Mudcat Café message #157393 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #16707   Message #157393
Posted By: John Moulden
03-Jan-00 - 11:15 AM
Thread Name: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
I too could assert that this is an old tune but in the absence of evidence would not expect my assertion to be accepted. My experience of this song is as I stated it above - with the addition that Dominic Behan called it "The Kerry Boatman" and sings the first two lines - "I wish I was in Carrickfergus, In ELphin, Aoidtrim or Ballygrind,"

The Clancy's sing "Only for nights in Ballygrand" - which has never made any sense to me - and probably not to anyone else either, but who am I to quarrel with their authority?

Behan's book"Ireland Sings" (London, 1965) gives three verses of which he says, he wrote the middle one and the others he collected from Peter O'Toole.

In trying to make sense of a song and its context we can do no more than start with what we have.

The mystery as far as I am concerned has four elements - 1. Since thirty-five years of looking can find no trace of the song prior to Peter O'Toole - where could it have been up to then? 2. Is it about the County Antrim Carrickfergus: the other place names are either obscure (Aoidtrim - which is not Irish for Antrim (Aontraim) - or Ballygrind - which I cannot presently trace) but Elphin is in Roscommon) - and Kilkenny? Was the first place name originally Carrickfergus at all? 3. What about the KERRY boatman? 4. Why do I have a hunch that there is an Irish language original? - though any Irish versions are actually translations of these words?

There are currently no answers to any of these questions.

The thematic similarity to "The water is wide" is fascinating too and raises its own questions - was O'Toole the author?

This is not all suggested seriously - just a contribution to the breadth of the puzzle.