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The Tinkerman's Daughter

  • (Michael MacConnell)

    The wee birds were lining the bleak autumn branches
    Waiting to fly to a far sunny shore
    When the tinkers made camp at a bend on the river
    Coming back from the horse-fair in Ballinasloe
    The harvest being over the farmer came walking
    Along the Feale River that bordered his land
    'Twas there he first saw her 'twixt firelight and water
    The tinkerman's daughter, the red-headed Ann

    Next morning he woke from a night without resting
    He went to her father, he made his claim known
    In a pub in Listowel they worked out a bargain
    For the tinker a pony, for the daughter a home
    Where the trees shed their shadows along the Feale River
    The tinker and the farmer inspected the land
    And a white gelding pony was the price they agreed on
    For the tinkerman's daughter, the red-headed Ann

    With the wedding soon over the tinkers departed
    They're eager to travel on south down the road
    The crunch of their iron-shod wheels on the gravel
    Was as bitter to her as the way she'd been sold
    She tried hard to please him, she did all his bidding
    She slept in his bed and she worked on the land
    But the walls of that cabin pressed tighter and tighter
    On the tinkerman's daughter, the red-headed Ann

    White as the hands of the priest or the hangman
    The snow spread its blanket the next Christmas round
    The tinkerman's daughter slipped out of his bedside
    Turned her back on the land and her face to the town
    It's said someone saw her at dusk that same evening
    As she made her way out o'er Likelycompane
    And that was the last time the settled folk saw her
    The tinkerman's daughter, the red-headed Ann

    Where the North Kerry hills cup the Feale o'er Listowel
    At a farm on its banks lives a bitter old man
    He swears by the shotgun he keeps at his bedside
    He'll kill any tinker that camps on his land
    Whenever he hears iron-shod wheels on gravel
    Or a horse in the shafts of a bright caravan
    Then his day's work's tormented, his night sleep's demented
    By the tinkerman's daughter, the red-headed Ann

    (as sung by Arthur Johnstone)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1995:] I first learned THE TINKERMAN'S DAUGHTER accompanying Cilla Fisher and Artie Trezise ten years ago. I recently relearned it from Iain MacKintosh. This version was written by Mickey MacConnell, Cathal's brother.

    Peter Burnham offers this earlier history: "The Ballad of the Tinker's Daughter was written by Sigerson Clifford, born in Cork of Kerry parents in 1913, died in 1985. Tim Dennehy put it to music in 1986 and recorded it on his tape 'A Thimbleful of Song'. There are 11 verses to this poem and whilst it's possible to see how this inspired Mickey MacConnell to write 'The Tinkerman's Daughter', it tells a more complex story: farmer steals tinker's daughter; she returns to the gypsies where she dies during child-birth; some years later the boy returns to the farm and is shot by father (who no longer lets gypsies on his land); before he dies the boy tells farmer who he is; farmer hangs himself; villagers bury the pair of them and are joined by a red-headed gypsy girl in the funeral procession, who disappears once the 'mound was patted down'." (Notes Rick Lee, 'Natick')

  • [1995:] But the story of the song doesn't end there, as [Niamh] Parsons found out after she met MacConnell. The source material proved to be nearly as interesting as the song. "I eventually got to meet Mickey. [...] Mickey's a Northerner, he has great insight into Ireland and what he did was he found a man named Sigerson Clifford. Clifford is a poet who died around 10 years ago. [...] In the middle of one of his books is a poem called 'The Red Headed Ann.' Mickey MacConnell took that poem, kept the story and wrote a song from it. He never uses even a line from the poem but he used that story to write a whole new song. But Sigerson Clifford's story continues, to say that a tinker comes on the farmer's land many years later and as he threatened, the farmer kills the tinker. When he has shot him dead he discovered that it was his son by the Red Headed Ann. He kills himself and the ghost of the tinkerman's daughter is seen walking along the road. That was so heavy it couldn't be put into the song but that's how the story really ends," Parsons admitted with a laugh. (Dirty Linen 59, Aug/Sept)

  • [2000:] I can assure you all that Micky MacConnell wrote both the lyrics and the melody. The purpose of the song? His wife asked him to write a song where he had to rhyme Lyreacrompane with something. I kid you not! (Someone who knows,, 14 Mar)

  • For further notes on travellers see The Terror Time

    For Niamh Parsons article see

Quelle: Ireland

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