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Origins: Fields of Athenry

DigiTrad:
FIELDS OF ATHENRY


Related threads:
Lyr Add: Fields of Athenry - Parody (25)
Tune Req: Fields of Athenry ROCK VERSION! (36)
Lyr Add: Down by the Clarin's Mossy Banks (10)
Where is Athenry? (49)
Fields of Athenry - performed upbeat? (121)
Fields of Athenry - Athenry of Fields (3)
Yes, but how low? (12)
Tune Req: Fields of Athenry (34)
Chords Req: Fields of Athenry (19)
Lyr Req: Hills of Athenrye? / Fields of Athenry (20)
Lyr Req: Oh no not the field of Athenry (47)
Lyr Add: Not the Fields of Athenry (10)
Lyr Req: Fields of Athenry (parody by Les Barker?) (11)
Look at those fields of Athenry (11)
Lyr Req: Fields of Athenrye? / Fields of Athenry (7)


Teru 25 Jun 97 - 12:19 AM
Benjami n Hollister (ben.hollister@bigfoot.com) 26 Jun 97 - 05:21 AM
08 Jul 97 - 03:16 PM
Bert Hansell 08 Jul 97 - 03:33 PM
Martin Ryan 08 Jul 97 - 04:23 PM
Teru 09 Jul 97 - 01:15 AM
moloneycaitleen@hotmail.com 29 Oct 99 - 11:21 AM
29 Oct 99 - 11:35 AM
McGrath of Harlow 29 Oct 99 - 07:11 PM
Alice 10 Mar 00 - 09:43 AM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 10 Mar 00 - 10:50 AM
Mbo 10 Mar 00 - 11:37 AM
Alice 10 Mar 00 - 12:38 PM
zander (inactive) 10 Mar 00 - 02:28 PM
Alice 10 Mar 00 - 02:35 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 10 Mar 00 - 05:29 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Mar 00 - 05:59 PM
Mark Cohen 10 Mar 00 - 11:07 PM
John Moulden 11 Mar 00 - 05:58 AM
zander (inactive) 11 Mar 00 - 06:40 AM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Mar 00 - 07:30 AM
cujimmy 11 Mar 00 - 08:17 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 12 Mar 00 - 04:49 PM
Brakn 08 May 00 - 07:13 PM
GUEST,Paddy(1) 08 May 00 - 08:22 PM
rpm 09 May 00 - 06:06 PM
Barry T 09 May 00 - 08:53 PM
Teasle 10 May 00 - 03:38 PM
John Moulden 10 May 00 - 04:09 PM
John Moulden 19 May 00 - 06:39 AM
Lesley N. 19 May 00 - 06:39 PM
McGrath of Harlow 19 May 00 - 06:47 PM
Barry T 19 May 00 - 11:27 PM
Lesley N. 20 May 00 - 01:06 AM
GUEST,Dan 20 May 00 - 11:49 AM
John Moulden 21 May 00 - 06:35 PM
McGrath of Harlow 21 May 00 - 06:58 PM
GUEST,Paul Burke 21 May 00 - 07:00 PM
GUEST,Paddy(1) 21 May 00 - 08:21 PM
Robo 21 May 00 - 09:00 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 22 May 00 - 01:15 AM
Jed at Work 17 Jul 00 - 05:28 PM
MartinRyan 16 Mar 01 - 06:31 AM
GUEST,John Hill 28 Mar 01 - 10:25 AM
Malcolm Douglas 28 Mar 01 - 10:40 AM
GUEST,John Hill 28 Mar 01 - 10:55 AM
MartinRyan 28 Mar 01 - 11:22 AM
Noreen 28 Mar 01 - 12:35 PM
Malcolm Douglas 28 Mar 01 - 02:51 PM
Joe Offer 28 Mar 01 - 03:49 PM
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Subject: Fields of Athenry
From: Teru
Date: 25 Jun 97 - 12:19 AM

I found the lyrics to this song in DT, but I should like to correct just one word.

"Travalient's (?) corn" should be "Trevelyan's corn".

As far as I know, Charles Edward Trevelyan was an assistant-secretary to the treasury and was concerned with the relief of the potato famine in Ireland. I am not sure it was successful.

Regards.

Teru


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: Benjami n Hollister (ben.hollister@bigfoot.com)
Date: 26 Jun 97 - 05:21 AM

As an interesting or not so interesting aside, I have heard this sung as "for your staunch rebellion born", an obvious corruption of "for you stole Trevelyan's corn", but just shows the changes in folk lyrics.

Benjamin


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From:
Date: 08 Jul 97 - 03:16 PM

Does anyone have the music for this song?

Also, I think I have seen somewhere that it was written by Pete St.John - is this correct?

Regards,

Henrik


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: Bert Hansell
Date: 08 Jul 97 - 03:33 PM

As a matter of interest the British government recently apologized for their failure regarding the potato famine. See this report in The Electronic Telegraph.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=000289242712046&rtmo=33c2968c&atmo=33c2968c&pg=/et/97/6/2/wfam02.html


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: Martin Ryan
Date: 08 Jul 97 - 04:23 PM

Henrik

Yes, Pete St. John wrote it

regards


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: Teru
Date: 09 Jul 97 - 01:15 AM

Bert:

Thank you for your information. I read the report with great interest.

With regards

Teru


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: moloneycaitleen@hotmail.com
Date: 29 Oct 99 - 11:21 AM

I have sat in a room and heard 20 young Irish people sing Fields of Athenry in perfect tune (the Irish can sing ). I love the song and was wondering if anyone could tell who the singer is who released in more rock then traditional folk music, I think it was only redone by this person this year or last because they still play it in clubs in Ireland. I would also like someone to tell me who sings the Irish rugy song "Irelands Call". So please if you could help me it would be grand. DUST


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From:
Date: 29 Oct 99 - 11:35 AM

Pete St John based his lyrics closely on another song. See the Hills of Athenrye thread and follow the links therein.


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 29 Oct 99 - 07:11 PM

Well, I never knew that. "Based his lyrics closely" is a bit of a misnomer. Most times I sing a song the way I sing it is a little different from the way I learnt it, but I wouldn't say I'd written a new song on the strength of that.

Having said that, the variations from the broadside version (see the clicky thing in the previous piosting by anon) are, I'd say, improvements. More to the point, unless I'm very much mistaken (which I may be) the tune is Pete St John's, which makes it a new song after all. But I'd sooner call it a new version.


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: Alice
Date: 10 Mar 00 - 09:43 AM

... a new question for this old thread (there are several on the song, but I chose this one to refresh)

I have heard the chorus with "Low lie the fields of Athenry" and "Fair lie the fields of Athenry".
Also the line "our love was on the wing" I have heard as "our love was fresh as spring"... the lyrics are posted in the DT and in the other threads on this song.
Does anyone know which versions of the chorus are closer to the original?

thanks

Alice


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 10 Mar 00 - 10:50 AM

Alice, there are at least 3 other Threads, and on one of them,

Hills of Athenrye

I posted a couple of links to

1888 Broadside
Old AND New Versions

The Broadside version gives some additional information.


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: Mbo
Date: 10 Mar 00 - 11:37 AM

You mean this song's not traditional? MAN! First Wild Mountain Thyme, now this! Who do we have to make our checks out to if we want to play this, now?

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: Alice
Date: 10 Mar 00 - 12:38 PM

Thanks, George, I had read all the other threads, but I didn't see that link to the old and new versions side by side until now. That answers my question! Many thanks.

alice flynn


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: zander (inactive)
Date: 10 Mar 00 - 02:28 PM

Pete St. Johns songbook gives, ' low lie the fields of Athenry ' and 'our love was on the wing ' Dave


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: Alice
Date: 10 Mar 00 - 02:35 PM

Zander, go to the Old & New versions link that George provided and take a look.


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 10 Mar 00 - 05:29 PM

Mbo, I'm not all that convinced that Pete St. John or the family claiming ownership of those two songs is valid, despite what the legal begals say.

I believe they are both "Traditional", whatever that really means.

I believe both are old songs, whether in the case of the MacPeakes they modified more extensively than Pete St. John.

I suppose that someone will claim the Water is Wide and Carrick Fergus, and such songs.


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Mar 00 - 05:59 PM

The words of the Field of Athenry are clearly just a variant on the 1888 version - I'd say it's a good variant, with changes for the better, but the changes are pretty minor. I can't see that Pete St John could call it an original song on the basis of them alone. M

On the other hand it is quite possible that the tune might have been made up by Pete St John, which would give him more of a claim of its being his song.

I think the case for "Will you go lassy go" and the McPeake's is stronger. From what I have seen, the development and change from the "The Braes of Balquidder" or the "Highlands of Heaven" (both on the DT) is a lot greater than it is for the text of Athenry. Of course there might be some intermediate version that I haven't come across.


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 10 Mar 00 - 11:07 PM

Every song was written -- or made -- by somebody. If you can identify the songwriter, so much the better (speaking as a songwriter), but I don't see much point in arguing whether a song is "composed" or "traditional." For many so-called "traditional" songs it is possible to find "the original" -- just ask Bruce O. -- but later folk-processed versions may be just as much, or more, fun to sing. And, to my mind, that's what it's all about. Once you've done the Hokey-Pokey and turned yourself around, of course.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: John Moulden
Date: 11 Mar 00 - 05:58 AM

It's clear that the "original" "1888" version, if genuine, obviates Pete St John's claim to authorship. However, the website which has the "broad sheet words" makes it clear that these were posted in a newsgroup and that no-one involved in posting the information has actually seen the ballad sheet; I haven't, in thirty years of looking at such things in the libraries all over Ireland and in Britain. Nor is the name "Devlin" familiar to me as a Dublin ballad sheet printer. Another point is that dates are very seldom given on ballad sheets and they are difficult to date - especially not to a particular year.

Two further points - if Trevelyan was Secretary around the time of the famine - 1845-49 - his name is not likely to have been widely remembered by the writers of popular songs, or meaningful to their audience by 1888. And - the song, as purporting to originate in 1888 on a ballad sheet is couched in a style of verse and in a style of language absolutely foreign to the medium.

I'm going to check on all these details but I would be very surprised if I find anything to suggest that this posting in a newsgroup was not a hoax, or a fraudulent attempt to muddy a copyright issue.


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: zander (inactive)
Date: 11 Mar 00 - 06:40 AM

Thank's Alice, I have not come accross this version before.

Cheers, Dave


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Mar 00 - 07:30 AM

I'd doubt 1888 as a date for Athenry to be written, but it's be quite a reasonable date for a song written earlier to get put into print. Again, the term "broad sheet" can be used in a very loose way sometime to cover just about any relatively informal type of publishing.

Anyway, I'll be interested to hear anything John Moulkder digs up. Strikes me it's be a good idea to ask Pete St John, because he should know. (Alright, you could say he has a vested intyerest in saying he write the words rather than adapted them even if he did adapt them - but I think it's best to assume people are honest about these kinds of things to start with.)


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: cujimmy
Date: 11 Mar 00 - 08:17 AM

I read an artcal by Pete ST John about the song a few months ago in The Celtic View ( magazine of Glasgow Celtic football club ) where he said that 3 ship loads of inedible corn were anchored off the south coast of Ireland and that some starving people tried to swim over and steal some of it, they were caught, charged and then punnished by Transportation.


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 12 Mar 00 - 04:49 PM

I'm with John Moulden on this one - I smell a rat! Mind you, there is another Athenry fields song - but unrelated.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: Brakn
Date: 08 May 00 - 07:13 PM

Any news of this?


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: GUEST,Paddy(1)
Date: 08 May 00 - 08:22 PM

Just to add my tuppence worth to this debate

I always felt that

"She watched the last star falling"

is melodic but meaningless (who ever watched all the stars falling?)

It should, of course, be sung as

"She watched the last tarpaulin"

which would give the impression of the final sail (canvass, spineker, etc.) disapearing over the beautiful Irish horizon.

Does this mean I can now claim authorship of this ballad?

Paddy(1)


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: rpm
Date: 09 May 00 - 06:06 PM

To Paddy(1) arrrgggghhh! but to John, I'm no authority but we'd all know a "bobby" or a "peeler" (SP?) if we saw one, why shouldn't we remember Trevelyan. Perhaps more to the point I think that boycott is pretty well authenticated. I try not to live it but we sometimes forgive if we will, but never forget. -Bob


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: Barry T
Date: 09 May 00 - 08:53 PM

Brakn said Any news of this?

I relayed to John Moulden the newsgroup source (1996 thread in the Harp Digest) that made reference to the early publishing. I don't know if John actually tried to track down the authors in that thread.


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: Teasle
Date: 10 May 00 - 03:38 PM

I went to Athenry last year... it was magic1 I was kinda reluctant to go, the song being so full of nostalgia and all ... didn;t want a disappointment. I wasn't let down! The walls of the old town are pretty much intact ... the town and the people were charming - and they have turned the old church into a brilliant museum. The local hurling team had just won its very first championship that day and they were celebrating!

Lots of good, fond memories of Athenry ...

Teasle


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: John Moulden
Date: 10 May 00 - 04:09 PM

My daughter and grandsons live in Athenry so I am frequently there -I still don't like this song however; the one Martin mentions is much more within the traditional idiom.

I have managed to track down the author of the original posting in the harp-list and have indicated my scepticism. He insists that he saw the song in some kind of folio song collection, printed by Devlin of Dublin and that the book is owned by the family of someone he used to play music with. Hoewever he has no more than the copy of the words he made.

He was a little testy at being questioned about this and it would not be possible to elicit any more. However, I am in no way convinced, I'll be in Dublin on three occasions in the next two weeks and any references to Devlin will be fully checked - starting with the Street Directories and then with ER McClintock Dix's bibliographies - this is my field - and I'm almost prepared to wager that I'll find nothing to support this contention.


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: John Moulden
Date: 19 May 00 - 06:39 AM

I've now made searches as I said I would; all is negative.

The assertion is that the Fields of Athenry was printed in 1888 in Dublin by someone called Devlin.

1. There is nobody of the name Devlin listed among:
Printers (letterpress or photolithographic)
publishers
booksellers
Music Sellers
musical instument makers or dealers
music and pianoforte warehouses
print sellers
in the city or county of Dublin in Thom's Directory for 1887, 1888 or 1889

2. The catalogues of the two major collections of Irish Books made in the 19th Century - Bradshaw and Gilbert have no printer or publisher of that name listed.

3. There is no Devlin given in John A Parkinson: Victorian Music Publishers (Harmonie Park Press, Michigan, 1990) (Detroit studies in music bibliography no 64) which used the catalogues of the British Library, the National Libraries of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the University Libraries of Oxford and Cambridge and also used the annual Musical Directory (1853 - 1931).

It is agreed that this is not conclusive but it does reduce the likelihood that the assertion is true. I now believe that it is up to those making the assertion to justify it.


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: Lesley N.
Date: 19 May 00 - 06:39 PM

Good God John - what an incredible amount of research! I'm amazed! Though I admit I am a bit disappointed too - whoever wrote the newsgroup post certainly did an excellent job of it.

I have had to take several songs off my site that turned out weren't traditional (not because anyone asked, but because it's generally my policy - though I am known to make exceptions - like the Flower of Scotland). Guess this one will have to go too.

I started to put up short "error pages" so people know why tunes aren't at the site rather than them coming up with nothing. It makes me feel better anyway!

Thanks for all the hard work!


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 May 00 - 06:47 PM

Well, it's traditional now anyway. Sing half the first line, and sit back and listen to it.

But well done, John Moulden, for running the truth down like you seem to have done.


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: Barry T
Date: 19 May 00 - 11:27 PM

Yes... good job, John. And thanks!

It would appear that we have the Devlin in disguise!

(Sorry! I couldn't resist!)

Lesley: I won't object if you haul that tune out of the tunebook. Public Domain has been my self-imposed policy, too.


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: Lesley N.
Date: 20 May 00 - 01:06 AM

I've taken it off both sites now Barry - and put up a file that explains why if anyone searches for it. Reminds me of the Dark Isle - another contemporary, tradtional tune!


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: GUEST,Dan
Date: 20 May 00 - 11:49 AM

If you read the book "The Great Hunger' by Cecil Woodham-Smith, which I beleive is an articulate and highly accurate account of the famine in the mid 1800's, you will find out about Trevelyan and the rest of the English government leaders, who stood by and watched as the irish starved. Trevelyan did not try hard when it came to saving the Irish and the government at large, did nothing to assist the dying. The apology from Blair and the government was WELL deserved and should have never been required. The famines in Ireland were every bit as bad as the Holocaust in Europe during the second wolrd war, TAL, Dan


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: John Moulden
Date: 21 May 00 - 06:35 PM

Another tuppenceworth:

One penny: Cecil Woodham Smith has been much criticised; I do not wish to suggest that the Great Irish Famine was not a dreadful event, or that Britain's measures to deal with it did not range from the indifferent to the callous but history as politically sensitive as this requires very careful research and most historians (not just conservative revisionists) question her balance.

Two Pennies: I did further search in the 1887,88,89 Thom's Directories - I like to be comprehensive (and fair) and remembered that printers, especially of Music were sometimes engravers - and on copper plate - however there was no Devlin among Copperplate Printers or among Engravers in Dublin at those dates. So I'm in the clear as yet.


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 May 00 - 06:58 PM

Perhaps you should let Pete St John have the results of your labours, John - he's probably been getting pretty irritated by people knowledgeably saying that, of course, he didn't write the song.


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 21 May 00 - 07:00 PM

This thread has been getting serious- got to put a stop to that. The song has always got my goat anyway - 'Michael, they are taking you away' - perhaps he mght not have noticed?

But be that as it may as they say- I said to Danny the fiddler in the Union when he played the tune, "I know what rye is, but what's ath?"

Danny looked at me with justified contempt. "Juth tun round, I'll thow ye what ath ith"


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: GUEST,Paddy(1)
Date: 21 May 00 - 08:21 PM

Moloneycaithleen

The rock version is by Brush Sheils (or the Brush)

Brush was a rock freak in Ireland before it was popular and profitable

Now living on a farm in Co Meath, still doesn't take himself too seriously

More than slightly tongue in cheek version but that's what the Irish are good at

Paddy(1)


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: Robo
Date: 21 May 00 - 09:00 PM

Moloneycaitleen . . .

"Ireland's Call" was written by Phil Coulter, I believe. Heard him perform it here in Denver recently. Well done indeed. Don't know who else may have recorded it.

Rob-o


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 22 May 00 - 01:15 AM

John Moulden, thank you for the dedicated research into this. It's much appreciated.


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: Jed at Work
Date: 17 Jul 00 - 05:28 PM

good thread, wonderful song ... our Seamus Kennedy does a beautiful version of this song on one of his recent albums. Made me want to learn everythng I could about the song ...


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: MartinRyan
Date: 16 Mar 01 - 06:31 AM

Heard Pete St. John talking about "Athenry" on radio this a.m. He said it grew out of reading contemporary reports of the transportation of a group of men who attempted to break into government stores of maize in Cork, around the time of the 1847 famine. He picked Athenry as a locale "because it sounded lonely"!

Regards

p.s. For the Irish - it was Michael D. Higgins who showed him the records!


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: GUEST,John Hill
Date: 28 Mar 01 - 10:25 AM

Try looking here...
http://www.fastdesign.com/music/irish/fldathen.htm
Is it really new or is it old? ... did Pete St. John really write it .. or was it written in 1888. I think I prefer the original lyrics. Why were the names changed?


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 28 Mar 01 - 10:40 AM

John: if you read the rest of this thread and follow up some of the links given, you'll find that your question has been quite comprehensively dealt with already, at any rate so far as has been possible.  The site you mention gives no provenance for the "original" text, and presumably got it from either Lesley Nelson's site (from which it has now been removed as of dubious authenticity) or from the original newsgroup posting referred to above.  John Moulden is an expert in his field, and in the absence of new, proven information, his comments should be taken as definitive.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: GUEST,John Hill
Date: 28 Mar 01 - 10:55 AM

Sorry.. I only had time to quickly skim though the thread... has anyone E-mailed these people to see where their info came from. As you say... one of the locations for it has been removed. On the other hand.. the "original" lyrics must have come from somewhere. Assuming that the owner of the web page didn't make them up.


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: MartinRyan
Date: 28 Mar 01 - 11:22 AM

John

In a nutshell, so far, there is no evidence to suggest that this is anything other than a Pete St. John composition.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: Noreen
Date: 28 Mar 01 - 12:35 PM

And the 'fastdesign' site mentioned above by John Hill has an interesting approach to classification- many attributable songs are classed as 'traditional' when a quick search would find authors: "God Save The Queen" is traditional English...


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 28 Mar 01 - 02:51 PM

It's a huge problem on the Web: people just put up any old stuff cribbed without attribution from other places, without bothering to do even the most elementary research, and other people believe it because it's there.  Rumour and misinformation have never before had such huge opportunities for dissemination.  It's all our duties to make sure -so far as we can- that it doesn't happen here!

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Fields of Athenry
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Mar 01 - 03:49 PM

So, do we have a copyright date and ond other copyright information for this song? any printed sources? Any corrections to the lyrics that are in the Digital Tradition? I checked ASCAP and BMI - there are three entries under that title, none attributed to St. John. I see that Seamus attributed it to St. John on his CD. Seems we ought to get a definitive version into the database.
Lesley N's "Contemplator" site says The Fields of Athenry was written by Pete St. John and was published in 1985 by Walton Mnf. Ltd., Dublin. Is that considered to be fairly solid information?

-Joe Offer-


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