My Darling Kathleen

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MY DARLING KATHLEEN (Caitilin Mo Muirnin). AKA and see "Kathleen Mavourneen." Irish, Air (3/4 time, "with feeling"). G Major (O'Neill): D Major (O'Flannagan). Standard tuning (fiddle). One part (O'Flannagan): AB (O'Neill). This very popular song was written in 1837 by Julia M. Crawford (c. 1799-1860) to music by Frederick Nicholls Crouch (1808-1896). Crawford is thought to have been born in County Cavan, and wrote poetry and fiction, although nothing so enduring as this song. She herself is rather an obscure figure, whose name (sometimes given as "Marion") and dates are variously given. Composer and cellist Crouch is rather well-known by comparison. He was an Englishman by birth, but in 1849 left for America, where he settled in Richmond, Virginia. He sold his song for less than twenty dollars, relinquishing copyright, and thus it earned him no money. During the Civil War, Crouch became a secessionist and took up arms, although he efforts seem to have been diverted into playing the trumpet for the Confederacy.

The song was popular enough to have engendered a stage play, Kathleen Mavourneen, or St. Patrick’s Eve, produced in New York in 1865. Several silent films were titled "Kathleen Mavourneen" with the first such drama being produced in 1906 starring Kitty O'Neil, Walter Griswoll and H.L. Bascomb. Other such silent film titles were produced in 1911, 1913, and 1919; the latter one starring actress Theda Bara. The lyric begins:

Kathleen Mavourneen! the gray dawn is breaking,
The horn of the hunter is heard on the hill,
The lark from her light wing the bright dew is shaking,
Kathleen Mavourneen, what slumbering still?

CHO:
Oh! hast thou forgotten how soon we must sever?
Oh! hast thou forgotten this day we must part,
It may be for years, and it may be forever,
Oh! why art thou silent thou voice of my heart?
It may be for years, and it may be forever,
Then why art thou silent Kathleen Mavourneen?

Sound recordings of the tune date to at least 1911, when Irish tenor John McCormack waxed it on a cylinder.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: O'Flannagan (The Hibernia Collection), 1860; p. 37. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 622, p. 110.

Recorded sources: Nimbus Records NI 7854, "John McCormack in Song."

See also listing at:
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [1]
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]




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