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GUEST,Murray on Saltspring Origins: Sweet Connlough Bay? / ...Carnlough Bay (22) RE: Origins: Sweet Connlough Bay? / ...Carnlough Bay 27 Dec 10

If it isn't too long [though it is] here's a bit of an article I wrote quite a few years ago for BC Folklore:

Paddy Graber of Vancouver got a song from Davie Young of Omagh, County Tyrone, about 1930, whose tune was said by Joe Heaney to be that of "One Morning in June". The Graber tune is to be found in Dominic Behan's collection Ireland Sings (London, 1965) as "Love of My Heart" (beginning "One morning in June and me going along the way"), a translation from the macaronic "with new music by Wolfe Stephens", which is evidently an alias for Behan himself.

Paddy's song was "Sweet Carnloch Bay", a version of which appears in the excellent anthology by Colm O Lochlainn, Irish Street Ballads, vol. I (1939), 188 (no. 95). The editor learned it "in Belfast, 1913, from Cathal O Byrne. [Words by] the Poet Mackay, well known character around the Glens of Antrim." Here is the way Paddy sings it:

[music inserted]

1.        The wind was a-howling high on the mountainside,
        Dark were the clouds o'er the deep-rolling sea;
        I spied a wee lass a-coming the road to me,
        Enquiring the road to sweet Carnloch Bay.

2.        Her features were fair, like an angel she appeared to me,
        Little I knew who the colleen might be,
        Said I, "My wee lass, sure I'll come along with you,
        And show you the road to sweet Carnloch Bay."

3.        "Kind sir," says she, "I don't mean to flatter you,
        Never you think that I'm just making free;
        But happy I'd be if you'd come along with me
        And show me the road to sweet Carnloch Bay."

4.        She gave me her arm, we passed through the keening gate,
        In through the churchyard and down by the sea,
        We listened a while to hear the sad wheeon cry,
        As we journeyed the road to sweet Carnloch Bay.

5.        At last we did come to her destination,
        The time came for parting between her and me,
        She lifted her lips, I kissed them right manfully,
        As we said our farewell at sweet Carnloch Bay.

6.        Slan lath, colleen óg, I cannot forget you now,
        Your features are etched deep in my memory;
        My heart gives a leap when I hear the wheeon cry,
        Going the road to sweet Carnloch Bay.

This is a further development of the situation in the O Lochlainn version, which runs as follows:


1.        When winter was brawling, o'er high hills and mountains,
        And dark were the clouds o'er the deep rolling say,
        I spied a wee lass as the daylight was dawning,
        She was asking the road to sweet Carnloch Bay.

2.        I said my wee lassie I canna weel tell ye
        The number of miles or how far it might be
        But if you'll consent I'll convoy you a wee bit,
        And I'll show you the road to sweet Carnloch Bay.

3.        You turn to the right and pass down by the churchyard
        Cross over the river and down by the sea;
        We'll call at Pat Hamill's and have a wee drop there
        Just to help us along to sweet Carnloch Bay.

4.        Here's a health to Pat Hamill likewise the wee lassie
        And to every laddie that's listening to me.
        And ne'er turn your back on a bonny wee lassie
        When she's asking the road to sweet Carnloch Bay.

Here we see the churchyard, and also the appearance of a tavern kept by Pat Hamill. When we look at the Scottish versions, there is no kirkyard, and most printed versions don't bring in the demon drink. John Ord, Bothy Songs and Ballads (1930), 152, prints words and music as follows:


1.        Cauld winter was howling o'er muir and o'er mountains,
        And wild was the surge on the dark-rolling sea,
        When I met, about daybreak, a bonnie young lassie,
        Wha asked me the road and the miles to Dundee.

2.        Said I, "My young lassie, I canna weel tell ye,
        The road and the distance I canna weel gie;
        But if ye'll permit me to gang a wee bittie,
        I'll show you the road and the miles to Dundee."

3.        At once she consented, and gave me her arm;
        Ne'er a word did I speir wha the lassie might be,
        She appeared like an angel in feature and form,
        As she walked by my side on the road to Dundee.

4.        At length, wi' the Howe o' Strathmartine behind us,
        And the spires o' the toon in full view we could see;
        She said, "Gentle sir, I can never forget ye
        For showing me so far on the road to Dundee.

5.        "This ring and this purse take to prove I am grateful,
        And some simple token I trust ye'll gie me,
        And in times to come I'll the laddie remember
        That showed me the road and the miles to Dundee."

6.        I took the gowd pin from the scarf on my bosom,
        And said, "Keep ye this in remembrance o' me."
        Then bravely I kissed the sweet lips o' the lassie
        Ere I parted wi' her on the road to Dundee.

7.        So here's to the lassie—I ne'er can forget her—
        And ilka young laddie that's listening to me;
        And never be sweer to convoy a young lassie
        Though it's only to show her the road to Dundee.

Ord's text and tune reappear in Mozart Allan's Bothy Songs and Ballads, arranged by Thomas A. Johnson, there called oddly "The Miles and the Road to Dundee"; also in Norman Buchan, 101 Scottish Songs (Glasgow, Collins, 1962), p. 66. Mozart Allan also published (under the "real" title) sheet music of practically the same words, but with a tune collected by the Scottish singer Calum Kennedy: 6/8 time, but a pleasant one-strain major melody, which is these days much better known:


Ord's predecessor and colleague in folksong collecting, Gavin Greig, published a similar text in 1908, with a couple of variants from another version:

        I turned me about, and I made for to leave her,
        But she lookit roon wi' a tear in her e'e;
        Says. "Laddie, dear laddie, how can I reward you
        For showin' me the road and sae far on to Dundee?

        "Here's twenty bright guineas, a Scotch Duke's my father,
        He's bound to support me, so let it go free;
        Call in by yon tavern and tak' a wee drappie,
        For a body that's travellin' it will help him a wee."

He comments: "The former way of it makes a better song for modern taste; but I am inclined to think it represents an emendation and that the latter way is likely to be nearer the original." This is the case, as will be shown. He collected it to two different tunes, as above. What we can call the "old set" is used by several songs, notably "The Lass o' Glenshee", much collected and printed; it itself derives from a 17th-century tune, Adieu Dundee, which has its own words and subsequent history.
        In vol. V of the well-edited Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection (Edinburgh, 1995), 99-104, we have seven versions, four with tunes (no. 971). The B and C texts are accompanied by the old set, A and D by the new. The exchange of purse and pin is featured in E, F, and G; the guineas for a drappie in A, B, E.

The original of all these goes back to the early part of the nineteenth century. In an old volume of cuttings from newspapers, mainly from Fife, I discovered an article dating from the 'eighties, giving some anecdotes concerning the life of "Flutorum, a Fifeshire Character". His real name was David Hatton, and he kept a public house called the Flutorum Tavern at Thornton. He was a very ingenious fellow, and wrote articles for the press of Glasgow on his inventions, which included a mill worked by mice—the industrial possibilities of which were, alas, overlooked. He had invented a wind instrument "on the bagpipe principle" [resembling the Northumbrian or Union pipes], whence the name of his hostelry, and his own nickname. On this instrument he would accompany himself as he sang his favourite song, which had been written for him in 1825 by D. Young of Dysart. This was received from the poet by T. Elder of Kirkcaldy, author of the article. The connection with other versions will be obvious.

                                The WAY TO DUNDEE
1.        Grim winter was howlin' o'er moorland and mountain,
        And wild were the waves o' the dark stormy sea,
        I met a young lassie ae mornin' by daybreak,
        Wha asked me the road and hoo far to Dundee.

2.        I looked at the lassie, and said, "My fair creature,
        The distance in miles that I canna weel gie,
        But wi' your consent I'll convoy you a distance,
        And show you the road that rins North to Dundee."

3.        I gave her my airm, as onward we wandered,
        But never ance speered wha my comrade wad be,
        She seemed like an angel in form and in feature,
        As we took our way Northward the road to Dundee.

4.        And when we were pairtin', I bade her guid mornin',
        She aft looked aroond her wi' tears in her e'e,
        And said, "Ye'r sae kind that I ne'er can repay you,
        For showin' me sae far on the road to Dundee."

5.        "But there's twenty guineas, a Duke is my feyther,
        He's bound to support me, I'll mak' it gang free,
        Step into Flutorum's and get a wee drappie,
        And I'll travel onwards the road to Dundee."

6.        To here's to this lassie, I aye will respect her,
        And sae may ilk laddie noo listenin' to me,
        And never refuse to escort a young lassie,
        Should she only ask him the road to Dundee.

        The predecessor of Young's version is a love song by Charles Gray of Anstruther on the coast of Fife (1782-1851), which appeared in his Poems (Cupar, 1811), p. 158, and is anthologised (for instance) in Rogers' Scottish Minstrel (1870), p. 207. The air to which it is directed to be sung is "Bonnie Dundee", i.e. Adieu Dundee. [The tune now sung to Scott's verses since about 1850 is entirely different, being The Band at a Distance, related to the children's game-song "Queen Mary, Queen Mary, my age is sixteen".] Gray's first verse runs:

        Grim winter was howlin' owre muir and owre mountain,
        And bleak blew the wind on the wild stormy sea;
        The cauld frost had lock'd up each riv'let and fountain,
        As I took the dreich road that leads north to Dundee.
        Though a' round was dreary, my heart was fu' cheerie,
        And cantie I sung as the bird on the tree;
        For when the heart's light, the feet winna soon weary,
        Though ane should gang further than bonnie Dundee!

        In Edith Fowke's Traditional Singers and Songs from Ontario (Folklore Associates / Burns & MacEachern, 1965), no. 52, we find what seems to be the unique American version (from Jim Doherty of Peterborough, who had it from his mother, a Heffernan, whose parents came to Canada from Ireland around the middle of last century). Doherty's tune is, as we might expect, the old "Lass o' Glenshee", the song of that name being very common in Ontario. The text, as EF notes, is close to Greig's "original way", stanza 5 going

        Here is twenty bright guineas; my father's a Scotch duke;
        He's bound to support me, a lady gone free.
        Call into Victoria and have a wee droppie
        As we gang along on the road to Dundee.

This = Young's stanza 5, but is actually closer to Greig; line two is an obvious mishearing. As for "Victoria", cf. st. 7 of Belle Stewart's version in Nigel Gatherer's Songs and Ballads of Dundee (Edinburgh: John Donald, 1986),125 (with the music, old set):

Noo I'll gang intae Vic Torrance an' I'll tak a wee drappie,
On the road gettin hame it will help me a wee,
And fondly I'll think on the bonnie wee lassie,
The lassie I left on the Road tae Dundee.

(It is perhaps not too unlikely that this is a reminiscence of the original's "Flutorum".)   He also gives (126) a variant tune from Charles Lamb, coll. by Peter Shepheard.

        The line of descent probably goes from Young in two branches: one, the Scots-Irish of Mackay (Antrim, and particularly Ballymena, being predominantly Scots; remember the Plantation of Ulster), and hence to Cathal O Byrne by 1913, picking up a real Irish tune on the way; the other, remaining in Scotland, and spreading from Fife via Flutorum's customers and the Dundee feeing market to the bothies of the north-east. This version became associated with another tune towards the end of the century, which seems to be an offshoot (or relative, at least) of the air to "The Town of Arbroath" by Charles Myles (1856-1914).

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