The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #12454   Message #3728482
Posted By: Jim Carroll
05-Aug-15 - 07:40 PM
Thread Name: Lyr/Tune Req: The Green Fields of Canada
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Req: The Green Fields of Canada
One of my favourite introductions to the song wag given by Ewan MacColl when he used it to introduce Paddy Tunney's rendition of it on the magnificent series of programmes, The Song Carriers, back in the mid sixties.
"Paddy Tunney, a fragment of whose singing you heard a moment ago, has the same marvellous feeling for tempo. Here he is, singing an Irish exile song, "The Green Fields of Canada"!
This highly dramatic piece is in the form of a lament. Tunney's approach to it is revealing. He uses an almost laconic style of utterance, quite unlike his usual lyrical approach. Even his voice is pitched down and the decorations (which are so to speak his personal trademark) are used very sparingly. Surprisingly, and contrary to the usual lamentation style, he takes the song at a rather brisk tempo. Now most exile songs place the singer on a foreign shore and we are asked to picture him sitting down and gazing sorrowfully across a wide expanse of sea. The mood is usually one of stillness. In "The Green Fields of Canada", the singer is about to leave Ireland and Tunney's toned-down, rather brisk singing creates for us the picture of a man walking towards the quay-side where the ship waits which will carry him away from his native land. He walks quickly, not daring to turn round for fear his heart should break."
MacColl updated it for the Philip Donellan film, The Irishman around the same time, it was sung by Paul Lenihan from Dublin, on the soundtrack.
In my opinion, some of MacColl's best songs were composed for the film
Jim Carroll


Farewell to the groves of Shillelagh and Shamrock,
Farewell to the girls of old Ireland all round.
May their hearts be as merry as ever I would wish them,
When I'm away from my own native land.

My mother is old and my father defeated,
By hard work and poverty; it grieves my heart sore
To see them so patient with all hope departed,
And now I must leave them for a foreign shore.

Then farewell to the green hills and lakes of Killarney,
Farewell to the white strand where green billows roll;
Farewell to Blackwater and to wild Connemara,
The pinched face of charity and life on the dole.

The pastures are fenced and the woods are protected,
The pheasant and partridge they nest in the field;
While away 'cross the ocean go journeymen tailors,
And fiddlers who flaked out the old mountain reels.

Young boys and old men and the fathers of children,
In search of employment from Ireland must go;
Abandoned, disinherited, the landless of Ireland,
From Kerry, Cork and Leitrim and the County Mayo.

Then it's pack up your bag and consider no longer,
The boat's at the quay, so it's shoulder your load;
Turn the key in the door, take a last look at Ireland,
The land's for the bullock and the men for the road.

Re-written from a song of the same name recorded from Paddy Tunney of Beleek, Co. Fermanagh and used in a film called 'The Irishmen', about building labourers from Ireland working in Britain.