Reynard the Fox (2)
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REYNARD THE FOX . Irish, Air (4/4 time). F Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. "A hunting song...We have in Ireland several hunting songs, each describing the events of some particular chase; such as 'Kilruddery Hunt (The)' (Graves, Irish Song Book, p. 72) and the 'County Limerick Buckhunt', and I have copies of others. The song of 'Reynard the Fox' has long been a favourite. The old people of the midland counties still retain some traditions of this great hunt, which, according to my version of the song, took place in 1793. I learned the air and words from my father; but the version now commonly printed on sheets is a little different, for both date and names are altered to suit a later time. The fox making his will is a piece of drollery which has its parallel elsewhere; for they have in England 'The Hunting of the Hare, With Her Last Will and Testament' (Chappell, Popular Music of the Olden Time, p. 321)" [Joyce].
Andy Irvine recorded the song with the group Sweeney’s Men in the 1960’s. His words go:
On the first day of March in the year ninety-three
The first recreation was in this country
The King’s County gentlemen o’er hills dales and rocks
They rode out so joyfully in search of the fox
Tally-ho, hark away
Tally-ho, hark away
Tally-ho, hark away me boys
Away, hark away!
When Reynard was started, he faced Tullamore
And Arklow and Wicklow along the sea shore
We kept his brush in view every yard of the way
And it’s straight he made his course through the streets of Roscrea
But Reynard, sly Reynard, he hid there that night
And we swore that we’d watch him until the daylight
Next morning early, the hills did resound
With the sweet smell of horses and the sweet cry of hounds
When Reynard was started, he faced to the hollow
Where none but the footmen and hounds they could follow
The gentlemen cried "Watch him! Watch him! What will we do?
If the rocks do not stop him he will cross Killaloe!"
When Reynard was captured, his wishes to fulfill
He sent for pen and paper and ink to write his will
And what he made mention of, we found it no prank
For he gave us a check on the national bank!
"Oh, to you Mr Casey, I leave my whole estate
And to you Mr Johnson, my money and my plate
I give to you, Sir Monnigan, my whip, spurs and cap
For you jumped hedge and ditches and ne’er looked for a gap!"
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Howe (1000 Jigs and Reels), c. 1867; p. 27. Joyce (Old Irish Folk Music and Songs), 1909; No. 414, p. 225.