Mudcat Café message #3215466 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #16707   Message #3215466
Posted By: Jack Maloney
30-Aug-11 - 05:37 PM
Thread Name: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
"Baile cuain" is a bit of a stretch. To begin with, the song is about a place "over the deepest ocean" from Carrickfergus, so why keep trying to locate it in Ireland? Is there another "baile" anything, anywhere across the sea from Carrickfergus and easily reachable by boat, that makes any sense at all? The Carrickfergus/Ballygrant connections in the song are too numerous to be coincidental:

- "But the sea is wide..." Almost 80 miles of the turbulent North Irish Sea separate Carrickfergus from Ballygrant in Islay. You would definitely want "...a handsome boatman..." (i.e., skillful, clever, adept) to make that crossing.

- "Now in Kilmeny..." Kilmeny (not Kilkenny) is the parish in which Ballygrant is located. Kilmeny Church has a noteworthy burial ground in which there are numerous...

- "...marble stones as black as ink." The stones come from the nearby quarry, which was Ballygrant's primary industry in the 18th and 19th centuries. The common "Kilkenny" reference is a puzzle without an answer because it has no connection with either Carrickfergus or Ballygrant; it is apparently an artifact of Peter O'Toole's memory!

- "With gold and silver I did support her..." The other major employer in Ballygrant and Kilmeny Parish in the 18th and 19th centuries was lead and silver mining, which attracted miners from across the water. And Ballygrant lies over the Dalradian geologic complex, which is the source of gold being mined in Northern Ireland even today.