Mudcat Café message #3069579 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #16707   Message #3069579
Posted By: GUEST,Jon
07-Jan-11 - 07:42 PM
Thread Name: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
Posted this in the wrong thread ... apologies

I wandered into this debate years ago now. I hadn't heard the song for years until it surprisingly appeared on the "Nights in Ballygran" episode of Boardwalk Empire (incidentally the best version of the song I have heard, by Loudon Wainwright III).

I think we attach our own meanings to these songs. That's the most important thing. However, it's clear for me that the narrator has probably never been to Ballygran, so it doesn't matter where it is. Ballygran is where the love of his life went to, and where he longs for in his reflections.

I like the idea that the song is about an itinerant worker who left Kilkenny for the North-East in search of work, like so many others. While working in Carrickfergus, perhaps the happiest time of his life, he met a girl who was from, or who left for Ballygran. She was the one that got away. He regrets not chasing her, hence his longing to cross oceans to find her. Did he have a choice to follow her? Was she stolen from him? Who knows. He's old now, and reflecting with a sense of sadness and regret on his life. He never went back to Kilkenny. There's nothing for him there as all his childhood friends and family are now passed away (black marble reference). But he'll sing about the happier times when he's had a drink ... and then when he's had one too many ... he'll probably sing Carrickfergus again :)

Carrickfergus could be anywhere, Ballygran could be anywhere, Kilkenny could be anywhere ... it really doesn't matter that much. Carrickfergus is as nice a place as any for such a beautiful song.