Andy Irvine

Braes of Moneymore


Farewell to you old Ireland since I must go away
I now shake hands and bid goodbye and can no longer stay
Our big ship lies in deep Lough Foyle bound for the New York shore
And I must go from all I know and lovely Moneymore

That little town encircled round with many’s the grove and hill
Where lads and lassies they do meet for pleasure there’s the rule
Through Springhill Braes and flowery fields where oft I’ve wandered o’er
And by my side was the girl I loved the rose of Moneymore

How lonely is the pigeon’s coo and sad the blackbirds lay
And loud and high the thrushes cry on a long bright summer’s day
And as I sat down to cry me fill sure the tears come trickling down
For in the morning I must leave you my own dear native town

Kind friends I’ll bid you all adieu I can no longer stay
Our big ship sails tomorrow and its time I was away
So fill your glasses to the brim and toast with one loud roar
And we’ll sing in praise of Springhill Braes and lovely Moneymore

Traditional arr. Andy Irvine – IMRO/MCPS

“Braes of Moneymore”, is an emigration song he first learnt it from an old 78 rpm recording, made in 1952 by Sean O’Boyle and Peter Kennedy, of Terry Devlin, a shoemaker local to the little town of Moneymore in County Londonderry. Irvine changed the tune and added a verse.

Billy Far Out


I’ll sing you a song of Billy Far Out,
True story without a shadow of a doubt
He lived in Melbourne in Footscray
But he found himself up Sydney way

He had an old car it was tired and worn
It was built before Noah was born
But Billy and his mates on one fine day
They set out for Footscray without delay

By the time that they arrived in Yass
Fourth gear was a thing of the past
But Billy and his mates they were not bereft
They said we’ve still got three gears left

With Gundegai five miles away
They stopped for a beer and Billy did say
Whatever that dog did in the tucker box
It can’t compare with the smell of me sox

O happy as Larry and sound as a bell
They were dreaming of the beer in the Retreat Hotel
When they came in sight of Albury
Third gear it was history

Says Billy we’ll have to drive from here
All the way to Melbourne in second gear
Well second gear it wasn’t the worst
Forty miles later they were down to first

They entered the city in the finest style
Leading a procession of seventeen miles
When they came to Brunswick the mates got out
See yez all later says Billy Far Out

When Billy got back in the driving seat
He found first gear was dead on it’s feet
But Billy didn’t swear and Billy didn’t curse
He set out for Footscray in reverse

Come one come all from near and far
Come all who drive automatic cars
Like Billy Far Out your final abode
May be living in a banger on the side of the road
Living in an old banger on the side of the road

By Andy Irvine – IMRO/MCPS

“Billy Far Out” is an amusing song about the vagaries of travelling in an unreliable car and was written by Irvine after similar experiences during one of his Australian tours; its tune and accompaniment are based on a 1931 recording of “A Lazy Farmer Boy” by Buster Carter & Preston Young.

Sergeant Small

I went broke in western Queensland in Nineteen Thirty One
Nobody would employ me and my swag carrying days begun
I started out through Charleville and all the western towns
I was on me way to Roma destination Darling Downs
Me pants was getting ragged and me boots was a-getting thin
And as I came into Mitchell the goods train shunted in
I could hear her whistle blowing it was mighty plain to see
She was on her way to Roma or so it seemed to me

I wish I was about twenty stone and only seven feet tall
I’d go back to western Queensland and beat up Sergeant Small

Now as I sat and watched her inspiration’s seeds were sown
I remembered the Government slogan: ‘Here’s a railway that you own’
And as the sun was getting low and the night was coming nigh
I shouldered my belongings and I took her on the fly
And as we came into Roma I kept me head down low
Heard a voice say “Any room mate?” I answered “Plenty ‘Bo”
“Come out of there me little man” ‘twas the voice of Sergeant Small
“I have caught you very nicely – you’ve been riding for a fall”

I wish I was about twenty stone and only seven feet tall
I’d go back to western Queensland and beat up Sergeant Small

The old judge was very nice to me he gave me thirty days
Saying “Maybe that will help to cure your rattler-jumping ways”
So if you’re down and out in the outback boys I’ll tell yez what I think
Steer clear of the Queensland railway it’s a short cut to the clink

I wish I was about twenty stone and only seven feet tall
I’d go back to western Queensland and beat up Sergeant Small

Traditional arranged by Andy Irvine – IMRO/MCPS

“Sergeant Small” is an Australian song which tells the story of an unemployed man who rides freight trains in his search for work during the Great Depression in the 1930s but gets trapped by Sergeant Small, a policeman masquerading as a hobo. This song is an amalgamation from two sources put together by Brad Tate: the recording made by Tex Morton in the 1940s and the poem written by Terry Boylan in the 1970s. Irvine first heard it sung by Seamus Gill of Canberra, a Donegal man who has lived most of his life in Australia.

Come To The Bower


Will you come to the bower o’er the free boundless ocean
Where the stupendous waves roll in thunder and motion
Where the mermaid is seen and a fierce tempest gathers
To loved Erin the Green the dear land of our fathers

Will you come to the land of O’Neill and O’Donnell
Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone and the immortal Dan O’Connell
Where King Brian drove the Danes and St Patrick the vermin
And whose valleys remain still most beautiful and charming

You can visit Benburb and the storied Blackwater
Where Owen Roe met Munroe and his chieftains did slaughter
Where the lambs sport and play on the mossy all over
From these bright golden views to enchanting Rostrevor

You can visit Dublin City and the fine groves of Blarney
The Bann, Boyne and Liffey and the Lakes of Killarney
You may ride on the tide o’er the broad majestic Shannon
Or sail around Lough Neagh and see storied Dungannon

You can visit New Ross, gallant Wexford and Gorey
Where the green was last seen by proud Saxon and Tory
Where the ground is sanctified by the blood of each freeman
Where they died satisfied their enemies they would not run from

Will you come and awake our lost land from its slumber
And together we will break, links that long have encumbered
And the air will resound with hosannas to meet you
On the shore will be found gallant Irishmen to greet you

Traditional arranged by Andy Irvine – IMRO/MCPS

“Come to the Bower” is a song Luke Kelly used to sing in O’Donoghue’s Pub during the 1960s and Irvine tells us he believes it was written as an exhortation to Irish emigrants to return home and support the 1867 Fenian rising.

Willy O’ Winsbury


Childs Ballad
100A: Willie o Winesberry

100A.1 THE king he hath been a prisoner,
A prisoner lang in Spain, O
And Willie o the Winsbury
Has lain lang wi his daughter at hame. O

100A.2 ‘What aileth thee, my daughter Janet,
Ye look so pale and wan?
Have ye had any sore sickness,
Or have ye been lying wi a man?
Or is it for me, your father dear,
And biding sae lang in Spain?’

100A.3 ‘I have not had any sore sickness,
Nor yet been lying wi a man;
But it is for you, my father dear,
In biding sae lang in Spain.’

100A.4 ‘Cast ye off your berry-brown gown,
Stand straight upon the stone,
That I may ken ye by yere shape,
Whether ye be a maiden or none.’

100A.5 She’s coosten off her berry-brown gown,
Stooden straight upo yon stone;
Her apron was short, and her haunches were round,
Her face it was pale and wan.

100A.6 ‘Is it to a man o might, Janet?
Or is it to a man of fame?
Or is it to any of the rank robbers
That’s lately come out o Spain?’

100A.7 ‘It is not to a man of might,’ she said,
‘Nor is it to a man of fame;
But it is to William of Winsburry;
I could lye nae langer my lane.’

100A.8 The king’s called on his merry men all,
By thirty and by three:
‘Go fetch me William of Winsbury,
For hanged he shall be.’

100A.9 But when he cam the king before,
He was clad o the red silk;
His hair was like to threeds o gold.
And his skin was as white as milk.

100A.10 ‘It is nae wonder,’ said the king,
‘That my daughter’s love ye did win;
Had I been a woman, as I am a man,
My bedfellow ye should hae been.

100A.11 ‘Will ye marry my daughter Janet,
By the truth of thy right hand?
I’ll gie ye gold, I’ll gie ye money,
And I’ll gie ye an earldom o land.’

100A.12 ‘Yes, I’ll marry yere daughter Janet,
By the truth of my right hand;
But I’ll hae nane o yer gold, I’ll hae nane o yer money,
Nor I winna hae an earldom o land.

100A.13 ‘For I hae eighteen corn-mills,
Runs all in water clear,
And there’s as much corn in each o them
As they can grind in a year.’

Traditional arranged by Andy Irvine

This song was first recorded by Sweeney’s Men on their eponymous debut album in 1968, sung by Andy Irvine accompanying himself on guitar. At the time, Johnny Moynihan stated on the sleeve notes: “A ballad for which Andy is renowned. He got the text from Child’s ‘English And Scottish Ballads’; looking up the tune he got his numbers confused and emerged with the wrong air. By chance it suited the song very well”. In 2010, Irvine re-recorded the song with a fuller arrangement of the same tune on his album Abocurragh, adding: “This is Child 100. I collected the words from different versions and as the story goes, on looking up the tune, I lighted on the tune to number 101. I’m not sure if this is true but it’s a good story”.