My Fair-haired Darling (2)

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MY FAIR-HAIRED DARLING [2] (Mo muirnín na gruaige báine). Irish, Air (6/8 time, "with feeling"). G Mixolydian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. Cazden (et al, 1982) remarks this is a variant of a rather large tune family, which includes his duple-time Catskill Mountain (New York) collected song "The Poor Man's Family," as well as some versions of "The Banks of Newfoundland" and "The Lowlands of Holland." Mid-19th century uilleann piper and Anglican cleric James Goodman included the melody in his manuscript collection as "Múirnín na Gruaige Báine, or Sweet Nellie Bamble."

In Irish Folk Music, A Fascinating Hobby (1913, pp. 129–130), Francis O'Neill remarks on the tune:

One of the earliest recollections of youth is my father's singing of a very affecting song, the last line of every verse being "Mo Muirnin na Gruaige Baine." This fine old air is mentined in Hardiman's Irish Minstrelsy, published in 1831, as another of those wandering melodies well-known among the peasantry of the southern and western parts of Ireland.

The original Irish stanzas of the song are preserved in vol. 1 of that now rare work, but no trace of the melody has been found in any of the old printed collections of Irish music.

Neither the above name nor its English equivalent, "My Fair-haired darling," appears in the index of Dr. Petrie's Complete Collection of Irish Music; but No. 202, a nameless air obtained from Teige McMahon, of County Clare, and an air named "One evening in June; or, Youth and Bloom," contributed by Paddy Conneely, the Galway piper, particularly the latter, are variants of the melody which I learned from my father and printed in O'Neill's Music of Ireland and O'Neill's Irish Music for the Piano or Violin.

"Dobbin's Flowery Vale (1)," in Dr. Joyce's Ancient Irish Music, closely resembles our setting of the air. He speaks of it as one of the best known tunes all over Munster. Conceding that it was, who can explain why such a delightful melody has been overlooked so long, especially after Hardiman brought it into such prominence? Other songs sung to this air are "Maid of Templenoe" and "Charmer with the Fair Locks."


Source for notated version:

Printed sources: O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 242, p. 42. O'Neill (Irish Minstrels and Musicians), 1913; p. 120. Roche (Collection of Traditional Irish Music, vol. 3), 1927; No. 63, p. 18.

Recorded sources:




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