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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
McGrath Where is Spancil Hill? (204* d) RE: Where is Spancil Hill? 28 Apr 98

Robbie McMahon promised to start writing out his history and stories relating to the song "Spancilhill" but here is a little sample just to keep the thread current. The song I will have in two days and the full history in another a week or two.

The author of "Spancillhill", Michael Considine, was born around 1850 and emigrated to the USA from Spancillhill around 1870. Working in Boston for about two years, he went to the USA with the intention of bringing his sweetheart over and for them to be married when he had made enough money for the passage. "Johnny you're only jokin'...." a line from the current version, in the original, of course, reads... "Mike you're only jokin' " His sweetheart was "Matt the Rangers Daughter" and not Matt the Farmers daughter as in the popularised version. The Rangers house was visible from Michael Considine's house as was the Taylor Quigley's.

He stayed in Boston for two years or so before moving to California. He suffered from ill health for a long time and, knowing he hadn't long to live, he wrote the poem "Spancilhill" to send home in rememberence of his love and it was kept safe by his 6 year old nephew, John Considine.

Michael Considine died sometime in 1873. And it seems he go home somehow (I don't know yet whether it was dead or alive) as he is buried in Spancilhill garveyard, close to where Robbie has a little plot chosen. Robbie reckons there will be a mighty session in Heaven and Spancilhill when that day comes around (hopefully a long time from now).

In the late 1930's or early 40's, Robbie was in a neighbours house with some friends singing when someone suggested singing "Spancillhill". The woman of the house, Moira Keane, left the room and when she came back said, "If ye are going to sing that song ye might as well sing it right" and she gave Robbie the original song.

Some time later at another session in the parish Robbie was asked to sing "Spancilhill" when a gruff voice in the corner growled out "Don't sing that song". When asked "why not?" the voice barked back " 'Cos ye don't know it."

Robbie, however insisted he did and launched into the version he'd gotton from Moira Keane. After singing a few lines Robbie noticed the gruff man sitting up and paying attention. As Robbie progressed with the song the gruff man foostered more and more with his cap and became agitated. When the song ended, the gruff voice in the corner demanded "Where did ya get that song?". The gruff old man seemed both perturbed and pleased.

Robbie explained the source. Moira Keane was the gruff man's aunt and the gruff man was 76 year old John Considine, who had kept his uncle Mike's song safe for 70 years.

More in a couple of days.

'Till then, Slán.

Frank McGrath
Nenagh Singers Circle

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