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Lyr Req: Song about Mullaghcarn

GUEST 02 Apr 16 - 08:05 AM
Joe Offer 14 Jul 18 - 03:44 AM
John Moulden 16 Jul 18 - 04:22 AM
John Moulden 20 Jul 18 - 04:31 PM
Noreen 20 Jul 18 - 04:51 PM
Jim Dixon 20 Jul 18 - 06:10 PM
Jim Dixon 22 Jul 18 - 04:25 PM
John Moulden 22 Jul 18 - 06:05 PM
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Date: 02 Apr 16 - 08:05 AM

Many years ago, I remember my late paternal grandmother (i.e. my father's mother) singing a song, of whioch I can only remember part of the first two lines. She died in August 1979 but it was probably a few years at least before this.

The song's subject (and perhaps title) was Mullaghcarn (it may be spelled Mullagh Carn or with other variations, although would probably be pronounced something like Mullagh Cairn or Mullagh Herne) which is a mountain, over 1,700 feet high, some miles NE of Omagh, County Tyrone, in the west of Northern Ireland (it is visible for miles around from the nearby lowlands). My grandmother was I think born not too far away.

The only bit I remember goes something like:

Way (up there) by Mullaghcarn (I am not sure about the bit in brackets)
Clad with heather and fern

Sorry I haven't any more of the words. I suspect it would be 19th or perhaps early 20th century (though could be earlier than 19th); in those days when travelw as restricetd and there was no TV or cinema, a lot of songs were about the writers own locality.

It is not in Sam Henry's book "Songs of the People". It is probably a very obscure song but someone with close and present connections with that part of County Tyrone, or a deep knowledge of old songs from Northern Ireland, may be able to help. I tried googling some time ago but didn't come up with anything. If anyone can tell me anything about the song, I would be very grateful.

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Subject: RE: Lyr req: Song about Mullaghcarn
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Jul 18 - 03:44 AM


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Subject: RE: Lyr req: Song about Mullaghcarn
From: John Moulden
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 04:22 AM

There is a typescript among Sam Henry's papers which bears the words of a poem 'Mullaghcarn' which was written by one Albert Ernest Stafford Smyth of Hamilton Ontario and published in his volume "The Garden of the sun". However, it doesn't rhyme Mullaghcarn with fern.
It's a description of an idyllic day spent with his Norah.
To my mind it's a very minor poem, though Henry had a tune in tonic sol-fa (as he did). I'm loth to transcribe but will happily do, if it rings any further bells.
Looking further I see that Henry also had this as sheet music, published privately by Smyth. If there is point, I could forward a scan.

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Subject: RE: Lyr req: Song about Mullaghcarn
From: John Moulden
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 04:31 PM

Well, the inquiry was on the 2nd April so presumably the nameless GUEST has despaired of an answer. I'll just have to keep refreshing so that there's a chance that s/he'll return 'in anticipation'.

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Subject: RE: Lyr req: Song about Mullaghcarn
From: Noreen
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 04:51 PM

2nd April 2016 :)

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Subject: RE: Lyr req: Song about Mullaghcarn
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 06:10 PM

This database of Irish placenames lists a "mountain or mountain range" called Mullach Cairn (in Irish) or Mullaghcarn (in English) which seems to be in the right location.

It is also in Wikipedia as Mullaghcarn with Mullach Cairn given as the Irish spelling. lists several books by an author named Albert Ernest Stafford Smythe (note the spelling: Smythe).

Gotta go now. Might do more research later.

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Subject: Lyr Add: MULLAGHCARN (Smythe)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 22 Jul 18 - 04:25 PM

I doubt this was ever meant to be sung, or that it could be turned into a song that would sound at all folksy; therefore I don't think it's the song our guest had in mind:

From The Garden of the Sun by Albert Ernest Stafford Smythe (Toronto: The Macmillan Company of Canada, Ltd, 1923), page 46:


It was worth a life to live to see that day
    On the hill-top in the heart of Old Tyrone,
With the sun in all the valleys and the heavens bright with May—
    Old Tyrone, Old Tyrone, Old Tyrone!
There we watched the wee roads wandering off where every wind has blown
    Threading hill and valley, mountain pass and glen—
"Could you leave behind Lisleer, face the world without a fear?"
    Was my question, and it passed beyond our ken.

Our two hearts went soaring up in that blue sky
    As we climbed the heather slopes of Mullaghcarn;
It was all a world of glory and our hopes were set on high—
    Mullaghcarn, Mullaghcarn, Mullaghcarn!
There we found a ferny hollow with a little shining tarn
    Like a mirror, showing heaven in its glass;
There was never such a throne for a king and queen alone
    As we made among the bracken and the grass.

There you heard the fairy music faint and fine,
    And your eyes were filled with love-light, Norah mine,
Lives of old and lives to follow wove their magic spell benign,
    Norah mine, Norah mine, Norah mine!
That was years and years ago, dear, but love never knows decline
    When it serves the Selfless Heart through shine and showers;
For we vowed to Angus Oge we should give His blessing vogue—
    Youth eternal, Love and Wisdom—His and ours.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Song about Mullaghcarn
From: John Moulden
Date: 22 Jul 18 - 06:05 PM

Sorry, I didn't notice the 2016 - it appeared only because Joe entered 'refresh'. Smythe wrote music for this and had it published in sheet music form, privately.

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