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GUEST,John Moulden Lyr Req: Fields of Greenmore (75* d) Lyr Add: THE GRANEMORE HARE 27 Jul 12

I'm now in a position to answer my own questions as to what the local people would say about the 'Coyle', 'coil' controversy. I consulted Seán Mone of Keady, Co Armagh, local singer and song maker. He has sent me a copy of an article from a booklet produced in 1984 by the local GAA club, St Mary's Granemore. Page 106 has the following by a man who, as a son of the owner of The Rock Bar, mentioned in the article, has claim to some authority.

The Granemore Hare
(by Joe McGleenan)
The story of the Granemore Hare as told in the song can be heard sung by traditional singers not only throughout Ireland but further afield in England and America. Hunt¬ing the hare as a pastime is enjoyed by many and the huntsmen are a breed apart for when they gather together after a day's hunting their hours are filled with songs and stories of past chases and favourite dogs.

The chase mentioned in the song took place in the 1933/34 season and it is believed that the song originated in the Toner household of Joe and Pat Toner. Toners' was one of the favourite "ceili" houses where everyone gathered to tell stories and sing songs of hunting and memorable chases.

Many of the men mentioned in the song are in the photograph as are some of the dogs. The "Keady, Lower Darkley, Granemore and Tassagh Hunt Club" as was in existence at the time was famous throughout the hunt¬ing fraternity. The dogs in fact were even more famous than their owners as was discovered in researching this story when the men spoken too could recognise every dog in the photo quicker than their owner.

Owen McMahon's dog "Fifer" was well known as well as Peter McArdle's "Dancer", Arthur Molloy's "Stormer, Statley and Countess", Frank Rocks "Harper", Joe McCann's "Shamrock", Johnny McClelland's "Famous", Paddy Cassidy's "Drifter", Paddy Toner's "Rover and Crowner" and Patrick Hughes "Violet".

Patrick Deesey's version of the chase which led to the song gives some insight into the fervour generated by the hunt. He relates how he collected the dogs with pride of place being given to the late Patrick Hughes dog "Violet". Owen McMahon met Billy Coyle with his men and dogs from Blackwatertown on the Markethill Road. They had walked from Blackwatertown and after raising two hares they all made their way through Granemore.

Every hare has its circuit around which it runs when pursued by the dogs and the Granemore Hare was well known as unlike most hares in the area it remained in a circuit of the Granemore Hills and did not run for the mountains to lose its pursuers in the heather.

Huntsmen are all renowned for their fairness in the chase and their dislike of a kill. Their sport is in watching the chase and calling off their dogs when a kill is likely. The outcome of this particular chase was that the "pack of strange dogs" killed the Granemore Hare much to the annoyance of Owen McMahon and Paddy Toner.

The rivalry between the hunt followers was always keen with each area comparing their dogs, with fair-mindness and sportsmanship the main ingredients of each hunt. Patrick relates how all the huntsmen retired to the "Rock Bar" after the hunt for a night of songs and story-telling.

This passion for hunting the hare still continues today with men like Jim Haughey, Jim McClelland, Joe McCann, James McDonald, Pat Digby and Frank O'Hare.

Like every traditional song the exact origins are unknown with not only Joe and Pat Toner involved but also Billy Coyle and possibly a Monaghan Poet.

I have regularised some of Joe McGleenan's spelling.

This is the text of the song given in the article. There are obvious slight problems, like the lack of rhyme in the fourth verse but nothing poses a real problem.

The Granemore Hare

On a fine winters morning our horns hard did blow,
To the green fields of Tassagh our huntsmen did go,
To meet those good sports from around Keady town
None loved the sport better than the boys of May down.

When we arrived they were all standing there
We took to the green fields In search of a hare
We hadn't gone far till someone gave a cheer
Over high hill and valley a hare she did steer.

With our dogs all abreast on that big mountain hare
Their sweet charming music rang through the air.
Straight to the 'Breague for to try them once more
But it was her last view of the Hills of Granemore.

And as she led on what a beautiful sight
There were dogs brown and yellow and dogs black and white
Their cry was delightful going 'over the Blackbank
Because they had set themselves this wee hare to kill.

When she got to the heather she tried them to shun
But our dogs never missed an inch where she run,
And as they chased up to where pussy lay down
Their sweet heavy tongues could be heard In Newtown.

And as they chased up to where pussy did lie
She jumped to her feet for to bid them goodbye
But the cry it did cease and all we could hear
'Twas my curse on the man brought you Maydown dogs here.

For last night as I lay so content In the glen
'Tis little I thought of hounds or of men
And when going home at the clear break of day
I could hear die long horn that young Toner doth play.

I sat for to listen or rest for a while
'Tis little I thought he was going to meet Coyle.
If I had a knew I'd have lay near the town
It's then I'd have been clear of these dogs from May down.

But it's now that I'm dying and my life is done
Never more to the green fields of Keady I'll run
Or feed in the glen on a long winter's night
Or go home to my den when it's breaking daylight.

But I blame McMahon tor bringing Coyle here
He's been at this "auld Caper" for many's a year
Saturday and Sunday he never goes oer
With a good pack of hounds on the hills of Granemore.

I have done a little more inquiry. It might be useful to elucidate the locality:

Tassagh is located just off the Granemore Road between Keady and the Markethill Road, in Co Armagh. Granemore is at 8833 of the Irish 1:50000 Discoverer/Discovery map series; Tassagh is further north and in the 'lowlands'. It is likely that the hunt took place in the foothills of the hills that form part of the Fews Forest.

Further inquiry on the internet, especially from the 1901 and 1911 Irish Census records, lead to probable identifications of Owen McMahon and William Coyle. In 1911, Owen McMahon lived with his widowed mother in Tassagh townland and was aged 39. Willie Coyle was in Drumduff, Co Armagh, aged 15 in 1901 but absent in 1911. His brother James lived at home in Drumduff in 1901 and was a National School Teacher aged 31. In 1911 James was 41 and living in Moy, married with a young son and a National School Teacher. By that time their father, also William Coyle was 72 so I conjecture that William returned at some time to work the farm and perhaps inherited; a National School Teacher had much more status than a farmer and probably earned more – the Land Annuity Returns for 1896 show that William Coyle farmed just over 6 acres. Drumduff is within a kilometre of Maydown (close to Benburb).

Accordingly, it is clear that the Coyle of the song was a person and a real person.

This closes my account and if it is not conclude to the discussion someone has to produce some real evidence.

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