Fwd: Re: Irish song -- what century and which war? [Was: "yonder"]

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sat Jun 21 16:51:10 UTC 2008

 From another list:
>Many Irish went to France in 1690 with James II after William's
>victory at the Battle of the Boyne. Could "Now my love has gone to
>France/To try his fortune to advance" refer to James himself, who
>settled his court in France as did his Stuart successors through the
>eighteenth century? If not to James II, it could refer to an adherent
>of the Stuart cause gone into exile with him.

(Not James himself, I infer, since the quoted verse refers to a
"Johnnie" and I assume other verses not to an exiled king.)

>On Jun 21, 2008, at 10:30 AM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>>A correspondent on another list has written:
>>>I was listening to an Irish music CD this morning,
>>>and it's got this song called "Siul a riun," an Irish ballad. ...
>>>This song might refer to
>>>the Napoleonic wars in Europe, so I would place it in the early
>>>19th century
>>>(I don't know of any other wars between Great Britain and France
>>>that took
>>>place in Europe, thus the placing, though I might be wrong).
>>Someone else wrote:
>>>The Peter, Paul, and Mary version of the song (entitled "Gone the
>>>Rainbow") included these words:
>>>      I sold my flax, I sold my wheel
>>>      To buy my love a sword of steel
>>>      So it in battle he might wield
>>>      Johnny's gone for a soldier
>>>These words, if accurate (PP&M frequently made changes to the
>>>songs they sung and made no claim to historical accuracy), would
>>>place the song in the days of spinning wheels and soldiers who
>>>used swords.  That would be earlier than the Wars of the French
>>>Revolution, which were mostly fought with gunpowder.  Swords went
>>>out of fashion on land battlefields in the late 17th Century with
>>>the invention of the bayonet (which in its turn was made obsolete
>>>by the pop-top on beer cans.)
>>>So the song apparently goes back to, at the latest, the Battle of
>>>the Boyne (1690).  Did the Irish mix Gaelic and English in songs
>>>that early?
>>>As for wars between Britain and France that were fought by British
>>>land armies in Continental Europe:
>>>Wars of the French Revolution (British armies mainly 1808-1815)
>>>Seven Years War
>>>War of the Spanish Succession
>>>Hundred Years War
>>>Various unnamed wars between the Norman Conquest and the Hundred
>>>Years War
>>Later, the original correspondent supplied this additional
>>>I have assumed that since the song reads, in one place:
>>>But now my love has gone to France,
>>>To try his fortune to advance;
>>>If he e'er comes back, 'tis but a chance,
>>>Is go dte tu mo mhuirnin slan
>>>Therefore, to me it's obvious the war was on the Continent,
>>>not on the British Isles nor in the Americas.
>>Another person added:
>>>I first knew a version of this song as "Johnny has gone for a
>>>soldier" sung by Burl Ives (without _yonder_ in the song). The notes
>>>accompanying the text says it was sung during the American
>>>Revolution. A web search also identifies it as a Revolutionary War
>>>song, "probably an American adaptation of the Irish tune Shule Aroon
>>>from the 17th Century".
>>So:  What war sent Irish soldiers to fight with swords in France in
>>the 17th century?  Or perhaps the *tune* is from the 17th century,
>>but the words (in the various versions given) are from later?

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