Mudcat Café message #3153587 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #16707   Message #3153587
Posted By: Jack Maloney
13-May-11 - 05:04 PM
Thread Name: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
Michael - Speculation? Proof? Do you have proof of the origins of your own favorite traditional songs? Do you know who wrote them, and when? The exact music, and the authentic, correct, original words?

Almost all traditional songs have been changed, adapted, recombined or reworked by many singers, in many locales, through many generations. Strands of different lyrical bits and pieces of verse have been hung on the framework of older tunes - sometimes reflecting the singers own experiences or local traditions, or simply what they thought they had heard. It's pretty difficult to pin down "proof," "authenticity" or "correctness" in traditional music.

The origins of 'Carrickfergus' are likely lost in time. Even an 1830s broadsheet is only a local snapshot of a moving target. The fact that this thread has been spun out this far suggests that the version commonly sung today raises many questions for which there are no proven answers. So however you want to sing it, it's speculation.

In a song about lovers separated by the sea, the leap from Carrickfergus to Kilkenny is an inexplicably long and waterless one that few handsome boatmen could navigate. But across the sea from Carrickfergus is a place called Ballygrant, with marble stones as black as ink, silver (and maybe gold), and a burial ground that sounds a lot like "Kilkenny." That's just speculation, of course... ;-)