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Origin: The 'Holly and Ivy' Girl (John Keegan)


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: The Holly and the Ivy (48)
Lyr Req: A different Holly and Ivy? / Nay Ivy Nay (18)
The Holly & the Ivy (Wren's Heart) (15)
Lyr Req: Sans Day Carol / The Holly Bears a Berry (31)
(origins) Origins: Holly and the Ivy (48)
Lyr Req: Sans Day Carol (in Cornish) (9)

GUEST,Pamela 02 Dec 00 - 08:22 AM
The Shambles 02 Dec 00 - 04:19 PM
Helen 02 Dec 00 - 06:14 PM
NightWing 05 Dec 00 - 01:31 PM
mousethief 05 Dec 00 - 01:47 PM
MMario 05 Dec 00 - 04:33 PM
Jim Dixon 22 Mar 08 - 06:50 PM
Malcolm Douglas 22 Mar 08 - 10:26 PM
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Subject: Info Request: Who Will Buy My Nice Ivy
From: GUEST,Pamela
Date: 02 Dec 00 - 08:22 AM

We're doing a song in a Christmas Concert - Who Will Buy My Nice Fresh Ivy. The only information I have on it is that is it Irish - does anyone know any more history about the tune? Lyrics: Who will buy my nice fresh ivy? And the holly springs so green? Oh won't you buy my ivy, Oh, you who love the green...

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Subject: RE: Info Request: Who Will Buy My Nice Ivy
From: The Shambles
Date: 02 Dec 00 - 04:19 PM

I don't know.

But this will put your request back to the top, where I am sure some kind and knowledgable soul will help.

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Subject: RE: Info Request: Who Will Buy My Nice Ivy
From: Helen
Date: 02 Dec 00 - 06:14 PM

Hi Pamela,

I'm sure the lovely folks here at Mudcat will be able to help you with your requests. I saw your posting on the Harplist.


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Subject: RE: Info Request: Who Will Buy My Nice Ivy
From: NightWing
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 01:31 PM

Still no answer? Refresh

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Subject: RE: Info Request: Who Will Buy My Nice Ivy
From: mousethief
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 01:47 PM

Not me. I'm rhythm guitar and mouth organ.

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Subject: RE: Info Request: Who Will Buy My Nice Ivy
From: MMario
Date: 05 Dec 00 - 04:33 PM

bringing back to the top for the evening crowd

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Subject: Lyr Add: THE "HOLLY AND IVY" GIRL (John Keegan)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 06:50 PM

Two versions of this poem/song have been posted at Mudcat: one called THE 'HOLLY AND THE IVY' GIRL and a shorter version called THE HOLLY AND IVY GIRL. However, I think this deserves to be repeated here.

This text, with its biography of the author, is copied from The Ballads of Ireland by Edward Hayes, 1855, page 346.


[John Keegan was born of humble parents in a village by the Nore, in the Queen's County, and died about forty years of age, in 1849. He was born and bred amongst the people,—he shared their occasional privations,—he thought and acted with them,—and was happy to die amongst them. He was plainly but well educated. At an early age he contributed tales and sketches to the Irish periodicals; and in course of time, became a well-known contributor of ballads to the Nation. Some of his best prose articles appeared in Dolman's Magazine,—to which he contributed also some poetry illustrative of the legends popular amongst the people, as well as upon the hard realities of their every day life. There were few men who surpassed him in knowledge of the legends and superstitions of the country; of these he was preparing a volume for publication, when he was hurriedly summoned to his eternal home. He was a poor man, who wrote for bread. His poems are thoroughly idiomatic, and as Irish in their gush of feeling and sentiment, as they are full of purity and tenderness.]

"COME, buy my nice, fresh Ivy, and my Holly sprigs so green;
I have the finest branches that ever yet were seen.
Come buy from me, good Christians, and let me home, I pray,
And I'll wish you 'Merry Christmas Times, and a Happy New Year's Day.'

"Ah! won't you take my Ivy?—the loveliest ever seen!
Ah! won't you have my Holly boughs?—all you who love the Green!
Do!—take a little bunch of each, and on my knees I'll pray,
That God may bless your Christmas, and be with you New Year's Day.

"This wind is black and bitter, and the hailstones do not spare
My shivering form, my bleeding feet, and stiff entangled hair;
Then, when the skies are pitiless, be merciful I say—
So Heaven will light your Christmas and the coming New Year's Day."

'Twas thus a dying maiden sung, whilst the cold hail rattled down,
And fierce winds whistled mournfully o'er Dublin's dreary town;—
One stiff hand clutched her Ivy sprigs and Holly boughs so fair,
With the other she kept brushing the hail-drops from her hair.

So grim and statue-like she seemed, 'twas evident that Death
Was lurking in her footsteps—whilst her hot, impeded breath
Too plainly told her early doom—though the burden of her lay
Was still of life, and Christmas joys, and a Happy New Year's Day.

'Twas in that broad, bleak Thomas-street, I heard the wanderer sing;
I stood a moment in the mire, beyond the ragged ring—
My heart felt cold and lonely, and my thoughts were far away,
Where I was, many a Christmas-tide, and Happy New Year's Day.

I dreamed of wanderings in the woods amongst the Holly Green;
I dreamed of my own native cot, and porch with Ivy screen;
I dreamed of lights for ever dimm'd—of Hopes that can't return—
And dropped a tear on Christmas fires, that never more can burn.

The ghostlike singer still sung on, but no one came to buy;
The hurrying crowd passed to and fro, but did not heed her cry:
She uttered one low, piercing moan—then cast her boughs away—
And smiling, cried—"I'll rest with God before the New Year's Day!"

* * * * *

On New Year's Day I said my prayers above a new-made grave,
Dug decently in sacred soil, by Liffey's murmuring wave;
The Minstrel maid from Earth to Heaven has winged her happy way,
And now enjoys, with sister-saints, an endless New Year's Day.

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Subject: RE: Origin: The 'Holly and Ivy' Girl (John Keegan)
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 10:26 PM

As I mentioned in the first thread linked to above, Keegan's song was set to 'Carolan's Lament'. Some further commentary is (a little anomalously) at

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Mudcat time: 22 July 7:14 PM EDT

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