search the folktrax site



A group of travellers from Southern Ireland, singing around a camp-fire in Belfast in July 1952, resulted in some remarkable recordings of their style from the pretty young tinker girls. By the early hours of the morning, the men were under the spell of the Guinness, leaving the younger girls, some breast-feeding as they sang, tightly grasping the microphone one-by-one, and competing with each other in their display of vocal decorations in the love-songs.

1. SLIEVE GALTEE MOUNTAINS - Winnie Ryan (talk after with Sean O Boyle) - 4'47"

2. BANAGHER TOWN - Winnie (talk aft) - 5'02"

3. EARLY, EARLY - Lal Smith (talk bef) - 4'45"

4. GREEN GROWS THE LAUREL - Lal (talk aft) - 3'41"

5. NANCY HOGAN'S GANDER - Lal (with mouth-music after) - 3'04"

6. THE BOLD ENGLISH NAVVY - Lal (talk bef) - 3'42"

7. HERE'S A HEALTH TO ALL TRUE-LOVERS - Mary Doran - 4'07"

8. THE LABOURING MAN'S DAUGHTER - Lal (talk bef) - 3'45"

9. CASTLE DOLLIFORD - Lal (talk aft) - 3'41"

10. THE GALWAY SHAWL - Winnie - 3'08"

11. A BOY IN LOVE HE FEELS NO COLD - Winnie - 3'37"

12. EARLY EARLY ALL IN THE SPRING - Winnie (talk aft with Liam Andrews) - 4'09"

13. NEWPORT TOWN - Mary - 1'50"

14. DOWN BY BLACKWATERSIDE - Mary (talk aft with Sean O Boyle) - 3'55"

15. THE RAMBLING IRISHMAN - Mary (talk bef) - 2'47"

16. ERIN'S LOVELY LEA - Mary - 2'18"

Recorded by Peter Kennedy 1952 (Interviewers: Sean O Boyle & Liam Andrews). Edited by Peter Kennedy and first published 1975.

#1. Winnie learnt this from her mother who was an O Donohue from Galway. See also another version on FTX-175 and THE GALTEE FARMER on FTX-167.

#2. Two versions of THE IRISH GIRL appear in Joyce's Old Irish Folk Music and Song on p190 & p303 "I wish I was in Banagher". See also I WISH I WAS IN NEW ROSS on FTX-167. "Sprang" in v3 is probaby a mixture of STRING and Gaelic SREANG. Winnie's baby, heard in this recording, was suckling at her breast.

#3 is a version of SWEET WILLIAM. Both #3 & #4. appear in Herbert Hughes' Irish Country Songs

#5. The tune is a version of THE ROSE TREE IN FULL BEARING

#6. was learned from travellers in Co. Limerick

#9. was learned in Co. Kerry. It is probably a tinker composition

#12. is a version of DIED FOR LOVE

#13. Mary learned this from her mother

#14. from her elder sister (aged 24) - see FTX-168 #13

#15. Learned from her grandfather

#16. is about the Fenian men, bound for America, who sailed from Queenstown.

When these recordings were made on Dan O Neill's Loanen, on the outskirts of Belfast, near Belfast mountain, Mary Doran was aged 21, Winnie Ryan, 19, and Lal Smith, 23. Arrangements for the recording were made for the collectors by Liam Andrews.

home about us contact us CD DVD order