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Origins: The Longford Murderer

DigiTrad:
JAMES MACDONALD


Related thread:
(origins) Origins: James McDonald murder case (8)


Martin Ryan 09 Oct 97 - 01:20 PM
DrWord 09 Oct 97 - 01:36 PM
Bruce 09 Oct 97 - 02:05 PM
Bruce 09 Oct 97 - 02:16 PM
Martin Ryan 09 Oct 97 - 04:42 PM
bigj 09 Oct 97 - 06:11 PM
Bruce 09 Oct 97 - 07:09 PM
Bruce 09 Oct 97 - 07:50 PM
Martin Ryan 10 Oct 97 - 10:34 AM
Joe Offer 01 May 04 - 08:04 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 01 May 04 - 09:50 PM
Franz S. 02 May 04 - 01:06 AM
Franz S. 02 May 04 - 01:09 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 02 May 04 - 12:13 PM
Abby Sale 02 May 04 - 12:45 PM
Franz S. 02 May 04 - 04:53 PM
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Subject: The Longford Murderer
From: Martin Ryan
Date: 09 Oct 97 - 01:20 PM

This song is in Ord's Collection of "Bothy Songs and Ballads", I believe. It's a straightforward murderer's last words story with, in the version I've seen, no real Scots content. (Longford is in Ireland, incidentally). On the other hand, I've never heard it nor of it in Ireland.

Can any of you broadsheet experts throw any light on it?

Regards


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Subject: RE: The Longford Murderer
From: DrWord
Date: 09 Oct 97 - 01:36 PM

Could you post the lyrics?

Dennis :)


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Subject: RE: The Longford Murderer
From: Bruce
Date: 09 Oct 97 - 02:05 PM

One version is in DT as "James McDonald", Laws' P38.


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Subject: RE: The Longford Murderer
From: Bruce
Date: 09 Oct 97 - 02:16 PM

Laws cites one broadside copy at Harvard. In Grieg-Duncan folksong collection there are several versions as #204 (Vol II). [One printed earlier without music in Grieg's 'Folk-Song of the Northeast' Art. 137].


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Subject: RE: The Longford Murderer
From: Martin Ryan
Date: 09 Oct 97 - 04:42 PM

Good start! "James McDonald" is essentially the same song - even the names survive. "Longford Jail" has become St. Albans, oddly enough.

I note the reference to "an Irish street ballad"

Must play the tune and see if the Irish words fit

Any more?

Regards


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Subject: RE: The Longford Murderer
From: bigj
Date: 09 Oct 97 - 06:11 PM

See - James MacDonald - Laws P38
" " - Helen Creighton 'Songs & Ballads of Nova Scotia pp 42-44
Longford Murder - Jounal of the English Folk Dance & Song Soc 1975 pp8-10
The only broadside I 've come across is 'James M'Donald who was executed for Murder' words only in the Frith collection of broadsides in Sheffield University.


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Subject: RE: The Longford Murderer
From: Bruce
Date: 09 Oct 97 - 07:09 PM

Slight correction - JEFDSS above should be 'Folk Music Journal', 1975. Note that this, pp. 8-10, is a traditional Irish version.

Should 'Frith' collection be 'Firth' collection?


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Subject: RE: The Longford Murderer
From: Bruce
Date: 09 Oct 97 - 07:50 PM

There seems to be no shortage of texts.

Tom Munnelly in his article in Folk Music Journal, 1975, noted a copy of the song in Vol. IV of Cecil Sharp's 'Folk Songs from Sommerset'.

There is also another American traditional text as (#6) "The St. Albans Murder" in the Warner collection (Traditional American Folk Songs, 1984).


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Subject: RE: The Longford Murderer
From: Martin Ryan
Date: 10 Oct 97 - 10:34 AM

Yes - the "James Mac Donald" title opened things up! Even my own small library produced some links.

There's a nice description in Cecil Sharp's biography of him collecting a version from "a gypsy woman" - the version referred to above as being in Folksongs of Somerset.

Helen Creighton's version is interesting in that it retains the Longford reference.

The tune certinly sounds Irish. Bert LLoyd discusses it in Folk song in England.

I'd be interested in a copy of Tom Munnelly's article since he presumably discusses any Irish traditional versions. Should be able to get it.

Many thanks to all.

Regards


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Subject: ADD: The Longford Murderer
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 May 04 - 08:04 PM

The Longford Murderer

Both young and old, I now make bold,
I pray you lend an ear;
It's of as cruel a murder
As ever you did hear.

It's of a pretty female,
Her age was scarce sixteen;
Her beauty bright made me delight,
And Satan made me sin.

This fair maid being a servant girl,
And I a farmer's son,
Her home in County Longford,
Convenient to my own.

I courted her in private,
Till I had her beguiled;
And then to take her tender life
I made this action wild.

'Twas on a Sunday evening,
As you may plainly see,
I sent for her in secret,
And soon she came to me.

I said, "My dearest Annie,
To Longford we will go;
It's there we will get married,
And no one here shall know."

So late that night we both set out
Across the dreary plain;
All on the way I talked full gay,
My action time to gain.

And the tender words she spoke to me
Would bring tears to your eye;
But I said, "We'll go no further,
For it's here that you must die."

"O Jamie, think on all your vows,
And do not me affright;
And do not commit murder
This dark and dismal night.

"I promise here, all on my knees,
If you will spare my life,
I'll never seek to trouble you,
Nor ask to be your wife."

The words she said were all in vain.
I struck her wondrous sore;
With a heavy whip I took her life.
And left her in her gore.

Her flowing blood did stain the ground,
Her moans they pierced my heart:
And thinking I had murdered her.
From her I quick did part.

But being alive next morning,
Just at the break of day,
A shepherd's only daughter
By chance did pass that way.

And seeing her lying in her gore,
She went to her release;
And Annie told her all my guilt,
And she sent for the police.

The cor'ner and the officer,
And the policeman likewise,
They all got information,
And set out in disguise.

They quickly me surrounded,
And put me on my trial;
And I was taken prisoner
And lodged in Longford Jail.

But I lay there with troubled mind
Until my trial day
When the judge in passing sentence,
These words to me did say-—

"For murdering of an orphan girl,
Your countrymen shall see,
On the twenty-fourth of April,
You'll hang on the gallows-tree."

My name is James M'Donald,
From life I soon must part
For the murdering of Annie O'Brien—
It grieves me to the heart.

But I hope the Lord will pardon me;
And, on my dying day,
When I do mount the scaffold,
Good Christians, for me pray.

This is an Irish Folk-song introduced into this country by Irish harvesters at the beginning of the last century.


Source: Ord's Bothy Songs and Ballads (1930), p. 477 ff
(no tune)


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Subject: RE: The Longford Murderer
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 01 May 04 - 09:50 PM

There are copies in the Bodleian Collection, two published in Dublin and one Dublin? Circa 1860s.
They do not seem to be good singing versions and are fairly long.

"James M'Donald Who was executed in Longford for the Murder of Anne O'Brien."
Last lines:

The jury found me guilty, and the judge to me did say-
Now for this cruel murder on an orphan, as you may see,
The 29th of April you'll die on the gallows tree
My name is James M'Donald, my life I now must part
For the murder of Anne O'Brien I'm sorry to the heart,
But I hope the Lord will pardon me against the judgement day.
(Harding B19(109), c. 1867, W. Birmingham, Dublin)


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Subject: RE: The Longford Murderer
From: Franz S.
Date: 02 May 04 - 01:06 AM

Joe and Q,
Thank you for the references. It's a bit awkward for me, since I am not a ballad scholar. Eleanor and D. K. are/were. I learned much from them, and one thing I learned from my mother many years ago was to be meticulous in all works, but I take on faith most of the scholarship.


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Subject: RE: The Longford Murderer
From: Franz S.
Date: 02 May 04 - 01:09 AM

Oh, and what I'm looking for here is the historical incident from which the ballad derived.


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Subject: RE: The Longford Murderer
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 May 04 - 12:13 PM

See A. P. Richards, "Irish Murders," pub. Geddes and Grosset, available in paperback from Barnes and Noble, about $4.00, or used from many used book dealers.
or-
Kevin O'Connor, "Thou Shalt Not Kill, true life...," pub. Gill and MacMillan, also available in softcover.

Not certain that this murder will be in those books, but they have the story of many of them.


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Subject: RE: The Longford Murderer
From: Abby Sale
Date: 02 May 04 - 12:45 PM

Gotta compliment you for follow-up, Joe.


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Subject: RE: The Longford Murderer
From: Franz S.
Date: 02 May 04 - 04:53 PM

Thank you, Q. I'll check them out.


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