Song Texts

The Immigrant – John Tunney

 

1. The Immigrant [Lyrics, copyright John Tunney]

When first onto this country as immigrants we came,

You could scarcely understand our speech and you could not say our names.

We were fleeing persecution of a kind you could not know

But now Ireland is our country and our home it is Mayo.

My mind goes back to Bosnia though it mostly makes me sad.

I recall the streets of Mostar where I played when just a lad.

My friends they all loved football but Judo was my game.

In training hall or at tournament there was none that could me tame.

My teenage years were happy, life was innocent and good.

Catholics and Orthodox lived in our neighbourhood.

But Croat, Serb or Bosnian, it was all the same to me.

Under Marshal Tito’s velvet fist, at peace and in most ways free.

In the mines of Srebrenica, where I earned my daily bread.

There I met Katarina and in springtime we were wed.

When Tito died, the war soon came and my country fell apart

With cruelties from every side that would shake the stoutest heart.

Four billion pounds the UN spent the conflict to contain.

‘Lay down your arms and we’ll send troops the Serbs for to restrain.’

But no courage from the Dutch was seen on those five fateful days,

When Mladic he unleashed his thugs, they looked the other way.

With women raped and beaten, more were tortured, some were killed. 

Their menfolk trapped and rounded up, or hunted in the hills.

8,000 men and boys were slain, the Serbs no quarter gave,

And cheek to cheek their bodies lay in roughly dug mass graves.

And we who are the lucky few must live with our shame and guilt.

And ponder why our lives were spared when so much blood was spilt.

Some of us have fled abroad, and to Ireland I did fly.

So here in Castlebar I live and it’s here that I mean to die.

At Friday prayers in my local mosque I pray for those murdered friends,

I beg Allah, the All-merciful, from whom all good descends.

To grant us understanding and to make confusion cease,

To keep us on the path of right and between all men bring peace.

So my sons attend the Gaelscoil and they love their Gaelic games.

They play football for the Mitchells where their friends can say their names.

They dream they’ll wear the green and red and to Croke Park they will go

And bring the Sam Maguire back in triumph to Mayo.

Employed by a multi-national now I travel near and far.

From Delhi to Jakarta and from Minsk to Zanzibar.

But no matter where I wander and wherever I may go.

Now Ireland is my country and my home it is Mayo.

 

2. I am Awake [Traditional, translation copyright Paddy Tunney]

I am awake since the moon crossed the mountain last night.

The fires I have kindled have dwindled to greesagh-red bright.

The rest of the house is asleep but I weep on alone.

The rooster is crowing, not knowing the cause of my moan.

The blessings of God on your brow and the red of your mouth;

Your eyes clear and bright like the sky that’s sun-kissed in the south.

For love unrequited, I am blighted and driven astray

And the mountains now rear up between us to darken the way.

The sages maintain that love’s pain is a strength-sapping plague.

I do not deny that it aches like the colic or ague.

There was no escape and I suddenly woke with a start

And a hundred and one flaming arrows went straight through my heart.

Down Lisballina way I met a banshee with blue eyes.

I begged and beseeched her love’s leech from my poor heart to prise.

She spoke soft and low, ‘It’s a woe that will waste you away.

When it pierces the heart it will smart until crack of Doomsday’

 

 

3. The Boys of the Emerald Isle [Traditional, verse 4 copyright John Tunney]

I’m a tight little bit of an Irishman

So plain as you may see.

I like a wee drop of the craytur

When I go out on a spree. 

I like a wee drop of the craytur

In the real oul’ Irish style

But there’s none that I can get so good 

As what’s made in Erin’s isle.

Chorus:

Far from our native country

We’re sometimes forced to roam;

But we’ll never forget that we’re Irishmen

And far away from home. 

It was at the Battle of Waterloo

And the Russian War the same.

Didn’t the boys of Paddy’s Land

Show there that they were true game.

They gave three hearty cheers my boys

In the grand oul’ Irish style

And they pelted off the Russians;

They’re the boys of the Emerald Isle.

 

Chorus

They say no Irish need apply

That’s a thing I can’t understand.

For where would the British Army be

Were it not for Paddy’s land?

And when they are on the battlefield

They were never known to win,

Unless their ranks were well packed out

With the best of Irishmen.

Chorus

In Flanders and along the Somme

Again we were back in the field.

We faced the Hun with his mighty guns

But before him we never did yield.

We fought and bled but we never fled

’Till at length the day it came when

We battered back the Germans, boys 

For we are bold Irishmen.

Chorus

 

 

4. You Rambling Boys of Pleasure [Traditional]

You rambling boys of pleasure, give ear onto these words I write.

For I own I am a rover and in rambling I take great delight.

I have set my heart on a handsome girl, though often times she does me slight.

But my mind is never easy, only when my darling is in my sight.

Down in yon flowery garden, where me and my true love did meet,

I took her in my arms and to her I gave kisses sweet.

She bade me take life easy, just as the leaves fall from yon tree;

But I being young and foolish, with my own true love would not agree.

The second time I saw my love I vowed her heart was surely mine.

But as the weather changes, so my darling girl she changed her mind.

Gold is the root of evil, the more it wears a glittering hue

Causes many a lad and lass to part, though their hearts like mine be e’er so true.

I wish I were in America, and my true love along with me,

Money in our pockets, to keep us in good company

Liquor to be plentiful, a flowing bowl on every side. 

Hard fortune ne’er would daunt me, for I am young and the world is wide.

 

5.  What Brought the Blood (Edward) [Traditional]

‘Where have you been the whole afternoon?

Son, come tell it unto me.’

‘I’ve been fishing and fowling the whole day long

all through mother’s treachery, 

all through mother’s treachery.’

‘What brought the blood on your right shoulder? 

Son, come tell it unto me.’

‘’Twas the killing of a hare that I killed today, 

that I killed most manfully, 

that I killed most manfully.’

‘The blood of the ’oul hare it would never be so red.

Son, come tell it unto me.’

‘’Twas the killing of a boy that I killed today, 

that I killed most manfully, 

that I killed most manfully.’

‘What came between yourself and the boy?

Son, come tell it unto me.’

‘It was mostly the cutting of a rod 

that will never come a tree, tree,

that will never come a tree.’

‘What are you going to do when your Daddy finds you out?

Son, come tell it unto me.’

‘I will put my foot on board of a ship, 

and sail to a foreign country

and sail to a foreign country.’

‘What are you going to do with your lovely young wife?

Son, come tell it on to me.’

‘She can put her foot on board of a ship,

and sail on after me, 

and sail on after me.’

‘What are you going to do with your two fine young babes?

Son, come tell it unto me.’

‘I’ll give one to my father and the other to my mother, 

for to bear them company,

for to bear them company.’

‘What are you going to do with your two fine racehorses?

Son, come tell it unto me.’

‘I will take the bridles off of their necks 

for they’ll race no more for me,

they’ll race no more for me.’

 ‘What are you going to do with your two fine grey hounds?

Son, come tell it unto me.’

‘I will take the leashes off of their necks 

for they’ll run no more for me,

they’ll run no more for me.’

‘What are you going to do with your houses and your lands?

Son, come tell it unto me.’

‘I will lay them bare to the birds of the air, 

for there’s no more welcome there for me,

there’s no more welcome there for me.

‘What are you going to do in the winter of your life?

Son, come tell it unto me.’

‘Like a saggin on the lough, I will bend with the wind

and beg for God’s mercy, 

and beg for God’s mercy.’

 

6. Drinking Strong Whiskey [Traditional, verse 3 copyright John Tunney]

One night I being tipsy from drinking strong whiskey

The bumpers were toasted right merrily round

The toasts they were listed and no one resisted

And Tarry his fiddle did cheerfully sound.

I being apprehended by Ariste Reaper

And straight to the regions of dead men did go

And as sure as you’re there I did swear by John Murphy

That I’d never drink whiskey or poitín no more.

Courant

Right-fol-the-dee-arl, right-fol-the-dee-arl,

Right-fol-the-dee-arl, dee-arl-dee-ay

Right-fol-the-dee-arl, tight-fol-the-dee-arl

Right-fol-the-dee-arl, dee-arl-dee-ay.

I’ll have you be civil, or were you the divil

You’ll have to come down with me to the road.

No wonder you’re so weary in a spot that’s so dreary

Down by these black walls where you make your abode.

I wonder why souls who go up to heaven

Then back to this earth they do carelessly stray.

Or if they were sentenced to Pluto’s dark prison

I’m sure ’oul Cerberus wouldn’t let them away.

 

Courant

The music of Orpheus could rouse even Morpheus

It charmed roaring lions and calmed raging men.

Despite all its magic, that bard’s life proved tragic

When he couldn’t bring Eurydice back from Hades dark lands.

Oh the ancients they knew, when we cross the Styx over

That there’s no coming back and no more we will roam.

So give us our heads, we’ll be long enough dead,

We will party till morning, then strike out for home.

Courant 

 

7. The Hills of Glenswilly [Mick & Brigid McGinley]

Attention pay, my countrymen, and hear my native muse.

Although my song is sorrowful, I’ll hope you’ll me excuse. 

I left my peaceful residence, a foreign land to see

And I bade adieu to Donegal, likewise to Glenswilly. 

Brave stalwart men around me stood my comrades loyal and true

And as I grasped each well-known hand to bid my last adieu

I said ‘My native countrymen, I hope we’ll soon be free

To raise the green flag proudly o’er the hills of Glenswilly.’

Cursed be those tyrannical laws that bind our native land.

Must Irishmen remain as slaves while we in exile stand?

Brave countrymen who struck one blow to banish tyranny,

When Leitrim’s lord fell like a dog not far from Glenswilly.

No more among the sycamores I’ll hear the blackbird sing

No more to me the blithe cuckoo will welcome back the spring.

No more I’ll till your fertile fields a chuisle geal mo chroidh.

On a foreign soil, I’m doomed to toil, far, far from Glenswilly.

No more at fair or harvest-home my fiddle I will play.

No more I’ll dance a lively jig among the girls so gay.

My uilleann pipes I’ve left behind, ’twill make them think on me

And keep my place till I return to lovely Glenswilly.  

The summer sun was sinking fast beyond yon mountains grey.

As I left lovely Glenswilly to wander far away

And as I glimpsed those grand old glens that were so dear to me

I thought my heart would surely break for leaving Glenswilly.

 

Adieu, to you dark Donegal, my own dear native land.

In dreams I often see your hills and towering mountains grand.

Alas! ten thousand miles now lie between my hills and me,

A poor forlorn exile cast, far, far from Glenswilly.

May peace and plenty reign supreme along Lough Glenswilly shore. 

May discord never enter our Irish homes no more.

And may the time soon come around when I’ll return to thee

And live as my forefathers lived and die in Glenswilly.

8. The Rock of Doon (in memory of Seamus Ennis) [Lyrics, copyright Paddy Tunney]

At dusk I saw a piper by the Rock of Doon

Beneath red rowans and the sickle of a moon.

His fingers they were flying as they twiddle-twawed a tune.

His wide eyes the wildest ever seen. 

But ten times rarer than the rainbowed crock of gold

The haunting rhythm of the reel his chanter rolled

Of love and life eternal in a timeless land it told

To wee folk dancing on the green.

In double trebles raced their feet in perfect mime.

They rocked in riot as the music soared sublime

Up above the swaying birches, out beyond the reach of time

As piping spells that wizard wove anew. 

Like beaten bronze, their manes of flowing hair

Flew out like flame behind them on the moth-filled mountain air

I stood bewitched, bewildered, all enchanted I declare

As the wee feet trampled down the dew. 

And when my spirit’s restless and I wander wide

Where sea-nymphs beckon and the merfolk all abide, 

I leave the leering tyrant time alone to turn the tide

And whisper to Charon on the shore. 

Where, wading in the wantonness of sin and sudden death, 

He siphons off the sinewed strength of mortals in a breath. 

Then I ride into eternity on a white steed without greth

And grumble to God on high once more.

The hosts of heaven in a body all arise.

With loud hosannas now they rake the domeless skies

As sages such as Socrates and Plato in surprise

Forsake their wizened wisdom for a tune.

I lean and list to chanter and to drones.

Our piper up in paradise no longer is unknown.

Oh, good people in this vale of tears, no need to weep or moan

For the big man who piped at Rock of Doon. 

 

9. The Man of Songs (Poem) [copyright Paddy Tunney]

‘That day I scored the winning goal,’

The cobbler said, and seized the tongs.

He spat upon a half-burnt coal, 

‘A stranger boys, the Man of Songs.’

He stooped beneath a lintel low, 

A troubadour from legend lands,

And settling in the greesagh glow

Round blackthorn hasped a harper’s hands.

The mountain marrow braced his bone; 

Hard granite set in monarch mould.

His tongue untethered silver tone

Of sweetest sound, well veined with gold.

An urchin from the shadows sprang

And straddle-legged on an upturned creel

He lilted loud; the rafters rang

With riot of a rousing reel. 

The fiddler drew a long, bent bow

And eager dancers couldn’t wait

As quick they rallied heel-and-toe

And flaked it out to ‘Bonnie Kate’.

 

From flagstones faster fly the splanks;

All fiddle-frenzied, fast they flail.

A sudden wheel to face the ranks, 

Their hobnails bring a handclap hail.

‘And now we’ll have the Man of Songs,’

The cobbler said, and silence fell

As if the love the lone heart longs 

For, cast before its binding spells.

And music bounded in the breeze

By dark trout-throw and salmon-leap, 

Where shepherd pined and pressed his cheese

And moorcocks cackled in their sleep.

He sang a song the mountain sings

When mating thunders in the blood.

And torrent-torn temples fling

From high the fury of the flood.

The last line spoken and the speed 

Of lightning swept us from the peaks, 

Like Óisín, from the famed White Steed, 

For spirit sings but mortal speaks. 

And as the cobbler raked the fire,

And held once more the flat-toed tongs,

He sought the Land of Heart’s Desire

And lingered with the Man of Songs.

 

 

10. The Mountain Streams Where the Moorcocks Crow [Traditional]

 

With my dog and gun through the blooming heather,

To seek for pastime I took my way.

Where I spied a lovely fair one,

Her charms invited me a while to stay.

I said: ‘My darling you will find I love you. 

Tell me your dwelling and your name also.’

‘Excuse my name and you’ll find my dwelling near

The Mountain Streams where the Moorcocks Crow.’

 

I said: ‘My darling, if you’ll wed a rover, 

My former raking I will leave aside.

Here is my hand and I pledge my honour, 

If you prove constant, I’ll make you my bride.’

‘If my parents knew that I loved a rover, 

Great affliction I would undergo. 

I’ll stop at home for another season near

The Mountain Streams where the Moorcocks Crow.’

‘If my parents knew that I loved a rover, 

They would tie me down with strong iron bands

And in a dungeon they would confine me

Where is no comfort of any kind.

Now I’ll away and acquaint my parents.

I hope my absence will not prove a blow.

I’m happy here, though I may be courted from

The Mountain Streams where the Moorcocks Crow.’

Then farewell darling for another season.

I hope we’ll meet in yon woodland vale. 

And when we meet, we’ll embrace each other.

I’ll pay attention to your lovesick tale. 

It’s hand in hand we will join together and 

I’ll escort you to yon valley low. 

Where the linnet sings her sweet notes so pleasing near

The Mountain Streams where the Moorcocks Crow.’]

 

11. Captain Coulston [Traditional, arranged by John Tunney]

You mariners of the ocean who mean to cross the sea

Come join with Captain Coulston, that hero brave and gay

Come join with Captain Coulston that hero stout and bold

Who fought his way across the sea and never was controlled.

 

It was in the month of June brave boys we sailed across the main

All to come to New York City it was our chief design

We shoved about the lemonade to nourish us on sea

And Fr. Matthew’s medals we brought to Amerikay.

 

From the ninth unto the seventeenth we sailed across the sea

In nine long days of journeying, with courage come what may 

The captain and his lady, they came on deck each day

To help us with our merriment going to Amerikay.

 

When our merriment was over and going to bed one night

The Captain he went up on deck to see if all was right

He said ‘My boys do not go down, you needn’t think of sleep

For in a few short hours we’ll be slumbering in the deep.

For the pirate ship she’s coming down, all from the western sea

To rob us of our property going to Amerikay.’

 

When the pirate ship came up to us, she ordered us to stand

‘Your gold and precious loadening this moment I demand

Your gold and precious loadening, resign to me this day

For not a soul you’ll ever bring onto Amerikay.’

 

Then up speaks Captain Coulston that hero brave and bold

Saying ‘It’s in the sea that drowned we’ll be before I am controlled.’

The cries of women and children as in the hull they lay

While undismayed the gallant crew showed the pirates Irish play.

For the battle it commenced brave boys, the blood in streams did flow

As the Captain and his passengers did the pirates overthrow.

 

There was a young man on the deck, his sweetheart by his side

Right manfully they fought their way down by the bulwark side

She said ‘Brave boys, it’s nearly time for me to end this strife’

And with a pistol ball she took the pirate captain’s life.

And the pirate ship surrendered all by the break of day

And we took her as a prisoner on to Amerikay.

 

12. Remember Doolough [Lyrics, copyright John Tunney]

You may hear them speak about Mozambique

And of Africa’s famine tide

Of how drought and greed of which few take heed 

Have sapped a continent’s pride

And while millions cry, ten thousands die

And our governments take no stand

But a tale I’ll tell of a similar hell

That happened in our own land.

Early spring in ‘Black ’Forty-seven’ 

The country was on the rack

Day and night relentless blight 

Had consumed the tattie crop

And while cattle and grain were exported to Spain

And food lay piled in stores, 

In Mayo south and round about

The people they perished in scores.

Crowds were gathered in Louisburgh

Hoping for some relief.

’Twas said that the Poor Law Guardians

Could end their piteous grief.

These gentlemen fine were meeting to dine

In Delphi ten miles away.

Children, women and men, six-hundred strong, 

Set out on that fateful day. 

Crossing the Glankeen in full flood

Some fell by the riverside.

And going along the mountain road

Still more collapsed and died.

Exhausted and weak, scarcely able to speak,

They thronged into Delphi town

And waited en masse for food or a pass

To enter the workhouse grounds.

But after his meal of wine and veal

A guardian addressed them all.

There was no food here and he greatly feared, 

No room within workhouse walls.

They would have to go, hail rain or snow

And to their homes walk back.

Dismayed and afraid, despair in their hearts

They set out upon the track. 

Like harvest sheaves or autumn leaves

They fell dying along the road. 

As dark drew in and the snow it came down

The night it was bitter cold. 

Going along the cliff, the wind it blew stiff

Driving on the blinding sleet.

Hundreds were swept into Doolough’s depths, 

A horror beyond belief.

Next day relieving officers 

Had a terrible sight in store. 

With bodies strewn along the route

And littering Doolough shore.

Whole families dead, for want of being fed,

An injustice, a crying shame,

A forgotten sign, to our own time

When we witness the very same. 

For from the Sudan across Africa’s lands

Famine victims they wait in need. 

And a country like ours that knows this curse

Must surely take a lead.

Remember that walk, oh remember Doolough, 

Let our banners be unfurled, 

Against selfish gain and indifference to pain

But for justice throughout our world!

 

13. Around the Hand [Lyrics, copyright John Tunney]

In the parish of Kilmaley stands a house I still call home, 

And in my boyhood days from there, I never thought to roam.

My parents they worked long and hard; they owned a farm of land

In the shadow of Slievecallan quite adjacent to The Hand.

My father was a brawny man with a head of flaxen hair.

At saving hay or in the bog, none with him could compare.

He loved the fiddle and the flute, even joined a ceili band.

They used sometimes play in Gleeson’s not too distant from The Hand.

When I left school in ’85 there was no work for me.

The rich they just grew richer, while we were left to flee.

Like many’s a boy and girl back then, I was forced to leave this land,

And with heavy heart I bid farewell to friends around The Hand.

New York was such a shock to me, so big, so brash and bold.

The people they all buzzed like flies, no time for young or old.

I worked at landscape gardening where I toiled with soil and sand,

But I wished each day the holes I dug were in fields around The Hand.

In ’98 I joined the police, the famed NYPD.

I was proud to serve with gallant men across that grand City.

I stood in Battery Park that day the great Twin Towers fell,

And I said ‘Dear God, can this be real, a vision straight from hell?’

The air was filled with terror and a din that grew so loud.

For the dying and the dead we searched, through a dust-filled, toxic cloud.

Then I thought I heard my father speak, as though by me he did stand.

Saying: ‘Son, come home to Ireland, for you’re needed around The Hand.

We buried him within the month; the cancer took him fast.

I watched and prayed and held his hand when at length he breathed his last.

My wife and I, we talked it through, we just knew it would be grand;

There’d be no going back, from that day on, we’d live around The Hand.

So my father he has gone to God, in Kilmaley now he lies.

My mother yet is with us, still a twinkle in her eye.

She loves the home that we have made, built on my father’s land, 

In the shadow of Slievecallan, quite adjacent to The Hand.

 

14. Ó Ghlúin go Glúin – The Grandparent’s Lullaby [Melody and lyrics copyright John Tunney] 

 

Ó Ghlúin go Glúin our story goes, 

Our hopes and all our dreams, 

You’ll have your share of cares a stór

But I pray love reigns supreme. 

Chorus:

Singing Hushabba loo alannah, 

Singing hush a bababa lay.

That love and joy will be your lot,

For this I fondly pray.

For we are like the three wise kings

Who came the Christ child to embrace.

And as you’re passed between us now

A light shines through each face.

Chorus

Within each heart a prayer now forms,

A wish within each breast. 

That your way in life will be straight and true,

For you we want the best.

Chorus

That you would hear the skylark sing

When May flowers scent the air,

The murmur of a purling stream, 

Where lambs bleat without care.

Chorus

That you would see the twilight moths

Fly up against the moon,

The stars reflected in Doolough

On a calm, close night in June.

Chorus

That you would see the sun go down,

A fire ball in the sea.

And hear the waves break on the shore

And sometimes think on me.

Chorus

 

15. The Pride of Glencoe [Traditional]

As I went a-walking one evening of late

Where Flora’s green mantle the fields decorate.

I carelessly wandered where I did not know,

By the banks of the fountain that lies in Glencoe.

Like she who the prize of Mount Ida had won,

Approached a wee lassie as fair as the sun;

With ribbons and tartans that round her did flow

And that once won MacDonald the Pride of Glencoe.

With courage undaunted I to her drew nigh,

As the red rose and the lily on her cheek seemed to vie.

I asked her her name and how far she did go.

And she answered, ‘Be kind sir, I am bound for Glencoe.’

I said, ‘My wee lassie, your enchanting smile,

And your comely fine features do my heart beguile.

If your kind affections on me you’d bestow, 

I would bless the happy hour that we met in Glencoe.

 

‘Kind sir,’ she made answer, ‘your suit I disdain.

I once had a sweetheart, MacDonald by name.

He’s gone to the war about ten years ago, 

And a maid I’ll remain till he returns to Glencoe.’

‘The power of the French, love, is hard to pull down,

They have beat many heroes of fame and renown;

And with your young Donald it may happen so, 

The man you love dearly perchance is laid low.’ 

‘My Donald’s true virtue when tried in the field,

Like his gallant forbears, he will disdain to yield.

The Spaniards and French he will soon overthrow, 

And in triumph return to my arms in Glencoe.’

 

‘Perhaps young MacDonald regards not your name,

And has placed his affections on some other dame.

He may have forgotten for aught that you know,

The lovely wee lassie he left in Glencoe.’

‘My Donald from his promise, will never depart

For love, truth and honour are found in his heart.

And if I never see him, I single will go, 

And I’ll mourn for MacDonald the pride of Glencoe.

 

Then finding her constant, he pulled out a glove

Which at parting she had given him as a token of love;

She flew to his arms while the tears down did flow,

Saying, ‘You’re welcome McDonald, the pride of Glencoe.’

‘Cheer up now young Flora, your sorrows are o’er;

While life does remain, we will never part more.

The storms of the war at a distance may blow,                                        

While in peace and contentment we’ll reside in Glencoe.’

16. The Tattie Hokers [Verse 1/chorus traditional, verses 2, 3, 4 and 5 copyright John Tunney]

Wha saw the tattie hokers?                                

Wha saw them gaun awa?                                  

Wha saw the tattie hokers                                   

Strollin doon the Broomielaw?                           

Awheen o them had shoes and stockins              

Mare o them had nane at aa                               

Some o them had a wee dram of whisky             

For tay keep the cauld awa.          

                      

Some of them come fay Fermanagh

Mare they come fay Donegaa

Men and women, bully wee chils

Strolling doon the Broomielaw,

They’ve been workin in the lowlands

On farms fay Stewarton tay Patna 

Hookin tatties, snaggin turnips

Now for hame they sail awa. 

Chorus

The work is hard, cruel an’ back-breakin

They miss their families and their friends

At night they sing and play their music

And tak what ayse their maker sends.

Sleepin rough in barns and bothies

On beds of rushes or o’ straw

Eatin porridge night and mornin

Meat on Sundays if at aa.

Chorus

Some who quit the tattie hokin

Head tay Glasgay and Garngad

Tay the steelworks and the gasworks

The labour’s hard, the wage not bad.

Slave from mornin tay the evenin

The dirt the sweat, the gaffer’s bawl

A man could miss the tattie hokin

The sweet fresh air, the lark’s clear call.

Chorus

There’s some who’ll die alone in bothies

A pauper’s grave far far fay hame

Most will mak it back to Ireland

Tay live and die amongst their ane.

We’ll live tay see their numbers dwindle

Till at last there’s nane at aa 

Just ghosts of coutless tattie hokers

Who still haunt the Brommielaw.

It’s A that saw the tattie-hokers…

 

17. The Royal Blackbird [Traditional]

On a fair summer’s morning of soft recreation, 

I heard a fair maiden a’ making great moan.

With sighing and sobbing and sad lamentation, 

A saying: ‘My Blackbird most royal has flown. 

My thoughts they deceive me, reflections do grieve me, 

And I am o’er burdened with sad misery. 

Yet if death it should blind me, as true love inclines me,

I would seek out my Blackbird wherever he be. 

Once in fair England my Blackbird did flourish, 

He was the chief flower that in it did spring.

Prime ladies of honour his person did nourish

Because that he was the true son of the king.

But alas this false fortune that still is uncertain

Has caused this long parting between him and me.

His name I’ll advance in Spain and in France. 

And I’ll seek out my Blackbird wherever he be.

The birds of the forest they all met together;

The turtle was chosen to dwell with the dove.

And I am resolved in fair or foul weather, 

In winter or in springtime, to make him my love.

He’s all my heart’s treasure, my joy and my pleasure, 

And truly my sweetheart my heart follows thee. 

He is constant and kind and courageous of mind;

All bliss to my Blackbird wherever he be. 

In England my Blackbird and I were together, 

When he was still noble and generous of heart.

And woe to the time that he first went from hither, 

Alas, he was forced from that land to depart. 

In Scotland he is deemed and highly esteemed. 

In England he’s seen still in exile to be,

Yet his name will still remain on in France and in Spain

All bliss to my Blackbird wherever he may be. 

It is not the ocean that frights me with danger

Although like a pilgrim I wander forlorn. 

I can still hope for comfort from those who are strangers

Much more than from those that in England were born.

Oh, heaven so spacious, to Britain be gracious

Though there be those in it that are odious to me. 

May joy and renown and laurels still crown

My Blackbird with honour wherever he be.

 

18. Kind Friends and Companions [Traditional]

Kind friends and companions together combine.

Come raise up your glasses in chorus with mine.

We will drink and be merry, good drinks and refrain, 

That we may or might never all meet here again.

Chorus:

Here’s a health to the company and one to my lass.

We will drink and be merry all out of one glass.

We will drink and be merry, good drinks and refrain,

That we may or might never all meet here again.

Here’s a health to the wee lass that I love so well.

For style and for beauty, none can her excel.

She smiles on my countenance as she sits on my knee.

There is none in this wide world so happy as me.

Chorus

Our ship lies at anchor and ready to dock.

I wish her safe landing without shake or shock.

And when we are sailing to the land of the free.

I will always remember your kindness to me.

Chorus

I have read that old proverb; I have read it so true.

My love she’s as fair as the bright morning dew.

I have read that old proverb, I suppose so have you.

So good friends and companions I bid you adieu.

One more time!

 

19. Hybrassil (or For Sheila) (Lyrics, copyright Paddy Tunney, arranged by John Tunney)

O! soul serene of stately mien,

My mountain queen, my treasure,

Come join me on the hills of hope

And joy beyond all measure.

A balm we’ll find, to soothe the mind, 

To heal the pain and sorrow.

The whole long night we’ll drink delight

And greet the sun tomorrow.

Stay darling dearest, tarry stay,

And lead me up the Milky Way

To love forever and a day

In that Enchanted Isle. 

And there where sin and sorrow cease,

With honey from the hive of peace,

We’ll find the long-lost Golden Fleece

That Time cannot defile.

O! woman shapely as a swan,

I kneel to worship breath indrawn.

You turn black night to rosy dawn

With one bewitching smile.

Your eyes adazzle with delight

And mouth that mocks the rowans bright

Your bosom, alabaster white

My senses they beguile.

Stay darling dearest, tarry stay,

And lead me up the Milky Way

To love forever and a day

In that Enchanted Isle. 

And there where sin and sorrow cease,

With honey from the hive of peace,

We’ll find the long-lost Golden Fleece

That Time cannot defile.