The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #12454   Message #3728407
Posted By: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar
05-Aug-15 - 01:51 PM
Thread Name: Lyr/Tune Req: The Green Fields of Canada
Subject: Canada/America?
I've recently been learning this tune as a slow air on the pipes, and came to the Mudcat for two reasons: first, to find the words as a guide to the phrasing of the tune, and second to settle a bantering argument with my teacher about whether the fields in question are of Canada (my preference), America (his) or indeed Amerikay. Once I had found the words here, I became interested in any discussion of the likely age of the song

This seems as good a thread to revive as any of the others on the topic - I have 10 tabs open on my PC by now in an unsuccessful effort to find the definitive or preferred thread.

First, here's a short video on lint dams - with commentary appropriately in an Ulster accent. This confirms that lint dams are used for extracting linen fibres from raw flax, in a process known as retting (cue "Gone with the Wind" diversion). Linen production in Ireland was particularly concentrated in Ulster.

The reference to lint dams in the song allows me to make a wild shortcut argument that emigration from Ulster is more likely to have been to Canada (that may be true or false, but politicians get elected on the basis of less rigorous logic).

My second argument in favour of Canada is that in several verses the word Canada fits the scansion scheme better (notably in the first two verses of DT THE GREEN FIELDS OF AMERICA (3)).

One of the threads refers to the dating of the song to 1810-1820. That confirms my hunch that it relates to the recession created by the outbreak of peace after the Napoleonic wars, a recession that Milo Minderbender would have understood. Moreover, as US independence was still relatively recent then, the distinction between Canada and America may not have seemed so important.

Finally, a word on the melody. It's a slow version of a tune that is most commonly heard now as the hornpipe "Poll Ha'penny ".