To Thread - Forum Home

The Mudcat Café TM
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=58665
17 messages

Origins: Hiring Fair at Hamiltonsbawn

09 Apr 03 - 09:53 AM (#929500)
Subject: Origins: Hiring Fair At Hamiltonsbaw: Burnhouse?
From: Bloomfield

Hi, new here, with a question.

In the song Hiring Fair [at Hamiltonsbawn], the last verse makes a reference I don't understand. (I get it from the 1978 recording Corner House by The Irish Tradition.)

My trousers go too wide for me, my coat was rather big
The skin grew tight upon my back, my hair 'twas like a wig
For days and nights you'd have heard me pray for Burnhouse or its van
To take me from that rascal called Tom McCann.

Who or what is "Burnhouse or its van"?

Thanks.


09 Apr 03 - 10:53 AM (#929534)
Subject: RE: Origins: Hiring Fair At Hamiltonsbaw: Burnhouse?
From: GUEST,Ballyholme

A stab in the dark, but there is a Burnhouse near Belfast where they used to incinerate animal carcases.


09 Apr 03 - 02:24 PM (#929733)
Subject: RE: Origins: Hiring Fair At Hamiltonsbaw: Burnhouse?
From: ard mhacha

This song was around a long time before the Newforge Burnhouse, this is likely an additional verse. Ard Mhacha.


09 Apr 03 - 03:01 PM (#929775)
Subject: RE: Origins: Hiring Fair At Hamiltonsbaw: Burnhouse?
From: Felipa

the version in the DTis supposed to be from Robin Morton's book so it's no use looking in my copy of the book because I don't see burnhouse mentioned in the DT.

How about a crematorium rather than an abattoir?
It sounds for me like the worker who was wasting away would be cremated just to get away from Tom McCann.


09 Apr 03 - 03:03 PM (#929777)
Subject: RE: Origins: Hiring Fair At Hamiltonsbaw: Burnhouse?
From: Felipa

delete my first paragraph; I didn't scroll down the DT far enough; burnhouse is in the last verse. I am embarassed and I will look up the book now to see if there are relevant background notes!


09 Apr 03 - 03:23 PM (#929797)
Subject: RE: Hiring Fair At Hamiltonsbawn: Burnhouse?
From: Felipa

Morton agrees that "Burnhouse (v.6), by the way, is a 'Knacker's Yard' near Belfast," but he makes no comment about relevant dates.
(couldn't Burnhouse be a generic name rather than a specific abattoir?)

Morton's other comments about hiring fairs belongs in the hiring fair thread rather than here (but not tonight ...)


09 Apr 03 - 06:23 PM (#929956)
Subject: RE: Origins: Hiring Fair At Hamiltonsbaw: Burnhouse?
From: Bloomfield

Thank you for the information. I looked up the version in DT before posting, and it is only different in details.

I've read the discussion on the hiring fairs in the other thread; it seems to me an awful remark that our man would be praying to disposed of like animal carcasses.


10 Apr 03 - 01:47 PM (#930530)
Subject: RE: Origins: Hiring Fair At Hamiltonsbaw: Burnhouse?
From: Felipa

things could be that bad, or there could be hyperbole for dramatic effect


10 Apr 03 - 04:38 PM (#930642)
Subject: RE: Origins: Hiring Fair At Hamiltonsbaw: Burnhouse?
From: GUEST

More likely a healthy serving of irony or even sarcasm, neither of which translate well to the printed word.


10 Apr 03 - 07:38 PM (#930750)
Subject: RE: Origins: Hiring Fair At Hamiltonsbaw: Burnhouse?
From: alison

My ancestors were farmers at Hamiltownsbawn, (I think it was called Edenavase then).... so have I missed a thread about the song?

slainte

alison


10 Apr 03 - 11:18 PM (#930852)
Subject: RE: Origins: Hiring Fair At Hamiltonsbaw: Burnhouse?
From: Bloomfield

alison: The thread they are refering to was about hiring-fair songs in general, and the one about the hiring fair at Hamiltonsbawn was mentioned, but only in passing.


11 Apr 03 - 05:08 AM (#930971)
Subject: RE: Origins: Hiring Fair At Hamiltonsbaw: Burnhouse?
From: BUTTERFLY

In the days (probably before the early 1960s) before the M1 Motorway was built linking Belfast to Dungannon (Co. Tyrone) and Portadown (Co. Armagh), you had to go to Belfast via Lurgan (Co. Armagh), Moira (Co. Down) and Lisburn (Co. Antrim. A few miles south-west of Lisburn (on the road to Moira, and about 10 miles from Belfast) was a factory which processed dead animals, which everyone called "The Burnhouse". One could smell the strong smell as you drove by (I was too young to actually drive in those days, but you get my drift). I can make enquiries, but I think either the place has closed down or else it uses a different process, as I doubt if they would be allowed to produce such a smell nowadays.

Newforge lies about 3 miles south of Belfast and I have a vague recollection of a factory producing a bad smell somewhere around there, which may had an eqivalent function to the one at Lisburn, but was certainly a different place.

If it is of interest to anyone, I could make enquiries about these places, but this is all peripheral to the song "Hiring Fair at Hamilstonsbawn". The custom of hiring out farm labour at these hiring fairs is surely of more interest.

Edenaveys is a townland on the eastern outshirts of Armagh, and would be some mles west of Hamilstonsbawn, itself a small village about 5 miles east south east of Armagh.


11 Apr 03 - 06:44 AM (#930994)
Subject: DTstudy: The Hiring Fair at Hamiltonsbawn
From: GUEST,Philippa

so a knacker's yard is more appropriate than a crematorium, for the point is that the hired man was worked like a mule

In Folksongs Sung in Ulster( Cork: Mercier, 1970), Robin Morton wrote that "The labourer was not always so unfortunate as to hire with a Mr Tom McCann, but people I spoke to had little good to say of the system or the results."

Morton quotes one man who told him about a fair in Monaghan circa 1930, where a heifir would fetch £7 0r £8 and a man was hired for £6/month. When Morton pointed out that the man would also get his keep (as indeed would the heifir!), his informant "acidly replied - 'Aye, well he might give you something to eat - you got licking the plates or something; not too much. It wouldn't bust you anyway.' "

I will, as wrote previously, add some of Morton's comments to the Hiring Fair songs thread. But here is some information he gives about the town of Hamiltonsbawn:
"If you travel the road from Armagh City to Tandragee, you pass through the snug town of Hamiltonsbawn. the area was granted to one John Hamilton who 'planted' it with twenty-six English familes. As the town's name suggests, Hamilton, in common with many planters, built himself a 'bawn' or a fortified house. Unlike the avergae bawn, which was a rather small earthen construction, Hamilton's was of stone and a pretentious sixty feet square. for all the good it did him, he might not have bothered - the bawn was levelled in the war of 1641 - though I suppose it was worth while in that his name survives."


11 Apr 03 - 10:13 AM (#931116)
Subject: RE: Origins: Hiring Fair At Hamiltonsbaw: Burnhous
From: GUEST,Donal

It was a very common thing when I was a boy in North
Antrim for people to make jokes about someone who was
sick being taken away by 'Burnhouse', since they were the people who picked up all the carcases of cattle which died of disease etc., on the farm. I well remember the stink of their
factory south of Belfast, it was in a clas of it's own.
                                                                                    Don.


11 Apr 03 - 10:29 AM (#931129)
Subject: RE: Origins: Hiring Fair At Hamiltonsbaw: Burnhouse?
From: ard mhacha

The Burnhouse that blighted the district around The Maze, [close by the Long Kesh Prison,] closed down a number of years ago.
When we played football in our youth an opponent who was cutting it up rough, was told in no uncertain terms,"that another tackle like that, asnd you`re for the Burnhouse", Ard Mhacha.


28 Apr 05 - 05:21 AM (#1473003)
Subject: RE: Origins: Hiring Fair At Hamiltonsbaw: Burnhouse?
From: GUEST

I passed the site of the Burnhouse near Lisburn in the last few months and there was still a smell from it (not as bad, I think, as in the old days)and it was stil going in some form.

Interestingly, the tune used for "Hiring Fair at Hamiltonsbawn" (at least as sung on a CD which I have by one Brendan Bailey) seems very similar to "Spancil Hill" and "Flower of Sweet Strabane", which shows how versatile it is.


25 Oct 21 - 04:56 PM (#4124200)
Subject: RE: Origins: Hiring Fair at Hamiltonsbawn
From: ripov

If mother-in -law was still with us I could probably fill several pages with her reminisences, I only know that she had some links with a hamilt on family, and she often spoke of the hiring fair in Letterkenny, known locally as the"Scotch" fair, as it was Scotsmen who would come looking for work many (Ithink) from the glasgow area