Arthur McBride

Paul Brady’s version of Arthur McBride was seemingly the first recorded on the album Andy Irvine and Paul Brady (still considered one of the finest recordings of Irish traditional song to date.)  Andy would later record it with Planxty, but I love the melody here as Paul sings it best. If you want to hear Andy’s newer “tarted up version” click here.

From Cantaria

This song was collected around 1840 in Limerick by P.W. Joyce. He believed it to originally come from Donegal, based on the phraseology of the song. It’s an anti-recruiting song similar in theme to The Kerry Recruit, Mrs. McGrath and Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye.; and there are many more. Along with The Landlord and The Excise Man, the Recruiting Sergeant was a popular target for poetic ire, because he conscripted young Irishmen to fight on behalf of England.
In the mid-eighteenth century, if an English soldier took off his uniform, the minimum penalty was twenty-five lashes with a cat-o-nine-tails, and 1500 lashes the maximum. Average pay was eightpence a day.

Arthur McBride

Oh me and my cousin, one Arthur McBride
As we went a walkin’ down by the seaside
Now mark what followed and what did betide
It being on Christmas morning

Out for recreation we went on a tramp
And we met Sergeant Knacker and Corporal Cramp (or Vamp)
And a little wee drummer intending to camp
For the day being pleasant and charming

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The Shamrock Shore

Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry, Ireland

Not to be confused with Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shore, or around five other broadside ballads of the same name, but this song does once again tell the plight of Ireland and the Irish.  It’s sung hear in a powerful version by the amazing, and frequently posted, Paul Brady from the series Come West Along the Road .

The Shamrock Shore

You brave young sons of Erin’s Isle
I hope you will attend awhile
‘Tis the wrongs of dear old Ireland I am going to relate
‘Twas black and cursed was the day
When our parliament was taken away
And all of our griefs and sufferings commences from that day
For our hardy sons and daughters fair
To other countries must repair
And leave their native land behind in sorrow to deplore
Fo seek employment they must roam
Far, far away from the native home
From that sore, oppressed island that they call the shamrock shore

Now Ireland is with plenty blessed
But the people, we are sore oppressed
All by those cursed tyrants we are forced for to obey
Some haughty landlords for to please
Our houses and our lands they’ll seize
To put fifty farms into one and take us all away
Regardless of the widow’s sighs
The mother’s tears and orphan’s cries
In thousands we were driven from home which grieves my heart full sore
We were forced by famine and disease
To emigrate across the seas
From that sore, opressed island that they called the shamrock shore

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The Homes of Donegal

The Rosses – Houses at north end of Cruit Island

This ballad was written in 1955 by Donegal songwriter Seán McBride and performed here, most famously, but Paul Brady. From the all-knowing Wikipedia, we learn:

McBride was a native of Cruit Island which is in the Rosses area of County Donegal.

Seán only wrote the lyrics, the actual air itself may be 150 or more years old, there are many songs around using the same melody, the closest one is a song called “The Faughan Side”, This song was part of the Curriculum in national schools in East Donegal and as Seán was a Teacher in the “Laggan Valley” (South Inishowen) It seems prudent to many people to assume he got his inspiration for the “Homes of Donegal” from “The Faughan Side”.

Homes Of Donegal

I’ve just called in to see you all, I’ll only stay a while
I want to see how you’re getting on, I want to see you smile.
I’m happy to be back again, I greet you big and small,
For there’s no place else on earth just like the homes of Donegal.

I always see the happy faces, smiling at the door,
The kettle swinging on the crook, as I step up the floor.
And soon the taypot’s fillin’ up me cup that’s far from small,
For your hearts are like your mountains, in the homes of Donegal.

To see your homes at parting day of that I never tire,
And hear the porridge bubblin’ in a big pot on the fire.
The lamp alight, the dresser bright, the big clock on the wall,
O, a sight serene, celestial scene, in the homes of Donegal.

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