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Lyr Req: Willie-O (from Cathal McConnell)

DigiTrad:
GREY COCK
GREY COCK (2)
NIGHT VISITING SONG
OH, ARE YOU SLEEPING MAGGIE
SWEET WILLIAM'S GHOST
WESTRON WYND (3)


Related threads:
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Lyr Req/Add: The Cocks Are Crowing (31)
Lyr Add: The Grey Cock (NOT Penguin version) (20)
Lyr Req: Sweet William's Ghost (Hughie Jones) (23)
Child's 'Grey Cock' (19)
Lyr Req: Lover's Ghost (30)
Lyr Req/Add: My Pretty Crowing Chickens (10)
Penguin: The Grey Cock (24)
Lover's ghost (9)
Lyr Req: The Lover's Ghost (5)
Lyr Req: Lover's Ghost (request only) (3)
Lyr Req: Well Met, My Own True Love (14)


GUEST,levanataylor@hotmail.com 20 Sep 05 - 06:51 PM
Peace 20 Sep 05 - 09:07 PM
Peace 20 Sep 05 - 09:38 PM
Malcolm Douglas 20 Sep 05 - 10:05 PM
OldPossum 21 Sep 05 - 06:43 AM
GUEST,levanataylor@hotmail.com 21 Sep 05 - 12:22 PM
Roberto 21 Sep 05 - 01:49 PM
Malcolm Douglas 22 Sep 05 - 12:57 AM
Levana Taylor 22 Sep 05 - 01:12 PM
Malcolm Douglas 23 Sep 05 - 01:01 AM
pavane 26 Jul 12 - 05:22 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: Willie O (Cathal McConnell's version)
From: GUEST,levanataylor@hotmail.com
Date: 20 Sep 05 - 06:51 PM

I'm looking for the lyrics to "Willie O" as sung by Cathal McConnell on the Boys of the Lough album "Regrouped". Thanks in advance!

Levana


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willie O (Cathal McConnell's version)
From: Peace
Date: 20 Sep 05 - 09:07 PM

Is the song perchance entitled "William O"?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willie O (Cathal McConnell's version)
From: Peace
Date: 20 Sep 05 - 09:38 PM

My apologies. Willie O it is.

I think Malcolm will know about this.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willie O (Cathal McConnell's version)
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 20 Sep 05 - 10:05 PM

Willie O is an Irish broadside song based on the older Sweet William's Ghost; you'll find plenty on it in older threads here, with links to broadside examples.

I don't know where Cathal got his set, and I don't have a copy of the album; a source of regret, as it was the first that my old friend Tich made with Boys of the Lough. Cathal's text probably wasn't very different from the other ones known, but perhaps someone who does have a copy of the LP would be kind enough to quote whatever the sleevenotes have to say on the subject.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willie O (Cathal McConnell's version)
From: OldPossum
Date: 21 Sep 05 - 06:43 AM

OK. Here are the full sleeve notes from Boys of the Lough: Regrouped, Topic 12TS409:
This ballad is mainly a derivative of Sweet William's Ghost (Child 77) and Cathal has it from Len Graham (Topic 12TS334), who in turn learnt it from the late Johnnie McLaughlin, Skerry, Co. Antrim.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willie O (Cathal McConnell's version)
From: GUEST,levanataylor@hotmail.com
Date: 21 Sep 05 - 12:22 PM

Since I last posted, someone was good enough to give me a cassette dub of that album, which I hadn't heard in over a decade, but rediscovered with much pleasure (isn't that a great set of jigs on the second band?) I found that "Willie O" is essentially identical to songs discussed previously on this forum under the titles The Ghost of Willie-O or Bay of Biscay.

I'm afraid I have to disagree that "Willie-O" is derived from "Sweet William's Ghost" (Child 77). The versions of the latter I have found -- including Irish ones from Paddy Tunney (on The Voice of the People, Vol. 3) and Len Graham (on Ye Lovers All, credited to Sandy McConnell of Bellanaleck, Co. Fermagh) -- have nothing specific in common with "Willie-O". The mere theme of the lover's ghostly return is present in many sources, such as "The Grey Cock" (Child 248) and broadsides like "The Nightingale". The broadside that Malcolm posted might have been inspired by any of this (my opinion, but I'll defer to those with more experience).

However, there does seem to be a connection between the later development of this song and Irish versions of "The Grey Cock". (TGC has been a lot more widely known than "Sweet William's Ghost", in any case.) Maud Karpeles prints "The Lover's Ghost (The Grey Cock)" from Matthew Aylward of Bonavista Bay, Newfoundland, with the following verse:

    O when will I see you, my love, she cries,
    And when will I see you again?
    When the little fishes fly and the seas they do run dry
    And the hard rocks they melt with the sun.

Len Graham (on Ye Lovers All again) gives "True Lover John" which he got from Joe Holmes of Ballymoney, Co. Antrim. This is a non-ghostly night visiting song containing (perhaps slightly incongruously) the verses about the cock from the ghost song, and the following:

    This fair maid she arose and she quickly followed after,
    Saying "When will you come to see me?"
    "When the fishes they do fly and the seas they all run dry,
    And seven moons shine brightly o'er yon lea."

Now, on The Voice of the People, Vol. 3, there's a recording of "Willie-O" by Nora Cleary, which follows the broadside pretty closely, but adds a verse which isn't in that source:

    "Oh Willie dear, when will we meet again?"
    "When the fishes they will fly and the sea it will run dry
    And the rocks they will melt with the sun."

So, it seems that material from "The Grey Cock" (not "Sweet William's Ghost") could be freely added to any song with the appropriate context.

Levana


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Subject: Lyr Add: WILLIE-O (from Cathal McConnell)
From: Roberto
Date: 21 Sep 05 - 01:49 PM

Here it is, I hope without errors. I've listed it as a variant of Child #77 SWEET WILLIAM'S GHOST. It seems to me that also The Bay of Biscay (My William sailed on board the tender...) is to be considered another version of this same ballad. I'd like to know what Malcolm Douglas thinks about that. R

Willie-O
Cathal McConnell – The Boys of the Lough, Regrouped, Topic 12TS409, 1980

My Willie sails on board a tender
And where he's bound I do not know
Seven long years I have waited on him
Since he's crossed the bay of Biscay-O

One night as Mary lay a-sleeping
A knock came to her bedroom door
Saying – Arise, arise my lovely Mary
Till you take one last glimpse of your Willie-O

Young Mary rose, put on her clothing
And opened wide the bedroom door
And 't was there he saw her Willie standing
And his two cheeks as white as snow

O Willie dear, where are those blushes
Those blushes you had many years ago? –
O Mary dear, the cold clay has changed them
I am only the ghost of your Willie-O

O Mary dear, I must be going
For now the cocks they've begun to crow
And when she saw him disappearing
It was down her cheeks the tears did flow

O had I great stores of gold and silver
And all the gold in Mexico
I would give it all to the king of England
If he bring me back my Willie-O


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willie O (Cathal McConnell's version)
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 22 Sep 05 - 12:57 AM

That's a fairly standard form of Willie O, I'd think. The point about the Grey Cock connection is not that Willie O borrowed verses from it, but that a few versions of Grey Cock (mostly from Irish sources) borrowed a verse or two from Willie O. An important distinction; Grey Cock variants with supernatural elements have invariably (or almost so) imported those supernatural elements from other songs.

See Hugh Shields' paper on the subject for full details; I've cited it a number of times in discussions on these songs. The Sweet William's Ghost connection isn't my own idea; it's pretty much the standard opinion, which I follow. Of course there are dissenters, and the suggestion is not that they are the same song; but that the later was a new song based on (or, if you prefer, inspired by) the older.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willie O (Cathal McConnell's version)
From: Levana Taylor
Date: 22 Sep 05 - 01:12 PM

Thanks, Malcolm, I'll go read that article now. I apologize for taking an excessively confident tone in an area where I'm a neophyte.

Levana


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willie O (Cathal McConnell's version)
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 23 Sep 05 - 01:01 AM

Oh, we all do that at times; and I ought to have qualified what I said, since song relationships do tend to be likely rather than certain. You'll find the Shields piece interesting, I'm sure. It may not be that easy to get hold of, so I'll give the details again:

Hugh Shields, 'The Grey Cock': Dawn Song or Revenant Ballad? in Ballad Studies, ed. Emily B Lyle. Cambridge: D S Brewer; and Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, for the Folklore Society; 1976, pp 67-92. The book also includes a very interesting paper by Alan Bruford on The Grey Selkie.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willie-O (from Cathal McConnell)
From: pavane
Date: 26 Jul 12 - 05:22 PM

A version transcribed from the singing of Nic Jones. I expect he had it from a printed source:

My Willie sails on board a trader
And where to find him I do not know
Seven long years I've been constantly waiting
Since he crossed the bay of Biscay-O

One night as Mary she lay sleeping
A knock came to her bedroom door
Arise, arise my gentle Mary
And catch a glimpse of your Willie-O

So it's Mary rose, put on her clothing
And out of the bedroom then she did go
And there he saw her Willie standing
His two cheeks as white as snow

O Willie dear, where are those blushes
Those blushes you had so long ago?
O Mary dear, they are cold ashes
I am only the ghost of your Willie-O

And Mary dear, the dawn is breaking
Don't you think it's time for me to go
I must leave you here quite broken hearted
For to cross the bay of Biscay-o

Well if I had all the gold, the silver
And all of the money in Mexico
I would grant it all to the King of Erin
For to bring me back my Willie-O


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