Songs That Made History: Now here is a song with one of the sweetest melodies in all of folk music, so addictive is the tune that it has adapted to fit many ballads over the past 150 years.
The Donside Emigrant's Farewell Come all my old comrades, once more let us join And raise your sweet voices in chorus with mine Let us drink and be merry, from sorrow refrain, For we may and may never meet all here again The time's fast approaching that I must away I bid you adieu for many's the long day With you, my dear comrades, so happy we've been here But away to Virginia my course I must steer May Heaven protect us with a prosperous gale And be our safeguard while we are under sail Lead us safe to the harbor across the proud wave We will trust to His mercy Who can sink or can save Ye hills and low valleys of Donside, farewell For if ever I return there is none here can tell Farewell to your lasses of every degree Long in vain will I wish for your sweet company Farewell to the jewel, to you I love best For you and your beauty excels all the rest But if you prove constant as constant can be Wherever I go, love, my heart is with thee Many hearts will be happy, but mine will be sad When I think on the joys that me and my love had When I mind on the time that you sat on my knee There was none in this world more happy than we Farewell to my joys, they are gone for a while Cold winter's away and the sweet summer smiles I have heard an old proverb, found it to he true That true love is better than gold from Peru. Come all my dear comrades, let's drink up our glass Each lad drink a health to his darling sweet lass Drink a health to each lover whose sweetheart is true Here's a health, peace, and plenty; so farewell and adieu!
Farewell to Tarwathie Farewell to Tarwathie Adieu Mormond Hill And the dear land of Crimmond I bid you farewell I'm bound off for Greenland And ready to sail In hopes to find riches In hunting the whale Farewell to my comrades For a while we must part And likewise the dear lass Who first won my heart The cold coast of Greenland My love will not chill And the longer my absence More loving she'll feel Our ship is well rigged And she's ready to sail The crew they are anxious To follow the whale Where the icebergs do float And the stormy winds blow Where the land and the ocean Is covered with snow The cold coast of Greenland Is barren and bare No seed time nor harvest Is ever known there And the birds here sing sweetly In mountain and dale But there's no bird in Greenland To sing to the whale There is no habitation For a man to live there And the king of that country Is the fierce Greenland bear And there'll be no temptation To tarry long there With our ship bumper full We will homeward repair Farewell to Tarwathie Adieu Mormond Hill And the dear land of Crimmond I bid you farewell We're bound off for Greenland And ready to sail In hopes to find riches In hunting the whale Listen to Farewell to Tarwathie from: An Rinn, Runa, Runa live Watch Farewell to Tarwathie from: Judy Collins, The Corries, Kevin McKidd, Linde Nijland, Mick O'Grady
The tune is the one to which RUNA sing Farewell to Tarwathie on their Live album. If you have access to Youtube, there is a fine version recorded on a quiet afternoon in the Cobblestone Pub in Dublin there from Mick O'Grady, accompanying himself on a four pound guitar he bought in a junk shop.
In 1969 Ronnie Drew and the Dubliners recorded the related song, Navvy Boots, as a single on the Major Minor label. It had been collected two years earlier from the singing of Eileen Hannoran, an Irish traveller, at Pelsall Common, Staffordshire, by members of the Birmingham and Midland Folk Centre. Its pentatonic tune is a variant of Green Bushes.
Farewell to Tarwathie was written in the 1850's by George Scrogie, a miller from the Scottish townland of Fedderate, New Deer, Aberdeenshire.
Tarwathie is a farm in the lap of Mormond Hill, near the village of Strichen. The writing of his song coincided with the rejuvenation of whaling on the East Coast of Scotland as steam ships had been introduced to allow whalers to sail for longer periods. London had been the biggest whaling port but the second half of the 19th century saw the industry shift north, by the 1850's a third of the British whaling fleet was based at nearby Peterhead, the most easterly point of Aberdeenshire.
George constructed his song on an earlier model, The Donside Emigrant's Farewell, which has come down to us as Farewell To The Company in the singing tradition of Northern Ireland. Cathal McConnell sings it on the CD which is part of the book I Have Travelled This Country, published by Lughnasa Music. The Roud index says: 'This song was sung at a social gathering at Corriehoul, Corgarff, Aberdeenshire, in 1836 by a Mr. Charles Michie, prior to his emigrating to America. His friends long believed it to have been composed by himself, but Mr. Jonathan Gauld, Edinburgh, informs us that he has discovered it is much older than Michie's time, and that he simply altered some of the verses to suit his own case.'
First published @ Irish Music Magazine #255, October 2016 (www.irishmusicmagazine.com).
Photo Credits: (1) 'Farewell to Tarwathie', (2) 'The Donside Emigrant's Farewell', (3) Runa (unknown/website).