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The Fairy King's Courtship / John MacAnanty's Courtship

[ Roud 6875 ; Henry H56 ; Ballad Index HHH056 ; trad.]

Mark Dunlop sang The Fairy King's Courtship in 2015 on Malinky's CD Far Better Days. Their liner notes commented:

Also known as John MacAnanty's Courtship, this Ulster song was collected for Sam Henry's Songs of the People from E.J. Bennett of Coleraine who had the song from his mother who came from Co Limerick. The song features MacAnanty, the Fairy King who lived under a cairn on Scrabo Hill near Newtownards. The song first appears in P.W. Joyce's Ancient Irish Music of 1873, who suggests that ‘Queen Anne’ might be the Fairy Queen Áine. Joyce heard the song from his father and in publishing the song “amended several corrupt stanzas” and notes that it possibly originated in Munster rather than Ulster, which would fit with Henry's collecting of the song.

The tune that we have used is that of Welcome Napoleon to Erin the Green, recorded by Frank Harte in 2000 and learned from Paddy Tunney.

Lyrics

John McAnanty's Courtship in Songs of the People Malinky sing The Fairy King's Courtship

On the first day of May at the close of the day,
As I stood in the shade of a green spreading tree,
A young lover a-courting a maiden I spied;
I drew very near them to hear and to see.

On the first day of May at the close of the day,
As I stood in the shade of a green spreading tree,
A young lover a-courting a maiden I spied;
I drew very near them to hear and to see.

The dress that he wore was a velvet so green,
All trimmed with gold lace and as bright as the sea.
And he said, “Love, I'll make you my own fairy queen
If you are but willing to ramble with me.

The dress that he wore was a velvet so green,
All trimmed with gold lace and as bright as the sea.
And he said, “Love, I'll make you my own fairy queen
If you are but willing to go with me.

“Lisses and forts shall be at your command,
Mountains and valleys, the land and the sea,
And the billows that roar along the seashore,
Love, if you're willing to ramble with me.”

“Lisses and forts shall be at your command,
The mountains and valleys, the land and the sea,
And the billows that roar along the seashore,
If you are but willing to go with me.

“To make me a queen, my birth is too mean,
And you will get ladies of higher degree;
I know not your name nor from whence you came,
So I am not willing to ramble with thee.”

“To make me a queen, my birth is too mean,
And you will get ladies of higher degree;
I know not your name nor from whence you came,
So I am not willing to go with thee.”

“I will tell you my name, and I love you the same
As if you were a lady of higher degree;
MacAnanty's my name and from Scrabo I came,
And the queen of that country, my love, you shall be.”

“I will tell you my name, and I love you the same
As if you were a lady of higher degree;
MacAnanty's my name and from Scrabo I came,
And the queen of that country, my love, you shall be.”

“If I were to go with a man I don't know,
My parents and friends would be angry with me;
They'd bring me back again with shame and disdain,
So I am not willing to ramble with thee.”

“If I were to go with a man I don't know,
My parents and friends would be angry with me;
They'd bring me back again with shame and disdain,
So I am not willing to go with thee.”

“From your friends we will sail in a ship that won't fail,
With silken topsail and a wonderful flight,
From this to Coleraine, to France and to Spain,
And home back again in a short summer's night.

“From your friends we will sail in a ship that won't fail,
With silken topsail and a wonderful flight,
And from this to Coleraine, to France and to Spain,
And home back again in one short night.

“For there is not a fort from this to the north
But we'll dance all around it and sing merrily;
And the lads of Queen Anne shall be at your command
And they will all stand in great dread of thee.

“Many a mile I have roamed in my time,
By sea and by land a-looking for thee,
And I never could find rest or peace to my mind
Until fortune proved kind and sent you to me.”

“For it's many'sthe mile I have roamed in my time,
By land and by sea a-looking for thee,
For I ne'er could find rest nor peace to my mind
Until fortune proved kind and sent you to me.”