmy McBeath, Scotland, 1971. Roud 5143.
The only example of this song from the oral tradition - presumably absorbed from the Scottish Music Hall. Reg Hall mentions that it was recorded in 1930 by Willie Kemp, but Will Fyffe also recorded a number of ‘Sandy’ songs (including Sandy’s Holiday and Daft Sandy) and it could well be one of his songs.
Jimmy’s tune, especially the final 4 lines of each verse, is similar to one used for the song Mormond Braes.
5 Ladybower’s Reel/The Sister Reel played on the fiddle by Rose Murphy, Maltby, Yorkshire, 1978.
Reg Hall mentions that Ladybower’s Reel is also known as The Bag of Spuds. There is a Ladybower reservoir in Derbyshire, which may - or may not - have some connection.
6 Three Sons of Rogues sung by Pop Maynard, Copthorne, Sussex, 1956. Roud 130.
Sometimes known as King Arthur’s/King George’s Sons. It was widely sung in England and Sharp had a couple of sets from Somerset; other versions have turned up in various parts of these islands and it was very popular in America.
Other recordings. George Fradley (Derbyshire) - Veteran cassette VT114.
7 Young Bob Ridley sung by Mary Ann Carolan, Hill o' Rath, Co Louth, 1978. Roud 753.
Originally from the Southern USA, it became very popular in Appalachia. Frank Brown, of NC, and others had this as Old Bob Ridley-O - sometimes it was played as a fiddle tune. The song was brought to Ireland/England by minstrels in the 1850s and it appeared on broadsides. Sam Larner (Norfolk) sang it and Alfred Williams collected a set of words in the Thames Valley prior to the Great War.
8 Uncle George’s Hornpipe/Tommy Roberts’ Hornpipe played on the melodeon by Bob Cann, South Tawton, Devon, 1975.
Alternate recordings of these two tunes will be found on Bob’s solo CD Proper Job (Veteran VT138CD), where they are described as stepdance tunes. Uncle George’s Hornpipe is better known elsewhere as The Cliffe Hornpipe (thought to have been composed in the mid-19th century by Tyneside - though Scottish born - musician, James Hill.) Tommy Robers was a local Romany who played the melodeon and was famed for his step-dancing.
9 The Ball o' Kerriemeer sung by John MacDonald, Elgin, Morayshire, 1974. Roud 4828.
Frequently titled The Ball o’ Kirriemuir, this is normally considered to be an extremely randy song and usually begins with the following opening lines:
Four and twenty virgins came down frae Inverness,Describing John MacDonald’s version, Hamish Henderson had this to say, ‘A good splash of burn water has been added to the raw spirit.’
And when the ball was over there were four and twenty less.
John heard the present version (sung to the tune of The Battle of Harlaw) from an old tramp by-named Whistling Willie, and it is of interest to compare John’s version with that recorded c.1938 by Willie Kemp. See Vol. 14(16).
10 Widdlecombe Fair sung by Tom Brown, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, 1980s. Roud 666.
Theis is not Widdecombe Fair - no Tom Pearce, Philly Winkpot or ghosts of horses here; it's similar to the McPeake Family’s song Monaghan Fair (Saydisc CD-SDL 411). The earliest (?) known version, in Chamber’s Popular Rhymes of Scotland (1826), places the story in the small town of Coldingham, near Eyemouth, on the Scottish coast of Berwickshire.
Other recordings. Harry Cox (Norfolk) - Rounder CD 1839.
11 Oh, the Hampshires Do Like Duff - Regimental March, played on the mouth organ by Sam Bond, Basingstoke, Hampshire, 1978.
The regimental march of one of the Hampshire regiments which, judging by the title, may well have some interesting words.
12 A Nice Piece of Irish Pig’s Head sung by Maurice ?, Ross, Co Waterford, 1965. Roud 12932.
Recorded in 1965 at Haughton's pub in Ross, Co Waterford, during the session in which Tommy McGrath (above) was recorded. A man only remembered as Maurice sang this song - apparently, two people who were regulars in the pub at that time are now unable to remember him at all! A man of mystery - and his song, A Nice Piece of Irish Pig's Head, is a thing of mystery too. Is it music hall? Roud has only this single example of the song.
13 Glendarel Highlanders/Kenmure’s On and Awa’/Lovat Scouts/Monymusk played on the accordion by Curly McKay, with Willie Kemp, voice & trump, location unknown, 1936.
This is a lovely track. It’s no wonder that prolific artists Curley McKay & Willie Kemp were so popular throughout Scotland. Many of their other recordings can be heard on the CD A Gie Bicker which is available from Sleepytown Records.
Other recordings. Monymusk. Donald Davidson (Aberdeen - see our article about him) - Ythan Music Trust YCD03.
14 Clinking O’er the Lea sung by Maggie Murphy, Tempo, Co Fermanagh, 1980. Roud 118, Child 279.
AKA The Jolly Beggar. Maggie originally recorded this in 1952 for the BBC and that recording can be heard on Maggie’s solo CD Linkin’ o’er the Lea (Veteran VT134CD). Tradition links this tale with James V of Scotland and, as some versions of the song mention the gypsy leader Johnny Faa, who had dealings with King James, there just may be a grain of truth in the suggestion. The ballad has proven popular amongst Travellers, especially in Scotland, and Cecil Sharp noted it from Shepherd Haden in Oxfordshire in 1909. John Howson cites a broadside, with a text similar to Maggie’s, in the Madden Collection at Cambridge (vol.25 no.292).
Other recordings. Harry Cox (Norfolk) - Rounder CD 1839. Biggun Smith & Denny Smith (2 versions, both from Gloucestershire) - Musical Traditions MTCD 307. Lizzy Higgins (Aberdeen) - Greentrax CDTRAX 9005.
15 The Derby Ram sung by Sid Steer, Holberton, Devon, 1963. Roud 126.
According to A L Lloyd, this ‘tall tale’ owes its origin to the ‘Old Tup’ midwinter luck-visiting custom, that can still be found in some parts of the country. The ‘Old Tup’ is a man masked as a sheep, who carries a pair of ram’s horns mounted on a stick. Nowadays a comic ‘butcher’ and ‘little boy’ accompany the beast on its perambulations. One can only conjecture that in former times the ritual sacrifice held a far deeper meaning.
Other recordings. George Fradley (Derbyshire) - Veteran cassette 114. Jane Turriff (Aberdeenshire) - Springthyme SPRCD1038. Doug & Cas Wallin (North Carolina) - Musical Traditions MTCD 323-4. Pete Harris (Texas) - Rounder CD 1821.
16 Old King Cole sung by Martin Gorman, London, 1966. Roud 1164.
Best known as a nursery song, though there are quite a few bawdy versions on the go. Martin’s fine version borders on the bawdy, in a ‘polite’ sort of way, and he sings it masterfully. Music Hall singers Ben Albert & Harry Fay recorded a 78 version in 1925.
17 Banbury Bill played on the fiddle by Jinky Wells, Bampton, Oxfordshire, 1943.
One of the tunes used by the Bampton Men for their Corner Dance. Keith Chandler tells us in the notes that Jinky Wells composed the tune Banbury Bill.
18 Down the Road sung by Fred Jordan, Aston Munslow, Salop (rec. Altringham, Cheshire), 1966. Roud 15128.
This ode to a costermonger’s pony was written and composed by Fred Gilbert and popularised by Gus Elen, who recorded it on 16 February, 1899. Struck by the song’s air of aimiability and pluck, Fred Jordan says: "I used to tell the boys to pull off their hats for poor old Polly, R.I.P."
19 The Rosin Box sung by John Reilly, Dublin, 1967. Roud 2501.
A song unique to John Reilly, this is rather like a version of The Jolly Tinker, for which see Thomas Moran’s version on Rounder CD 1778. The first two lines from John’s verse 5 show a knowledge of ancient balladry, especially the ballad Two Jolly Butchers - a Traveller favourite.
20 The Stack of Barley played on the concertina by Ellen O’Dwyer, Dublin, 1974.
An excellent slightly 'dotted' hornpipe tune which has proved popular in sessions all over these islands. Hornpipes celebrating stacks of various cereal crops seem very popular in Ireland.
Other recordings. Michael Coleman & J P Dolan (Sligo) - Topic TSCD606.
21 Most Beautiful Leg of the Mallard sung by Henry Mitchelmore, Broadhempston, Devon, c.1972. Roud 1517.
This song seems to have been especially popular in the west country. Cecil Sharp reports a couple of versions, from Somerset and Devon, and Baring Gould printed it in his Songs of the West (1905). Baring Gould also refers to a Breton version of the mallard song in Luzel’s Chansons populaires de la Basse Bretagne (1890) and to a resemblance of the tune to the plain-song O filii et filiae, a May-carol adopted into the Easter Sequence, for which cf. Tiersot’s Histoire de la chanson populaire en France (1889).
22 The Keyhole in the Door sung by Jim Wilson, Three Bridges, Sussex, 1960. Roud 2099.
Seen, by some, to be related to the ballad The Whummil Bore (Child 27), a whummil being a tool, rather like a gimlet, for boring holes in wood. There are some quite bawdy versions of The Keyhole in the Door, as a search on the Web quickly shows, though Jim Wilson’s version is more akin to ‘What the butler saw’, rather than ‘what many of the folk actually sing’.
23 The Blue Meadow played on the tin-whistle by Paddy Breen, London, 1967.
Paddy Breen first lilts the reel The Blue Meadow and then plays it on tin whistle; great performances both.
24 The Varsoviana played on the fiddle by Ned Pearson, Cambo, Northumberland, 1954.
The Waltz Vienna and its associated tune swept across Europe and, subsequently, most of the world during the 19th century. Even today, there's hardly a dance musician anywhere I've been who doesn't have his/her own version - some of which have changed so much as to be almost unrecognisably the same tune. Stephen Baldwin (Gloucestershire) had a great version, and I've heard a wonderful one from N E Italy which is scarcely in 3:4 any more! Titles such as Varsovarnia, Varsovien and Varsoviana are common.
Other recordings. Hugh Gillespie (Donegal) - Globestyle CDORBD 082.
25 The Old Sow sung by Albert Richardson, London, 1928. Roud 1737.
Albert Richardson’s 78 sold well and many a country singer took the song into his, or her, own repertoires. Most collected versions sound remarkably like the 78. Another recording, by Leslie Sarony in 1934 (Rex 8145), was less successful.
Other recordings. Cyril Barber (Suffolk) - Veteran VTC3CD. Fred Ginger (Suffolk) - Veteran VT140CD. Wisdom Smith (Gloucester) sings a radically different version, The Galloway Man, on Musical Traditions MTCD 307.
26 The Codfish sung by Nora Cleary, Miltown Malbay, Co Clare, 1976. Roud 149.
AKA The Crabfish. Extensive background notes to this song will be found in chapter 5 of Roger deV Renwick’s Recentering Anglo/American Folksong (2001). Nora Cleary's version is just delightful!
Other recordings. Dan Tate (Virginia) - Musical Traditions MTCD 321-2. Charlotte Renals (Cornwall) - Veteran cassette VT119. Cyril Barber (Suffolk) - Veteran VT 102.
27 Stirling Militia/Ruthven House/Fairy Dance played on the accordeon by Will Powrie and the fiddle by Ian Powrie, Perth, 1933.
The Fairy Dance became known as Old Molly Hare in America. See, for example, Old Molly Hare played by Fiddlin’ Powers and Family from Virginia - Yazoo CD 2046. For another Scottish version, see Daniel Wyper - Topic TSCD601.
28 Up To the Rigs of London Town sung by Charlie Wills, Powerstock, Dorset, 1956. Roud 868.
Cecil Sharp collected four versions of this song. Both Walter Pardon (Norfolk) and Thomas Moran (Co Leitrim) also sang it.
Other recordings: Jim Wilson (Sussex) - Musical Traditions MT CD 309-10. Harry Cox (Norfolk) - Rounder CD 1839.
29 The Pigeon on the Gate played on the tin-whistle by Jim Donaghue and the tambourine by Seamus Donaghue, Gurteen, Co Sligo, 1971.
A classic Irish reel; its fame and name have spread all the way to East Anglia where almost any good stepdance tune will be called Pigeon on the Gate by somebody at some time!
Other recordings. Michael Gorman (Sligo) - Topic TSCD525D. Michael Coleman (Sligo) - Gael-Linn CEFCD 161. Fred List (Suffolk) - Veteran cassette VTVS 05/06. Oscar Woods (Suffolk) - Veteran cassette VTVS 05/06. Charlie Cutmore (Essex) - Veteran cassette VTVS 05/06. Sonny Barber (Norfolk) - Veteran cassette VTVS 05/06. Neil O’Boyle (Donegal) - Topic TSCD605.
Volume 8: A Story I'm Just About To Tell - Local Events & National Issues (Topic TSCD 658) Review
1 Majuba Hill played on the accordeon by John MacDonald, Elgin, Morayshire, 1974.
The Battle of Majuba Hill took place in 188l, when a small troop of British soldiers were defeated by the South African Boers and the battle gave the Boers a propaganda value out of all porportion to its military significance. The tune was composed by Jock Paterson, a poacher from Dava.
2 A Broadside sung by Bob Hart, Snape, Suffolk, 1972. Roud 492, Laws N4.
For notes to this song, please see Vol. 2(1).
3 The Wild Colonial Boy sung by Margaret Barry with Michael Gorman (fiddle), Chicago, USA, 1961. Roud 677, Laws L20.
According to Roy Palmer, ‘this seems second only to Waltzing Matilda as the quintessential Australian song’, although, as John Howson has pointed out, it was equally popular in Britain; indeed, it seems to have been equally popular in all parts of the Anglophone world. Both words and music were available until recently from Irish music publishers. (Sam Henry, of course, has a version - H750). It has been suggested that the story is based on the life of one John Donaghue, a Dublin man who was transported for life in 1825, and who was killed by troopers in 1830.
Other recordings. Fred Whiting (Suffolk) - Veteran VTC2CD.
4 The Wife of the Bold Tenant Farmer sung by Joe Heaney, London, 1962 or ‘63. Roud 5164.
The Land League (founded in 1879) was the weapon of the oppressed Irish tenancy against eviction and rent rises, and was a spearhead of the movement which forced land reforms through parliament in the 1880s. The Wife of the Bold Tenant Farmer is one of the Land League’s ballads. It has been rarely recorded from the oral tradition.
Other recordings. Mickey Cronin (Co Cork) - Rounder CD 1742.
5 MacPherson’s Rant sung by Davie Stewart, Dundee, 1954. Roud 2160.
Tradition has it that this air was composed by the outlaw/fiddler James MacPherson the night before he was hanged (‘unfairly’ according to most singers) in Banff on 16 November, 1700. Burns rewrote the words, but most of Davie’s stirring version probably predates the Burns text. Unusually, this song has no Roud entries from anywhere other than Scotland.
The idea of a convicted criminal composing a final tune (or playing a tune on the scaffold) occurs in several other songs and may well be apocryphal.
Other recordings. Jimmy MacBeath (Aberdeenshire) - Rounder CD 1834. Jock Duncan (Aberdeenshire) - Sleepytown SLPYCD 010.
6 The Young Horseman sung by Martin Howley, Fanore, Co Clare, 1975. Roud 1185.
AKA The Bonny Light Horseman or Broken Hearted I’ll Wander, it dates from the time of Napoleon Bonaparte's Egyptian Campaign of 1798 - 1802. Broadsides exist from shortly after these dates.
This is another Bonaparte song which calls into question the claim that they were all of Irish origin, since it has been collected more frequently in England (and Scotland) than in Ireland.
7 The Haughs o' Cromdale sung by John MacDonald, Elgin, Morayshire, 1974. Roud 5147.
After the Battle of Killiecrankie and the death of Claverhouse (1689), the forces attempting to secure the restoration of King James VII and II displayed little cohesion and less intelligence. As James Hogg, the Etterick Shepherd, later expressed it, ‘they were men struggling in a dream, and seem to have acted without counsel and without energy’. James, who was in Ireland, displayed his customary ineptitude and appointed an inefficient Gallowegian (Col. Cannon) to assume command over the Jacobite clans. These were eventually surprised at Cromdale (lst May, 1690) by the Williamite commander, Sir Thomas Livingston. The dragoons of the ‘Whig’ army were guided virtually into the midst of the sleeping Jacobite camp by Grants (Highlanders from the area) who were ‘wild for the engagement’. The Jacobites had no time to rally, some fought naked with only a targe in one hand and a claymore in the other, and they were soon cut to pieces, or forced to fly. It was a complete shambles, prefiguring the Battle of the Boyne fought two months later, and the present song reflects events very much the way they happened.
Curiously enough, the first song called The Haughs o’ Cromdale to be printed (Jacobite Relics, 1819, vol.1 song 2) makes the battle a Jacobite victory, and brings in the long-dead Montrose to retrieve the day. John’s song, recorded 150 years later, is certainly older than the Jacobite Relics rewrite.
8 The Aghalee Heroes sung by Robert Cinnamond, Co Antrim. 1955. Roud 6546.
Tis pretty to be in Ballinderry,So run the words to another song. Aghalee (Acheli in Gaelic - meaning ‘Field of the calves’), Co Antrim, is close to the town of Lurgan. There was an army garrison in Aghalee (Soldiertown Church, Aghalee, was built there in 1666-67) and soldiers from the garrison were sent to Lurgan in 1798 to help put down the Rising.
Pretty to be in Aghalee.
9 Young Jimmy Foyers sung by Sheila Stewart, London, 1964 or ‘65. Roud 1941.
Greig/Duncan 106. Dating from the time of the Peninsular War (1809 - 14). It is suggested that Foyers, who was in the Perthshire Militia and volunteered to join the 42nd Highland Regiment (the Black Watch), died during the storming of Fort St Michael at Burgos, in 1812. Some authorities cite one James MacNeil as a possible author for the song. Ewan MacColl wrote an updated version, locating the song’s hero in the International Brigade which fought against General Franco in the Spanish Civil War.
Other recordings. Jock Duncan (Aberdeenshire) - Sleepytown SLPYCD010.
10 A Grand Conversation on Napoleon sung by Tom Costello, Spiddal, Co Galway, 1972. Roud 1189.
This ballad details Napoleon’s career, as remembered by Napoleon himself from his exile on St Helena. Napoleon had arrived there on 5 October, 1815, and was to remain on the island until his death, six years later. Another transcription of Tom Costello’s song can be found on pp.149-50 of Terry Moylan’s The Age of Revolution in the Irish Song Tradition - 1776 to 1815, (2000).
Other recordings. Gordon Hall (Sussex) - Veteran VT 131.
11 The Glen of Atherlow played on the fiddle by Lucy Farr, Elland, Yorkshire, 1976. Roud 983, Laws J11.
Text written by Charles Joseph Kickham (1828 - 1882), who based it on a true story of one Patrick Sheehan who was blinded at Sebastopol. Sheehan was lated jailed for begging in Grafton Street, Dublin, his British army pension having expired after six months. Kickham’s poem was first published in 1857.
There is a recording by Joe Heaney (Topic TSCD518D). Joe’s opening verse runs:
My name is Patrick Sheehan, my years are thirty-four.Lucy’s tune is similar to that used by some singers for the song The Turfman from Ardee. (See, for example, Margaret Barry’s version on Globestyle CDORBD 081).
Tipperary is my native home not far from Galtymore.
I came of honest parents, but now they are lying low,
And its many a happy day I spent in the glen of Aherlow.
12 Creeping Jane sung by Joseph Taylor, London, 1908. Roud 1012, Laws Q23.
Sharp found nine versions of this song and one set turned up in southern Michigan. It seems to be seldom encountered these days; despite Roud's list of 20 named singers, the present sound recording is the only one ever made in the oral tradition..
13 Skibbereen sung by Freddy McKay, London, 1985. Roud 2312.
As Reg Hall says, the town of Skibbereen is in west Cork and was the scene of appalling deprivation during the Famine of the late 1840s. The resultant emigration has meant that the song has been more-widely found in the rest of the world than in Ireland itself.
Other recordings. Joe Heaney (Connemara) - Topic TSCD 518D.
14 Bloody Waterloo sung by Willie Scott, London, 1967. Roud 622, Laws N31.
Once widespread, Willie had his version from his brother, who first heard it sung at Westkirk, near Langholm. Maurice Lindsay describes the song as ‘strange(ly) heartless’ because of the deception played on his sweetheart by the returning soldier. Roud's instances show the song as far more popular in Canada than in Scotland - and include no Irish sightings. The tune is related to that of the sea song Rounding the Horn.
15 Down in the Old Town of Bantry sung by Tommy McGrath, Ross, Co Waterford, 1965. Roud 12938.
Reg Hall assigns this to the War of Independence, 1919 - 1921, but mention of the Black and Tans means that it must post-date 25 March, 1920, when the first Black and Tans arrived in Ireland. Although first assembled to assist the Royal Irish Constabulary, the ‘Tans’ , who were mainly comprised of ex-army men, became, in effect, an army of occupation, and their brutality soon led to their being almost universally hated.
16 Boulavogue sung by Davie Stewart, Dundee, 1954. Roud 2356.
Reg Hall prints the background to this song on p.13 of the accompanying booklet. It was written by P J McCall to commemorate an event that took place in Wexford during the 1798 rebellion.
17 Bonaparte’s Retreat played on the Anglo-German concertinas by Bernard O’Sullivan and Tommy McMahon, Co Clare, 1974.
A tune which commemorates Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow and Smolensk in October, 1812. By the time his army had left Russian soil, at the end of November, he had lost upward of half a million men. The tune appears in O’Neill’s Music of Ireland.
18 The Wind that Shakes the Barley sung by Sarah Makem, Keady, Co Armagh, 1967. Roud 2994.
Written in the late 19th century by Robert Dwyer Joyce, and printed by his brother, P W Joyce, in Ballads of Irish Chivalry. The original poem mentions Oulart Hill, the site, on 27 May, 1798, of a battle when 'rebels' wiped out a company of 100 men of the North Corks.
Another rarity in the oral tradition: only eight Roud entries, three of which are from Canada, and just two sound recordings. The BBC recorded Nellie Walsh, of Wexford, in 1947, and Topic Records recorded Sarah Makem, of Keady, Co Armagh, in 1967.
19 Hartlake Bridge sung by Jasper Smith, Biggin Hill, Kent, 1973. Roud 1729.
In October, 1858, during a violent thunderstorm, the River Medway burst its banks just south of the village of Hadlow in Kent. During the storm a wooden bridge was washed away at a time when thirty gypsies and Irish hop-pickers were being driven across the bridge in a horse-drawn cart. The victims were later washed up at a spot called Golden Green and they are buried together in Hadlow Parish churchyard. It would seem likely that the song was composed locally shortly after the event and set to the Irish tune The Felons of our Land (see The Mount Callan Garland - songs from the repertoire of Tom Lenihan by Tom Munnelly, 1994 pp.17-19.
The song remains popular today, if only in fragmentary form, with many local Gypsies.
20 Morrissey and the Russian Sailor sung by Joe Heaney, Co Galway (rec. London), 1960. Roud 2150, Laws H18.
Morissey, born in Templemore, Tipperary, in 1831, was a well-known 19th century bareknuckle fighter, although there appears to be no evidence that he ever fought in Tierra del Fuego.
Other recordings. Johnny McDonagh (Co Galway) - Rounder CD 1742.
21 The Bonny Bunch o' Roses sung by Cyril Poacher, Blaxhall, Suffolk, 1974. Roud 664, Laws J5.
A very popular song that was collected frequently by Edwardian collectors such as Sharp, Grainger, Gardiner, Greig and others in England and Scotland. Several Canadian versions have surfaced, though there are only one or two sets from the USA. Most, if not all, of the major broadside printers listed the song in their respective catalogues, the earliest being Pitts and Catnach, which dates it to before 1830 (although it cannot have been composed before Napoleon 1 died in 1821). His son, Francois Charles Joseph, who features in the song, died in 1832.
It has been suggested that the song might have an Irish origin, although Steve Roud discounts this idea. For an overview on a number of songs concerning Napoleon, see ‘The Grand Coversation: Napoleon and British Popular Balladry’, by Vic Gammon, RSA Journal (September, 1989), reprinted here.
Other Recordings. Harry Cox (Noprfolk) -Topic TSCD 512D. WalterPardon (Norfolk) - Musical Traditions MTCD 305-6. Bill Porter (Sussex) - Musical Traditions MT CD 309-10.
22 Calvery sung by May Bradley, Ludlow, Shropshire, 1965. Roud 1148.
Known to most singers as McCafferty or McCaffery. The facts are as follows. On Saturday, 14, September, 1861, at Fulwood Barracks, just outside Preston in Lancashire, Private Patrick McCaffery shot and killed the Depot Commandant, Colonel Hugh Denis Crofton, and the Depot Adjuant, Captain John Hanhan. McCaffery was 18 years old and from Kildare. A member of the 32nd (Cornwall) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry), he had failed to take down the names of some children who were playing outside the Officer’s Mess the previous day. Windows had been broken there and McCaffery only took down one name. Hanhan, who appears to have had some form of grudge against McCaffery, charged McCaffery with neglect of duty and ordered that he spend the night in the cells. On his release the following morning, McCaffery took a shot at Hanhan, but the bullet also passed through Colonel Crofton and both men were killed. McCafferys trial took place on 15, December, and he was hanged outside Liverpool’s Kirkwood Gaol on 11, January, 1862. Contrary to popular belief, the song was never ‘banned’ in the British Army.
Other recordings. Packie Manus Byrne (Donegal) - Veteran VT132CD. Jimmy MacBeath (Aberdeenshire) - Rounder CD 1834 (MacBeath also talks about the song and how the Army was against it).
23 Michael Power sung by Straighty Flanagan, Inagh, Co Clare, 1976. Roud 8141.
This is the only example of this song in Roud's Index.
24 The Bold Fenian Men sung by Margaret Barry, Croydon, 1955. Roud 9266.
The Fenian Irish independence movement began in the 1860s with attempted risings in the USA, Canada and Ireland. In 1867 it carried out a series of bombings in England, including one at Clerkenwell Prison, when over one hundred people were killed. In the song, the ‘old woman’ represents the Spirit of Ireland. This song was written c.1916 by Peadar Kearney. Maggie’s tune is related to one often associated with the ballad Bonny Annie (Child 24) and Scottish ballad singer Duncan Williamson uses part of the tune for his version of the song Johnny Ma Man.