Grá Geal Mo Chroí (Lehr and Best)

I am a bold rover and sorely depressed
All by a fond lover and can't find no rest;
Her name I'll not mention though tortured I'll be,
Since Cupid's broad arrow pierced grá geal mo chroí.

I promised to marry this innocent dove
All by a fond letter saying she was my love -
Expecting that evening some pleasures to see
Or a token of love from sweet grá geal mo chroí.

But this great roguish villyan whom I did entrust
Of all men of letters I'm sure he's the worst
He proved a deceiver and a traitor to me,
He ne'er gave my letter to grá geal mo chroí.

He gave it to her father as I understand.
He immediately reached him the letter in hand,
And the moment he read it he swore bitterly
He'd alter accord with sweet grá geal mo chroí.

He called down his daughter with scorn and disdain
Saying: 'Here is a letter from your darling swain.
You cannot deny it, it's plain to see
He titles you here his sweet grá geal mo chroí.

This innocent damsel she fell on her knees
Saying: 'Honoured aged father,
you may do as you please,
Though it's between horses tortured I'll be,
I'll never deny I'm his grá geal mo chroí.'

A coach was made ready that very same day
And far from this country my love sent away.
I'm searching the country, this wide world all 'round
From seaport to seaport and can't find her out.

I'll travel this wide world, I'll cruise it all 'round
And perhaps in some part my love may be found,
But if I don't find her, I'll mourn constantly,
My last dying words will be grá geal mo chroí

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a 19th-century British broadside ballad, Gay Girl Marie [Laws M23], American Balladry From British Broadsides (G Malcolm Laws, 1957). Also a variant of a 19th-century British broadside ballad, Grageral Macgree, published by J Pitts (London) sometime between 1819 and 1844, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Harding B 17(117a) ....####
Most folk music collectors and historians such as Samuel P Bayard, Sam Henry, John Meredith and Hugh Anderson agree that previously published titles such as Gay Girl Marie or Grageral Macgree are corruptions of Grá Geal Mo Chroí.

This variant was collected by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best in 1980 from Philip J Foley [1905-1982] of Tilting, NL, and published as #45 in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.79-80, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press © 1985/2003).

Genevieve Lehr noted that the Irish words 'grá geal mo chroí,' meaning 'bright love of my heart,' are usually written in English as 'Grogal McCree' to give an idea of the pronunciation. Mr Foley knew exactly what the words meant. Songs of this type reflect a strong Irish tradition in Tilting, where Mr Foley comes from, a small Irish-Newfoundland community on Fogo Island in Notre Dame Bay. Lehr further noted that the first two lines in the last verse were taken from another version of the song since they were not provided by Mr Foley.

See more songs by Lehr and Best

MacEdward Leach [1897-1967] collected a variant published as #135, Grogal McCree, in Folk Ballads And Songs Of The Lower Labrador Coast by the National Museum of Canada (Ottawa, 1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Note: "... an added 'y' can enlarge or distort an existing vowel or diphthong: villyan, joynt (villain, giant)." Morath, Max (2004) Translating Mister Dooley: A New Examination of the Journalism of Finley Peter Dunne. (The Journal of American Culture Vol.27, Issue 2, page 147.)


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