The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #66662   Message #1108766
Posted By: Liam's Brother
03-Feb-04 - 11:21 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Leaving of Liverpool
Subject: RE: Origins: Leaving of Liverpool
William Main Doerflinger recorded "The Leaving of Liverpool" from two sailors, both in New York City. Dick Maitland's version is the one in Songs of the Sailor and Lumberman as Malcolm points out above. The second version was from Patrick Tayleur and that has not been published. Captain Tayleur's version is very much free form and indicates to me that, possibly, he never actually sang the song himself but heard others do so. He knew the story line but not the actual poetry of it. When I asked Bill about it, he simply said Captain Tayleur did not sing "The Leaving of Liverpool." Bill was a very kind, courtly man. I did not press him but I believe he was telling me that Captain Tayleur did not have a real grasp on the song and it was a matter not worth pursuing.

To the best of my knowledge, Ewan MacColl was the first person to record "The Leaving of Liverpool" commercially. That's where I first heard it. It's a very nice rendition, slow and soulful. Lou Killen was one of the chorus singers at that session. Lou took up the song and he believes that Luke Kelly of the Dubliners, who was living in England at the time, probably heard it from him. Luke undoubtedly brought it to the Dubliners and the Clancy Brothers probably got it from them. Along the way, everything started to rhyme and "My darling when I think on you" became "My darling when I think on thee."

Bob Conroy and I were guests at the Aonach Paddy O'Brien a few years back and sang "The Leaving of Liverpool" at a session. George Henderson, whose thoughts grace the Mudcat from time-to-time, was the moderator and asked Deirdre Scanlan to sing "The Leaving of Limerick" next. The melodies are very, very close and a number of similar themes occur in both songs. When I asked him later, Tom Munnelly told me that, like "The Leaving of Liverpool," "The Leaving of Limerick" (or "The Leaving of Ireland" as it's also known) is a very rare song. One sprang from the other.

Bill Doerflinger was a lovely and very interesting man. You can read about him at Bill Doerflinger tribute. I sang "The Leaving of Liverpool" at Bill's memorial service.   

All the best,
Dan Milner