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The Parting Glass

[ Roud 3004 ; G/D 8:1531 ; Henry H769 ; Ballad Index HHH769 ; trad.]

Jon Rennard sang The Parting Glass live at the Bate Hall Folk Club in Macclesfield, in November 1970. A recording of this concert was released in the following year on his Traditional Sound Recordings album The Parting Glass.

The Clancy Brothers with Louis Killen sang The Parting Glass in 1973 on their album Live on St. Patrick's Day.

Joe Holmes and Len Graham sang The Parting Glass in 1979 on their Topic album of traditional songs, ballads and lilts from the North of Ireland, After Dawning. They commented in their sleeve notes:

Some years back, when home on holidays from Canada, after forty years exile, Tommy McQueston, originally from Killyrammer, Co. Antrim, put us over this piece. A good note, we hope, to part with …

Colin Thompson sang The Parting Glass on his 1980 Fellside album Three Knights. He commented

A ‘Goodnight and thank you’ song which is, and always will be, a great favourite of mine.

Cyril Tawney sang The Parting Glass in 1994 on his Neptune Tapes cassette Down the Hatch.

Sarah McQuaid and Niamh Parsons sang The Parting Glass in 1997 on Sarah McQuaid's first album, When Two Lovers Meet. She commented in her liner notes:

This version differs a bit from the standard; I learned it from the singing of Len Graham. Here it's a duet with myself and Niamh Parsons taking turns singing solo, unison and harmony. I'd known Niamh for some time but had never sung with her until the day she came over to Trevor's to record the song, so it was a great surprise to hear how well our two voices worked together.

Gay Woods sang The Parting Glass in 1998 on Steeleye Span's CD Horkstow Grange. Her lyrics are quite similar to the Witches of Elswick's below except for swapping the last two verses. She commented in the liner notes:

It was the picture of the Chinese teapot in Colm O'Lochlainn's Complete Irish Street Ballads that attracted me to this song—then, of course, it took on another meaning in later life…

Jeff Gillard sang The Parting Glass in the early 2005s in Rod and Danny Stradling's kitchen. This recording was included in 2005 on the Musical Traditions anthology of Songs from the Golden Fleece. Gillard commented in the album's booklet:

I've always liked the song, but when I first heard this sung by Len Graham with Skylark, I swiftly dropped the more familiar version from my repertoire. He credited it to Joe Holmes, who, like Len, was from County Antrim; however, when the two of them recorded it together (After Dawning, 1979) the liner notes traced it back to one Tommy McQueston, who had left Antrim for Canada some forty years earlier. By the time that Skylark recorded it, the words had changed slightly. It is this later version that I learned.

The Witches of Elswick sang The Parting Glass in 2005 on their second and last album, Hell's Belles. They commented in their liner notes:

Nobody seems to know if this farewell song is Scottish or Irish. According to contemplator.com (thank you for sharing your knowledge), the melody appears in manuscripts of Scottish tunes from the 1600s and the words appeared in broadsides as early as 1750. It's a great song for sending errant musicians to bed at the end of the night, or very early in the morning… and speaking of which, here's to the memory of John Birmingham and a quadruple fruit wine to you all.

Sarah Matthews and Doug Eunson sang The Parting Glass on their 2006 album Proper Swell. She commented:

Using a combination of melodies from the original Parting Glass and Just As the Tide Was Flowing, I reworked the traditional lyrics into a very personal tribute to my Mum who sadly died of cancer in May 2006.

The Wilsons sang The Parting Glass on their album A Grey Lock or Two. This track was also included in 2009 on the charity CD Generosity: A Unique Collection Celebrating 20 Years of Folk for M.S..

Belinda O'Hooley and Heidi Tidow sang The Parting Glass in 2015 on their CD Summat's Brewin'. They commented in their booklet:

We sang this beautiful traditional Irish/Scottish parting song at Heidi's Uncle's funeral. Cheers Uncle Brian!

Emily Smith sang The Parting Glass on their 2015 CD Songs for Christmas.

Ange Hardy sang her song The Parting Lullaby on her and Lukas Drinkwater's 2016 CD Findings. She commented:

Throughout the writing process of Findings I've fallen in love with the idea of weaving elements of traditional songs into our own. This is The Parting Glass sung from a mother to a child and framed within a lullaby.

Trasnú sang The Parting Glass in 2016 on their CD Trasnú & the Adventures of Wing Commander Pancake.

Dipper Malkin sang The Parting Glass in 2017 on their CD Tricks of the Trade. They commented in their liner notes:

Before Auld Lang Syne became so popular, The Parting Glass was the song of choice to bring an evening to a close. Dave [Malkin] rewrote this song, in the hope that it might replace the miserable dirge that succeeded it, and we might find ourselves singing it on New Year's Eve.

Lyrics

Sarah McQuaid and Niamh Parsons sing The Parting Glass The Witches of Elswick sing The Parting Glass

A man may drink and not be drunk,
A man may fight and not be slain.
A man may court a pretty girl
And perhaps be welcome back again.

But as it has so ordered been
What is, once past, can’t be recalled.
So fill to me the parting glass,
Good night and joy be with you all.

Of all the money e'er I had
I spent it in good company,
And all the harm that e'er I've done,
Alas it was to none but me.
And all that I've done for want of wit,
To memory now I can't recall.
So fill to me the parting glass,
Goodnight and joy be to you all.

Oh if I had money enough to spend,
I’d spend it in good company.
And for all the harm that I have done
I hope it’s pardoned I will be.

But as it has so ordered been
What is, once past, can’t be recalled.
So fill to me the parting glass,
Good night and joy be with you all.

If I had money enough to spend
And leisure time to sit awhile,
There is a fair maid in this land
That surely has my heart beguiled.
Her rosy cheeks and ruby lips
I hope she has my heart in thrall.
So fill to me the parting glass,
Goodnight and joy be to you all.

Oh, of all the friends that e’er I’ve had
They’re sorry for my going away.
And of all the sweethearts that ever I’ve had
They’d wish me one more day to stay.

But as it has so ordered been
What is, once past, can’t be recalled.
So fill to me the parting glass,
Good night and joy be with you all.

Of all the comrades e'er I had
They're sorry for my going away,
And all the sweethearts e'er I had,
They'd wish me one more day to stay.
But since it falls unto my lot
That I should rise and you should not,
I gently rise and softly call,
Goodnight and joy be to you all.

Jeff Gillett sings The Parting Glass

A man may drink and not be drunk;
A man may fight and not be slain;
A man may court a pretty girl
And perhaps be welcome back again.

Chorus (after each verse):
But since it has so ordered been
What is once past cannot be recalled,
Then fill to me the parting glass:
Goodnight, and joy be with you all.

Had I the money for to spend
I’d spend it in good company;
And for all the harm that ever I’ve done
I hope it’s pardoned I shall be.

My dearest dear, the time draws near
When I with you no more can stay.
There’s not a comrade in this town
But is grieving at my going away.

Links

See also Just Another Tune's study Some Notes on the History of The Parting Glass.

See also the Mudcat Café thread Origins: The Parting Glass.