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The Green Fields of America
(Roud 2290)
Siney Crotty
Ross, Kilbaha
Recorded in London, date unknown

Carroll Mackenzie Collection

 

Siney Crotty

Fare thee well to the groves of the shillelagh and shamrock;
Farewell to the girls of this country around.
May their hearts be as merry as ever I would wish them
When far, across this ocean I’m bound.

But what matter to me where my bones they are buried,
If in peace and contentment I spend the rest of my life.
Oh the green fields of Canada, are daily blooming,
And it's there I'll put an end to my misery and strife.

But my father is old and my mother quite feeble,
To leave their dear country, it would grieve their heart sore.
Whilst the tears down their cheeks, in big drops are rolling,
To think they should die on a far distant shore.

So pack up your sea shores [stores], consider it no longer,
Ten dollars a week is not very bad pay.
With no taxes or tithes to devour up your wages,
All in the green fields of America.

Now the sheep run unsheared, and the land's gone to rushes,
The journeyman’s gone, and the mender of reels.
So it’s cross the Atlantic, you journeymen and tailors
And your fiddlers who flaked out the old mountain reels.

I remember the time when old Ireland was flourishing,
And most of the tradesmen, they worked for fine pay.
But since the manufactories have crossed the Atlantic,
It’s then we must go on to Americay.

So now to conclude and to finish my ditty,
If ever the friendless Irishman in chance to meet.
With the best in the house I will treat them and greet them,
Home from the green fields of America.

"Siney’s air is different from the one usually sung. Possibly one of the most poignantly beautiful of all the emigration songs, this probably dates from around 1820 and has become well known largely from the singing of the late Paddy Tunney. Ewan MacColl included Paddy’s singing of it on his seminal series of radio programmes, ‘The Song Carriers’ in 1965; he made this perceptive comment on his choice of speed for this song, there entitled ‘The Green Fields of Canada’:

‘Here he, Paddy Tunney, is singing an Irish exile song, ‘The Green Fields of Canada’. This highly dramatic piece is in the form of a lament. Tunney's approach to it is revealing. He uses an almost laconic style of utterance, quite unlike his usual lyrical approach. Even his voice is pitched down and the decorations (which are so to speak his personal trademark) are used very sparingly. Surprisingly, and contrary to the usual lamentation style, he takes the song at a rather brisk tempo. Now most exile songs place the singer on a foreign shore and we are asked to picture him sitting down and gazing sorrowfully across a wide expanse of sea. The mood is usually one of stillness. In ‘The Green Fields of Canada’, the singer is about to leave Ireland and Tunney's toned-down, rather brisk singing creates for us the picture of a man walking towards the quay-side where the ship waits which will carry him away from his native land. He walks quickly, not daring to turn round for fear his heart should break.’

Around the same time MacColl adapted the song slightly and used it in his music for Phillip Donellan’s film. The Irishmen’, which dealt with Irish men leaving home to work on the building sites of London.”
Jim Carroll

See also
The Green Fields of America sung by John Lyons


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