> Shirley Collins > Songs > The Streets of Derry
> June Tabor > Songs > Derry Gaol
> Peter Bellamy > Songs > Derry Gaol
> Spiers & Boden > Songs > Derry Gaol

The Streets of Derry / Derry Gaol / Hail a Brighter Day

[ Roud 896 ; Laws L11 ; Henry H705 ; Ballad Index LL11 ; trad.]

Sarah Makem sang the Irish rebel song Derry Gaol in a Peter Kennedy recording on the anthology Fair Game and Foul (The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 7; Caedmon 1961; Topic 1970).

Shirley Collins sang this song as The Streets of Derry on her 1967 album The Sweet Primeroses accompanied by her sister Dolly Collins playing the flute-organ. This track was also included in her anthologies Fountain of Snow and Within Sound. She commented in the original album's sleeve notes:

Recorded by Peter Kennedy and Sean O'Boyle from Mrs Sarah Makem. Of all the songs I have ever heard in The Gallows Pole family, this version, with the glimpses of a proud young man walking “like a commanding officer”, and the wild, slow melody, appeals to me most. There are extra verses which I omitted about “his aged mother and father” refusing to buy the young man off the gallows. Dolly here employs a sustained drone in the manner of the uilleann pipes.

Trees sang Streets of Derry in 1970 on their CBS album On the Shore.

Al O'Donnell sang Streets of Derry on his eponymous 1972 Trailer album Al O'Donnell.

Andy Irvine and Paul Brady sang Streets of Derry on their eponymous album of 1976, Andy Irvine & Paul Brady.

June Tabor sang Derry Gaol in a BBC Radio session recorded on July 11, 1977 and broadcast on July 19, 1977. This recording was included in 1998 on her CD of BBC sessions, On Air.

Peter Bellamy learned Derry Gaol from the singing of Sarah Makem too and recorded it for his 1979 Topic album Both Sides Then. He also played the tune of The Streets of Derry on the whistle in a recording of unknown origin, possibly from the Peter Bellamy recording sessions; at least it was included on that album's CD reissue as part of the Fair Annie 2CD set.

Jim Eldon sang Derry Gaol in 1984 on his aptly-named album I Wish There Was No Prisons.

John Spiers and Jon Boden recorded Derry Gaol in 2002 for their Fellside CD Songs, omitting two verses that Peter Bellamy sang. Their sleeve notes commented:

Learnt (along with the majority of Jon's pub singing repertoire) from Peter Bellamy. He, in turn, learnt it from Sarah Makem. The last-minute-rescue-from-the-gallows motif is common across the globe, although this version features one of the more realistic depictions of Pre-Execution Tension.

Jon Boden sang Derry Gaol as the August 7, 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day, and a variant called Hail a Brighter Day as the March 22, 2011 entry of A Folk Song a Day, on which he commented:

This is arguably a bit of a cheat as it’s essentially Derry Gaol, but I’m quite fond of the chorus, and it works well in a session. I wrote the chorus for a production of The Juniper Tree a few years back, and we’ve performed this a few times with the Remnant Kings.

In this YouTube video, Spiers & Boden perform The Rain It Rains, Jiggery Pokework / Haul Away / Seven Stars and Derry Gaol at Biddulph Town Hall in 2007:

Jackie Oates sang Derry Gaol in 2011 on the Woodbine & Ivy Band's eponymous album, The Woodbine & Ivy Band.

Compare to this song the song The Prickly Bush / The Maid Freed from the Gallows (Roud 144; Child 95) that has a similar plot.

Lyrics

Shirley Collins sings The Streets of Derry Peter Bellamy sings Derry Gaol

Now after morning there comes an evening
And after the evening another day.
And after false love there comes a true love;
I'll have you listen now to what I say.

Oh, after morning there comes an evening
And after evening another day.
And after false love, there comes a true love;
It is hard to hold them that will not stay.

My love he is as fine a young man
As fair as any the sun shone on.
But how to save him I do not know it,
For now he's got a sentence to be hung.

My love, he is the finest young man,
He is as fair as any the sun shone on.
Ah but how to save him I do not know it,
Since he's been sentenced all to be hung.

As he was a-marching through the streets of Derry,
I'm sure he marched up right manfully,
Being much more like a commanding officer
Than a man to die upon a gallows tree.

As he was marched up through the streets of Derry,
I'm sure he marched up right manfully,
Being much more like some commanding officer
Than a man to hang upon the gallows tree.

Now the very first step he did put on that ladder,
His bloomin' colour began to fail;
Then with heavy sighin' and bitter cryin',
“Is there no releasement from Derry Gaol?”

And the very next step he did put on that ladder,
His lovin' clergyman was standing by,
Cryin', “Stand you back, you false prosecutors,
I will make you see that he may not die.”

“Yes, I will make you see that you may not hang him
Until his confession to me is done;
And then you will see that you may not hang him
Till within ten minutes of the setting sun.”

“What keeps my love, she's so long a-coming?
Oh, what detains her so long from me?
Or does the think it's a shame or scandal
To see me die on the gallows tree?”

“Where is my love? She is so long a-comin';
And what detains her so long from me?
Oh, does she think it some shame or scandal
For to see me hang upon the gallows tree?”

He looked around and he saw her coming,
As she rode swifter than the wind.
“I let them see that they dare not hang you,
And I'll crown my love with a bunch of green.”

He looked around and he saw her coming
As she rode swifter than the wind.
“Oh come down, come down from those weary gallows
For I bear your pardon all from the Queen;
For I made them see that they may not hang you
And I'll crown my love all with a bunch of green!”

Spiers & Boden sing Derry Gaol Jon Boden sings Hail a Brighter Day

Oh, after morning there comes the evening
And after evening another day.
And after old love there comes the new love,
It is hard to keep those that will not stay.

Oh, after morning there comes the evening
And after evening another day.
And after old love there comes the new love,
It is hard to keep those that will not stay.

My love he is the finest young man
That ever nature framed or sun shone on.
Oh, but how to save him, I do not know it,
For he is sentenced all to be hung.

My love he is the finest young man
That ever nature framed or sun shone on.
Oh, but how to save him, I do not know it,
For he is sentenced all to be hung.

So come wind, blow the clouds away,
And hail, hail, hail a brighter day

As he marched out through the streets of Derry,
I'm sure he marched up right manfully,
Being much more like some commanding officer
Than one to hang upon the gallows tree.

As he marched out through the streets of Derry,
I'm sure he marched up right manfully,
Being much more like some commanding officer
Than one to hang upon the gallows tree.

But the very first step he put on the gallows
His blooming colour began to fade,
And with bitter sighing and tender crying,
“Is there no releasement from Derry gaol?”

But the very first step he put on the gallows
His blooming colour began to fade,
With bitter sighing and tender crying,
“Is there no releasement from Derry gaol?”

So come wind, blow the clouds away,
And hail, hail, hail a brighter day

“Where is my love, she is so long a-coming
And what detains her so long from me?
Or does she think it some shame or scandal
For to see me hang upon the gallows tree?”

“Where is my love, she is so long a-coming
And what detains her so long from me?
Or does she think it some shame or scandal
For to see me hang upon the gallows tree?”

Well he looked around and he saw her coming
As she rode faster than the wind,
“Stand back, stand back you false prosecutors
For I bear releasement all from the King,
For I made them see they may not hang you,
And I'll crown my love all with a gown of green.”

Well he looked around and he saw her coming
As she rode faster than the wind,
“Stand back, stand back you false prosecutors
For I bear releasement all from the King,
Well I made them see they may not hang you,
And I'll crown my love all with a gown of green.”

So come wind, blow the clouds away,
And hail, hail, hail a brighter day