Australian Folk Songs
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The Green Linnet (1905)Mr. Doherty is quite a poetic treasury. He can recite many an old song of those stirring days when Ireland was aflame
with patriotic literature. There is, for instance, a popular ballad which likens O'Connell to the green linnet, one of
the sweetest song birds of Ireland. It is a specimen of street ballads of those days :
On a fair summer's morning as the day was a-dawning,
I wandered alone to breathe the fresh air ;
Upon a green myrtle shade I beheld a fair maid,
As she sat a-weeping and tearing her hair,
Said I, "Blooming fair one, why dost thou here mourn,
Is your true-lover gone where he never will return ?
Your sad lamentations my feelings do burn,
I think you are a daughter to old Erin-go-bragh. She appeared much alarmed when first I approached her,
The tears from her eyes in torrents did flow,
Her cheeks that were once as red as the rosie,
Now they are declining and fading with woe.
"Young man," she replied, "poor Erin is my mother,
If I'm not mistaken, dear youth, you're my brother,
Commingle your tears and we will comfort each other,
And sigh for the wrongs of old Erin-go-brag." "You ask me the cause of my disconsolation.
My tongue is scarce able the same to relate.
I once had a linnet, the pride of this nation,
By the fowler he was taken, and sad was my fate.
Sweet were his notes as he sang through the bowers,
With his lovely green wings fluttering over the flowers :
But here I am doomed to pass those dull hours,
As my linnet he's gone from old Erin-go-bragh. "In Munster he sang through Cork and Tipperary,
And many more places too tedious to name,
My linnet he hovered so brisk and so airy,
By the fowler he was taken and played many's the game.
Through the plains of Kildare we marched off so glorious,
With our harmonious band, and our linnet before it,
To hear his sweet notes that were soft and melodious,
He sang a note with freedom to old Erin-go-bragh. "In Kilkenny he sang a tune that was pleasing,
His notes they were charming, both lofty and shrill.
Through Wexford and Wicklow he raised up a chorus,
And sweetly he sang up at Tara's old hill.
He sang in Athlone, it being the middle of the station ;
In order that his notes would be heard throughout the nation,
His trials and afflictions were borne with great patience,
And all for the love of old Erin-go-bragh." She fell at my feet in a state of distraction,
To think in Glasnevin that my linnet he was lying.
He left our Church free for all heretics fated,
By the Emancipation in the year '29.
And if he was vowing that hero undaunted,
In spite of Lord John he has liberty planted ;
But now his sad loss we do solely repent it,
Brave Daniel, he was a chieftain of old Erin-go-bragh. In Leinster he sang where his notes were admired.
The ladies of Dublin all loved his sweet voice ;
In Longford my linnet shall forever be remembered,
Above all other songsters they now claim their choice
In famed Mullingar you will find him remembered,
In Limerick and in Galway he's highly recorded.
I hope that the Lord for his pains will reward him,
For seeking the rights of old Erin-go-Bragh. Notes From the NSW Newspaper the Freeman's Journal Sat 11 Feb 1905 p. 17.
It is interesting that this street ballad was published in Australia, the words collected from Mr. Doherty of Pambula South Coast NSW. It is a lament for the Irish leader Daniel O'Connell (6 August 1775-15 May 1847) whose Monster Meetings in Ireland drew huge crowds.
australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory