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Origin: Red Haired Man's Wife (more info needed)

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RED HAIRED MAN'S WIFE


Related thread:
Lyr Req: Loch Lein (9)


Jon W. 05 Dec 97 - 11:01 AM
Alice 05 Dec 97 - 11:45 AM
Alice 05 Dec 97 - 06:22 PM
Bruce O. 05 Dec 97 - 07:03 PM
Jon W. 05 Dec 97 - 08:12 PM
Barry 05 Dec 97 - 10:04 PM
Bruce O. 06 Dec 97 - 02:56 PM
Martin Ryan 07 Dec 97 - 07:43 PM
Barry Finn 25 Jan 00 - 09:37 PM
Áine 26 Jan 00 - 12:05 AM
GUEST,Neil Comer 26 Jan 00 - 05:15 PM
Mbo 26 Jan 00 - 08:48 PM
GUEST,Jamesize 01 Nov 07 - 06:12 PM
Barry Finn 01 Nov 07 - 09:39 PM
Peace 01 Nov 07 - 10:56 PM
GUEST,songster 02 Nov 07 - 05:08 AM
Malcolm Douglas 02 Nov 07 - 05:19 AM
Snuffy 02 Nov 07 - 09:40 AM
GUEST,kayti sullivan 25 Mar 12 - 05:56 PM
AmyLove 29 Dec 15 - 09:56 PM
AmyLove 29 Dec 15 - 10:14 PM
AmyLove 13 Dec 16 - 06:35 PM
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Subject: The Red Haired Man's Wife (more info needed)
From: Jon W.
Date: 05 Dec 97 - 11:01 AM

This is an offshoot of the "Erin's Green Shore" thread. Alice of Montana mentioned "The Red Haired Man's Wife" as being an allegorical song. Barry asked her to clarify. I butted in with this:

I'm going to try my hand at literary analysis here. If you take the Red Haired Man to be England (the Redcoats), the wife to be Northern Ireland, and the singer to be Ireland (from the Sinn Fein point of view), the song reflects the current political situation rather well.

The version I have is from the Boys of the Lough album "Wish You Were Here." Cathall McConnell, the singer, does the first three verses essentially the same as the version in the DT, but the last verse is completely different:

Oh my darlin' sweet Phoenix, if now you could be my own,
For the patriarch David had a number of wives, it's well known,
So yield to my embraces and straight put an end to all strife,
Or else I'll go crazy to gain the Red Haired Man's wife.

In other songs in the DT, I've seen "Phoenix Park" as a place name, apparently somewhere in Ireland. If someone could tell where exactly this place is, it might shed a little more light on the subject.

One problem I see with this analysis is that I suspect the song was written long before Irish independence--or perhaps it refers to an earlier partitioning of Ireland?

Any more information would be interesting to read.


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Subject: RE: The Red Haired Man's Wife (more info needed)
From: Alice
Date: 05 Dec 97 - 11:45 AM

What I have to offer on this subject comes from Herbert Hughs, who collected and arranged four volumes of "Irish Country Songs". In the preface to the first volume, (1909), he wrote, "Musical scholars, as well as political experts, are apt to forget that the history of Ireland is not the history of England. They forget that over a thousand years ago Ireland was the most highly educated country in Western Europe, and that even in her decadence, her contemporary literature and folk-music still have qualities that are peculiar to her, and do not quickly respond to the influence of antipathetic forces."... in volume III, which contains THE RED HAIRED MAN'S WIFE, I quoted parts of his preface of 1934 regarding allegorical names for Ireland. (This is in the previous thread.) Hughes referred to Katharine Tynan's poem. The English words to the air THE RED HAIRED MAN'S WIFE, were written by Katharine Tynan. He makes the note under ROISIN DUBH (Little Black Rose), "Roisin Dubh *pronounced Rosheen Doov, was one of the many secret or allegorical names by which Ireland was referred to in bardic literature and folk-lore. See note on 'The Red Haired Man's Wife'". Here are her words, as written in the arrangement of the music by Herbert Hughes.

THE RED HAIRED MAN'S WIFE
Katharine Tynan (Her name is spelled Katherine in the preface, and then Katharine on the page of music.)

Though full as 'twill hold of gold the harvest has smiled
I'll never have relief from grief for that fond grey-eyed child
Whom kindred most cruel poor jewel into loveless wedded life,
With anguish be it told have sold to be the Red Haired Man's Wife.
That fond valentine of mine a letter I sent
That I'd soon set sail with stores galore to wed her 'ere Lent
Her friends stole the note I wrote and far worse than with knife
Have slain my bright pearl for a churl: She's the Red Haired Man's Wife
Oh child and sweetheart their art had you but withstood
Till I had come home o'er the foam for our great joy and good
I had not now to go under woe o'er the salt sea's strife
A wand'rer to France from the glance of the Red Haired Man's Wife.

Well, there it is. Rather awkward and hard to follow the train of thought, so it is no wonder other verses have been written to the tune. Maybe someone else can enlighten us more on Katherine (Katharine?) Tynan. My interpretation is a lament for Ireland being "sold" off by kindred and friends (traitors) in a loveless marriage to England. Alice in Montana


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Subject: RE: The Red Haired Man's Wife (more info needed)
From: Alice
Date: 05 Dec 97 - 06:22 PM

...later. A quick search on the net brings up quite a bit about Katharine Tynan, born in Dublin in 1861, married to Henry Hinkson, a lawyer and author. She was a major Irish poet of her times. Also wrote SHEEP AND LAMBS. alice, mt


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Subject: RE: The Red Haired Man's Wife (more info needed)
From: Bruce O.
Date: 05 Dec 97 - 07:03 PM

The version of "The Red-haired man's wife" in DT is incomplete. Jon W's verse is the last of 7 of a copy in Colm O Lochlainn's 'Irish Street Ballads', #97.

This seems to be no relation to Katherine Tynan's song. There are three versions of the tune in the Stanford-Petrie collection, all collected before 1867.

The song doesn't look much like an allegory to me.


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Subject: RE: The Red Haired Man's Wife (more info needed)
From: Jon W.
Date: 05 Dec 97 - 08:12 PM

Well there's a little bit of a relationship - both mention a letter being written. I would have to conclude that Katharine Tynan loosely based her allegorical song on the older love song. Her bit about going to France reminds me of the Stuarts before and after the Jacobite rebellions (which probably had more "moral" support in Ireland than in Scotland, them bein' Catholics 'n' all).


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Subject: RE: The Red Haired Man's Wife (more info needed)
From: Barry
Date: 05 Dec 97 - 10:04 PM

More verses, from the singing of Sean Cannon

Ah, remember the day that I gave to you my true heart When you solemnly sore that no more we ever would part But your mind's like the the ocean each notion has taken her filght And left bewailing the red haired man's wife.

I straight took my way next day through a shady green grove And crossed purling streams where sweet birds mostly do rove Thence I was conveyed to where nature boasts with her pride Where I stood all amazed & gazed on the red haired man's wife

Dan Milner, in his Bonnie Bunch Of Roses, states this was influenced by the older Gaelic song "Bean An Fhir Ruaidh". Any further direction & input, please. Barry


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Subject: RE: The Red Haired Man's Wife (more info needed)
From: Bruce O.
Date: 06 Dec 97 - 02:56 PM

There is another version of the tune in the complete Petrie collection, #360. The tune is entitled "The roving Pedlar", but a foot note adds that it is also called "The red-haired man's wife". In the heading it is also stated that this is the original tune for "The Boys of Kilkenny", but, though similar, it is not the same tune as that on the single sheet song with music that is thought to be the original "The Boys of Kilkenny".


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Subject: RE: The Red Haired Man's Wife (more info needed)
From: Martin Ryan
Date: 07 Dec 97 - 07:43 PM

There is indeed an older song in Irish called "Bean an fhir rua" ("The red-haired man's wife"). Hugh Shields discusses it briefly in "Narrative Singing in Ireland". He interprets it simply as referring to the love of a woman before she married someone else.He would be well aware of the allegorical possibilities.

I don't remember the Irish words or their literal meaning but will look into it when I get a chance.

Regards


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Subject: Lyr Add: BEAN AN FHIR RUA / RED-HAIRED MAN'S WIFE
From: Barry Finn
Date: 25 Jan 00 - 09:37 PM

A while back Frank Harte heard me singing this song when he was guest singer at our local singer's session. He said there was one more verse to the version I sang. He said he'd e-mail it to me. I'll post his reply.
Barry
Dear Barry,
Well you wrote to me on 13 august 1999 and it is only now that i am getting around to replying to your query on the Red haired Man's wife. to make up for the long delay I am sending you three different versions of te song. The first is the original Irish version with a literal translation, I always find this interesting if only to see how the version I sing differs from the original. The second is the version that I sing and the third is more of a poetic translation by Katherine Tynan.
It is a song I particularly like, I hope you will think that the delay was maybe worthwhile.

Slan............Frank

BEAN AN FIR RUA.
A bhruinneal gan sma/l, a bhfuil na dealreacha deas i do gruath
Fan oganach bhan ata craite fad i do dhiadh
Ni/ cheilimse ar aon neach cen fath a bhfuil ormsa gruaim
In anneoin braithre 's cleire 's i gra mo chroi bean an fhir rua

Flawless maiden with the nice colors in your cheeks
A wandering fair youth has long been tormented after you
I don't hide from anyone why I'm sorrowful
In spite of friars and clergy, the love of my heart is the wife of the red haired man

O rachaidh me sios seal miosa no coicis ar cuairt
'S ni fhillfidh me aris no go sintear mo chaolchorp san uaigh
Oro, dochtuiri an tsaol ni leighasfadh siad mise on uaigh
Ach an t-aon amharc amhain a fhail ar bean an fhir rua

O I'll go down {away, I guess} for a month or a fortnight on a visit
And I won't return again until my body is stretched in the grave
Oh, all the doctors in the world wouldn't cure {save} me from the grave
But only one glimpse at the wife of the red haired man]

Da chuirfi me sios i bpriosun dubh dorcha cruaidh
'S na boltai ar mo chaolchorp 's na mi/te glas as sin suas
O d'eireodh na ruacladh  mar a d'eireoidh na h-eala on cuan
Ach an aon phog amhain a fhail o bean an fhir rua

If you put me in a black dark harsh prison
With chains on my body and thousands of locks
Oh I'd rise from the cell like a swan rises from the bay
If I got only one kiss from the wife of the red-haired man

Ta crann ins an garrai a bha/sann air an blath bui
'S nuair a luifidh me mo laimh ann is laidir nach scoilteann mo chroi
Chan iarrfainnse aon achaini ar an Ard-Ri na bhFleaitheas anuas
Ach an aon phog amhain, 's i a fhail o/bean an fhir rua

There's a tree in the garden on which grows a yellow flower
And when I lay my hand on it, it's a wonder my heart doesn't break
I would not ask any favor of the king of heaven above
Except one kiss, and it to come from the wife of the red-haired man.

RED HAIRED MAN'S WIFE. 1.

Ye muses divine, combine and lend me your aid,
Till I pen these few lines, for I find that my heart is betrayed,
By a damsel so fair, who was dear to me as my life,
But from me she has flown, ad is known as, the red haired man's wife.

A letter I will send, by a friend, down to the seashore,
Just to let her understand, I am the man that does her adore,
And if she would but leave that salve forever I'd forfeit my life,
She would live like a lady and ne'er be the red haired man's wife.

Ah remember the day that I gave unto you my true heart,
When you solemnly swore, that no we ever would part,
But your mind is like the ocean, each notion has taken its flight,
And left me bewailing the loss of the red haired man's wife.

I straight took my way, next day, by a shady green grove,
And crossed purling streams where the wild birds mostly do rove,
And from there I was conveyed to where nature does boast of her pride,
Where I stood all amazed, and I gazed, on the red haired man's wife.

I offered a favour and sealed it all with my own hand,
But she answered and said would you lead me to break the command?
Therefore take it easy, since nature has caused so much strife,
I was given away, and must stay as the red haired mans wife.

My darling sweet Phoenix 'tis along with me you should roam,
For the patriarch David had a number of wives 'tis well known,
So yield to my embraces and thus put an end to all strife,
For if not I'll run crazy, if I can't gain the red haired man's wife.

May my life never end nor my yearning for passion abate,
Until I and my darling lie as one 'neath the pleasant tree's shade,
With no one to be near us, save the blackbird in the green tree alone,
And the red headed man in his grave, with his head 'neath a stone.

RED  HAIRED MAN'S WIFE. 2.

Though full as 'twill hold of gold the harvest has smiled,
I'll ne'er have relief from grief for that fond grey-eyed child,
Whom kindred most cruel, poor jewel, into loveless wedded life,
With anguish be it told, have sold to be the Red Haired Man's wife.

That fond valentine of mine a letter I sent,
That I'd soon sail with store galore to wed her ere Lent,
Her friends stole the note I wrote, and far worse than with knife,
Have slain my bright pearl for a churl: she's the Red Haired Man's wife.

Oh, child and sweetheart, their art had you but withstood,
Till I come home o'er the foam for our great joy and good,
I had not now to go under woe o'er the salt sea's strife,
A wanderer to France from the glance of the Red Haired Man's wife.


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Subject: Lyr Add: BEAN AN FHIR RUA
From: Áine
Date: 26 Jan 00 - 12:05 AM

Here's Frank's version with the fadas put in:

Bean An Fhir Rua

A bhruinneal gan smál, 'bhfuil na dealraitheacha deasa 'do ghrua
Fán ógánach bhán atá cráite le fada i do dhiaidh
Ní cheilimsa ar aon neach cad é 'n fáth a bhfuil ormsa gruaim
D'ainneoin eaglaise is bráithre 'sí grá mo chroí bean an Fhir Rua

Is rachaidh mé síos seal míosa nó coicís' ar cuairt
'S ní phillfidh mé 'níos go síntear mo chaolchorp san uaigh
Ó! dochtúirí an tsaoil ní leigheasfadh siad mis' an uaigh
Ach an t-aon amharc amháin a fháil ar bhean an Fhir Rua

Dá chuirfí mé síos i bpríosún dubh dorcha cruaidh
'S na boltaí ar mo chaolchorp 's na míle glas as sin suas
Ó d'éireodh an ruaigeadh mar a d'éireoidh na h-eala ón chuan
Ach an t-aon phóg amháin a fháil ó bhean an Fhir Rua

Tá crann ins an gharraí a bhfásann air an bláth buí
'S nuair a leagaim mo lámh air is láidir nach scoilteann mo chroí!
Chan iarrfainnse 'n achainí ar Ard-Rí na bhFlaitheas anuas
Ach an t-aon phóg amháin is a fháil ó bhean an Fhir Rua


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Subject: RE: The Red Haired Man's Wife (more info needed)
From: GUEST,Neil Comer
Date: 26 Jan 00 - 05:15 PM

There is a myriad of information on this song in Brian O'Rourkes book, The Pale Rainbow/ An Dubh ina bhán- Irish Academic Press 1990. Too much to write here Slán


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Subject: RE: The Red Haired Man's Wife (more info needed)
From: Mbo
Date: 26 Jan 00 - 08:48 PM

Hey....I'm not married!

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: The Red Haired Man's Wife (more info needed)
From: GUEST,Jamesize
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 06:12 PM

I am looking for a red haired wife before I pass away I am but only 64 and from washington a Macdonald You may know.But a red haired wife I am looking for. Eyes of green like the isles of your a wife I am looking for. If you happen to see her Let her know there is a beautiful home awaiting her.She needes be about 6 feet or more, thin I say again thin and no more.The made does the cooking,cleaning, but the wife I am looking for only needs to be for me not for a dog, horse of corse. This is what I am looking for... Jim mn1254@yahoo.com if you happen to see her send her this note,let me see the picture. and I will come.


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Subject: RE: The Red Haired Man's Wife (more info needed)
From: Barry Finn
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 09:39 PM

Dear Jamesize
You don't have a romantic bone in your body & from the above post your blood probably runs a little cold too. At 64 you haven't a notion about how to court & your song writing skills lack all the more. Please sing one of the above songs in the future & next time you come a-courting here leave your pen at home.

Barry


BTW Aine, thanks for your favor.


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Subject: RE: The Red Haired Man's Wife (more info needed)
From: Peace
Date: 01 Nov 07 - 10:56 PM

Take it easy on him, Barry. He wrote all the way from Snohomish, Washington.


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Subject: RE: The Red Haired Man's Wife (more info needed)
From: GUEST,songster
Date: 02 Nov 07 - 05:08 AM

I have at least five versions of 'The Red Haired Man's wife' in my collection, one I remember singing around the late 70's in a session and Frank Harte wrote out the last verse which I didn't sing. The next night at the same singing weekend Kevin Mitchel sang a slightly different version. All the content was there but arranged slightly different. I have since heard various renditions of this ballad with a line changed here and there but basically similar to the original.
I remember being asked to sing this ballad at my cousin's wedding (who happened to be marring a man with red hair) but was stopped before I even began, it appears this is what is known as a 'Curse Ballad' I asked Frank about this years later and he told me that he was once told this himself but couldn't shed any light on why it was. Maybe someone out there in 'muddyland' may have heard of this and can explain.
What I have picked up from a man whom I heard singing it (an Ulster singer, Jackie Boyce) was that, he was told that the person in the song was trying to coax the lady in question away from the husband (who had red hair) and to run away with him, BUT that he himself, was the red haired man!
I KNOW! Jackie was baffled as well! Apparently the 'red hair' has a BIG thing to do with it. Like meeting a red haired woman on the road (brings bad luck) so in this case the man is coaxing the wife away from 'HIMSELF'      hmmmmm! confusing or what?
Has anyone else heard of this or any other curse ballads?
    songster
hope I haven't confused you too much. heh heh heh (wicked laugh)


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Subject: RE: The Red Haired Man's Wife (more info needed)
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 02 Nov 07 - 05:19 AM

Sounds like somebody was pulling your leg. People often get strange and silly ideas about perfectly ordinary songs; when they repeat them as 'fact' they do a serious disservice to our understanding. If there is any allegory here, as suggested when this old thread was new ten years ago, then I'm a Dutchman.


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Subject: RE: The Red Haired Man's Wife (more info needed)
From: Snuffy
Date: 02 Nov 07 - 09:40 AM

And there are more than enough "strange and silly ideas" about The Dutchman to patch his trousers.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Red Haired Man's Wife (more info needed)
From: GUEST,kayti sullivan
Date: 25 Mar 12 - 05:56 PM

I was looking for this song a few years ago, and mudcat had nothing, I'm so happy to find it again with the missing bits. I am curious about the alternate melodies that exist, I only know the one my mother used.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Red Haired Man's Wife (more info needed)
From: AmyLove
Date: 29 Dec 15 - 09:56 PM

Alice mentioned - Herbert Hughes, who collected and arranged four volumes of "Irish Country Songs" - you can view and download these four volumes here.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Red Haired Man's Wife (more info needed)
From: AmyLove
Date: 29 Dec 15 - 10:14 PM

And there's some information about Bean an Fhir Rua at Joe Éinniú's (Joe Heaney) site, including him singing six verses of the song (lyrics included) here.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Red Haired Man's Wife (more info needed)
From: AmyLove
Date: 13 Dec 16 - 06:35 PM

Description of the track on Six Days In Down (Bob Brozman/John McSherry/Dónal O'Connor/Stephanie Makem) (found here )

8. Bean An Fhir Ruaidh
(trad, arr Brozman / Makem / O'Connor)

Instruments: vocals, two Kona Hawaiian guitars

'Bean An Fhir Ruaidh' ('The Red Haired Man's Wife') is a story of a man's unrequited love for a married woman. Many versions of this song exist throughout Ireland but, in the most well-known version, the lyrics are attributed to the writings of Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna, the Ulster poet, and Riocaird Bairéad, a writer from Bangor Erris, County Mayo. The nineteenth-century Tyrone novelist William Carleton noted that his mother was once asked to sing the English version of the song. She said, 'I'll sing it for you, but the English words and the air are like a quarrelling man and his wife – the Irish melts into the tune but the English doesn't.'


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