To Thread - Forum Home

The Mudcat Café TM
4 messages

Lyr Add: Bonny Cuckoo

16 May 03 - 01:52 PM (#953898)
Subject: Lyr /Tune Add: THE BONNY CUCKOO
From: Felipa

Turlough Carolan is said to have derived the tune of 'Sí Beag sí mór' (Sheebeg sheemor) from 'The Bonny Cuckoo'

Edward Bunting collected tunes and songs were published between 1827 and 1840. The Bonny Cuckoo comes from the third and final collection published in 1840. The tune was in manuscript MS. 33 book 5, with one verse written over the words.


My bonny cuckoo, I tell you true
That through the groves I'll rove with you;
I'll rove with you until the spring,
And then my cuckoo shall sweetly sing.
Cuckoo, sing girls, let no one tell
Until I settle my seasons well.

The ash and the hazel shall mourning say,
My bonny cuckoo, don't go away;
Don't go away, but tarry here,
And make the season last all the year.
Don't go away, but tarry here,
And make the season last all the year.

Notes from Bunting's Ancient Music of Ireland edited from the original manuscripts by Donal O'Sullivan with Micheál Ó Súilleabháin, Cork University Press (Ireland), 1983:

'' AIR: According to the Index the source is 'Ballinascreen and from the late H. Joy. Esq. Belfast, 1793'. Ballinascreen is in Co Derry and Henry Joy was one of the founders of the United Irishman. [In the Introduction …Bunting writes: 'From this ancient melody … another tune 'The little and great mountain' (Sí Beag, Sí mór) seems to have been arranged with some slight variations.' It appears that O'Carolan used this tune as the basis of one of his songs entitled 'Sí Beag, Sí mór' which Bunting printed as No. 63 in his 1796 collection.
''The Carolan song is dealt with extensively in DOSC No. 202. Other versions of 'the bonny cuckoo' are to be found in Neale's Celebrated Irish Tunes (c.1726), p.14 'cuckoo'; and Mulhollands's Ancient Irish Airs (1840), p.59…''

O'Sullivan & Ó Súilleabháin write that the words of The Bonny Cuckoo were ''Probably from Henry Joy''. Henry Joy McCracken himself is celebrated in at least a couple of songs (see the DT), and more recently Jane Cassidy composed a musical tribute to his sister Mary Anne, noted for her charitable work.

The 'DOSC' referred to is a book by Donal O'Sullivan, Carolan, the Life, Times and Music of an Irish Harper , two voulumes, 1958

DT refers to Mudcat's Digital Tradition

I sent MMario the sheet music, and he converted it to this:

T:The Bonny Cuckoo
N:O'Sullivan & Ó Súilleabháin - from Bunting
z4zA|d3/2 e/2 f f e d|B2A F2A|A3/2 B/2 d e2d|f2e d2f|
B2e A2B|F2E/2 D/2 E2A|A B d e3/2 d/2 e|f2e d2|]

16 May 03 - 02:09 PM (#953917)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Bonny Cuckoo
From: Felipa

see also the message from Bonnie Shaljean at another Sí beag sí mór thread and
Origins of Carolan tune with a link to a Bonny Cuckoo midi!

24 Jan 05 - 05:36 PM (#1387518)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Bonny Cuckoo
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)

refresh- wonderful info here and in the links!

25 Jan 05 - 12:04 PM (#1388123)
Subject: Lyr Add: MY BONNY CUCKOO
From: nutty

Last year, as a birthday present, I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of Irish Songs and Ballads by Alfred P. Graves printed in 1880.
Graves enlarged on the two verses that Bunting collected to produce this version of the song.........


My bonny cuckoo come whisper true
Around the world I'd rove with you
I'd rove with you until next Spring
And still my cuckoo would sweetly sing
Cuckoo, cuckoo until next Spring
Cuckoo, cuckoo until next Spring

The ash and the hazel shall mourning say,
My bonny cuckoo, don't fly away;
The winter wind is rude and keen
Oh, cuckoo, stay and keep us green
Cuckoo, cuckoo, Oh stay! Oh stay!
And make the season forever May

The thrush and the robin shall sadly cry
Oh bonny cuckoo, Oh do not fly
For when you spread your speckled wing
We have no longer heart to sing
Cuckoo, cuckoo still lead our tune
And make the season forever June

The lads and the lasses together stand
And call the cuckoo from off the strand
"How can you leave us bird of love
With the green below and the blue above
Oh no! Oh no! you shall not go
With the blue above and the green below"