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Origins: Rambling Irishman/ Loch Erne

GUEST,M. 19 Jul 12 - 11:43 PM
GUEST,Joxer 20 Jul 12 - 04:42 AM
John MacKenzie 20 Jul 12 - 05:18 AM
Owen Woodson 20 Jul 12 - 10:05 AM
GUEST 20 Jul 12 - 01:44 PM
Jim Carroll 21 Jul 12 - 03:19 AM
GUEST,Nancy 07 Feb 17 - 09:39 AM
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Subject: Origins: Rambling Irishman/ Loch Erne
From: GUEST,M.
Date: 19 Jul 12 - 11:43 PM

Does anyone know anything about the history/origins of "The Rambling Irishman" (also called "Loch Erne")? Dolores Keane did a wonderful version with Da Dannan a while ago.

Here's the lyrics:

I am a rambling Irishman
In Ulster I was born in
And many happy hours I spent
On the banks of sweet Lough Erne
But to live poor I could not endure
As others of my station
To America I sailed away
And left this Irish nation

Ry tan tin-a-na, tan tin-a-na
Ry tan tin-a-noora nandy

The night before I went away
I spent it with my darling
3 o'clock in the afternoon
'Til the break of day next morning
But when that we were going to part
we linked each others arms
You maybe sure, and very sure
It wounded both our charms

Ry tan tin-a-na, tan tin-a-na
Ry tan tin-a-noora nandy

The very first night I slept on board
I dreamt about my Nancy
I dreamt I held her in my arms
And well she pleased my fancy
But when I woke out of my dream
I found my bosom empty
You may be sure, and very sure
That I lay discontented

Ry tan tin-a-na, tan tin-a-na
Ry tan tin-a-noora nandy

When we arrived on the other side
We were both stout and healthy
We dropped our anchor in the bay
Going down to Philadelphia
So let every lass link with her lad
In blue jacket and white trousers
And let every lad link with his lass
Blue petticoat and white flounces

Ry tan tin-a-na, tan tin-a-na
Ry tan tin-a-noora nandy
Ry tan tin-a-na, tan tin-a-na
Ry tan tin-a-noora nandy

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Subject: RE: Origins: Rambling Irishman/ Loch Erne
From: GUEST,Joxer
Date: 20 Jul 12 - 04:42 AM

As far as I know, Dolores Keane learned the song from Len Graham. Where Len learned it I don't know but I have heard him sing it with an extra verse, which I have written down somewhere and I'll post it here if I can find it.

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Subject: RE: Origins: Rambling Irishman/ Loch Erne
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 20 Jul 12 - 05:18 AM

First time I heard this it was sung by Alex Campbell, and it is on one of his LP's, can't remember which one.

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Subject: RE: Origins: Rambling Irishman/ Loch Erne
From: Owen Woodson
Date: 20 Jul 12 - 10:05 AM

Check Len Graham's book on Joe Holmes, Here I Am Amongst Ye. The full details are in there. However, as far as I can remember, Len got the first verse from Joe and then carried out an exhaustive search for the rest of the song. He eventually ran it to earth in Belfast, courtesy of a relative of Joe's.

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Subject: RE: Origins: Rambling Irishman/ Loch Erne
Date: 20 Jul 12 - 01:44 PM

Have an Andy M. Stewart CD called Donegal Rain that opens w/this song. While I don't have the cd right here I believe he credits Dolores Keane as being his source. I'll post back if that info is incorrect.

BTW, it's my all time 'desert island-one cd' favorite.

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Subject: RE: Origins: Rambling Irishman/ Loch Erne
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Jul 12 - 03:19 AM

The Song, under the title 'The Banks of Sweet Lough Erne' is included in Len's book on Joe Holmes 'Here I Am Amongst You' (extensive note below)
The Holmes' family seem to be the main source.
Joe's daughter, Mary McQuestion can be heard singing it on the (excellent if you can still get it) double cassette Harvest Home (vol 2)
Jim Carroll

Coming home from Mickey Mcllhatton's at Skerry West, Co. Antrim one night back in the 1960s, Joe went over snatches of this song. It was one that his old neighbour, singer and fellow fiddler, Willie Clarke used to sing. Joe was having difficulty recalling the whole song. Some days later, Joe told me he had made some enquiries and confirmed that Willie's daughter Mary, now McQueston, who had moved in the 1930s to Belfast was still alive and there was a good chance she may know the song and he handed me her address. Within a week, I was knocking the front door of Mary's house in the York Street district of Belfast and sure enough she was able to sing me her father's song. This became a great favourite of Joe and myself and on one of our visits to the Keanes of Caherlistrane, Co. Galway we sang it and Dolores fell in love with the song and learned it from us. On the first De Dannan album of 1975 Dolores sang with band accompaniment — The Rambling Irishman — which has since become a classic. Other recordings of this followed by The Boys of the Lough, Dick Gaughan and many others, making it a very popular song at home and abroad. Eddie Butcher sang me a couple of verses of The Rambling Irishman, but I think with his phenomenal memory he had learned it from hearing Joe and I singing it. Another version of The Rambling Irishman came to me from Julie Henigan from Springfield, Missouri. Julie kindly sent me a copy of an archive recording of rhe Ozarks singer Bertha Lauderdale. Bertha called the song New York Bay and she was recorded in 1961 by folk song collector Max Hunter. Max, unfamiliar with the Irish place-names, in his transcriptions of the recordings of Bertha's songs, he interpreted one song The Limerick Races as The Lemory Graces and in New York Bay the banks of sweet Lough Erne became the banks of sweet Lauairen!

I'm an Irishman from Monaghan, in the north country I was born in,
It was many the pleasant hour I spent, on the banks of sweet Lauairen,
But to be poor I could not endure, as others in my station,
And with a heart full sore, I quit the shore of the once loved Irish nation.

Laddly-tie-ri-are, laddly-tie-ri-a-a, laddly-tie-i-air-o-laddie.

I am grateful to Dr Michael O'Leary of Boston College for drawing my attention to a three-stanza fragment of the song which is attributed to the bard, Jerry Monaghan, who along with other families residing 'on the banks of the Lough Erne' emigrated about the year 1790.

On the fourth of June, in the afternoon, we sailed from Londonderry;
Early next day we put to sea to cross the tedious ferry:
We hoisted sail with a pleasant gale, as Phoebus was arising,
Bound for New York, in America, in the grand brig Eliza.

A British fleet we chanced to meet, on the twenty-fourth of August;
A man-of-war came bearing down with crowded sails upon us.
Brave Knight, being true to all his crew, advanced unto the captain,
And when he made a bow to him, showed America's protection.

Apparently the vessel Eliza was commanded by Captain Knight which entered Delaware Bay and not New York as stated in this version of the song and proceeded to the port of New Castle. Some of them crossed the Allegheny Mountains and settled in Fayette County, not far from present day Connellsville, Pennsylvania and presumably some ventured further afield into the Appalachians, the Ozarks and beyond.
Yet another song was pointed out to me by James Foley of Omagh. James showed me a copy of a song attributed to a nineteenth-century song-smith called James Devine from Loughash, Donemana, Co. Tyrone. This song has similarities to The Rambling Irishman and Devine called it The Banks of Sweet Glenmornan. John Moulden, who has extensively researched the Sam Henry Collection, kindly sent me a transcript of the song. Sam Henry was absent from the editorship of the Songs of the People series from mid-1928 until late 1932 and during this period there were three other contributors to the series, including William Devine from Coleraine. William Devine published The Banks of Sweet Glenmornan in the Songs of the People series as No. 334 in the Northern Constitution newspaper, Coleraine in 1930. You will note from the first verse how James Devine must have been familiar with the older song The Rambling Irishman:

I'm an Irishman from sweet Strabane, a North countryman born,
Many a pleasant day I spent on the banks of sweet Glenmornan.
For to live poor I could not endure; like another of my station,
I took my way to Americay and I left the Irish nation.

The Ozark highlands of Missouri and Arkansas is a region west of the Appalachian Mountains and like the Appalachian region it was heavily settled by the Scotch-Irish in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Because of the large number of Scotch-Irish travelling south from Pennsylvania in the late eighteenth century, the valley route soon came to be known simply as the 'Irish Road'.
There were several waves of emigration from Ireland to North America. The pre-famine migrants from Ulster were predominantly Presbyterians, who became known as the Scotch-Irish. The rerm 'Scotch-Irish' significantly only became popular after 1850: before that they were usually referred to as Irish (sometimes wild Irish).83 The Rambling Irishman song would appear to pre-date the Irish famine during and after which the majority of emigrants were mainly Catholic. In Ireland the Ulster Presbyterians experienced a number of problems that made their lives difficult. As Presbyterians in an Anglican state, most of them faced religious hostility from the government. Like the Catholic population they were subject to penal laws barring them from higher education and the professions and forcing them to pay tithes to the Church of Ireland. From the 1680s until the American Revolution temporarily cut off shipping, at least 250,000 sailed to North America. After the Revolution an even larger wave crossed, perhaps 500,000 more, peaking in the period between the Napoleonic wars and the Great Famine. Philadelphia was their pre-eminent port of entry, but they settled all along the Eastern seaboard, from Nova Scotia to Georgia. John Dunlap, who was born in Strabane, Co. Tyrone in 1746, the son of a saddler, is said to have served his apprenticeship as a printer in Gray's Printing Shop, Main Street, Strabane, which is preserved as a museum by the National Trust. He emigrated to Philadelphia, and as printer to Congress in 1776 he issued the American Declaration of Independence. He is also remembered as the founder of the first daily newspaper in the US, the Pennsylvania Packet. In 1789 he wrote to his brother-in-law Robert Rutherford in Strabane:

Dear Brother,
We are told the Parliament of Ireland means to lay restrictions on those who want to come from that country to this ... the young men of Ireland who wish to be free and happy should leave it and come here as quick as possible. There is no place in the world where a man meets so rich a reward for good conduct and industry as in America ... I am, dear Sir, your affectionate brother, John Dunlap.
The renowned English folklorist Cecil Sharp, who collected extensively in the Southern Appalachian region of the US in the early twentieth century, is recorded in 1917 in conversation with J. Russell Smith at Knoxville, Tennessee. Sharp had just returned from the mountains, joyful over a book full of new ballads, copied down as people had sung them to him.

'These missionaries with their schools!' he exclaimed indignantly. 'I'd like to build a wall around these mountains and let the mountain people alone. The only distinctive culture in America is here. These people live. They sustain themselves on the meanest food. They are not interested in eating, but they have time to sing ballads.'

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Subject: RE: Origins: Rambling Irishman/ Loch Erne
From: GUEST,Nancy
Date: 07 Feb 17 - 09:39 AM

Just happened onto this thread while listening to the "Wayfaring Strangers" CD. The discussion above adds sooo much to the history, and content. Thank you!

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