The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #36075   Message #928077
Posted By: Felipa
07-Apr-03 - 04:40 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Hiring fair songs
Subject: Lyr Add: THE DAYSMAN
as sung by Eddie Butcher of Magilligan, Co Derry, Ireland on "Shamrock, Rose and Thistle", Leader Records, 1971 - from a recording of Eddie Butcher made by Hugh Shields in 1961. Eddie Butcher died in 1980.


I once was a daysman, I wrought cause anent
And a day in the week was kept for the rent,
We had a row o'er the hours, my blood being on fire,
So I picked up me bundle and I started to hire.

My mother with fleeching she near made me curse,
She says. "You'll go further and maybe fare worse;
I had a fiver saved up, it was hid in the byre,
So I broke up the bank and set off for to hire.

I stood at the fair from morning till eve:
Not a bid for my body did I e'er receive,
Says I to mysel' "It's a glass you require,
And stretch away home, for you're not going to hire."

I just had resolved when two lassies came by
And the one was well featured on me cast her eye;
Says she to the other, "Jean, here's our desire,
This man with the bundle; he's wanting to hire."

I knew by the joke and the way they were dressed
They were two servant* lasses, no more nor no less,
Though their impudent cheek I was forced to admire
The well featured one that had asked me to hire.

Ten pounds I was offered for to milk night and morn,
From all sorts of drink to be teetotal sworn,
On me nights with the neighbours to no call and pass
And then keep me han' off the young servant lass.

I was to be fed on the best of strong tea,
A duck egg to my breakfast, and that every day;
But in no case the servant no courting might stand
Says I, "On the mistress I'll first try my hand."

I threw my arm roun' her, she struggled and fought;
She seen that I had her, she knew she was caught.
So I split up the fiver and a drink I did share,
And I courted her home the night of the fair.

But still I'm a daysman and I work cause anent
And the day in the week's aye kep' for the rent,
But I have no fiver now to hide in the byre
For the bank is the wee lass that asked me to hire.


*Shields spells this word as 'sarvent'to approximate Butcher's pronounciation, & 'our' as 'oor'

fleeching means coaxing - "begging you to stay at hame," said Eddie Butcher

Shields notes: "Here from the nineteenth century is something we might call an Ulster bothy ballad. 'If you're working cause anent' said E[ddie],'you're feeding yourself and you're gettin the money but no meat ... you'd be paid so much a week.'. Hiring fairs were held twice yearly in May and November. Those held near the town of Magilligan were known by the picturesque names of the 'Rabble' (Coleraine) and the 'Gallop' (Limavady). They were good places to hear ballad singers. ...
... The only other version I have seen of it was a text printed in the Northern Constitution on 17 Nov. 1923.
The air is major, but with pentatonic traits."

Sheet music for the tune can be found in Hugh Shields, Shamrock, Rose and Thistle. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1981.

further notes from the book:
"... The first time E sang me this song he left out v. 5 with its explanation that the 'lassies' were two servants; without this verse the story is altered, with it a kind of rural irony adds relish to the good 'offer' made in v. 6-7. During Oct-Nov 1932, correspondence in the Northern Constitution revealed widespread discontent among farm workers hired for the season; boys were said to have emigrated to Canada because they were being offered £6-8 for six months (5 Nov.)"