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Origins: Irish Rover

DigiTrad:
THE IRISH ROVER


Related threads:
Lyr Add: Irish Rover (various versions) (20)
Irish rover - chorus? (4)
Irish Rover copyrighted? (13)
Lyr Req: Illegal Cargo in the Irish Rover (3)
Chords Req: Irish Rover (8)


RobbieWilson 12 Mar 05 - 02:01 PM
Malcolm Douglas 12 Mar 05 - 03:15 PM
Joe Offer 12 Mar 05 - 05:01 PM
Malcolm Douglas 12 Mar 05 - 05:15 PM
GUEST 13 Mar 05 - 02:53 AM
GUEST,Julia L 19 Sep 17 - 04:48 PM
Tattie Bogle 19 Sep 17 - 08:09 PM
Lighter 19 Sep 17 - 08:15 PM
Leadfingers 20 Sep 17 - 05:23 AM
Tattie Bogle 22 Sep 17 - 05:43 PM
Tradsinger 22 Sep 17 - 05:48 PM
Tattie Bogle 22 Sep 17 - 05:49 PM
Lighter 23 Sep 17 - 09:37 AM
Dave the Gnome 23 Sep 17 - 10:56 AM
Tiger 23 Sep 17 - 11:28 AM
GUEST,Leo Comerford 03 Aug 22 - 03:22 PM
GUEST,Julia L 04 Aug 22 - 11:16 PM
Tattie Bogle 06 Aug 22 - 03:20 AM
Joe Offer 06 Aug 22 - 04:31 AM
MaJoC the Filk 06 Aug 22 - 07:56 AM
GUEST,Dave Hanson 06 Aug 22 - 08:26 AM
pattyClink 06 Aug 22 - 10:43 AM
GUEST,Julia L 07 Aug 22 - 10:32 PM
Joe Offer 07 Aug 22 - 11:06 PM
GUEST,julia L 08 Aug 22 - 01:51 AM
Tattie Bogle 10 Aug 22 - 06:00 PM
Joe Offer 10 Aug 22 - 07:20 PM
GUEST,Julia L 10 Aug 22 - 09:57 PM
Reinhard 10 Aug 22 - 10:09 PM
Joe Offer 11 Aug 22 - 12:00 AM
GUEST,Julia L 11 Aug 22 - 02:48 PM
GUEST,Julia l 11 Aug 22 - 02:50 PM
Joe Offer 11 Aug 22 - 02:58 PM
GUEST 11 Aug 22 - 03:31 PM
Lighter 11 Aug 22 - 06:25 PM
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Subject: Origins: Irish Rover
From: RobbieWilson
Date: 12 Mar 05 - 02:01 PM

I was recently asked if The Irish Rover was an old song and had to say I didn't know. I looked through the threads and can only find reference to the Clancys copyrighting their arrangement in the sixties.
Can anyone tell me about the history of the song prior to this?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 12 Mar 05 - 03:15 PM

The earliest reference in the Roud Folk Song Index at present is to an example recorded by Helen Hartness Flanders from David Kane, Searsport, Maine, in 1941.

Best guess available at present seems to be, as mentioned in earlier threads, 19th century (quite late on, perhaps); likely a stage or music hall song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 Mar 05 - 05:01 PM

Malcolm, is "Irish Rover" printed in a Helen Harkness Flanders songbook? I couldn't find it in her Ballads Migrant in New England, Vermont Folk-Songs and Ballads, and New Green Mountain Songster. Seems to me that it was the Clancy Brothers that brought the song to common knowledge. Note that there are several versions of the song in the Various versions thread. Sources in that thread attribute the song to J M Crofts, but there's little indication who Crofts is, or when he/she wrote the song (other than that Crofts is also credited by Walton Publishing books with authorship of Noreen Bawn, and Eileen McManus).

It would be nice to see the lyrics from the Flanders version. Gee, maybe her source learned it from an early Clancy recording...
-Joe Offer-
The entry from the Traditional Ballad Index gives very little information, just the Roud reference and the Digital Tradition citation. Here's the Ballad Index entry, posted just to prove that there ain't nothin' there:

Irish Rover, The

DESCRIPTION: "In the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and six We set sail from the coal quay of Cork." The ship, with too many masts, too strange a crew, and too unusual a cargo, sinks on its own improbabilities; only the singer is left to tell the tall tale
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1963
KEYWORDS: sailor ship talltale humorous disaster wreck
FOUND IN:
REFERENCES (1 citation):
DT, IRSHROVR*
Roud #4379
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Katey of Lochgoil" (theme)
File: DTirshro

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 2022 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


There ain't much at folktrax.org, neither nohow - just Clancy Brothers references - but I get a kick out of the tone of the entry:

IRISH ROVER, THE - "In the year of our Lord 1806" - Canal Boat nonsense song about craft sailing from Cork - New York - CLANCY Brothers & Tommy Maken Songbook p96 -- Tommy MAKEM (with whistle) & Eric WEISBERG (gtr/banjo): TRADITION TLP-1044 1961- CLANCY BROTHERS (Pat, Tom & Liam) & TOMMY MAKEM: HALLMARK SHM 729 1963 - INN FOLK rec by PK, Soundpost Studios, Dartington, Totnes, Devon 1975 - BARNBRACK Irish Party Sing-Song: CASS-60-0926 & 0927 nd - TRADLADS TLCD001 1997 (Denmark)



THE IRISH ROVER (Digital Tradition Lyrics)

In the year of our Lord, eighteen hundred and six
We set sail from the fair Cobh of Cork.
We were bound far away with a cargo of bricks
For the fine city hall of New York.

In a very fine craft, she was rigged fore-and-aft
And oh, how the wild winds drove her.
She had twenty-three masts and withstood several blasts
And we called her the Irish Rover.

There was Barney McGee from the banks of the Lee,
There was Hogan from County Tyrone.
And a chap called McGurk who was scared stiff of work
And a chap from West Meade called Mellone.

There was Slugger O'Toole who was drunk as a rule
And fighting Bill Casey from Dover.
There was Dooley from Claire who was strong as a bear
And was skipper of the Irish Rover.

We had one million bales of old billy goats' tails,
We had two million buckets of stones.
We had three million sides of old blind horses hides,
We had four million packets of bones.

We had five million hogs, we had six million dogs,
And seven million barrels of porter.
We had eight million bags of the best Sligo rags
In the hold of the Irish Rover.

We had sailed seven years when the measles broke out
And the ship lost her way in a fog.
And the whole of the crew was reduced unto two,
'Twas myself and the captain's old dog.

Then the ship struck a rock with a terrible shock
And then she heeled right over,
Turned nine times around, and the poor dog was drowned--
I'm the last of the Irish Rover.

@liar @Irish @ship @sailor
filename[ IRSHROVR
TUNE FILE: IRSHROVR
CLICK TO PLAY
RG

Popup Midi Player




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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 12 Mar 05 - 05:15 PM

Unpublished so far as I know. The reference is Helen Hartness Flanders Collection (Middlebury College, Vermont) D67 A 09 (sound recording). Too early for a Clancys connection, I'd think.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Mar 05 - 02:53 AM

I remember our headmaster singing this when I was in first year primary school in 1944,
he was a wonderful comic singer and he put the names of local people in the song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: GUEST,Julia L
Date: 19 Sep 17 - 04:48 PM

The singer in the Flanders collection is David Kane from Searsport Maine. She collected the song from him in October 1941. It is thought to be the earliest recorded version; there is a reference in 1960's songbook to 1911 Dublin songwriter J M Crofts (probably music hall) but have not found solid evidence of this

best- julia


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 19 Sep 17 - 08:09 PM

I found a handwritten copy amongst various 1st WW memorabilia that my mother had kept from when my grandfather and great-grandfather had served in that conflict (in the Gordon Highlanders) , so it may well be quite old! I suspect they also changed the names to some of their comrades.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: Lighter
Date: 19 Sep 17 - 08:15 PM

Relevant to Crofts:

http://www.countysongs.ie/song/?songwriter=J%20M%20Crofts

I don't know the ultimate source of this information, or whether Crofts is supposed to have written these songs ("The Wild Colonial Boy"!?)or just sung them for some collector. Or even if it's the same Crofts.

The Library of Congress Catalog of Copyright entries for 1951 (!) registers a 1951 copyright to Walton's Piano & Musical Instrument Galleries, Dublin. The Catalog gives Crofts's birthdate as 1886 - apparently he was still alive in 1951.

Other songs attributed to him in the Catalog, all copyright 1951 by Walton's, are:

Bould Thady Quill
Eileen McManus
How Dear to Me the Hour
In the Sweet Lovely Vale of Adair
My Dark Slender Boy
The Ploughman
'Twas One of Those Dreams


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: Leadfingers
Date: 20 Sep 17 - 05:23 AM

I have heard with an added chorus :-

Fare thee well my pretty little girl , I can no longer stay

Fare thee well my pretty little girl , for I am bound away

Any info on who added this ?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 22 Sep 17 - 05:43 PM

So here is the version from my family memorabilia: some verses the same as in the DT, others quite different, especially the third verse:

THE IRISH ROVER

In the year of our Lord, 1806,
We set sail from the fair Cobh of Cork,
We were bound far away with a cargo of bricks
For the great City Hall of New York.
We'd a beautiful craft, she was rigged fore and aft,
And boys! How the trade winds drove 'er,
Sure she stood fearful blasts,she bad twenty-six masts,
And we called her The Irish Rover.

We had one million bags, of the best Sligo rags,
And we had rwo million barrels of bones,
We had three million sides of ould blind horses' hides,
We had four million barrels of stones.
We had five million dogs, we had six million hogs,
And we had seven million bundles of clover,
We had eight million bales of ould Jimmy-goats' tails
In the hold of The Irish Rover.

Donoghue and McHigh came from Red Waterloo
And O'Neill and McPhail from the Rhine,
There was Ludd and McSpudd from The Land of the Flood,
Nick Malone, Mike McGlone and O'Brien,
Thete was Mick McIntee and a big Portuguee,
And Michael O'Dowd from Doverf,
And a man formTurkestan, by the name of Pat McCann
Was the skipper of The Irish Rover.

Then we sailed eleven years till the measles broke out
And the ship lost her way in a fog.
And the whole of the crew 'twas reduced into two,
'Twas meself and The Captain's ould dogj.
Then we struck on a rock, with a horrible shock
And then she rolled right over',
Turned eleven times around,
Then the poor dog got drowned,
I'm the last of The Irish Rover.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: Tradsinger
Date: 22 Sep 17 - 05:48 PM

From a Hampshire folk club in the 60s, I learnt this song with a chorus:

So fare thee well, my own true love
And when the storm is over
I will return in true Irish style
I'm the last of the Irish rover.

Does anyone else sing this chorus?

Tradsinger


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 22 Sep 17 - 05:49 PM

Doh, several typos there: proof-read before you post!
HAD twenty-six masts,
TWO million...
McHUGH
DOVER
FROM Turkestan
DOG (no j!)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Sep 17 - 09:37 AM

What's a "Jimmy-goat"?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 23 Sep 17 - 10:56 AM

There was Barney McGee from the banks of the Lee
There was Hogan from county Tyrone
There was Slugger O'Toole who was drunk as a rule
And a man from West Mead named Malone
There was Danny McGurk who was scared stiff of work
And fighting Bill Tracy from Dover
And yer man, Mick McGann, from the banks of the Bann
Was the skipper of the Irish Rover

The other difference I can remember, and maybe answering the earlier query is

We had five million dogs, we had six million hogs,
And we had seven million barrels of porter,
We had eight million bales of old Nanny goats tails
In the hold of The Irish Rover.

There are other differences from the posted one but I am just back from a beer and gin fest. Say no more...

:D tG


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: Tiger
Date: 23 Sep 17 - 11:28 AM

DtG ... Westmeath


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: GUEST,Leo Comerford
Date: 03 Aug 22 - 03:22 PM

The opening bars of "The Irish Rover" sound a lot like Kurt Weill's opening bars of the "Song vom Nein und Ja" from the Threepenny Opera. What that tells us, if anything, I don't know.

Leo (Richard) Comerford


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: GUEST,Julia L
Date: 04 Aug 22 - 11:16 PM

THE IRISH ROVER   
David Kane, Searsport, ME 10/1941
Helen Harttness Flanders Collection, Middlebury VT
Recording D67A/a   @ 27:15
The Roud Index cites this as the earliest example of this song

?In the year of our Lord fourteen hundred sixty six,
?We set sail from the cove [Cobh] of Cork;?
We were bound far away with a cargo of bricks,?
For the new city hall in New York.
We'd a beautiful craft, she was rigged fore and aft,
?And oh dear how the trade winds they drove her;?
She could stand fearful blasts,
She had seventeen masts?
And we called her the Irish Rover.

There was Murphy and Flynn, Mcarthy and Guinn?
There was O' Malley, O'Brien, Burke and Shay?
And Molloy and McCoy, McKusker and Quinn?
O' Connell, McGuinness, O'Day
There was Leary and Frye, Joyce, Mulcahey and I
? and ? and Grover
And Fitzsimmons and Sly off near Athenry
?In the crew of the Irish Rover.

We had one million bags of the best Sligo rags,
?We had two million boxes of stones;
?We had three million sides of old blind horses' hides,?
And four million boxes of bones.
We had five million hogs and six million dogs,
We had seven million tons of clover
?And eight million bales of white billy goat tails,?
In the freight of the Irish Rover.

So we sailed seven years when the measles broke out,
?The ship lost her way in a fog;?
The whole of the crew was reduced down to two,?
Just myself and the captain's old dog.
Then we struck Plymouth rock with a terrible shock!?
And then she rolled right over?
She turned three times around, and we all got drowned?
In the wreck of the Irish Rover.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 06 Aug 22 - 03:20 AM

It IS Cobh of Cork in that second line, as I posted in 2017.
Cobh is at the river mouth, downstream from Cork city. (It is pronounced “cove”).


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Aug 22 - 04:31 AM

Julia included this (apparently exactly as posted) in Bygone Ballads of Maine, Volume 1, Songs of Ships and Sailors (compiled by Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee, Loomis House Press, 2021, page 142).

And of course, it caught my eye right away the day the book arrived because it just doesn't make sense. How can a ship set off in 1466 with a load of bricks for the construction of the city hall in New York? So, we start off with the fact that the entire song must be a lie, and a whopper at that.

And once we accept that the song is gross hyperbole, then we can begin to have fun with it. Julia, can you tell us more about the source in the Helen Hartness Flanders Collection?

I've always enjoyed this song, although I accepted it long ago as a tall tale (a nice word for bullshit). But I'd like to learn everything I can about it.


-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: MaJoC the Filk
Date: 06 Aug 22 - 07:56 AM

A clear satire, in the tradition of tall tales about tall ships, told in pubs for a pint; the taller the tale, the bigger the pint, at that.

When I first heard it on a cruise, I had my folksinger's ears on; so I went up to the wrinkled leprechaun afterwards. "Is that satire?" says I. "Yes," says he (slightly heavily in my memory). The next morning, I thought I saw a sailing ship off the port bough, and it did indeed seem to have twenty-seven masts. I never did tell the leprechaun that the Irish Rover had been a vision from the future of a container ship.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: GUEST,Dave Hanson
Date: 06 Aug 22 - 08:26 AM

Joe, The Dubliners have the date at 1806

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: pattyClink
Date: 06 Aug 22 - 10:43 AM

Well, yes, the versions we have heard on recordings use 1806. But apparently when it was first collected, it was 1406. It has been folk-processed over the years. Like Joe says, it's an instant clue that it's a tall tale if you keep the older date. Later singers probably like to hold off on that, lead the listener into thinking it's going to be an epic sea tale, letting them gradually catch on that it's a funny song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: GUEST,Julia L
Date: 07 Aug 22 - 10:32 PM

You can hear the original recording of David Kane here
https://archive.org/details/HHFBC_tapes_D67A   @ 27:15

corrections
McLaren, O'hara and Grover
And Fitzsimmons and Sly all from near Athenry


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Aug 22 - 11:06 PM

Julia, I notice in your post that there are question marks, and that there are places where the lyrics are slightly different from what's in your book. What's the story? Should the book and your post be the same? I'll be glad to make corrections.
-Joe-

Here's the text from Julia's book:

THE IRISH ROVER
Singer: David Kane, Searsport, ME 10/1941
Helen Hartness Flanders Collection, Middlebury VT
Recording D67A/a   @ 27:15
The Roud Index cites this as the earliest example of this song

In the year of our Lord fourteen hundred sixty six,
We set sail from the cove [Cobh] of Cork;
We were bound far away with a cargo of bricks,
For the new city hall in New York.
We'd a beautiful craft, she was rigged fore and aft,
And oh dear how the trade winds they drove her;
She could stand fearful blasts,
She had seventeen masts
And we called her the Irish Rover.

There was Murphy and Flynn, and Mcarthy and Guinn
There was O' Malley, O'Brien, and Shay
And Molloy and McCoy, and McKusker and Quinn
O'Connell, McGuinness, O'Day
There was Leary and Frye, Joyce, Mulcahey and I
McClough and O'Hara and Grover
And Fitzsimmons and Sly both from near Athenry
In the crew of the Irish Rover.

We had one million bags of the best Sligo rags,
We had two million boxes of stones;
We had three million sides of old blind horses' hides,
We had four million boxes of bones.
We had five million hogs and six million dogs,
We had seven million tons of clover
And eight million bales of white billy goat tails,
In the freight of the Irish Rover.

So we sailed seven years when the measles broke out,
And the ship lost her way in a fog;
The whole of the crew was reduced down to two,
Just myself and the captain's old dog.
Then we struck Plymouth rock with a terrible shock!
And then she rolled right over!
She turned three times around, and we all got drowned
In the wreck of the Irish Rover.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: GUEST,julia L
Date: 08 Aug 22 - 01:51 AM

Thanks Joe, The original post was done before the book was finished- I went back and tried to hear the questionable passages. So what's in the book is what I could finally decipher . If anyone hears something different, I'd be glad to discuss it


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 10 Aug 22 - 06:00 PM

Ok, I've said it before, but I'll say it again: COBH (pronounced Cove): this makes far more sense than "cove".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobh


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Aug 22 - 07:20 PM

Yes, Trish, but we rely on the printed source for spelling, even if it is incorrect. If the song had been transcribed by Sharp and spelled incorrectly, I would rely on Sharp's spelling. I don't know who transcribed this song from the Flanders Collection, but I'll leave the spelling uncorrected.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: GUEST,Julia L
Date: 10 Aug 22 - 09:57 PM

I did the transcription. I understand that it is the "Cobh" of Cork, but the singer sang "cove". Of course, here in Maine, a "cove" is an inlet or harbor. I have also seen the word "cove " used in North Carolina to denote a small valley. Perhaps these are derived from the Irish word "cobh"?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: Reinhard
Date: 10 Aug 22 - 10:09 PM

As Tattie Bogle wrote two posts before yours, the Irish word "Cobh" is pronounced "cove" :-)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Aug 22 - 12:00 AM

I've been to Cobh (pronounced "cove"). Nice place. The maritime museum is fascinating, but I was disappointed I didn't get to see the iconic church that was high on the hill above the museum. If Julia wants me to change it to Cobh, I'll be glad to.
I've also been to Youghal, y'all. ;-)

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: GUEST,Julia L
Date: 11 Aug 22 - 02:48 PM

Thanks Reinhard, as I said, I am aware of the Irish pronounciation and the place being "Cobh of Cork". However, David Kane was not Irish and said the word as "cove". If he had written it down, I could be assured that he knew what it was. But he did not. So I used "cove" as I heard him say. Joe, you may change it if it makes you feel better.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: GUEST,Julia l
Date: 11 Aug 22 - 02:50 PM

Upon reflection, perhaps Cobh in parenthesis would assuage anxiety over the issue
J


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Aug 22 - 02:58 PM

Changed to cove [Cobh] of Cork, but I'll betcha the original singer would have spelled it "cove."
It's an interesting question. I'm a stickler for spelling, but I'm also a stickler for accurate quoting of the source of the information. In general, I do not correct the source.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Aug 22 - 03:31 PM

Perhaps look at it this way cove = a small sheltered bay. Cork Harbour likes to think of itself as the second largest natural harbour in the world. Would you really want to describe that as 'the cove of Cork" while "Cobh' and its correct pronunciation are staring at you as the bleeding obvious?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Rover
From: Lighter
Date: 11 Aug 22 - 06:25 PM

As I heard it fifty-plus years ago (you whippersnappers) they "set sail from the from the coal quay of Cork."


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