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DTStudy: Spancil Hill

DigiTrad:
SPANCIL HILL


Related threads:
(origins) Where is Spancil Hill? (204)
Where is Spancil Hill (continued)? (45)
New Spancil Hill (19)
Spansel Hill (14)
Spancil Hill (14)
Tune Add: Spancil Hill (4)
Lyr Add: Filkin' around Spancil Hill (1)
Spancil Hill (4) (closed)
No more Spancil Hill? (14)
Spancil Hill Horse Fair Postponed - 2001 (4)
DT & original Spancil Hill (5)


In Mudcat MIDIs:
Spancil Hill


GUEST,yvonne forde 05 Dec 18 - 11:15 AM
MartinRyan 23 Jun 09 - 02:27 PM
MartinRyan 22 Jun 09 - 05:21 PM
thetwangman 22 Jun 09 - 02:58 PM
GUEST 23 Aug 08 - 07:15 PM
Brakn 15 Nov 07 - 04:48 AM
GUEST,Gus Garrigan 14 Nov 07 - 11:40 PM
GUEST,John F 12 Jun 06 - 06:49 AM
Jeri 01 Aug 04 - 11:53 AM
JedMarum 01 Aug 04 - 09:50 AM
Jeri 31 Jul 04 - 11:45 AM
JedMarum 31 Jul 04 - 11:37 AM
Wolfgang 05 May 04 - 04:45 AM
GUEST,Naka Ishii 03 May 04 - 10:41 AM
Big Tim 31 Mar 04 - 04:05 AM
GUEST,Critto 23 Sep 03 - 08:14 PM
GUEST,Jon 24 Feb 03 - 01:07 PM
GUEST,lauraluna 23 Feb 03 - 11:33 PM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 07 Oct 02 - 06:49 AM
GUEST,NSC George Henderson 06 Oct 02 - 04:26 PM
GUEST,NSC George Henderson 04 Oct 02 - 07:32 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 14 Aug 02 - 08:19 PM
Big Mick 14 Aug 02 - 11:36 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 14 Aug 02 - 04:29 AM
GUEST,NSC George Henderson 22 Jun 02 - 04:47 PM
Nigel Parsons 21 Jun 02 - 08:59 AM
GUEST,NSC - George Henderson 19 Jun 02 - 01:54 PM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 14 Jun 02 - 08:33 AM
An Pluiméir Ceolmhar 14 Jun 02 - 06:00 AM
MartinRyan 13 Jun 02 - 05:23 PM
Alice 13 Jun 02 - 03:45 PM
MartinRyan 13 Jun 02 - 03:32 PM
Wolfgang 05 Jun 02 - 12:15 PM
MartinRyan 05 Jun 02 - 04:17 AM
Alice 05 Jun 02 - 01:32 AM
Joe Offer 04 Jun 02 - 05:18 PM
Brían 04 Jun 02 - 10:05 AM
Jeri 03 Jun 02 - 09:52 PM
Malcolm Douglas 03 Jun 02 - 09:43 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 03 Jun 02 - 07:23 AM
Alice 03 Jun 02 - 12:34 AM
Jon Freeman 02 Jun 02 - 09:43 PM
Jon Freeman 02 Jun 02 - 08:55 PM
Jeri 02 Jun 02 - 08:28 PM
Jon Freeman 02 Jun 02 - 07:23 PM
MartinRyan 02 Jun 02 - 04:50 PM
Alice 30 May 02 - 10:38 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 30 May 02 - 04:37 AM
MartinRyan 29 May 02 - 06:39 PM
Alice 29 May 02 - 05:25 PM
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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: GUEST,yvonne forde
Date: 05 Dec 18 - 11:15 AM

michael Considine was my fathers gran uncle --Ellen Considine (michaels sister) was his granmother.. married to John Forde


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: MartinRyan
Date: 23 Jun 09 - 02:27 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: MartinRyan
Date: 22 Jun 09 - 05:21 PM

If you've never heard Robbie sing Spancil Hill - DON'T MISS THIS CHANCE! (See last post) He starts to sing "a verse or two" at about 43 minutes into the programme, down the phone. Needless to say, he sings the full nine yards in that wonderful, iron bar voice - at the age of eighty two.

Regards


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: thetwangman
Date: 22 Jun 09 - 02:58 PM

here's a link to robbie mcmahon discussing and performing spancil hill in full on the derek mooney radio show. follow the link and listen to the show broadcast on monday june 22nd 2009. the piece on spancil hill starts 33 minutes into the show.

http://www.rte.ie/radio/mooneygoeswild/archive/index.html


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Aug 08 - 07:15 PM

Only stumbled on this fascinating thread now. As it happens I met an old Christian Brother last week who told me he was from Spancil Hill 4 miles from Ennis.His name is Bro. Colm McMahon, a lovely gentle soul if ever there was one.
We got talking about the song and he told me the exact story that has been told above about Michael Considine writing the words etc.He knew John Considine well and told me that he was often brought by the hand to mass in Clooney church by John. He also attributed the fame of the song to the singing of Robbie McMahon.
Curiously, I mentioned the characters named in the verses to Bro. Colm.He told me he knew many of them.When I mentioned Martin Moylan he said that he had never heard that verse before !!! but that he did know of a family of Moylans in the locality.He knew the tailor Quigley well-he lived in a very well kept thatched house at the cross. Behind Quigleys up a little boreen was a large house which was Considines.Bro.Colm is a really gentle man and now lives in the Brothers retirement home in Baldoyle in Dublin, having spent his life teaching.
Lastly, we had a good laugh recalling one of the verses of The Pecker Dunne's song "Sullivans John" where he sings "Theres a hairy ass fair in the Co. Clare in a place they call Spancil Hill. Where my brother James got a rap of a hames and poor Paddy they tried to kill. They loaded him up in a aul ass and cart as Kate and Mary stood by. O, bad cess to the day you went away to join with the Tinker band,".....so perhaps the words "sport and kill" werent so far off the mark if the Pecker's lyrics are anything to go by!!


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: Brakn
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 04:48 AM

This might help with dates. According to this Census Mary MacNamara was born 1865 and had still not married in 1901. This would knock things back a few years.

Patrick Quigley, the tailor, was born 1868.

John Considine, who could possibly be Michael Considine's nephew was born 1876. If the song was sent home to him when he was 6, Mary MacNamara would've been 17 then and the tailor Quigley 14. I reckon that the tailor Quigley mentioned in the song could be this tailor Quigley's father.

The 1901 Census of Clare - Spancelhill - Muckinish.

Considine Kate Hd RC Read-Write 47 Female Farmer Widow Co. Clare
Considine John Son RC Read-Write 25 Male Farmer's Son Not M'd Co. Clare
O'Connell James Brother RC Read-Write 43 Male Not M'd Co. Clare
-------------------------
MacNamara John Hd RC R&W 45 Male Farmer Not M'd Co. Clare English
MacNamara Mary Sis RC R&W 36 Fem Dom Serv Not M'd Co.Clare Irish-Eng
-------------------------
Quigley Mary Hd RC Read-Write 60 Female Housekeeper Widow Co. Clare
Quigley Patrick Son RC Read-Write 33 Male Tailor Not Married Co. Clare


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: GUEST,Gus Garrigan
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 11:40 PM

Hello all
seems this thread has been inactive awhile, I'm just finding it now.
I first heard the song from Paddy Reilly (short version)in 1995. one drunken night when singing songs with the lads in the wee hours I suggested we sing Spancil Hill, my friend Pat knew it and we started to sing, and when we got to the second verse i told him he was singing it wrong. He corrected me and sang the rest. It turns out it was a hybrid of the two versions but closer to the original.
Still a favorite of mine but the only version close to the original I have heard if from Christy Moore.

What I would like to know is does any know of Martin Moilen?


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: GUEST,John F
Date: 12 Jun 06 - 06:49 AM

Robbie still going strong. Singers club every first Friday in Duggan's Bar, Spancil Hill. Later this year special weekend to celebrate Robbie's 80th birthday which occurs in December 2006. Be there please to honour the great man!


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: Jeri
Date: 01 Aug 04 - 11:53 AM

Why don't you think a hunt makes sense?

To me it's the most logical explanation:
Hunts are/were frequently held on Sundays in Ireland.
You have a horse fair starting the next day, so there are even more horses around than usual.
The 'sport and kill' bit is in the version supposedly handed down from the original. I think it's more likely that there was simply a hunt than the lyrics of this song, which had originally been written down, were screwed up.

In any case, I hope someone who isn't just guessing (although I'm about 95% sure I'm right), will comment.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: JedMarum
Date: 01 Aug 04 - 09:50 AM

I suspect it is a local expression that we just wouldn't be able to know about it - or it is one of those errors that has been carried on for generations.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: Jeri
Date: 31 Jul 04 - 11:45 AM

Maybe there was a hunt the day before the fair?


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: JedMarum
Date: 31 Jul 04 - 11:37 AM

Thanks to all who contributed to this discussion. The background info is most valuable ...

I do not understand one line ... why on the 23'rd of June, did "The young, the old, the stout and the bold" assemeble "to sport and kill?"

I had convinced myself that this line was an error, and that they "came for sport and skill" - but it appears that too many versions have "Erin's sons and daughters" sporting and killing. So I guess those must be the words!

What does it mean???


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: Wolfgang
Date: 05 May 04 - 04:45 AM

Johnny McEvoy (only to make a search easier)

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: GUEST,Naka Ishii
Date: 03 May 04 - 10:41 AM

Excuse me if this has appeared in another thread on Mudcat, but I haven't seen it.

I've been playing in a band with Sean and Desmond Burke, two brothers originally from Belmullet, Co. Mayo (now in western Massachusetts) for about 25 years; we call ourselves Spancil Hill, after the song. Sean told me he and Des learned this song as kids ('60's?) from the version by Johnny McAvoy, an Irish pop music performer who at least until recently was still recording and touring. I think it may have been his version which accounts for the widespread familiarity with this song in Ireland. There is a recording available on Amazon by Johnny McAvoy ("Sings Country & Irish") which includes the song Spancil Hill.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: Big Tim
Date: 31 Mar 04 - 04:05 AM

Christy Moore attributes the songwriter as Robbie McMahon: that is obviously wrong. He (Moore)says that he got the song from "John Minogue, who got it for me from the writer". This seems to have been in Tulla, near Spancelhill (the more official and "correct" spelling).


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: GUEST,Critto
Date: 23 Sep 03 - 08:14 PM

I LOVE Spancil Hill. It's my favorite Irish ballad that I know by heart; I love her especially for her 'ethereal' sound. I must be in a good mood to sing it well ... Maybe soon I wll put my mp3 online, I dunno. Well, I start another thread with some filkin' around this great ballad ,too...

Cheerz,
Critto


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 01:07 PM

I just do it as a Dm/C song. Start with Dm. You should be able to hear when the tune needs to switch between these chords.

Jon


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: GUEST,lauraluna
Date: 23 Feb 03 - 11:33 PM

Sorry that I don't have anything to contribute to the fine research going on here, but I am new to Digitrad and have only a question.

I'm in Shanghai, China, and recently heard 'Spancil Hill' played by the band Anam Cara at a local Irish pub called O'Malley's. (BTW, if you're ever in the neighborhood, there's nowhere better for Irish music, Guinness, and good people in all of China.) I loved it and am trying to learn it for guitar. However, the computers at the school where I teach have no sound capability, so I can't play any sound files. Where can I find just guitar chords (not tab, I'm a beginner) for this gorgeous song?

Thanks in advance, and in the meantime, I'll keep reading the wonderfully detailed information all of you have posted regarding this song.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 07 Oct 02 - 06:49 AM

Got there for the Sunday afternoon session in Duggans. Apart from the man himslf, highlights for me were John Lyons singing "The Affray at Spancelhill", which I think I've seen in print but not heard before - and a man singing an adaptation of "off to Dublin in the green" based on a farmers march in, at a guess, the 1940's or '50's.

Regards


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: GUEST,NSC George Henderson
Date: 06 Oct 02 - 04:26 PM

Just back from Spancil Hill. What a weekend. Singing started at about 9.30 on Friday night and there must have been well in excess of 50singers. The quality was exceptional.

Robbie recweived 4 awards for his contribution to singing. It was brilliant and Robbie ended the presentaion with a rendition of his song about the 1955 Fleagh in Ennis in which he mentioned over 40 musicians, 30 of whom have since passed on.

A fitting tribute to a great friend.

He is in great form and there are many more years left in the great man yet.

George Henderson


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: GUEST,NSC George Henderson
Date: 04 Oct 02 - 07:32 AM

Tonight we are all joining Robbie for a mammoth weekend of singing in Spancil Hill.

The weekend has been organised by Pat Liddy and is being held to honour Robbie McMahon and to show our appreciation of his contribution and caretaking of many traditional songs. We must also compliment him on his song writing achievements.

The programme is:
Tonight in Duggans Bar - Spancil Hill at 9.30pm Irish time
Tomorrow in Norrie Henchies bar from 2pm
Tomorrow night in Brohans (Spancil Hill Inn) from 9.30pm (Set dancing first followed by an all night singing marathon)(well as long as the Brohan's will let us stay anyway.
Sunday afternoon in Duggans from 2pm.

Promises to be great fun and Robbie will perform Spancil Hill at least once at each session.

Mick - I didn't see the previous posting until today. I am in great form - How are you? It's ages since we met in Canada.

George Henderson


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 14 Aug 02 - 08:19 PM

You may well be right, Mick. But, as you say, its a bit odd that nothing else seems to have survived carrying the tune.

Regards


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: Big Mick
Date: 14 Aug 02 - 11:36 AM

This has been fascinating from the first minute that Frank posted a number of years ago. Thanks to Martin, George (How are you, my friend?), Frank for their scholarship and determination.

As I listen to the Black Sheep tape, and the way it is sung, the meter of the tune almost sounds like a chant. Perhaps, Martin, it is simply, as Robbie says, a metered cadence style song used in times gone by for the sharing of a good yarn? Seems odd that one can't find the beginning in any other sense.

Mick


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 14 Aug 02 - 04:29 AM

I spoke to Robbie McMahon at the weekend, during a festival in Feakle, Co. Clare. His recollection is that he was told as a child that Michael Considine's poem had been set to its tune, locally, in Spancil Hill. He has never heard the tune used for anything else - nor does he recall any mention of what it had been previously used for. "It was just lying around, really!" was his comment.

Sounds like the trail is cold, I'm afraid.

So, we have three sets of words and one tune (sung two ways).

Regards


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: GUEST,NSC George Henderson
Date: 22 Jun 02 - 04:47 PM

Spancil Hill fair is in progress and has been a huge success with even more horses and donkeys than had been anticipated.

Robbie McMahon is still singing with enormous enthusiasm. Incredible

This is the first time ever that the fair was brought forward by a day.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 21 Jun 02 - 08:59 AM

Refresh: in an attempt to get some interesting threads back in the system


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: GUEST,NSC - George Henderson
Date: 19 Jun 02 - 01:54 PM

Frank got his information directly from the horses mouth. I don't know where he got his slightly different words. The version on the "Black Sheep" tape is the version that Robbie sings. He gets so many requests to sing this song that he has now taken to apologising before he sings it.

You too can get details from the horses mouth this weekend when the fair takes place once again. in the song it says "on the 23rd of June the day BEFORE the fair. the fair actually takes place on the 23rd except in those years on which the 23rd falls on a Sunday. in those years it was usually delayed until the following day as it was in the year that Michael Considine wrote the song. I have heard a rumour that they are breaking with tradition this year and holding the fair the day BEFORE the 23rd, that is this Saturday. I have no confirmation of this.

Last year was the first time in 350 years that the fair was cancelled. it was cancelled because of the foot and mouth scare but it is back with a bang this year.

George Henderson


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 14 Jun 02 - 08:33 AM

The point about small variations is well made - it's why traditional singing is not really a singalong phenomenon.

On "definitive versions": my mention in the summary posting above was really to Robbie's singing of the long version - rather than to his words - which, of course, vary slightly anyway!

Regards


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar
Date: 14 Jun 02 - 06:00 AM

I'm a piper, not a singer, but the turn which this thread has now taken is leading me to the conclusion that traditional singers may be treating the words in a manner similar to the way musicians treat a tune: keeping the basic structure, but introducing small variations which are regarded as legitimate and even desirable deviations from what was originally learnt.

I know that in the case of songs this may be due to imperfect recollection of something which was once learnt orally from an oral tradition, whereas in the instrumental music, variation of the same phrase recurring within a single performance is regarded as highly desirable.

But I have found that something similar happens on the rare occasion when I learn a tune from a book: if I go back to the book after I've been playing it for a few months, I find that it has spontaneously mutated and is no longer the same as what I initially learnt. This is one of the reasons why it is a pleasure to listen to even the most common tunes being played by a different musician, because each musician does something different with it. In trying to explain the instrumental music to people not familiar with it, I use the analogy of the Ho Chi Minh Trail - there are many broadly parallel ways of getting to the same place, rather than a single highway laid out in concrete.

This DT study has been well worth while, but I suspect that the outcome will indeed be two or three joint contenders for the title of definitive version (a bit like heavyweight boxing, really). After all, I don't think there's even agreement on how to spell "Spancil Hill", and I was also struck by the variant spelling of the author's name. "Considine" is now the standard spelling in English, but the second "o" in "Consodine" above reflects the Irish/Gaelic pronunciation of "O Consaidín" where the vowels and consonants interact.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: MartinRyan
Date: 13 Jun 02 - 05:23 PM

It's the sort of line that varies from performance to performance - but I agree its particularly apposite for Robbie, of course.

Regards


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: Alice
Date: 13 Jun 02 - 03:45 PM

Can we include the end of the first verse as Robbie sings it on his tape, - And I quickly came to anchor at my home in Spancilhill. - instead of - 'Till I quickly came to anchor at the Cross of Spancilhill?


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: MartinRyan
Date: 13 Jun 02 - 03:32 PM

OK: Here's a summary of the situation on the three versions.
-------------------------------------

This song exists in three basic versions. Within each version, traditional singers often make slight adjustments to the words, as usual. The sets given below are at least close to the recorded sources mentioned.

Version 1

This version was effectively preserved by Robbie McMahon of Spancilhill, who sings the definitive version.


Last night as I lay dreaming, of the pleasant days gone by,
My mind being bent on rambling and to Erin's Isle I did fly.
I stepped on board a vision and sailed out with a will,
'Till I quickly came to anchor at the Cross of Spancilhill.

Enchanted by the novelty, delighted with the scenes,
Where in my early childhood, I often times have been.
I thought I heard a murmur, I think I hear it still,
'Tis that little stream of water at the Cross of Spancilhill.

And to amuse my fancy, I lay upon the ground,
Where all my school companions, in crowds assembled 'round.
Some have grown to manhood, while more their graves did fill,
Oh I thought we were all young again, at the Cross of Spancilhill.

It being on a Sabbath morning, I thought I heard a bell,
O'er hills and valleys sounded, in notes that seemed to tell,
That Father Dan was coming, his duty to fulfill,
At the parish church of Clooney, just one mile from Spancilhill.

And when the sermon ended, we all knelt down in prayer,
In hopes for to be ready, to climb the Golden Stair.
And when back home returning, we danced with right good will,
To Martin Moylan's music, at the Cross of Spancilhill.

It being on the twenty third of June, the day before the fair,
Sure Erin's sons and daughters, they all assembled there.
The young, the old, the stout and the bold, they came to sport and kill,
What a curious combination, at the Fair of Spancilhill.

I went into my old home, as every stone can tell,
The old boreen was just the same, and the apple tree over the well,
I miss my sister Ellen, my brothers Pat and Bill,
Sure I only met strange faces at my home in Spancilhill.

I called to see my neighbours, to hear what they might say,
The old were getting feeble, and the young ones turning grey.
I met with tailor Quigley, he's as brave as ever still,
Sure he used to mend my breeches when I lived in Spancilhill.

I paid a flying visit, to my first and only love,
She's as pure as any lily, and as gentle as a dove.
She threw her arms around me, saying Mike I love you still,
She is Mack the Ranger's daughter, the Pride of Spancilhill.

I thought I stooped to kiss her, as I did in days of yore,
Says she Mike you're only joking, as you often were before,
The cock flew on the roost again, he crew both loud and shrill,
And I awoke in California, far far from Spancilhill.

But when my vision faded, the tears came in my eyes,
In hopes to see that dear old spot, some day before I die.
May the Joyous King of Angels, His Choicest Blessings spill,
On that Glorious spot of Nature, the Cross of Spancilhill.

 

Version 2

This five verse version became extremely popular in Ireland in the 1960's thanks to recordings by Dermot O'Brien, Paddy Reilly and the Dubliners. According to Robbie McMahon (see version 1), it was well known long before this period. It has become something of an anthem – any Irish person above a certain age seems to be able to sing it through, without ever having consciously learned it.

The third and fourth line of the second verse can vary somewhat.



Last night as I lay dreaming of pleasant days gone by
My mind being bent on rambling to Ireland I did fly
I stepped on board a vision and I followed with a will
And I shortly came to anchor at the cross of Spancil Hill

It being the 23rd of June the day before the fair
When lreland's sons and daughters in crowds assembled there
The young, the old, the brave and the bold their duty to fulfill
There were jovial conversations at the fair of Spancil Hill

I went to see my neighbours to hear what they might say
The old ones were all dead and gone, the young one's turning grey
I met with the tailor Quigley, he's as bould as ever still
Sure he used to make my britches when I lived in Spancil Hill

I paid a flying visit to my first and only love
She's as white as any lily and as gentle as a dove
She threw her arms around me saying "Johnny I love you still
" Oh she's Ned the farmers daughter and the flower of Spancil HiII

I dreamt I held and kissed her as in the days of yore
She said, "Johnny you're only joking like many's the time before"
The cock he crew in the morning he crew both loud and shrill
And I awoke in California, many miles from Spancil Hill.


Version 3

This seven verse version was recorded by Christy Moore on his seminal Prosperous < album in 1970. He attributes it to Robbie McMahon, whom he thought was the author. Essentially, he added Verse 2 and parts of Verse 3 and 5 from Robbie's Version 1, to Version 2 - and made some other minor changes.

This version is less commonly sung than Version 2.

SPANCIL HILL

Last night as I lay dreaming of pleasant days gone by
My mind being bent on rambling to Ireland I did fly
I stepped on board a vision and I followed with the wind
And I shortly came to anchor at the cross of Spancilhill

Delighted by the novelty, enchanted with the scene,
Where in my early childhood, I often times had been.
I thought I heard a murmur and I think I hear it still,
It's the little stream of water that flows down Spancilhill.

And to amuse my fancy, I lay down on the ground,
Where all my school companions, they shortly gathered 'round.
When we were home returning, we danced with right good will

To Martin Moylan's music at the cross of Spancilhill.

It being on the 23rd June the day before the fair
When lreland's sons and daughters in crowds assembled there
The young, the old, the brave and the bold, they came to sport and kill
There were curious combinations at the fair of Spancilhill

I went to see my neighbours to hear what they might say
The old ones were all dead and gone, the young one's turning grey
I met with the tailor Quigley, he's as bould as ever still
Sure he used to make my britches when I lived in Spancihill

I paid a flying visit to my first and only love
She's white as any lily and gentle as a dove
She threw her arms around me saying "Johnny I love you still
She is Mack the Rangers daughter and the pride of Spancilhill

I dreamt I stooped and kissed her as in the days of yore
She said, "Johnny you're only joking as many's the time before"
The cock crew in the morning, he crew both loud and shrill
And I awoke in California, many miles from Spancil Hill.

 

Notes on the Tune:

All three versions share the same tune. Robbie, however, sings in a very staccato, squared off 2/4 time - compared to the smoother, ¾ time normally used for the other versions. Little seems to be known of the origin of the tune. I'm still looking!

Regards


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: Wolfgang
Date: 05 Jun 02 - 12:15 PM

I still think it probable that M. Considine used a then known tune for his poem.

(1) How else could he likely transmit the tune for "The cross of Spacnelhill" in his letter except by telling which tune he meant?

(2) In "Ballads of Co. Clare" the tune "Spancelhill" is indicated for altogether nine local songs (if I have counted correctly) by different authors. The songs come from various times, all but one under the broad category "1850-1930". That means several authors have used this tune to carry their songs between 1850 and 1930. Some of the songs have names in them that could make a closer dating possible, but not for me.

If so many different authors have used this tune before 1930, I think it probable that a tune 'Spancelhill' was known in Clare in the 19th century and has been used by Considine to carry his poem.

For the fun of it, the first verse of the most recent example that uses the Spencelhill tune

The black Minorca cock

One night as I lay dreaming
of pleasant days gone by
my chickens and my rooster
were cosy, clean and dry.
Till Reynard came across the hill
my poultry to destroy
and to send me to thew storekeeper
my gluggers for to buy.

And an old example:

Cratloe Woods

...I spied a fir clad hillside
on that wild and rocky breast
spread o'er by Cratloe's well kept woods
and it's blackthorn, oak and birch
and a pretty flock of colleens
came tripping in the rear
with their hurling team and their jackets green
the pride of Co. Clare.

Just to give you an idea how close and how different "The cross of Spancelhill" in "Ballads of Co. Clare" and Robbie McMahon's "Spancilhill" are: The number of verses is identical, the theme of each verse is identical (slighly different order of verses), but each line I have checked is different in detail. I post the last verse for comparison:

And when the vision faded the tears came to my eyes,
but I hope to see that little spot once more before I die
may the King of joyous angels his blessings ever spill,
on that masterpiece of nature the Cross of Spancelhill.

compare (copied from above):
But when my vision faded, the tears came in my eyes,
In hope to see that dear old spot, some day before I die.
May the Joyous King of Angels, His Choicest Blessings spill,
On that Glorious spot of Nature, the Cross of Spancilhill.

Even the long "original" version has already variants that must have been known in Clare long enough to allow changes.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: MartinRyan
Date: 05 Jun 02 - 04:17 AM

As mentioned earlier, my earliest memory is of Paddy Reilly singing it in the sixties. The Dubliners did it around then, also. WOlfe Tones would be later. I can check with ITMA (Irish Traditional Music Archive) next time I'm in Dublin.

REgards


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: Alice
Date: 05 Jun 02 - 01:32 AM

Does anyone have an early recording of the short, newer version, so we can attribute it to some source? If not Christy Moore, then to whom do we refer? I searched CDNow and found several recordings of the title, but I don't own any of them to listen to what is sung. Included in CDNow's listing for Spancil Hill (none for Spancilhill) are The Dubliners and Wolfe Tones.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Jun 02 - 05:18 PM

I think we should let this go a bit longer. When you feel the time is right, will Martin and Alice to get together and post a summary of the background information, a corrected version of the DT lyrics, a transcription of the Christy Moore version, and a corrected transcription of the McMahon recording. Once that's completed, I'll transfer all the other messages to another thread.

Any final comments?
Thanks, everybody.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: Brían
Date: 04 Jun 02 - 10:05 AM

Here is an excerpt from a letter Robbie wrote to me when I bought his tape. It has a little different information from the notes on the tape, but does give information on how old Robbie was when he got the song:

"...it was Michael Consodine who wrote the song. he was born in 1850 and went to Boston in 1870 (and)worked there for about a year and a half made some money went to California went to High School and got a good job, then got into bad health and he knew he wasn't going to make it because more of his family and his mother died before him. So he wrote the song in poem form and sent it home to his six year old nephew John Consodine. 'Twas from John I got the song. He was about 75 years then and I was about 17 or 18 years. he never came home and was buried in California at the age of 23."

Brían


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: Jeri
Date: 03 Jun 02 - 09:52 PM

About Spancil Hill and Go To Sea Once More tunes being "virtually the same" - they definitely aren't. They're the same in places, in harmony in others, and discordant in a very noticable few. Here's both tunes together.

This post is quite deletable, BTW - just wanted to follow up.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 03 Jun 02 - 09:43 AM

For what it's worth, the tune that carries Spancil Hill also appears to belong to some variants at least of the Scottish song Rarey's Hill (Roud no.6847, with a few examples assigned no.5558). Some tunes are included in vol. 6 of the Greig-Duncan Collection, but I don't have that one yet, so I don't know if any are relevant here; the coincidence of titles is interesting, though.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 03 Jun 02 - 07:23 AM

I was told at the weekend that some research has been done on the source of the tune. I want to check that out before starting a hunt of my own.

Regards


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: Alice
Date: 03 Jun 02 - 12:34 AM

The tune for Spancilhill (especially as Robbie sings it) doesn't sound the same at all to me as Go To Sea Once More.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 02 Jun 02 - 09:43 PM

Re-reading.... I see Martin Ryan has said he has started some enquiries on the source of the tune... apologies Martin... I thought I'd read properly but obviously had not or I would have at least acknowledged on going research in one of my questions.

Jon


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 02 Jun 02 - 08:55 PM

Nor me Jeri but I think that within the Mudcat thread structure, if these are to become "official", any questions or doubts (in my case here, I'm seeing 1/2 a story rather that questioning authorship), if reasonable, should be placed here at least until some resolution or concencous is formed - or, alternatively, a "question mark" could be provided in the text if there is (and I could be being stupind on this one) reasonable grounds for questioning.

Jon


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: Jeri
Date: 02 Jun 02 - 08:28 PM

The tune is virtually the same as Go To Sea Once More, but there isn't a MIDI in the DT nor at Alan's Midi page. Somebody added it to the poem, or perhaps Considine said "sung to the tune of..."

Don't know if this should be here or in the other thread. I don't know if the tune is similar enough to add it to the other song.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 02 Jun 02 - 07:23 PM

Well, I'll try to reiterate my problems with the story here in the hope it gets some answers...

The song came across as a poem yet it has a tune - why?

The nephew of Constastine is credited as keeping the song safe yet "Robbie" knows it and is given the "correct" version firstly by the aunt when he proposes to sing it and secondly by the nephew.

There even seems to be some ill feeling about people singing the "wrong" version.

How did this "wrong" version come about?

Jon


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: MartinRyan
Date: 02 Jun 02 - 04:50 PM

I saw Robbie across a crowded pub in Ennistymon, Co. Clare on Friday night - and he disappeared before I had a chance to talk to him. Reliable sources give his age as " 76 give or take one"!.

I've started some enquiries on the source of the tune.

Regards

p.s. I believe Robbie is now running a monthly singing session in a pub in Spancilhill - first Friday.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: Alice
Date: 30 May 02 - 10:38 AM

The words Robbie uses in his recording have an easier flow when singing, such as "he used to mend my breeches when". The "mend" and "when" sound better together than "make" and "when". Joe, if you need me to transcribe the version from Robbie's tape and submit it in complete form, let me know.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 30 May 02 - 04:37 AM

BTW, Christy's seven verse version does have a currency of its own. To an extent, in Ireland, the three sets live in parallel universes. IMHO, all are worth their place in DT.

Regards


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: MartinRyan
Date: 29 May 02 - 06:39 PM

Joe:

You ask:

Is the version in the Digital Tradition an accurate rendition of the "shorter" version of the song? Yes. In verse 2, the usual is " their DUTY to fulfill" - you'll know why! The last line of that verse has a few versions, also.

Who has recorded that version?

Don't remember. A quick check shows a few recordings around 1973 - but I know there were several before that. Paddy Reilly? Not sure.

Is it agreed that we should add an attribution to Michael Considine as songwriter?

Don't see why not.

Are we convinced about the accuracy of the "longer" version that Frank posted - did he transcribe it from McMahon's cassette, or what?

See Alice above. Verse structure and content are fine - the odd word gets changed in individual performance.

Can somebody find out how Frank McGrath obtained the information from McMahon?


He asked! Regards

p.s. In verse 3 of Christy's version, he uses the second part of verse 5 of Robbie's.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Spancil Hill
From: Alice
Date: 29 May 02 - 05:25 PM

Robbie's voice is very clear in the recording. This is on the tape that is different than the lyrics Frank posted earlier:

verse 1
... a vision, I sailed out...
And I quickly came to anchor at my home in Spancilhill.

verse 5
And when the sermon ended, we all knelt down in prayer,
.... Golden Stairs.

verse 6
...the stout and the bold came there to sport and kill,

verse 7
And I only met strange faces at my home in Spancilhill.

verse 8
I called to see the neighbors...

Sure he used to mend my breeches...

verse 10
The cock flew on the roost...
And I woke...

verse 11
In hopes to see that dear old spot...
May the Almighty King of angels..

(Joe, I'd retype the whole song for you, but don't have time this afternoon - going offline now - Alice)


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