Clare County Library
Songs of Clare
Home | Library Catalogue | Music of Clare | Forums | Foto | Maps | Folklore | Genealogy | History | Museum | Search this Website | Copyright | What's New

Poor Little Fisherboy
(Laws Q29; Roud 912)
Micho Rusell
Doonagore, Doolin

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

 

Micho Russell

Down in the lowlands a poor boy did wander,
Down in the lowlands a poor boy did roam.
By his friends he was neglected - the boy looked as if rejected:
The poor little fisherboy, so far away from home.

He stood on the beach and around him flowed the waters,
He stood on the beach, but alas, no father came.
‘Here I am a stranger, exposed to every danger,’
Said the poor little fisherboy, so far away from home.

A lady did see him as she looked through her window,
And into her father’s house she desired the boy to go.
And the tears came from her eyes, as she heard the boy’s cries,
For the poor little fisherboy, so far away from home.

She begged of her father for him some employment;
She begged of her father not to let the boy to go.
Said the father: ‘Now, don’t grieve me, this boy will never leave me,
Poor lad, I will relieve you, so far away from home.’

’Tis many the day he laboured for his noble master,
’Tis many the day he laboured until he became a man.
Now he tells the stranger of the hardships and the danger
Of a poor little fisherboy, so far away from home.


"Widely printed in chapbooks, garlands and broadsides, this romantic piece gained great popularity in Britain and Ireland; it is closely related to the English ‘Farmer’s Boy’ (Roud 408, Laws Q30). The romanticism of these compositions is understandable when it is remembered that orphans of farmers and fishermen living in poor agricultural or maritime communities were almost certainly destined to end up in the workhouse, or left to fend for themselves if they were not taken in by relatives. The idea of being adopted and brought up by a wealthy family was a comforting if unrealistic dream.

Micho learned the song from his next-door neighbour, Thomas Conole; he said he didn’t particularly like Thomas’s air so he sang it to the tune of ‘The Tri-coloured Ribbon’. This song has found popularity from Texas to Newfoundland and from Sussex to Aberdeen. Tom Munnelly said that it has been collected in Galway and Kerry as well as Clare, though there are no documented details of these as Micho’s version is the only one indexed."
Jim Carroll


<< Songs of Clare