Origins: Fiddler's Green To Thread - Forum Home

The Mudcat Café TM
69 messages

Origins: Fiddler's Green

23 May 02 - 09:44 AM (#716045)
Subject: Fiddlers Green
From: jimlad

23 May 02 - 09:45 AM (#716049)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: DMcG

Its in the DT here

23 May 02 - 09:55 AM (#716056)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: MMario

Unless you are looking for the mid 1800's one - Fiddlers Green - Cavalry version

23 May 02 - 03:54 PM (#716323)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green

My all-time favorite lyrics balls-up happened when I inadvertantly sang, "...And the skipper's below making love to the crew." Now I can't sing it the original way any more. With a tip of the hat to Dr. Freud.

23 May 02 - 07:15 PM (#716456)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: Mr Red

John Connelly was at Folk at Frampton (Gloucs, Village Hall every Tues) bewtween gigs and entertaining us. He sang this of course and It was as you would expect though FWIW he sings "in Fiddlers Green" not "on Fiddlers Green". AND he admitted he changes things sometimes so Punch & Judy Man is different now and I still prefer the original. That's the way to do it, rooty tooty toot.

23 May 02 - 07:52 PM (#716477)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)

The term Fiddlers' Green is widespread. What is the origin?

"Fiddlers' Green" first appeared in 1923 in the "Cavalry Journal." It is believed to have been composed and used by the soldiers of the 6th and 7th Cavalry and may date from the post-Civil war period in the west. No author is known.
The 11th Field Artillery Regiment has borrowed the song, and substituted "Souls of many departed Redlegs...." The second and last verses are omitted.

I would like to hear of any use of the song or words before the Cavalry song or the modern song by John Connolly from Grimsby, England.

24 May 02 - 08:22 AM (#716669)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: GUEST,Captain Swing

There's a pub in Clonakillty, County Cork called 'Fiddlers Green'. I'm sure the building predates 1923 but Idon't know if it had that name originally.

Cheers - Captain Swing

24 May 02 - 08:38 AM (#716678)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: GUEST,Sir Roger at Work

John Conolly is guesting at the People's Voice Folk Festival, Beverley over the weekend of 21st - 23rd June. As you all know by now, the festival is completely free including free camping(book that early to avoid disappointment - they are re-seeding part of the campsite and we only have about 40% of the usual space).

Check out the website on


24 May 02 - 10:38 AM (#716724)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: Dave Bryant

Fiddler's Green has been used (rather in the way of Davey Jones' Locker) to denote heaven (or anyway the place after death) by sailors for a considerable time.

24 May 02 - 10:44 AM (#716728)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: Charley Noble

I'm sure that "Fiddler's Green" appeared in Dana's TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST but I can't find the citation now. That would date the term to the early 1800's.

24 May 02 - 11:30 AM (#716771)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: Jacob B

I've just tried searching the text of Two Years Before The Mast (at for the word "fiddler", and got no hits.

24 May 02 - 11:35 AM (#716774)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: Nigel Parsons

Mmario: should that be "Cavalry version" (mounted soldiery), rather than "Calvary version" (The mount on which Christ was crucified) ?

24 May 02 - 11:36 AM (#716776)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: Nigel Parsons

"Cavalry baptists" ride into the baptismal pool on horseback!

24 May 02 - 11:38 AM (#716780)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: IanC

Lawks a'mussy ... and there's me thinking Jesus died on a hill, and all the time he rode to his death.


24 May 02 - 04:02 PM (#716947)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)

Relatives and friends in Georgia. They use Calvary for both the mount and mounted soldiers. I think this usage goes quite a ways back; how the confusion started, I don't know.
My feeling is like Dave Bryant's, I thought the term Fiddlers' Green is old, but I can't find any references.
Mention of Dana's "Two Years...." made me check his "Dictionary of Sea Terms" but all I found was "Fiddlehead," the carving at the prow of a ship if it bends in, in a curve like the head of a fiddle.
Not in Lever's "Dictionary of Sea Terms" either.

24 May 02 - 10:10 PM (#717108)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: Malcolm Douglas

An article by W. Saunders in The Nautical Magazine of August 1929 apparently traced Fiddlers' Green back to a corruption of Locus Fidelis in Gremio; a place to which sailors who died at sea without the benefit of absolution might be assigned. The piece was reproduced in English Dance and Song (vol.61, no.2, Summer 1999), having been found and submitted by Cyril Tawney. It sounds like a wind-up to me, but nevertheless the following, "paraphrased" from an account given by "a boatswain of Leith", is quite evocative:

"When sailormen die they go to a place where there is one interminable stretch of green and undulating pasture-land upon which the sun never ceases to shine, and through which fish-laden brooks and rivers dance and sparkle on their way towards some infinite far horizon. Sheep, horses, cattle and other animals -for the deep-sea sailor clearly loves a beast- with their playful young, browse all around, and the atmosphere is redolent with the sweet scents of numberless flowers, and vibrant with the song of countless birds. But in this paradise no officer may ever dwell. In the midst of all this charm and beauty, there lies a mighty bottomless pit into which all officers are incontinently pitched. On the edge of the pit the sailor man may sit and contemplate, with unrestrained satisfaction, while he turns his quid or complacently puffs at his blackened clay, the seething mass of quarterdeck humanity being stirred about unceasingly by Davy Jones himself, who wields a gigantic trident specially adapted for the purpose of keeping them going. And the sailor man is not prohibited from casting an occasional pebble or jeering epithet upon any officer of his own particular acquaintance who may happen to come to the surface as the mass is stirred about.

And that, he concluded, is Davy Jones' Locker."

24 May 02 - 10:59 PM (#717118)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)

Good story! Goes well with the one about "Taps" (current thread, Union officer finding dead Confederate son) and the memorable one by Catspaw about the true story behind Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billy Joe." There are others in Mudcat threads- someone should collect them.
I thought it might appear in an old seaman's or fisherman's song,, or possibly a novel. The oldest occurrence apparently is in the cavalry song.

25 May 02 - 06:59 PM (#717362)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: Crane Driver

I just found the following in Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable :

Fiddler's Green. The land of the leal or "Dixie Land" of sailors; where there is perpetual mirth, a fiddle that never ceases to untiring dancers, plenty of grog, and unlimited tobacco.

Unfortunately my edition of Brewer is undated, but I believe the book was first published in the 1870s, although the work of compiling it must have begun much earlier. So the phrase must have been current at least by the first half of the 19th century.


25 May 02 - 07:14 PM (#717369)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: Gareth

The late Patrick O'Brien - Author of the Aubry/Maturin novels makes mention of Fiddlers Green once or twice. Now this is not proof of it's historical accuracy, but O'Brien was noted for his usage of contemporary dialect, and historical records in his novels. I suggest this poses some indication to the Age of that saying.

The USA cavalry version has some, but only some, resemblance to the Last Verse of " The Young British Soldier"

Question. Is there a connection ?

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier of the Queen

Or am I being a little cynical ?

Clicky to the Kipling Collection


25 May 02 - 07:37 PM (#717382)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: curmudgeon

From Horace Beck"s Folklore and the Sea:

Sailors when they die, especially if they die at sea, are said to go to Davy Jones' Locker, which is a euphemism for the devil and hell; but if they are decent chaps they are believed to end up in Fiddler's Green, and undersea paradise not unlike Faeryland ( the words "fiddler" and "green" both are associated with faeries). For that matter, it is not greatly different from the underwater home of the mer and seafolk, thus linking Christian and pre-Christian concerpts together through the picture of Paradise.

While I cannot vouch for Beck's scholarship, this is an interesting interpretation> in the section on songs he includes "The Bonny Shoals of Herring" as a traditional fisherman's song. He personally colleceted it in Dingle, but did not seem to know any more about it.

But I'll see you someday...


25 May 02 - 07:42 PM (#717385)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: The Walrus


I suspect that piece of advice (either Kipling's or the cavalry version) has been handed down throughout time.
I dare say there was some Reoman decurian muttering to some of his men words to the effect "If you're wounded and and can't get away and we can't get to you, better to open your own veins than be caught by the [insert local hostile tribe name here]".


25 May 02 - 07:47 PM (#717389)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: McGrath of Harlow

"Fiddler's Green had its origins in 18th century sailing lore. Common seamen, who repaired their lines with a splicing tool called a fid, dreamed of a sailor's heaven, where after the long voyage their every desire would be fulfilled." Whether that's true, I've no idea, but it's an interesting suggestion as to where the actual word comes from. (That comes from here

And according to this site, there's an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary with the first referance to (as the sailor's paradise) dating to 1825.

And the same site gives the Cavalry prayer as first printed in 1923 - though said to date from soon after the Civio War. From the style of it I'd suspect it might be a good deal later, and written retrospectively, maybe on the basis of something from that earlier time. It reads to me like someone who's read his Kipling. (Though of course it could always have been the other way round - that last verse of the Kipling's Barrack Room Ballad always reads to me like it might have been based on a genuine soldier's rhyme.)

25 May 02 - 07:48 PM (#717391)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)

Nice discovery, Crane Driver. It immediately struck fire in my poor little brain and I looked in the Oxford English Dictionary. The definition is "the sailors' Elyseum, in which wine, women and song figure prominently."
The first quote is from 1805: "My grannan....used to tell me that animals, when they departed this life, were destined to be fixed in Fiddlers Green." 1836: "It is believed that tailors and musicians after death were cantonned in a place called Fiddler's Green." 1837: "We shape a course for Fiddler's Green" (Marryat). 1883, Kelly: "The pilotless narrows, which lead to Fiddler's Green, where all good sailors go."
The origin would have to be at least 18th C. Not only sailors, but animals, tailors and musicians (just Mudcat musicians or all? Rappers and Heavy Metal as well?) go there. Members of the US Cavalry go there.
It must be a crowded place.

25 May 02 - 07:50 PM (#717393)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)

Beat me by one minute.

25 May 02 - 07:57 PM (#717401)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green

Didn't Ewan McColl write Shoals of Herring?

25 May 02 - 08:11 PM (#717407)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: curmudgeon

MacColl did write the Shoals of Herring, but it slipped rapidly into the folk process. Not long after its first radio broadcast, a collector had the tune from an Irish Tinker who gave the title as The Shores of Erin.

Many fair and pleasant days -- Tom

25 May 02 - 08:24 PM (#717416)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)

"Fresh blows the wind, a western wind,
And from the shores of Erin.
Across the wave, a rover brave,
To Binnorie was steering,...Wordsworth
From "The Seven Sisters"

25 May 02 - 09:37 PM (#717441)
Subject: Origins: Fiddlers Green
From: Malcolm Douglas

Re. Horace Beck: any 20th century writer who uses the self-conscious archaism faery has to be pretty suspect as an authority, and his credulous acceptance of Shoals of Herring as a traditional song (presumably he believed it to be Irish, and never listened to the radio) suggests considerable ignorance, given that his book was first published in 1973.

That said, his general observation (if we ignore his irrelevant references to fairies and "pre-Christian" beliefs) seems reasonable. Roy Palmer (Oxford Book of Sea Songs, reprinted 2001 as Boxing the Compass) comments:

"Fiddler's Green was the generic term for sailortown, the district in large ports which catered for the sailor's needs by providing boarding houses, dance halls, public houses, brothels, and seamen's homes. By extension it was the sailor's ideal world, Eden, Utopia, Paradise."

Unfortunately, he doesn't give references.

Further to my earlier quote from English Dance and Song, the following letter, from Phil Barker, appeared in vol.61 no.4 (Winter 1999). I quote it, very slightly edited, without comment:

"...the place has evolved a little since ... [Locus Fidelis in Gremio]... The first extension was that there were other professions that needed a similar place, since the habits of even upright practitioners rendered them unsuitable companions for the Godly. Chief of these undesirable habits was habitual swearing, but others included excessive drinking, songs and dances of questionable taste and refusing to part from favourite animals. The people particularly singled out were working sailors, itinerant musicians (so we are all in with a chance) and cavalrymen (but not, surprisingly, other soldiers).
Back in the early '60s there was a traditional song in the United States armoured cavalry regiments which stated that Fiddler's Green was an oasis on the road to Hell (and apparently quite close since the dance hall gals from West Hell were allowed to come over on Saturday nights) which had acquired the last wet canteen in the U.S. Army when that force went officially non-alcoholic. Occasionally, some hardened hell-bent trooper would fill up his water bottle with booze and ride off down the road, but he always ran out of liquor before he got there and had to turn back.
Note that like the sailor's version in the article, this version places Fiddler's Green well inland. However, while the ideal retirement venue for an old sailor was traditionally to walk inland with an oar over his shoulder until someone asked him what it was, I feel a sailor's heaven really needs some sea so he can gaze on it and know that he never, never has to go on it again."

25 May 02 - 10:38 PM (#717455)
Subject: ZDTStudy: Fiddlers Green (DT Correction)
From: Joe Offer

After listening to John Conolly's recording on the Trawlertown CD, I've added suggested corrections to the Digital Tradition transcription:

(John Conolly)

As I roved by the dockside one evening so rare
To view the still waters and take the salt air,
I heard an old fisherman singing this song,
O take me away boys, my time is not long.
    Dress me up in me oilskins and jumper,
    No more on the docks I'll be seen,
    Just tell me old shipmates
    I'm taking a trip, mates,
    And I'll see you someday in Fiddler's Green.

Now Fiddler's Green is a place I've heard tell
Where fishermen go if they don't go to Hell,
Where the weather is fair and the dolphins do play,
And the cold coast of Greenland is far, far away.

Now, the sky's always clear and there's never a gale,
And the fish jump on board with a flip of their tails;
You can lie at your leisure, there's no work to do,
And the skipper's below making tea for the crew.

And when you're in dock and the long trip is through,
Why, there's pubs and there's clubs, and there's lassies there, too;
Now the girls are all pretty and the beer is all free,
And there's bottles of rum growing on every tree.

I don't want a harp nor a halo, not me;
Just give me a breeze and a good rolling sea,
And I play me old squeeze box as we sail along
With the wind in the rigging to sing me this song.

Copyright 1970 for the World, March Music Ltd.
@sailor @death @chorus
filename[ FIDGREEN
Tune file : FIDGREEN


PLEASE NOTE: Because of the volunteer nature of The Digital Tradition, it is difficult to ensure proper attribution and copyright information for every song included. Please assume that any song which lists a composer is copyrighted ©. You MUST aquire proper license before using these songs for ANY commercial purpose. If you have any additional information or corrections to the credit or copyright information included, please e-mail those additions or corrections to us (along with the song title as indexed) so that we can update the database as soon as possible. Thank You.
Any further comments, corrections, etc? The Traditional Ballad Index has no entry for this song, but note this:

Wrap Me Up in My Tarpaulin Jacket

DESCRIPTION: A dying sailor [lumberjack, stockman] bids his comrades farewell, asking them to "wrap me up" in his work clothing and make other arrangements for his funeral. (He recalls his early life and hopes to sleep undisturbed)
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: before 1826 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 25(1594))
KEYWORDS: dying death funeral burial sailor logger shepherd
FOUND IN: Britain Canada(Newf) US Australia
REFERENCES (15 citations):
Friedman, p. 439, "The Dying Stockman" (1 text)
Meredith/Anderson, pp. 90-91, 226, "The Dying Stockman"; pp. 118-119, "The Dying Bagman" (3 texts, 3 tunes); also probably pp. 264-265, "Cant-Hook and Wedges" (2 texts)
Fahey-Eureka, pp. 170-171, "The Dying Stockman" (1 text, 1 tune)
Paterson/Fahey/Seal, pp. 221-223, "The Dying Stockman" (1 text)
AndersonStory, pp. 232-233, "The Dying Stockman" (1 text, 1 tune, plus another "Dying Stockman" poem from about the same time)
Sandburg, pp. 436-437, "Wrap Me Up in My Tarpaulin Jacket and The Handsome Young Airman" (2 short texts, 1 tune, with the "A" text going here and the "B" text being "The Dying Aviator")
Thorp/Fife XIII, pp. 148-190 (29-30), "Cow Boy's Lament" (22 texts, 7 tunes, the "K" text being in fact a version of "The Old Stable Jacket")
Manifold-PASB, pp. 82-83, "The Dying Stockman" (1 text, 2 tunes)
Meredith/Covell/Brown, pp. 281-282, "The Dying Stockman" (1 text, 1 tune)
Greenleaf/Mansfield 47, "Tarpaulin Jacket" (2 texts)
Leach-Labrador 98, "Jolly Best Lad" (1 text, 1 tune)
Peacock, pp. 880-881, "A Rambling Young Fellow" (1 text, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL: Kenneth Lodewick, "'The Unfortunate Rake" and His Descendants,'" article published 1955 in _Western Folklore_; republished on pp. 87-98 of Norm Cohen, editor, _All This for a Song_, Southern Folklife Collection, 2009
A. K. MacDougall, _An Anthology of Classic Australian Lore_ (earlier published as _The Big Treasury of Australian Foiklore_), The Five Mile Press, 1990, 2002, p. 237, "The Dying Stockman" (1 text)

Roud #829
Frank Crumit, "Wrap Me Up in My Tarpaulin Jacket" (HMV [UK] B-8032, c. 1933)
John Greenway, "The Dying Stockman" (on JGreenway01)
Tex Morton, "Wrap Me Up With My Stockwhip and Blanket" (Regal Zonophone [Australia] G22904, n.d.)

Bodleian, Harding B 25(1594)[some illegible words], "The Rakish Young Fellow," Angus (Newcastle), 1774-1825 ; also Harding B 11(3215), Harding B 16(218b), Harding B 25(1595)[some illegible words], Harding B 16(219a), Harding B 11(1211), Harding B 11(3216), Firth c.22(67)[almost entirely illegible but what is legible is recognizable as this song], Harding B 11(680), "[The] Rakish Young Fellow"
cf. "The Dying Aviator"
The Old Stable (Sable) Jacket
Derrydown Fair
NOTES: Compare the modern song "Fiddler's Green," which may have been inspired by this piece.
The number of parodies of this piece ("The Dying Stockman," "The Dying Lumberman") is astonishing, but most seem to have evolved rather than being deliberate rewrites. The Australian version known as "Cant-Hook and Wedges" claims to be an exception; the informants claim to have written it. Certainly the piece has modern elements (e.g. a reference to the Model T Ford), but one is still inclined to doubt that it was created deliberately.
On the other hand, Gwenda Beed Davey and Graham Seal, A Guide to Australian Folklore, Kangaroo Press, 2003, p. 94, claim that "The Dying Stockman" was "Probaby adapted by Horace Flower in the 1890s from any number of similar songs in English-language tradition," but they identify it as being from the "Unfortunate Rake" family, mentioning "Tarpaulin Jacker" only secondarily. - RBW
The Songs of England site has a version beginning "A tall stalwart lancer lay dying" with a note that "This appears in the Scottish Student's Handbook. The words were written by G. J. Whyte-Melville (1821-1878). The air was written by Charles Coote."
It is too easy to get hung up on the "wrap me up" line as a unique marker. In Peacock the line is just to "dress up in blue jacket and trousers," but that is the only substantial difference between Peacock and the broadsides. - BS
Last updated in version 4.1
File: FR439

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.

-Joe Offer-

26 May 02 - 02:00 AM (#717487)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: Hrothgar

Where the beer is all gritty and the girls are all free.....

26 May 02 - 06:45 AM (#717515)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: McGrath of Harlow

Stan Hugill in his book Sailortown (1967) has a chapter "Fiddler's Green: a composite sailortown". He doesn't go into where the term comes from or how it got attached to the boozer and brothel and boarding-house area near the dicks around the world, he just uses it as a term to refer to it.

One such of course being the Holy Ground in Queenstown (Cork).

Stan's book is a sort of retrospective gazeteer of Sailortowns all round the world. Fleshes out what all the songs are about. Invaluable - and therefore naturally, out of print.

26 May 02 - 12:34 PM (#717567)
Subject: Lyr Add: TARPAULIN JACKET (Carl Sandburg)
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)


Wrap me up in my tarpaulin jacket
And say a poor buffer lies low, low, low;
And six stalwart lancers shall carry me
With steps mournful, solemn and slow.
I know I shan't get to heaven,
And I don't want to go below--ow--ow.
Oh, ain't there some place in between them
Where this poor buffer can go?

A brief variant of the one in the DT, from Sandburg, p. 436-437, The American Songbag, 1927. Frank Haworth, British Club, Havana.
Why this is included in Sandburg is open to question. Americans would be more likely to use "duffer" or "bastard."

26 May 02 - 12:56 PM (#717573)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: McGrath of Harlow

I'd think "buffer" here is more likely to be a cautious substitute for "bugger". I understand that is stronger language in America than it is in some other places. (Even back in 1927 I doubt if it would have alarmed anyone this side of the ocean, going by a highly respectable relation aged 90.)

26 May 02 - 01:53 PM (#717592)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)

A buff or buffer in the States is an enthusiast (follows fire engines and knows "more" about fire than the firefighters, etc.). Bugger is now commonly applied to the old, as in "that old bugger disses us." (i.e., an old disapproving codger) or, as pointed out in Webster's, used "affectionately". This may be a point of distinction from British usage.
"Bastard" is much more likely in practice but duffer was a word applied to Sad Sacks, pedlars and the useless (= old bugger or codger again) and would have been a possible substitute at the time in print.
Bugger was also used in the States for a rascal or a worthless person (and still is in some areas), often by those unaware of the application of the word to the Bulgars and sodomy, but, true, Sandburg and his editors with their knowledge of word meanings and history would have avoided it in the book.

26 May 02 - 02:11 PM (#717597)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: McGrath of Harlow

"Bugger is now commonly applied to the old" Well the bloke in the song is getting on a bit isn't he?

But I don't think in my experience there's any age implication. If a kid in a skateboard hared across the road in front of my car I'd certainly be quite likely to describe him as a silly bugger. Maybe there is a difference in usage.

12 Apr 03 - 04:37 PM (#931962)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: GUEST,John

I am new here and not sure how all this works, but if the DT has the midi on file, could that mean that the song is recorded somewhere? I have been trying to find the Calavry version of Fiddler's Green for some time. Can anybody point me in the right direction to either downloading it or buying an album.


12 Apr 03 - 10:27 PM (#932129)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: GUEST,Julia

We saw and played with John Connolly at the last Festival of the Sea in Portsmouth England-what great guy. Hoping he'll be there again this year (in Leith Scotland this time May 23-6)
Fred had to admit his "mondegreen" on Fiddler's Green (somewhat intentional after too little sleep and too much stout)
"No moronic duck's 'll be seen"
Good thing John has a sense of humor!

13 Apr 03 - 12:23 AM (#932165)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: Celtaddict

McGrath of Harlow: "...brothel and boarding-house area near the dicks around the world..."
Does someone collect the wonderful (and sometimes Freudian) typos that turn up in these threads?

13 Apr 03 - 02:59 AM (#932227)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: open mike

marley's ghost has recorded a wonderful version of this tune..

15 Apr 03 - 09:09 PM (#934376)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: GUEST,John

Thanks for the link, but I already have the fisherman version, I am looking for the military version.

15 Apr 03 - 09:19 PM (#934379)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: GUEST,lighter

The cavalry version of "Fiddler's Green" appears in the book "Sound Off!: Soldiers' Songs from Yankee Doodle to World War II," by Arthur Edward Dolph (1942). I'm unaware of any recording of it.

15 Apr 03 - 11:45 PM (#934457)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: George Seto -

Don't forget the other songs here in the DT

Tarpaulin Jacket
Dying Airman
DT STudy - Fiddler's Green
Man Who Packed the Parachute

Also, Lesley's updated the Contemplator with a new page on

Tarpaulin Jacket

16 Apr 03 - 12:39 AM (#934477)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddlers Green
From: EBarnacle1

Stan's book "Sailortown," refers to Fiddler's Green throughout. His first reference, on page 6 refers to "...glorious, earthly Edens existed in the Pacific--Fiddler's Greens to the salt-encrusted, sea-tired wanderers."

Througout the remainder of the book, he uses Fiddler's Green as a synonym for Sailortown. Finally, on page 341, he says "'Fiddler's Green' was a real deepwater name for Sailortown. A secondary meaning was that it was a place of eternal rest for the sailorman who had died peaceable, as opposed to one who had died by drowning through shipwreck, foundering or falling from aloft. The latter was supposed to go to the Big Locker of Davy Jones' for his last rest."

"...perhaps Sailortown is still to be found in the shades of the heavenly Fiddler's Green, and it would be nice to think that the old-time shellback who knew the delights (?) of the earthly fiddler's Green is now taking his rest--a rest probably broken by drinking bouts and 'love' parties--in that other ghostly one."

I believe that Stan had it pretty right on this one.

25 Jan 07 - 03:02 PM (#1947900)
Subject: Lyr. Add: Fiddler's Green (Marryat 1847)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Marryat, *1847, "Snarleyyow"

"Says the parson, one day as I cursed a Jew,
Do you know, my lad, that we call it a sin?
I fear of you sailors there are but a few,
St. Peter, to heaven, will ever let in.
Says I, Mr. Parson, to tell you my mind,
No sailors to knock were ever yet seen,
Those who travel by land may steer 'gainst wind,
But we shape a course for Fiddler's Green.
For Fiddler's Green, where seamen true,
When here they've done their duty,
The bowl of grog shall still renew,
And pledge to love and beauty.
"Says the parson, I hear you've married three wives,
Now do you not know that that is a sin?
You sailors, you lead such very bad lives,
St. Peter, to heaven, will ne'er let you in.
Parson, says I, in each port I've but one,
And never had more, wherever I've been:
Below I'm obliged to be chaste as a nun,
But I'm promised a dozen at Fiddler's Green.
At Fiddler's Green, where seamen true,
When here they've done their duty,
The bowl of grog shall still renew
And pledge to love and beauty.
"Says the parson, says he, you're drunk, my man,
And do you not know that that is a sin?
If you sailors will ever be swigging your can,
To heaven you surely will never get in.
(Hiccup.) Parson, you may as well be mum
'Tis only on shore I'm this way seen;
But oceans of punch, and rivers of rum,
Await the sailor at Fiddler's Green.
At Fiddler's Green, where seamen true,
When they've done their duty,
The bowl of grog shall still renew,
And pledge to love and beauty."

Sung by the sailor, Bill Spurey, on shore at a Lust Haus. "Well reeled off, Billy, cried Jemmy Ducks, finishing off with a flourish on his fiddle, and a refrain on the air."

Frederick (Captain) Marryat, *1847, "The Dog Fiend, or Snarleyyow," R. Bentley, London. Chap. IX. (The OED listed date is 1837, but this may be an error. I have not checked beyond the date listed for publication of the online reproduction. My copy is 1890ish, no dates).

This comic satire of sailors aboard the customs cutter 'Yung Frau' at the time of King William III (1699 and William of Orange on the throne in England) contains a number of sailor's and fiddler's songs, all of which seem to have been composed by Marryat.

Fiddler's Green as the last port of call for sailors seems to have its first appearance here. Previously, it referred to a place for animals; "... animals, when they departed this life, were destined to be fixed in Fiddler's Green." (1825, OED). Maxwell, 1836, in Captain Blake: "It is... believed that tailors and musicians after death are cantoned in a place called 'Fiddler's Green' (OED).

Was Marryat in *1847 the first to send sailors there? Did he do it tongue-in-cheek, since it already was a place where animals, tailors and musicians were 'cantoned'?

The novel is a great piece of comic and satiric writing, easily read. There are two main characters; Snarleyyow, a shipboard dog, and the eternal Sad Sack, the sailor Smallbones, who survives all the misfortunes of shipboard life (flogging, keelhauling, attack by the dog, etc. etc.) but comes through it all with good spirits and English aplomb.

I may start a thread for the sailors songs written by Marryat. I certainly didn't know of them.

25 Jan 07 - 03:25 PM (#1947920)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddler's Green
From: Herga Kitty

We have the wonderfully entertaining John Conolly (only one "n", btw) booked at Herga folk club on 19 March. I guess that means he's forgiven us for the "Wrap me up in me bells and me baldricks" parody written many years ago by members of Herga Morris and titled "Untippled" (which has also been harvested for the DT).


25 Jan 07 - 03:48 PM (#1947941)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddler's Green
From: Amos

Just to add to the upthread discussion, I believe the simplest discussion of "buffer" is that it should be "duffer", as in the related refrain "Here lies a poor duffer below" -- meaning something like an ordinary slob, a plain Joe, or a simple Simon.

"old man," also "bad golfer," 1842, probably from Scot. duffar "dull or stupid person." But perhaps rather from 18c. thieves' slang duff (v.) "to dress or manipulate an old thing and make it look new." "

25 Jan 07 - 03:54 PM (#1947945)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddler's Green
From: Amos

See also this thread where the discussion of duffer versus buffer was already had once. On the US side, the term became almost exclusively "duffer", while on the UK side it seems "buffer" is at least as widespread in use.


25 Jan 07 - 05:50 PM (#1948030)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddler's Green
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

BUFFER, Slang, applying to people or animals. OED
Buffer 3, meaning a fellow: usually expressing a slight degree of contempt. In print from 1749.
Buffer 1, a dog, or a dog-like person. From 17th c.
Buffer 2, a foolish fellow; Scottish and dialect, 19th c.

Also other meanings, not slang.

Agreed, buffer as slang no longer used in U. S. A., but appears in some 18-19c. materials.

25 Jan 07 - 05:54 PM (#1948037)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddler's Green
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Captain Marryat - buffer appears in his novel, "Jacob Faithful," chapter 30, "As the old buffer, her father, says." 1835.

25 Jan 07 - 07:13 PM (#1948097)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddler's Green
From: Charley Noble


Thanks for drawing our attention to the earliest documented "Fiddler's Green" song, the one composed by the estemed Captain Marryat.

There was some reference in a biography of his I have around here somewhere that he had composed some nautical songs. Maybe I'll dig into again, if I can find it.

Charley Noble

27 Jan 07 - 04:58 PM (#1949937)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddler's Green
From: Jim Dixon

Google Book Search finds several references to "Fiddler's Green" (the place, not the song). None of these shed any light on the origin of the term, but are interesting nonetheless. Here are some of the oldest ones:

From "The Port Admiral" by William Johnstoun N. Neale, 1833:
    "... I propose we broach the rum, get thundering groggy, blow the old barky up, and all go to Davy Jones together; in which case ye see, my boys, we'll send that blue bearded beggar aloft, as pilot-boat, and make sail for Fiddler's green all standing."
From "My Life, by the author of 'Stories of Waterloo'." [by William Hamilton Maxwell], 1835:
    In the kingdom of Connaught, it is universally believed that tailors and musicians after death are cantoned in a place called "Fiddler's-green." As it is not marked on any map of Arrowsmith, I cannot describe its precise situation further than that report places it unpleasantly contiguous to Pandemonium.
From "The Knickerbocker: Or, New-York Monthly Magazine," 1857:
    Now Norfolk is the paradise of midshipmen, while Portsmouth, its neighbor across the river, may not inaptly be termed their 'fiddler's green;' for in both these mighty cities gold lace and gilt buttons reign supreme.
From "The Ganges and the Seine: Scenes on the Banks of Both" by Sidney Laman Blanchard, 1862:
    ... and the sailors and the soldiers were allowed to have their own way in such matters, for all the world as if they were on "Fiddler's Green"—to which service-paradise, indeed, many of them upon such occasions, expressed a wish to be taken, after a judicious wrapping up in a tarpauling (sic) jacket.
From "Norrie Seton; or, Driven to Sea" by Anne Jane Cupples, 1869:
    "...though it's many a day since them poor chaps parted of their cable and drove away to 'Fiddler's Green,' where they has been happy with their grog, and lots o' fun; yet it don't do for a man's old carcass to be left without a bit o' burial, whatsomdever?"

    "Ay," chimed in another, "who knows but 'Fiddler's Green' ain't been a quiet haven to them noways, on account of them here bones been allowed to lie without a burial."

27 Jan 07 - 06:10 PM (#1949967)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddler's Green
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

The quotation from Neale (1833) is interesting; it may be the first connecting "Fiddler's Green" and sailors. Not in OED or Lighter. The Maxwell quotaton (1835-6?), which I cited above, remarks tailors and musicians.

In "Snarleyyow, or Dog Fiend" by Marryat, Jemmy sings a derogatory song about a Port Admiral and is accused of mutiny (ch. 12).

In 1834, Marryat and Neale came to blows in Trafalgar Square over Marryat's novel "Port Admiral." This is from an essay, "Trafalgar Square in History," online. Marryat also attacked (acc. to Neale)

27 Jan 07 - 06:27 PM (#1949981)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddler's Green
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Post cut off for some reason.

Details of the fight between Marryat and Neale reported in this squib on Neale:

The fight also was reported in the London Newspapers.

27 Jan 07 - 07:16 PM (#1950007)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddler's Green
From: Amos

As usual, thanks for the excellent clarity of your scholarship. LIfe is so much easier since those Google people came along.


17 Jun 07 - 03:11 AM (#2079076)
Subject: Soylent Green (Fiddlers Green parody)
From: Haruo

This seems an appropriate thread, to my mind, in which to take note of a "Fiddlers Green" parody I heard today. Soylent Green by Homer of Sänger & Didele. If/when I get the whole text, I'm not sure if they should go here or in the thread linked to.


17 Jun 07 - 05:40 AM (#2079111)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddler's Green
From: Cats

Fiddlers Green is actually a small village just off the A30 in Cornwall on the Perranporth Road. On your next trip through the county look out for it, it's well signposted.

17 Jun 07 - 07:05 AM (#2079141)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddler's Green
From: Haruo

Hell, on the other hand, is divided, part is in Michigan and the rest in Norway, for that matter. So if fishermen die and go to Cornwall they're sort of splitting the difference...


17 Jun 07 - 03:07 PM (#2079406)
Subject: Lyr Add: GOD'S DIXIE LAND
From: SouthernCelt

I did some research on the song in the late nineties after hearing it on an Irish folk-song CD (an anthology of a lot of different Irish performers) and found a reference that I no longer have the URL for that attributed the "Fiddlers Green" Irish fisherman version to a variation on on an old military ballad from Scotland "Wrap Me in my Tarpaulin Coat" (or some varation thereof). I remember that this reference dated the song to the early 19th century with the notation that it was probably a derivation of an even older song now lost to the written record.

When the TV movie about the Confederate submarine, the Hunley, was made a few years back, there's a pub scene where the crew is talking and in the background a fiddle player is playing Fiddler's Green. Although anyone who knew the story of the Hunley should have known that it was going to sink, I took the choice of songs for that scene to be an early hint to the uniformed that the crew was doomed.

I was prompted by the lyrics of the version I have on CD to write my own version, that I called "God's Dixie Land" to describe an old Confederate soldier about to die and expecting to go to Heaven and that it would be just like Dixie Land. (I do a lot of the same kind of stuff that Jed Marum, also a Mudcatter, does if you're familiar with him except that he's an equal opportunity songwriter, covering both sides while I'm strictly Cofederate since all my ancestry in that era was.)

If anyone is interested, here's my version:

God's Dixie Land
sung to the tune of "Fiddlers' Green")
©Wayne B. Anderson, 2000

As I walked through the campsite one evening so rare
To view the gold sunset and take the fresh air,
An old wounded soldier was singing a song,
Oh take me away boys, my time is not long

Wrap me up in my oilcloth and blanket
And dig me a grave in the sand.
Just tell my old comrades that I'll be soon dead
But I'll see 'em some day in God's Dixie Land.

Now God's Dixie Land is a place I've heard tell
Where Confederates go when they don't go to Hell.
On the south side of Heaven, the side that's the best
Where no Yankees can come in to disturb your rest.


In God's Dixie Land it's late spring every day
With the corn and the cotton just growin' away.
Green pastures, fat cattle, fine horses you'll see
And all the cool well water that you'll ever need.


I don't need a harp nor a halo, not me.
Just give me a front porch and cool blowin' breeze.
I'll play my old banjo and sing me some songs,
Might dance with a pretty girl if one comes along.



18 Jun 07 - 06:45 AM (#2079769)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddler's Green
From: Schantieman

In the RN, the Buffer is the senior Rating of the Seaman branch, usually a Chief Petty Officer in big ships at least. He is responsible to the First Lieutenant (aka the Jimmy) for the state of the upper deck and all the gear thereupon - more or less the job of the bosun in days gone by.

And you CERTAINLY wouldn't want to refer to him disparagingly or he might just ping you for something you'd rather not do!


19 Sep 07 - 04:48 PM (#2152936)
Subject: RE: Lyr. Add: Fiddler's Green (T. G. Roberts)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

19 Sep 07 - 05:14 PM (#2152957)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Fiddler's Green (T. G. Roberts)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Lyr. Add: FIDDLER'S GREEN (Roberts)
Theodore Goodridge Roberts

""At a place called Fiddler's Green, there do all honest Mariners take their pleasure after death; and there are Admirals with their dear Ladies and Captains of lost voyages with the sweethearts of their youth, and tarry-handed Sailormen singing in cottage gardens.""

Never again shall we beat out to sea
In rain and mist and sleet like bitter tears,
And watch the harbour beacons fade, alee,
And people all the sea-room with our fears.
Our toil is done. No more, no more do we
Square the low yards and stagger on the sea.

No more for us the white and windless day,
Undimmed, unshadowed, where the weed drifts by,
And leaden fish pass, rolling, at their play,
And changeless suns slide up a changeless sky.
Our watch is done; and never more shall we
Whistle the wind across an empty sea.

Cities we saw- white walled and glinting dome-
And palm-fringed islands dreaming on the blue,
To us more fair the kindly sights of home-
The climbing street, the windows shining true.
Our voyage is done: And never more shall we
Reef the harsh topsails on a tossing sea.

Wonders we knew and beauty in far ports;
Laughter and peril 'round the swinging deep;
The wrath of God; the pomp of painted courts. . .
The rocks sprang black!- And we awoke from sleep.
Our task is done, and never more shall we
square the low yards and stagger on the sea.

Here are the hearts we love,the lips we know,
The hands of seafarers who came before.
The eyes that wept for me a night ago
Are laughing now that we shall part no more.
All grief is done; and never more shall we
Make sail at dawning for the luring sea.

Pp. 201-202; Bliss Carman and Lorne Pierce, chosen by, 1922 (1935 rev.), "Our Canadian Literature, Representative Verse, English and French," The Ryerson Press, Toronto.

19 Sep 07 - 05:49 PM (#2152986)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddler's Green
From: dick greenhaus

The only real similarity between Tarpaulin Jacket and Fiddler's green lies in the first line of the chorus--actually in the six words "Wrap
me up in my"

19 Sep 07 - 07:19 PM (#2153053)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fiddler's Green
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

I think it was Bob Bolton who suggested a relationship to Tarpaulin jacket, in another of the threads on this song.
He was, of course, off-course and dead wrong.

02 Mar 11 - 07:36 AM (#3105532)
Subject: RE: DTStudy: Fiddler's Green
From: Lighter

A bunch of us pedants were sitting around the warm glow of our monitors discussing this song.

Here's my question, and it is in *no way* intended as a put-down, a criticism, or anything else snide, threatening, or negative. People who like this song should be commended for their good taste.

What I'd like to know is what makes people like it so much. I mean, not many of the singers are fishermen who expect to wind up in Fiddler's Green.

It's probably a hard question to answer, but I'd be interested in what Mudcatters think about it.

Not enough attention is paid to what songs *mean to the people who sing them.*

02 Mar 11 - 07:49 AM (#3105539)
Subject: RE: DTStudy: Fiddler's Green
From: MartinRyan

A bunch of old pedants were glooming it down, in the King Canute saloon..."


02 Mar 11 - 08:01 AM (#3105544)
Subject: RE: DTStudy: Fiddler's Green
From: Lighter

The kid that handles the card catalog was humming a Schoenberg tune.

02 Mar 11 - 08:11 AM (#3105548)
Subject: RE: DTStudy: Fiddler's Green
From: MartinRyan

Back of the bar, with a Playstation Game, sat Hair-splitting Dan McGrew

02 Mar 11 - 08:18 AM (#3105550)
Subject: RE: DTStudy: Fiddler's Green
From: Lighter

And praising de Man, with tenure her plan, was the grad-student known as Lou.

28 Apr 12 - 05:06 PM (#3344570)
Subject: RE: DTStudy: Fiddler's Green
From: Joe Offer

John Conolly has a MySpace Page with the definitive spelling of his name, PLUS his own recording of the song.


The Wikipedia article on Fiddler's Green is fascinating.