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Origins: History of Lake of Coolfin (Col Fin)

DigiTrad:
THE LAKES OF COL FIN
THE LAKES OF COL FLYNN


Related threads:
Lyr/Tune: The Lakes of Shilin (24)
(origins) Deep and false water... (22)
Lyr Req: The Lakes of Coolfin (5) (closed)


radriano 29 Oct 99 - 12:04 PM
Snuffy 04 Aug 00 - 06:33 PM
GUEST,Bruce O. 04 Aug 00 - 07:48 PM
Malcolm Douglas 04 Aug 00 - 11:10 PM
GUEST,Jim Lucey 29 Jan 04 - 05:49 PM
Barb'ry 29 Jan 04 - 06:26 PM
Snuffy 29 Jan 04 - 08:02 PM
Joe Offer 29 Jan 04 - 08:24 PM
pavane 30 Jan 04 - 10:21 AM
GUEST,Tburch@earhtlink.net 15 Jul 05 - 01:18 AM
GUEST,leeneia 15 Jul 05 - 11:26 AM
GUEST,jbc446@yahoo.com 31 Jul 05 - 09:24 PM
Peace 31 Jul 05 - 09:44 PM
Paul Burke 01 Aug 05 - 04:56 AM
GUEST,AR 14 Apr 06 - 06:21 PM
Malcolm Douglas 14 Apr 06 - 06:40 PM
Toenails John 15 Apr 06 - 01:41 PM
Peace 16 Apr 06 - 01:10 AM
GUEST,jim lucey 27 Nov 07 - 07:58 PM
Shaneo 28 Nov 07 - 08:16 AM
GUEST,John Kelly 28 Nov 07 - 06:02 PM
theleveller 29 Nov 07 - 03:19 AM
harpmolly 29 Nov 07 - 03:32 AM
treewind 29 Nov 07 - 05:24 PM
treewind 29 Nov 07 - 05:27 PM
Anne Lister 30 Nov 07 - 02:37 AM
Mikefule 30 Nov 07 - 04:46 PM
Declan 30 Nov 07 - 08:31 PM
Jim Dixon 02 Dec 07 - 01:47 AM
GUEST,unkown person 34 23 Oct 09 - 06:33 PM
Paul Burke 23 Oct 09 - 06:39 PM
Young Buchan 23 Oct 09 - 08:51 PM
Jim Dixon 25 Oct 09 - 11:53 PM
meself 26 Oct 09 - 01:52 AM
meself 26 Oct 09 - 11:50 AM
Tattie Bogle 04 Jan 11 - 03:32 PM
Jim Dixon 05 Jan 11 - 08:31 PM
Jim Carroll 06 Jan 11 - 04:55 AM
GUEST,Kilkennyjohn 24 Feb 14 - 08:20 PM
meself 25 Feb 14 - 12:48 AM
MartinRyan 25 Feb 14 - 03:21 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Feb 14 - 03:30 AM
GUEST 25 Feb 14 - 07:45 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Feb 14 - 08:06 AM
GUEST,Iain 25 Feb 14 - 08:53 AM
GUEST 25 Feb 14 - 11:31 AM
MartinRyan 27 Oct 14 - 12:41 PM
Tattie Bogle 27 Oct 14 - 03:49 PM
GUEST 05 Feb 16 - 04:24 AM
Dave Sutherland 23 Nov 18 - 04:26 AM
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Subject: History of Lake of Coolfin (Col Fin)
From: radriano
Date: 29 Oct 99 - 12:04 PM

Hello, everybody:

I have seen numerous version of this song. First of all, what is the correct spelling of the title - is it "Coolfin" or "Col Fin"? The Bodleian site has one broadside called the "Lake of Cold Finn"! I know the song also goes by the title "Willie Leonard".

One version in the Digital Tradition shows the following footnote:

"From The New Green Mountain Songster, Flanders et al., collected from Mrs. E.M. Sullivan, VT....Flanders thinks this is a degenerate form of ballad in which a young man is taken by a water witch who desires him. Variation known as the Lakes of Champlain."

I would like to track down this reference of water witches. Anybody got any ideas about this?

I would greatly appreciate any help I can get.

Regards to all,
radriano


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Subject: Lyr/Tune Add: THE LAKE OF COOLFIN
From: Snuffy
Date: 04 Aug 00 - 06:33 PM

THE LAKE OF COOLFIN

It was early one morning Willie Leonard arose,
And straight to his comrade's bedchamber he goes,
Crying,"Comrade, loyal comrade, let nobody know,
'Tis a fine summer's morning, and a-bathing we'll go".

To the Lake of Coolfin the comrades soon came
And who should they meet but the keeper of game.
"Turn back, Willie Leonard, do not venture in,
There are deep and false waters in the Lake of Coolfin."

But Willie jumped in and he swum the lake round,
He soon reached an island, 'twas soft, boggy ground,
"Oh comrade, loyal comrade, don't follow me in
There are deep and false waters in the Lake of Coolfin."

It was very soon after, Willie's sister awoke
And unto her mother all sadly she spoke,
"Oh I dreamt a sad dream about Willie last night
He came to my room in a shroud of snow white."

Willie's mother arose, and she went to the lake,
She called her son's name, and she wept for his sake.
"Oh, sad was the hour when my Willie plunged in,
There are deep and false waters in the Lake of Coolfin."

Oh, to see Willie's funeral, it was a grand sight
There were four-and-twenty young men, they were all dressed in white.
There were four-and-twenty young maids, they were all dressed in green.
Just to show that he was drowned in the Lake of Coolfin.

VRH

Sung by the Grehan Sisters on "On the Galtymore Mountains, Transatlantic TRA160, 1967. The sleeve notes say:
The Lake of Coolfin is a traditional ballad also known as The Ballad of Willie Leonard. It is a song that the Grehans have been singing since they were knee-high. They say that they have never heard it sung anywhere other than the West of Ireland.
There are American versions of this in the DT collected in Vermont (Lakes of Col Fin), and the Catskills (Lakes of Col Flynn), each with a different tune

MIDI file: COOLFIN.MID

Timebase: 480

Tempo: 110 (545454 microsec/crotchet)
Key: D
TimeSig: 3/4 18 8
Name: Lake of Coolfin
Start
0000 1 69 127 0239 0 69 000 0001 1 67 090 0239 0 67 000 0001 1 66 127 0479 0 66 000 0001 1 62 090 0239 0 62 000 0001 1 64 090 0239 0 64 000 0001 1 66 090 0239 0 66 000 0001 1 67 090 0239 0 67 000 0001 1 69 127 0479 0 69 000 0001 1 74 090 1919 0 74 000 0001 1 74 090 0239 0 74 000 0001 1 74 090 0239 0 74 000 0001 1 71 127 0719 0 71 000 0001 1 67 090 0239 0 67 000 0001 1 71 090 0479 0 71 000 0001 1 69 127 2399 0 69 000 0001 1 69 090 0239 0 69 000 0001 1 67 090 0239 0 67 000 0001 1 66 127 0479 0 66 000 0001 1 62 090 0239 0 62 000 0001 1 64 090 0239 0 64 000 0001 1 66 090 0239 0 66 000 0001 1 67 090 0239 0 67 000 0001 1 69 127 0479 0 69 000 0001 1 74 090 1919 0 74 000 0001 1 74 090 0479 0 74 000 0001 1 71 127 0719 0 71 000 0001 1 67 090 0239 0 67 000 0001 1 71 090 0479 0 71 000 0001 1 69 127 2399 0 69 000 0001 1 66 090 0239 0 66 000 0001 1 67 090 0239 0 67 000 0001 1 69 127 0479 0 69 000 0001 1 74 090 0479 0 74 000 0001 1 71 090 0239 0 71 000 0001 1 74 090 0239 0 74 000 0001 1 69 127 0479 0 69 000 0001 1 66 090 0479 0 66 000 0001 1 62 090 0479 0 62 000 0001 1 67 127 0719 0 67 000 0001 1 69 090 0239 0 69 000 0001 1 71 090 0479 0 71 000 0001 1 69 127 2399 0 69 000 0001 1 62 090 0239 0 62 000 0001 1 64 090 0239 0 64 000 0001 1 66 127 0719 0 66 000 0001 1 66 090 0239 0 66 000 0001 1 66 090 0479 0 66 000 0001 1 69 127 0479 0 69 000 0001 1 67 090 0479 0 67 000 0001 1 64 090 0239 0 64 000 0001 1 64 090 0239 0 64 000 0001 1 64 127 0479 0 64 000 0001 1 62 090 0479 0 62 000 0001 1 61 090 0239 0 61 000 0001 1 64 090 0239 0 64 000 0001 1 62 127 2399 0 62 000
End

This program is worth the effort of learning it.

To download the March 10 MIDItext 98 software and get instructions on how to use it click here

ABC format:

X: 1
T:Lake of Coolfin
M:3/4
L:1/8
K:D
AG|
F2 DE FG|A2 d4- |d4 dd|B3 G B2|A6-|A4 AG|
F2 DE FG|A2 d4- |d4 d2|B3 G B2|A6-|A4 FG|
A2 d2 Bd|A2 F2 D2|G3A B2|A6-|A4 DE|
F3 F F2|A2 G2 EE|E2 D2 CE|D6-|D4||

Wassail! V


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Lake of Coolfin
From: GUEST,Bruce O.
Date: 04 Aug 00 - 07:48 PM

The lake is 'Colfin' on a broadside issue by Haly of Cork on the Bodley Ballads website. In 3 other copies it is 'Shelin'. These can be found by searching on 'Leonard'. Two copies, late and a bit corrupted can be found by searching on 'lake', and these give the lake as 'Cold Finn'. I think the Haly issue is the earliest (and called a new song).

I don't have good dates for Haly's broadside publications, but think most were in the 2nd quarter of the 19th century, but some may have been later. If anyone has better information on Haly I would be most happy to have it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Lake of Coolfin
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 04 Aug 00 - 11:10 PM

The song is generally considered to be of Irish origin, but it was by no means restricted to that country, and has been found in Scotland (Jeannie Robertson, Belle Stewart) and the South of England (for example, The Lake of Colephin, collected by the Hammond brothers from George Hatherhill of Bath in 1906).  As mentioned above, there are two American versions on the DT:

The Lakes of Col Flynn
The Lakes of Col Fin

Laws Q33
DT #541
@death @lake

Other titles:

The Cruel Lake of Wolfrinn
(Lament for) Willie Leonard
Willie Lennox
The Lakes of Shallin/ Shilin/ Shillin
The Loch of Shallin
Young Willie

There are apparantly also American versions localised to Lake Champlain.

There is an entry at  The Traditional Ballad Index:
The Lake of Cool Finn (Willie Leonard)

There is a version at Lesley Nelson's  Folk Music  site:
Lake of Coolfin  which gives a related tune with a quite different lyric, but some useful background information.

As Bruce mentions above, there are broadside versions at  Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads.  Particularly worth looking at are:

A new song, called William Leonard  Printed by Haly (Cork) 18-
The Lakes of Cold Finn  Printed between 1863 and 1885 by H. Such of London.
Willie Leonard  Printed between 1850 and 1899 by T. Pearson of Manchester.

Bruce also has some references at his website:  Some Irish Folk Songs in Journals  to versions published in the Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society.

Peter Kennedy (Folksongs of Britain and Ireland, 1975) gives a version collected by Seamus Ennis from Mary Reynolds of Mohill in Co. Leitrim, in 1954:  The Lakes of Shallin.  From the notes:

"The anglicisation of what must have been a Gaelic name has resulted in many different names for the lake in which Willie Leonard was drowned, and therefore many different titles of the song...
Sam Henry's... version (Willie Lennox), from Co. Derry, throws more light on the situation; the lake is Loughinshollin.
It is a most interesting point in topography that the hero of the song was drowned in the lake (no longer on the map) which gives its name to the Barony of Loughinshollin (the Lough of the Island of the O'Lynns).  The O'Lynns (originally O'Flynns -the F, being aspirated, is not sounded) were a powerful sept who, in the 6th. century and from A.D.1121 onwards, occupied a territory comprising the modern baronies of Lower Antrim, Lower Toome, Lower Glenarm and Kilconway, on the east side of the River Bann.  The lough was probably an expansion of the river not far north of Lough Beg."

Malcolm


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Subject: Lyr Req: Tha lake of coolfinn
From: GUEST,Jim Lucey
Date: 29 Jan 04 - 05:49 PM

Does anyone have the lyrics for 'The Lake of Coolfinn'
Dodgy spelling I know, It begins as follows;

Twas early one morning young Willy arose
and up to his comrade's bedchamber he goes
saying arise now dear comrade and let no one know
'tis a fine and pleasant morning and a bathing we'll go.

Any help appreciated.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Tha lake of coolfinn
From: Barb'ry
Date: 29 Jan 04 - 06:26 PM

It is in threads - one by snuffy, called the lake of Cool Fin - can't do blue clicky things yet, sorry. I found it by looking up Willie Leonard on DT and going to the related threads below. Good song, isn't it.
B


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Tha lake of coolfinn
From: Snuffy
Date: 29 Jan 04 - 08:02 PM

If you look in this thread you will find lots of information, plus links to several other threads and two entries in the Digital Tradition.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Tha lake of coolfinn
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Jan 04 - 08:24 PM

I consolidated and crosslinked threads and thread titles, so the messages Malcolm and Snuffy refer to are now in this thread. The one called Deep and False Water has some interesting information, too.

-Joe Offer-

Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry:

Lake of Cool Finn, The (Willie Leonard) [Laws Q33]

DESCRIPTION: Willie Leonard and a friend visit Lake Cool Finn. Willie dives in first, and swims to an island, but warns his friend not to follow, warning of "deep and false water...." When Willie tries to swim back, he vanishes (to fairyland?). He is mourned by many
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1873
KEYWORDS: death drowning
FOUND IN: US(MA,NE,S) Ireland Britain(England(West),Scotland) Canada(Newf)
REFERENCES (17 citations):
Laws Q33, "The Lake of Cool Finn"
Greig #114, p. 1, "The Loch o' Shilin" (1 text)
GreigDuncan2 228, "The Loch o' Shilin" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
Leach, pp. 732-733, "Willie Leonard or the Lake of Cool Finn" (1 text)
FSCatskills 72, "The Lakes of Col Flynn" (1 text, 1 tune)
Flanders-NewGreen, pp. 32-34, "The Lakes of Cool Fin" (1 text, 1 tune)
Morris, #230, "The Lake of Coalfin" (1 text)
Kennedy 324, "The Lakes of Shallin" (1 text, 1 tune)
Wiltshire-WSRO Ox 295, "Lakes of Cold Finn" (1 text)
RoudBishop #120, "The Lakes of Cold Finn" (1 text, 1 tune)
SHenry H176, p. 146, "Willie Lennox" (1 text, 1 tune)
OCroinin-Cronin 168, "The Lakes of Coolfin" (3 texts, 1 tune)
Munnelly/Deasy-Lenihan 35, "The Lake of Coolfin" (1 text, 1 tune)
McBride 44, "Johnny Bathin" (1 text, 1 tune)
O'Conor, pp. 15-16, "Lakes of Cold Finn" (1 text)
cf. Gardner/Chickering, p. 480, "The Lakes of Cold Finn" (source notes only)
DT 541, LKCOLFIN* LKCOLFI2*

Roud #189
RECORDINGS:
Amy Birch, "Royal Comrade" (on Voice11)
Din Dobbin, "Lake of Coll Finn" (on MUNFLA/Leach)
Patsy Flynn, "Willie Leonard" (on IRHardySons)
Tom Lenihan, "The Lake of Coolfin" (on IRTLenihan01)
Mary Reynolds, "The Lakes of Shallin" (on FSB7)
Cathie Stewart, "The Lakes of Shillin" (on SCStewartsBlair01)
Scan Tester, "The Lakes of Coalflin" (on Voice03)

BROADSIDES:
Bodleian, 2806 b.11(260), "The Lakes of Cold Finn," H. Such (London), 1863-1885; also Harding B 20(88), "The Lakes of Cold Finn"; 2806 b.11(31), Firth b.26(168), Harding B 11(1376), "Willie Leonard"
LOCSinging, as107400, "The Lakes of Cold Finn," unknown, 19C

ALTERNATE TITLES:
Billy Henry
NOTES [31 words]: The Loch o' Shilin versions expand on the mother "tearing her hair" by adding father and sweetheart. Greig comments that his version was sung to the tune of "Villikens and his Dinah." - BS
Last updated in version 4.2
File: LQ33

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2020 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The lake of coolfinn
From: pavane
Date: 30 Jan 04 - 10:21 AM

Also know as the Lakes of ?Shylin (Phonetic spelling as I haven't seen it written)

(Was sung on BBC radio by Nic Jones, but not sure if he ever recorded it.)


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Subject: RE: History of Lake of Coolfin (Col Fin)
From: GUEST,Tburch@earhtlink.net
Date: 15 Jul 05 - 01:18 AM

Hi, They say that I am a decendant of "Willie Leonard" and his song. But I figure he lived about 1800 or so in the area of Ennislillen, Co. Fermanagh. Do you have more info?


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Subject: RE: History of Lake of Coolfin (Col Fin)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 15 Jul 05 - 11:26 AM

I spent much of my life in Wisconsin, a state with many rivers and lakes, including huge Lake Michigan. To me, this song has a goal which has nothing to do with witches.

The song has to do with youth taking chances in water and drowning. That's something I have encountered far too many times - whether it's a kid foolishly trying to swim to the breakwater in Milwaukee harbor

or diving off a river bank near a bridge and breaking his neck on an abandoned car

or having a few beers and tipping over a canoe, the dangers are always there.

Once I saw a young woman's letter to Dear Abby. She wrote that people are always warning teenagers about drinking and driving, but nobody teaches them the dangers of drinking and swimming. Her brother had just died that way. (I realize, of course, that drink doesn't come into the story in the Lake Cool Finn.)

BTW, the version I have heard has the words "dark and cold waters" not "false waters."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The lake of coolfinn
From: GUEST,jbc446@yahoo.com
Date: 31 Jul 05 - 09:24 PM

Where can I find the sheet music to Lakes of coolfin


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The lake of coolfinn
From: Peace
Date: 31 Jul 05 - 09:44 PM

Google this.

Folk Songs from Digital Tradition - free sheet music on 8notes.com

Look for The Lakes of Col Flynn.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The lake of coolfinn
From: Paul Burke
Date: 01 Aug 05 - 04:56 AM

If you want an alternative tune for 'Lake of Coolfin', especially if you are doing a guitar accompaniment with it, try 'The Poacher's fate' (aka 'Young Johnson'), as sung by Dave Burland.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lake of Coolfin / Col Fin
From: GUEST,AR
Date: 14 Apr 06 - 06:21 PM

About 'water witches' - ballads such as 'Clerk Colven/Colvill/etc' and 'George Collins' might be worth thinking about, although I don't think they're related to the Willie Leonard song.

Al


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lake of Coolfin / Col Fin
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 14 Apr 06 - 06:40 PM

Not in the slightest; anyway, the question about "water witches" was made more than six years ago (check the dates). Helen Hartness Flanders was a very important collector and scholar, but some of her notions are a little eccentric by today's standards. This is one such.

This old, long forgotten thread was revived by somebody wanting "sheet music" for Lakes of Coolfin. In answer to that question, we must ask: "which version of it?" There are a great many, as I thought we had already made reasonably clear.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lake of Coolfin / Col Fin
From: Toenails John
Date: 15 Apr 06 - 01:41 PM

To my knowledge this is a factual song about the accidental drowning of a man called Willie Leonard, who was some desccription of a soldier. Coolfin is located just outside village of Portlaw in County Waterford, Ireland, and there are indeed lakes in the area, which even now, regardless of the song, are regarded as highly dangerous to swim in. For anyone familiar with this territory, Coolfin Lakes are located between Portlaw & Kilmacthomas. Many of the new housing estates bare names such as Coolfin meadows etc, to justify it's existence! Coolfin itself is only a small country area, and is generally regarded as part of Portlaw.

With the strong local knowledge of the song, anyone from around the area instantly rcognises it as a being from this area, and given the blatant evidence, I've never really had to question it.

Thats my 2cents on it anyway. hope it puzzles you further! Always the way isn't it. 10 different answers!

Tj


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lake of Coolfin / Col Fin
From: Peace
Date: 16 Apr 06 - 01:10 AM

More info here. (https://www.contemplator.com/ireland/coolfin.html)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The lake of coolfinn
From: GUEST,jim lucey
Date: 27 Nov 07 - 07:58 PM

seems there's more than one of us


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The lake of coolfinn
From: Shaneo
Date: 28 Nov 07 - 08:16 AM

I recently added The Lakes Of Coolfin to my site which has the guitar chords here

I also uploaded a version by Charlie And The Bhoys singing it to youtube, [not the best version I ever heard]


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Subject: ADD Version: THE LAKE OF COOLFIN
From: GUEST,John Kelly
Date: 28 Nov 07 - 06:02 PM

For what it's worth, here'as the version I sing, which is largely similar to the version contributed by Snuffy, except for the last verse. I got it in about 1972 from my partner in The Wakes, Tom Brown (who is lurking around the Cafe somewhere under an alias). He got the song from the late Paddy Doody, but I don't know where Paddy got it.

THE LAKE OF COOLFIN

It was early one morning young Willy arose
And straightway to his comrade's bedchamber he goes,
Saying "arise me bold comrade, and let no-one know -
'Tis a fine summer's morning, and a-bathing we'll go".

To the Lake of Coolfin the companions soon came,
And the first that they met was the keeper of game;
"Oh,go back Willy Leonard, do not venture in
For there's deep and false water in the Lake of Coolfin!".

Young Willy plunged in and he swam the lake round,
Till he came to an island, 'twas soft marshy ground;
"Oh, go back me bold comrade, do not venture in,
For there's deep and false water in the Lake of Coolfin!".

It was early next morning his sister arose
And straightway to her mother's bedchamber she goes;
"Oh, I dreamed a sad dream about Willy last night;
He was dressed in a shroud - in a shroud of snow white".

And late in the morning, his mother came there;
She was ringing her hands, she was tearing her hair;
"Oh, woeful the hour young Willy plunged in
For there's deep and false water in the Lake of Coolfin!".

And I spied a fair maid standing fast by the shore;
Her face it was pale - she was weeping full sore;
In dewep anguish she gazed at where Will plunged in -
"Ah, there's deep and false water in the Lake of Coolfin!".


I think I've got one or two other versions in books, but the books aren't in the same house as the computer. If I find anything worth adding, I'll get back to you. J.K.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The lake of coolfinn
From: theleveller
Date: 29 Nov 07 - 03:19 AM

Martin Simpson does an excellent version called The Lakes of Champlain on his Pordigal Son CD.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The lake of coolfinn
From: harpmolly
Date: 29 Nov 07 - 03:32 AM

Niamh Parsons does a particularly lovely version on "In My Prime", too. Very sad. *sniffle*


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The lake of coolfinn
From: treewind
Date: 29 Nov 07 - 05:24 PM

When Mary was going through stuff from the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library she found a song collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams in Cambridge, with the title shown clearly enough, despite his bad handwriting as "Lakes of Old Fen". There weren't any other words (typical of RVW) words but the tune fits perfectly with the words from other versions of lakes of Cool Fin, and of course we've changed it to "Old Fen" throughout.

Chris Coe has recorded a nice version of the song on her solo album "A Wiser Fool".

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The lake of coolfinn
From: treewind
Date: 29 Nov 07 - 05:27 PM

...sorry, just to clarify: Chris Coe's version is NOT the Cambridge "Old Fen" song I mentioned in the rest of that post.

We'll be recording the Cambridge version some time next year.

A.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The lake of coolfinn
From: Anne Lister
Date: 30 Nov 07 - 02:37 AM

The Oyster Band did a very good version, too ....some years back, though.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The lake of coolfinn
From: Mikefule
Date: 30 Nov 07 - 04:46 PM

Well blow me! Never heard the song until two nights ago, and then I find this thread.

Tony Rose did a Lakes of Shilin which is pretty much the same story and clearly a variation on the same theme. If that's any good, I can track down more details.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The lake of coolfinn
From: Declan
Date: 30 Nov 07 - 08:31 PM

Lots of variants on the title Lakes of Coolfin, Inchiquin, of Shoolin. Suggesstions to search on Willie Leonard ane ok but in some versions its Willie Lennox or just young Willie. A phrase like "Let no one know" might be a better thing to search on. I haven't tried this yet, so I'm just guessing.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE LAKE OF COOLFIN
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 02 Dec 07 - 01:47 AM

From Popular British Ballads, Ancient and Modern by Reginald Brimley Johnson, 1894:

THE LAKE OF COOLFIN

To the Lake of Coolfin the companions soon came,
And the first man they met was the keeper of game:—
"Turn back, Willy Leonard, return back again;
There is deep and false water in the Lake of Coolfin!"

Young Willy plunged in, and he swam the lake round;
He swam to an island—-'twas soft marshy ground:
"O, comrade, dear comrade, do not venture in;
There is deep and false water in the Lake of Coolfin!"

'Twas early that morning his sister arose;
And up to her mother's bed-chamber she goes:—
"O, I dreamed a sad dream about Willy last night;
He was dressed in a shroud—in a shroud of snow-white!"

'Twas early that morning his mother came there;
She was wringing her hands—she was tearing her hair.
O, woful the hour your dear Willy plunged in:—
There is deep and false water in the Lake of Coolfin!

And I saw a fair maid, standing fast by the shore;
Her face it was pale—she was weeping full sore;
In deep anguish she gazed where young Willy plunged in:—
Ah! there's deep and false water in the Lake of Coolfin!

Old Ballad. Recomposed by P. W. JOYCE.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Lake of Coolfinn
From: GUEST,unkown person 34
Date: 23 Oct 09 - 06:33 PM

Who sings this song?

heya


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Lake of Coolfinn
From: Paul Burke
Date: 23 Oct 09 - 06:39 PM

Lots of us!

Oh, you meant somebody famous?


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE LAKES OF KILLIN
From: Young Buchan
Date: 23 Oct 09 - 08:51 PM

I've had a look at the versions in the DT and one element which I haven't seen in those quoted, but which certainly exists in some versions, is the portent of death in the form of the vision of a coffin in the lake.

THE LAKES OF KILLIN

It was early one morning Bill Leonard arose,
And straight to his comrades' bedchamber he goes,
Crying,"Rise up my comrades, and let nobody know.
It's a fine summer's morning, and a-bathing we'll go".

They walked and they walked till they came to a lane
And the first one they met was the keeper of game.
He said, "Go back, young fellows, do not venture in,
For I've seen a black coffin in the Lakes of Killin."

Bill Leonard stripped off and he swam all around;
He swam to an island of soft, mossy ground.
"Oh comrades, my comrades, do not venture in
For the waters are false in the Lakes of Killin."

He leapt from the island to swim back around
And he swam and he swam but he never made ground.
"Oh comrades, my comrades, don't follow me in,
For the coffin was mine in the Lakes of Killin."

It was later that morning his father came there
And rode [or rowed?] round the island like a man in despair.
"Oh where was he drownded, where did he fall in?
My curse on the waters of the Lakes of Killin."

It was later that morning his mother came there
A-wringing her hands and a-tearing her hair.
"Oh why was he drownded? Was nobody nigh
That would venture their life for my darling young boy?"

The day of his funeral, it was a grand sight;
There were four and twenty young girls and all dressed in white.
The guns they did sound and the trumpets did play.
They bade adieu to Bill Leonard and went on their way.

So come all you young fellows and listen to me:
Though you be as young, strong and handsome as he,
Beware of Bill Leonard and don't venture in
To the dark silent waters of the Lakes of Killin.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE LAKES OF COLD FINN
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 11:53 PM

Here's another version, from Irish Come-All-Ye's: A Repository of Ancient Irish Songs and Ballads, compiled and arranged by Manus O'Conor (New York: L. Lipkind, 1901), page 15:


THE LAKES OF COLD FINN.

It was early one morning young William had rose,
Straightway to his comrades' bed-chamber he goes,
Saying: Comrades, royal comrades, let nobody know,
For it's a fine morning and a-bathing we'll go.

So they walked right along till they came to Long Lane,
And the first that they met was the keeper of the game;
He advised them for sorrow to turn back again,
For their doom was to die on a watery main.

So young William stepped off and swam the lake 'round,
He swam 'round the island, but not the right ground,
Saying: Comrades, royal comrades, don't you venture in,
For there's depth in false water, in the lakes of Cold Finn.

'Twas next morning, next morning, when his sister had arose,
She straightway to her mother's bed-chamber she did go,
Saying: Mother, dear mother, I had a sad dream,
That young William was floating on a watery stream.

It was early one morning when his mother went there,
She had rings on every finger and was tearing her hair,
Crying: Murder! oh, murder! was there nobody by
That would venture their life for my fine darling boy?

So it was early one morning when his uncle went there,
He rode 'round the island like one in despair,
Saying: Where was he drowned, or did he fall in?
For there's depth in false water, in the lakes of Cold Finn.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE LAKE OF ALL FAME
From: meself
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 01:52 AM

Here's a version of this anti-swimming song that I learned many years ago from Metis singer and song-writer George Anderson, of Reedy Creek, Manitoba. He had learned it from an uncle.

I may have altered a word or two over the years, but I'm sure it's very close to the way I learned it. I heard the name of the lake as "All Fame", but that may not have been exactly what George was saying.

It's curious, some of the details that inexplicably appear and disappear in the various versions, and the way the rhymes change ....

THE LAKE OF ALL FAME

It was early one morning, young William arose,
And it's off to his friend's, to his comrade he goes,
Saying Royal, dearest Royal, let nobody know,
It is a fine morning, and a-bathing we'll go.

They both jogged along till they came to the long line,
The first one they met with was the keeper of time;
He kindly advised them to return home again,
For a-bathing is a-dying on the Lake of All Fame.

They both jogged along till they came to the brim,
Young Willie undressed, was the first to go in,
Crying, 'Comrade, dearest comrade, I am growing weak',
Those were the last words young Willie did speak.

It was early that morning, his uncle came there,
He ran 'round the lake like a man in despair,
Crying, 'Where did Willie fall in? Oh, where did he drown,
In the cold, stormy waters of the Lake of All Fame?'

It was later that morning, his mother came there,
She was wringing her hands, and tearing her hair,
Crying, 'Murder, yes, murder, is there anyone here,
Who will answer to swim for my own Willie dear?'

On the day of his funeral, it was sad sight,
There were twenty-four young man all dressed up in white;
They carried him, and they laid him in the cold silent clay,
'Here's adieu, Willie Leonard', and they all marched away.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Lake of Coolfinn
From: meself
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 11:50 AM

An error in the above, the second line should be:

And it's off to his friend's, to the timber he goes,


Mudelf?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Lake of Coolfinn
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 04 Jan 11 - 03:32 PM

Lovely version by Johnny Coppin: haven't yet checked against all these various sets of words to see which of them he sings.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE LAKE OF SHEE-LYN
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 05 Jan 11 - 08:31 PM

Here's another version I found embedded in what appears to be a work of fiction: The Dead-Watchers, and Other Folk-Lore Tales of Westmeath by Patrick Bardan (Mullingar: Patrick Bardan, 1891), page 44:


Early, early one morning Willie Leonard arose,
And straight to his comrade's bed-chamber he goes,
Saying "Arise, loyal comrade, let nobody know,
The morning is fine, and a-bathing we'll go."

They walked down along till they came to a lane
Where they were o'ertaken by the keeper of game,
Who said "Turn back, boys, and don't venture in,
For there's death and cold water in the lake of Shee-lyn!"

Willie stripped off his clothes and he swam the lake round.
He swam towards the island, but ne'er reached dry ground.
He said "Loyal comrade, I feel very weak,"
And these were the last words young Willie did speak.

Early, early next morning his sister arose,
And quick to her mother's bed-chamber she goes,
Saying "Mother, I have had a most sorrowful dream—
Willie's corpse is afloat on Shee-lyn's parting stream!"

* * *

On the day of the funeral it was a grand sight
To see four-and-twenty young men all banded in white.
They carried him on their shoulders, and they laid him in the clay;
Then "Adieu, Willie Leonard," and all marched away.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Lake of Coolfinn
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jan 11 - 04:55 AM

Phillips Barry's note to the Vermont version collected by Helen Harness Flanders from New Green Mountain Songster.
An example of an over-imaginative acedemic turning one of the most beautiful ballads of domestic tragedy in the tradition, into mystical nonsense - while displaying a contempt for the tradition and its singers,
Jim Carroll

FROM Lilith, the wild woman of perilous love, and Morgain la Fee, to the mood: a street ballad about one of the many Irish youths who have lost their lives in fresh water, is a long leap. But "The Lakes of Col Fin" takes it. Irish singers understand the lore of the ballad perfectly: Willie was not "drowned"; he was taken away to Tir fa Tonn, "Fairyland-under-wave," by a water woman who had fallen in love with him. Legends of similar content are frequent in Middle Irish literature and have survived into modern popular tradition. We may compare Motherwell's, "The Mermayden," whose "bower is biggit o' the gude ships' keels, and the banes o': the drowned at sea"—a grim picture of the supernatural woman's cruelty in love, which the poet nicely caught—and Leyden's "The Mermaid of Corrievrekan," with a happy ending wrought by a clever hero who inveigles the mermaid into taking him back to bid farewell to his former love, "the maid of Colonsay." Both poems were based on local traditions and legends.
Popular tradition, however, does not mean popular origin. In the case of our ballad, the underlying folklore is Irish de facto, but not de iure: the ballad is of Oriental and literary origin, and has sunk to the level of the "folk" which has the keeping of folklore. To put it in a single phrase, memory not invention, is the function of the folk.
"The Lakes of Col Fin" was first printed by Dr. P. W. Joyce in 1872, in a version, with the air, obtained from a County Limerick singer. A full history of the ballad and of the folk tradition pertaining to it is in FSSNE, Bulletin No. 8, pp. 9— 12.
Mrs. Flanders met this ballad as "The Lakes of Champlain" while talking about old songs with Mrs. Herbert Haley of Cuttingsville, Vermont. Mrs. Haley sang the words to the tune of "The Dying Cowboy" and had been told that the drowned boy was "Willie Lanard," well known to the person who gave her the song.


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Subject: RE: History of Lake of Coolfin (Col Fin)
From: GUEST,Kilkennyjohn
Date: 24 Feb 14 - 08:20 PM

I am from County Kilkenny and my mother knew this song. Her aunts brought a version of this song to America, Boston area in the late 19th/ early20th century. We believe it was based on an incident near Portlaw in neighbouring County Waterford. I have heard people singing it in Waterford city.
No doubt there are stories of other drowning's in other places recorded in folksongs. These may have got mixed up borrowed whole or piecemeal. In Waterford the folk memory is strong of this death occurring at a known location; though no lake now exists there.


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Subject: RE: History of Lake of Coolfin (Col Fin)
From: meself
Date: 25 Feb 14 - 12:48 AM

It is in oral-tradition in the Kinisota area of Manitoba, if no longer much sung.


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Subject: RE: History of Lake of Coolfin (Col Fin)
From: MartinRyan
Date: 25 Feb 14 - 03:21 AM

Nice to see this old thread pop up again, with its examples of how people are convinced that THEIR local version is the original!

Malcolm Douglas quotes above from Sam Henry:
It is a most interesting point in topography that the hero of the song was drowned in the lake (no longer on the map) which gives its name to the Barony of Loughinshollin (the Lough of the Island of the O'Lynns). The O'Lynns (originally O'Flynns -the F, being aspirated, is not sounded) were a powerful sept who, in the 6th. century and from A.D.1121 onwards, occupied a territory comprising the modern baronies of Lower Antrim, Lower Toome, Lower Glenarm and Kilconway, on the east side of the River Bann. The lough was probably an expansion of the river not far north of Lough Beg."

A week or two ago, I was flicking through some old maps in a Dublin bookshop and happened to spot "Loughinsholinn" along the Bann in one of them!

Regards


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Subject: RE: History of Lake of Coolfin (Col Fin)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Feb 14 - 03:30 AM

We've just annotated the song in preparation for putting our collection up on our county website:

Lake of Coolfin – Tom Lenihan Recorded in singer's home, July 1976
Romanticism, largely based on the writings of American ballad scholar Phillips Barry, has attributed to this song deep mythological significance involving magically disappearing islands and lethal mermaids luring unwitting mortals to their doom, but much of this can probably be put down to what A.L.Lloyd described as "the afterthought of some folklorising enthusiast".   "The Lake of Coolflynn, Coolfin, Cold Finn, Shallin, or the many other names it is known by, has survived, not as a myth, but rather as a beautifully concise account of a drowning tragedy.
Sam Henry places the probable location of the events described as; The River Agivey at Inisholeen, north of Garvah, Co. Derry.   According to the version given in Songs of The People, the drowning took place on 12th July, though he doesn't give a year (there is no evidence which in any way upholds this claim, which is more than likely a piece of local folklore).
Reference.
Folk Music Journal (English).              1973.
Sam Henry's Songs Of The People.   Gale Huntington (ed.).

Phillips Barry is a researcher I have always admired, but I found his comments on this song both romantic fantasising and particularly offensive to the people who made and circulated these songs.

"FROM Lilith, the wild woman of perilous love, and Morgain la Fee, to the mood of a street ballad about one of the many Irish youths who have lost their lives in fresh water, is a long leap. But "The Lakes of Col Fin" takes it. Irish singers un¬derstand the lore of the ballad perfectly: Willie was not "drowned"; he was taken away to Tir fa Tonn, "Fairyland-under-wave," by a water woman who had fallen in love with him. Legends of similar content are frequent in Middle Irish literature and have survived into modern popular tradition. We may compare Motherwell's, "The Mermayden," whose "bower is biggit o' the gude ships' keels, and the banes o' the drowned at sea"—a grim picture of the supernatural woman's cruelty in love, which the poet nicely caught—and Leyden's "The Mermaid of Corrievre-kan," with a happy ending wrought by a clever hero who inveigles the mermaid into taking him back to bid farewell to his former love, "the maid of Colonsay." Both poems were based on local traditions and legends.
Popular tradition, however, does not mean popular origin. In the case of our ballad, the underlying folklore is Irish de facto, but not de jure: the ballad is of Oriental and literary origin, and has sunk to the level of the "folk" which has the keeping of folklore. To put it in a single phrase, memory not invention is the function of the folk.
"The Lakes of Col Fin" was first printed by Dr. P. W. Joyce in 1872, in a version, with the air, obtained from a County Limerick singer. A full history of the ballad and of the folk tradition pertaining to it is in FSSNE, Bulletin No. 8, pp. 9— 12.
Mrs. Flanders met this ballad as "The Lakes of Champlain" while talking about old songs with Mrs. Herbert Haley of Cuttingsville, Vermont. Mrs. Haley sang the words to the tune of "The Dying Cowboy" and had been told that the drowned boy was "Willie Lanard," well known to the person who gave her the song."
New Green Mountain Songster, Yale Univ Press, 1939

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: History of Lake of Coolfin (Col Fin)
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Feb 14 - 07:45 AM

Worth a look--my fourth try to post this:

Click here

------------------ Blue clicky added. Mudelf-------------------


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Subject: RE: History of Lake of Coolfin (Col Fin)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Feb 14 - 08:06 AM

Thanks guest - that really is a good, comprehensive cover of the song.
One quibble; I do wish people who go to this much trouble would pick better examples of the song - one fairly run of the mill traditional version, two virtually identical folkie versions and another ok folkie version
There are better examples of this to be had.
Apart from that - thanks - great link
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: History of Lake of Coolfin (Col Fin)
From: GUEST,Iain
Date: 25 Feb 14 - 08:53 AM

Another interesting link on the origins of the song:

http://mainlynorfolk.info/nic.jones/songs/thelakesofshilin.html


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Subject: RE: History of Lake of Coolfin (Col Fin)
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Feb 14 - 11:31 AM

No offence, Iain, but that is the link I posted to which Jim responded.

------Think I caused the confusion by inserting "blue clickie"! Swings and roundabouts. Mudelf -----------------------


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Subject: RE: History of Lake of Coolfin (Col Fin)
From: MartinRyan
Date: 27 Oct 14 - 12:41 PM

There's a mention earlier in the thread (by Malcolm Douglas) of an American version based round Lake Champlain. There's a recording now in The Goilín Song Project as sung by Sara Gray - though she only does harmonies on the verse ends.

Click here

Regards


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Subject: RE: History of Lake of Coolfin (Col Fin)
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 27 Oct 14 - 03:49 PM

Call me ignorant if you like, but the only time I ever heard this song it was done very nicely by English singer Johnny Coppin. Now listening to other versions on Youtube!


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Subject: RE: History of Lake of Coolfin (Col Fin)
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Feb 16 - 04:24 AM

For years I was told that this song Willy Leonard is about an ancestor of mine from Ireland long long ago. Now I'm starting to wonder if this guy Willy was ever a real person?? Does anyone know?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Lake of Coolfin
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 23 Nov 18 - 04:26 AM

Seriously late to this thread but Nic Jones did record the song on his "From the Devil to a Stranger" LP. A good rendition on the album but live I always though it to be the best thing he ever did.


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