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Craigie Hill

[ Roud 5165 ; Ballad Index RcCraHil ; Mudcat 155019 ; trad.]

Paddy Tunney sang Craigie Hill in 1966 on his Topic album The Irish Edge. This track was also included in 1996 on the Topic sampler Ancient Celtic Roots and in 1998 on the Topic anthology of songs of exile and emigration, Farewell, My Own Dear Native Land (The Voice of the People Volume 4). Sean O'Boyle noted on the original album:

Paddy learned this song from his mother. It is a genuine Ulster song of exile written at a time when, for reasons given in the song itself, every Irish port had its emigrant ship. It is to be contrasted with the sentimental nostalgic type of exile-song produced outside the country by people who have never lived in it. Here the exile’s reason for leaving is clearly stated:

To landlords and their agents, to bailiffs and their beagles,
The land of our forefathers we’re forced for to give o’er.

A better life is promised in America (and incidentally the song is dated) in the lines:

We’ll be happy as Queen Victoria, / All in her greatest glory, /
We’ll be drinking wine and porter / All in Amerikay.

Students of versification will be interested in the metrical support given to the long musical line by the insertion of internal assonances (marked in italics). Craigie Hill is written in the form of an overheard conversation—a favourite folk-device, where the poet represents himself as wandering out to hear two lovers talking, and then tells his own story through their lips. The tune is Doh mode hexatonic.

Dick Gaughan sang Craigie Hill in 1981 on his Topic album Handful of Earth. He noted:

Paddy Tunney sings this on The Irish Edge. I appear to have altered the tune considerably in the singing of it. The great social blight of emigration has robbed both Ireland and Scotland of our greatest resource—our young people, both in the past, and, even worse, in the present.

Patti Reid sang Craigie Hill in 1987 on her eponymous Fellside album Patti Reid. She summarised laconically:

You know I love you dearly although I'm going away.

The Haar sang Craigie Hill in 2020 on their eponymous album The Haar.

Karine Polwart sang Craigie Hill in 2021 on her and Dave Milligan's Hudson album Still As Your Sleeping. She noted:

The day before my Grampa Peter's funeral, a cassette of Dick Gaughan's exquisite Handful of Earth landed in by bedsit lobby in Dundee. It includes this emigrant song, which Dick learned from the great Glasgow-born Irish singer, Paddy Tunney. My great grandfather, Bernard Quinn, was from Donegal. Peter Quinn was born in Leith, as was Dick, but grew up in Glasgow, before moving to Hayhill in the Craigie district of Ayr when my mum was ten. On the eve of Peter's funeral, Craigie Hill felt like a song just for him.

Lyrics

Paddy Tunney sings Craigie Hill

It being in spring and the small birds were singing,
Down by yon shady arbour I carelessly did stray,
Where the thrushes they were warbling;
The violets were charming,
To view fond lovers talking a while I did delay.

She said. “My dear, don’t leave me for another season.
Though fortune may be pleasing I'll go along with you.
I’ll forsake friends and relations
And quit this Irish nation
Unto the bonnie Bann banks forever I’ll bid adieu.”

He said, “My dear, don’t grieve me or yet annoy my patience.
You know I love you dearly the more I’m going away.
I’m going to a foreign nation
To purchase a plantation
To comfort us hereafter all in America.

“Then after a short while, if fortune does be pleasing,
'Twill cause them for to smile at our late going away.
We'll be happy as Queen Victoria
All in her greatest glory.
We’ll be drinking wine and porter all in America.”

The landlords and their agents, the bailiffs and their beagles –
The land of our forefathers we're forced for to give o'er.
Now we're sailing on the ocean
For honour and promotion
And parting with our sweethearts 'tis them we do adore.

If you were in your bed lying and thinking on dying
One sight of the bonnie Bann banks your sorrow you'd give o'er.
Or if you were one hour
Down in yon shady bower
Pleasure would surround you. You'd think on death no more.

So fare you well, sweet Craigie Hill, where oftentimes I have roamed.
I never thought my childhood days I'd part you anymore.
Now we're sailing on the ocean
For honour and promotion
And the bonnie boats are sailing way down by Doorin shore.

Karine Polwart sings Craigie Hill

It being in the spring and the small birds they were singing,
Down by a shady arbour I carelessly did stray,
Where the thrushes they were warbling;
And the violets were charming,
For to hear two lovers talking while I did delay.

She said. “My dear, don’t leave me all for another season.
Though fortune may be pleasing I'll go along with you.
I’ll forsake friends and relations
And I'll quit this Irish nation
And to the bonnie Bann banks fore'er I’ll bid adieu.”

And he said, “My dear, don’t grieve me or yet annoy my patience.
You know I love you dearly although I’m going away.
I’m going to some foreign nation
For to purchase a plantation
To comfort us hereafter all in Americay.

Oh, the landlords and their agents, and the bailiffs and their beagles
The land of our forefathers were forced for to give o'er.
And we're sailing on the ocean
For honour and promotion
And we're parting with our sweethearts, it's them we do adore.

If you were in your bed lying and thinking on dying
One sight of the bonnie Bann banks, your sorrow you'd give o'er.
And if you were but one hour
All in her shady bower
Pleasure would surround you and you'd think on death no more.

So fare thee well, sweet Craigie Hill, where oftentimes I've roved in.
I never thought in my childhood days I'd part you any more.
Now we're sailing on the ocean
For honour and promotion
And the bonnie boats are sailing way down by Doorin shore.