This is an old English / Australian folk song. In this clip Old Crow Medicine Show play it to the tune that Bob Dylan used to record the song in the 60s. It was originally published in 1907 in Charles MacAlister's book "Old Pioneering Days in the Sunny South" on page 72 where he says the tune is "Irish Molly-O" (online edition here). Here are the words of "Irish Molly-O", a tale of a Glasgow man called MacDonald who emigrates to Tyrone, falls in love with Molly, is set for America but Molly's father is having none of it. It is said to be from from around 1810:
Tell me who is that poor stranger that lately came to town
And like a pilgrim all alone, he wanders up and down
He's a poor forlorn Glasgow lad and if you'd like to know
His heart is breaking all in vain for Irish Molly-o
She is young and she is beautiful and her likes I've never known
The lily of old Ireland and the primrose of Tyrone
She's the lily of old Ireland and no matter where I go
My heart will always hunger for my Irish Molly-o
Oh but when her father heard of this a solemn vow he swore
That if she wed a foreigner, he would never see her more
He called for young MacDonald and he plainly told him so
I'll never give to such as you my Irish Molly-o
MacDonald heard the heavy news and sadly he did say
Farewell my lovely Molly, I am banished far away
Till death shall come to comfort me and to the grave I go
My heart will always hunger for my Irish Molly-0
Some of you will recognise the general format of the chorus. "Irish Molly - O" was adapted and became "The Hat My Father Wore"... but is best known as the Orange folk song "The Sash My Father Wore", which is another tale of travel between Glasgow and Ulster.
Here am I, a loyal Orangeman, from Ulster's shores I came
To see my Glasgow brethren of honour and of fame
And to tell them of my forefathers who fought in days of yore
All on the twelfth day of July in the Sash my father wore!
Sure it's old, and it is beautiful and its colours they are fine
It was worn at Derry, Aughrim, Enniskillen, and the Boyne.
Sure my father wore it when a youth in the bygone days of yore,
And it's on the Twelfth I love to wear The sash my father wore.
Amazing how something as simple as a tune can link Scotland, Ulster, America and Australia across the centuries, and can be both "Irish" and "Orange".
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Posted by Mark Thompson at Saturday, August 25, 2012