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info on song: The Flower of Benbrada

pazbhan 16 Feb 07 - 12:48 PM
GUEST 16 Feb 07 - 01:22 PM
GUEST,Noreen 16 Feb 07 - 02:12 PM
Malcolm Douglas 16 Feb 07 - 02:16 PM
pazbhan 16 Feb 07 - 02:55 PM
Malcolm Douglas 16 Feb 07 - 03:23 PM
GUEST,A Dungiven man 20 Jan 12 - 04:38 AM
GUEST,Kieran Heaney 30 Dec 12 - 03:49 PM
GUEST,leeneia 30 Dec 12 - 11:26 PM
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Subject: Looking for the title of this song?
From: pazbhan
Date: 16 Feb 07 - 12:48 PM

I've started downloading some old tape recordings off the radio to the computer and unfortunately I got one ballad which I don't know the name of. Or the female singers name. Can anyone help please. It starts...

One evening fair to take the air by (something something) I chance to stray, I spied a maid her beauty swayed the fairest flower that blooms in May......

It has a similar air to 'Down By Blackwater Side' and it sounds like the singer from Altan


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Subject: RE: Looking for the title of this song?
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Feb 07 - 01:22 PM

I think it is Sandy Denny, but I can't remember the name of the song..sorry.


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Subject: RE: Looking for the title of this song?
From: GUEST,Noreen
Date: 16 Feb 07 - 02:12 PM

Sandy Denny's version of Blackwater Side starts the same (as do many songs) but the other words above are not from that.

The other words don't ring any specific bells, I'm afraid; the "(something something)" could be all-important! :0)


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Subject: RE: Looking for the title of this song?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 16 Feb 07 - 02:16 PM

As Noreen says, Sandy Denny's arrangement of 'Blackwaterside' isn't relevant.

The lines quoted are very close indeed to 'The Flower of Benbrada' (Sam Henry's Songs of the People, 1990, 239-240), but I don't find any reference to a recording of the song; perhaps it appeared under a different name, or the song is another one altogether. The opening line is found in many songs, of course. Here is the first verse from The Sam Henry collection:

One evening fair to take the air
By Curraghlane I chanced to stray
I spied a maid, her beauty swayed
The fairest gem that blooms in May.
Her lovely form did nature charm
As o'er the lawn she roamed at will.
Perception smiled, she looked so mild
That matchless flower of Benbrada Hill.


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Subject: RE: Looking for the title of this song?
From: pazbhan
Date: 16 Feb 07 - 02:55 PM

Thank you Malcolm 'The Flower of Benbrada' it is. I knew it wouldn't take long for one of the resident experts like yourselve to come up with the answer. Words like Curraghlane and Benbrada were the stumbling block when I listen to it but yes this is it. I've now found that the singer was Cara Dillon but she calls it 'The Flower of Sweet Benbradagh Hill'. Many thanks.


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Subject: RE: Looking for the title of this song?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 16 Feb 07 - 03:23 PM

Just in case she didn't provide source details, I'll add that the set in Henry came from Mrs Frank Kealey (Ballysally, Coleraine) and her son James Kealey (Union Street, Ballymoney). It appeared in Henry's column in The Northern Constitution, 17 March 1934. The lyric is credited to Francey Heaney (Magheraboy [Dungiven]) who died c.1931 "at the age of 90". Henry added: "The Flower of Benbrada was Miss Lizzie Donaghy, of the Hass, on the slopes of Benbrada, near Dungiven, and this song was composed on the occasion of her leaving for America."


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Subject: RE: Seeking title of this song-One evening fair...
From: GUEST,A Dungiven man
Date: 20 Jan 12 - 04:38 AM

I was brought up on the curragh road and have climbed the mountain many times in my youth . I know Cara personally and my grandfather and francey used to play music together in his house in Magherabouy in Dungiven. I have heard many people sung this song in houses , pubs and on stage but the best was a man who's name I did not get who was challenged to sing in McReynolds bar one night - I was only a child at the time but that old man had the occupants hypnotised . He sang it unaccompanied and after there was 5 minutes of congratulating him while he said he could have done better . Cara Dillon (and her sister Mary from a group called Deanta ) are amazing singers and well worth seeing if you get the chance.


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Subject: RE: info on song: The Flower of Benbrada
From: GUEST,Kieran Heaney
Date: 30 Dec 12 - 03:49 PM

Francie Heaney was my Dad's uncle. My Dad used to tell us about Francie's poetry and story telling from when he was a young boy in the 20's & 30's. He was a great man evidently. I also remember my Dad talking about relatives in The Hass and about him visiting as a child. But, alas I can't remember who they were and I can't ask Dad anymore.

I have a load of letters and poems of Francie's from his correspondence to his two brothers who emigrated to the U.S. - and from him back to Magheraboy when he himself went there for a few years. They are fascinating to read, for example detailing what Mr Gladstone is doing about the Irish troubles and so on. They're a sort of living history.

Myself, I've never heard Cara Dillon's version of the song as I don't think she's ever released it. I'd love to hear it.


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Subject: RE: info on song: The Flower of Benbrada
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 30 Dec 12 - 11:26 PM

Thanks or the memorie, Kieran. Perhaps a historical society would be interested in those letters and poems.

I found the tune for 'Flower of Benbrada' online in the Google Books version of Sam Henry's 'Songs of the People.' It is very like 'The Star of County Down.' (I can't seem to make a link.)


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