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SLEEVE NOTES

By Eoghan O’Reilly

 

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SPANCIL HILL

 

One night as I lay dreaming of pleasant days gone by

My mind was bent on rambling to Ireland I did fly

I stepped on board a vision and I followed with a will,

Till at last I came to anchor at the cross of Spancill Hill.

It being on the 23rd of June the day before the fair,

When Ireland's sons and daughters were all assembled there.

The young, the old, the brave and the bold came their duty to fulfill

At the Parish Church in Clooney a mile from Spancill Hill.

I went to see my neighbours to see what they would say,

The old ones were all dead and gone the young ones turning grey.

I met with tailor Quigley he's as bold as ever still,

Sur he used to make me britches when I lived in Spancill Hill.

I paid a flying visit to my first and only love,

She's as white as any lily and as gentle as a dove.

She threw her arms around me saying, "Johnny I love you still,"

Sure she's Meg the farmer's daughter and the pride of Spancill Hill.

 

          I dreamt I held and kissed her as in the days of yore,

Oh Johnny you're only joking as many's the time before.

The cock he crew in the morning, he crew both loud and shrill,

And I woke in California many miles from Spancill Hill.

 

 

"

Christy Moore had a hit with this song and I remeber how we used to sing along with it when everytime it came on the radio while driving round the west of Ireland one summer. I recorded a versio with Dave Stretton and added another verse as a song within in a song so to speak to link it with our own homesick emmigrantsin the Irish communities in Britain.

Michael Considine was born around 1850 and emigrated to the USA from Spancillhill at around 1870. Some of his siblings came with him, but some stayed behind. One of his brothers, Patrick, died, leaving his widow to look after a five month old son called John.

Working in Boston for about two years, he went to the USA with the intention of bringing his sweetheart over and for them to be married. His sweetheart was "Mac, the ranger's daughter" and not "Ned, the farmer's daughter" as in the popularised version. The ranger's house was within eyesight from Michael Considine's home as was the tailor Quigley's.

He stayed in Boston for two years or so before moving to California. At the age of 23, he suffered from ill health for a long time and, knowing he hadn't long to live, he wrote the poem "Spancilhill" to be sent home in remembrance of his love and it was kept safe by his six year old nephew, John Considine.

Michael Considine died sometime in 1873. And it seems that he went home somehow, either dead or alive, as he is buried in the Spancilhill graveyard. Mary MacNamara remained faithful to his memory and never married.

Each year on the 23rd of June, the nearby Fair Green is used for the famous Spancilhill Horse Fair. At one time, Spancil hill was said to be Ireland's largest fair with buyers from Britain, Russia, Prussia, and France competing to purchase the best stock for their Imperial armies

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