Nobleman’s Wedding, The

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  • Teideal (Title): Nobleman’s Wedding, The.
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 781504.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): 567.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): P31.
  • Uimhir Child (Child Number): none.
  • Cnuasach (Collection): Joe Heaney Collection, University of Washington, Seattle.
  • Teanga na Croímhíre (Core-Item Language): English.
  • Catagóir (Category): song.
  • Ainm an té a thug (Name of Informant): Joe Heaney.
  • Ainm an té a thóg (Name of Collector): Esther Warkov.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 06/03/1978.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): University of Washington, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): interview.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

This is a girl, you see, she was intended to marry somebody else, you know, and she married another man. And at the wedding, the man she was- wanted to marry, you see, came to the wedding. And… he was asked to sing a song, and the song he sang was of the days that were gone. And he said to her, ‘How can you sit at another man’s table? How can you drink of another man’s wine? How can you go to the arms of another, you being so long a sweetheart of mine?’

I was once invited to a nobleman’s wedding
All that were there were to sing just one song
The first one to sing was the bride’s former lover
The song that he sang were ‘Of Days That Were Gone.’

‘How can I sit at another man’s table?
How can I drink of another man’s wine?
How can you go to the arms of another
You being so long a sweetheart of mine?’

This maiden was sitting at the head of the table
Hearing those words, she remembered them well
Hearing those words, she no longer could stand it
It’s down at the foot of the table she fell.

[One request, one request, from you that I’m asking
The first and the last, this favour shall be
And that is the first night to lie with my mother
All the rest of my days I will lie beside thee.]1

Sighing and sobbing she arose from the table
Sighing and sobbing she went up to bed
And early next morning when her husband awakened
He went to embrace her and found she was dead.

‘Oh Molly, lovely Molly, oh cruel-hearted Molly
Your love and my love could never agree’
When I separated yourself and your Johnny
‘Twas then I separated the bark from the tree.’


1. This stanza, not included in the present recording, is taken from the recording Joe made for Peter Kennedy; see below.

Joe seems to be explaining to the interviewer here that, although this is a sad song, it was one that was often sung during wedding celebrations at home.

On another occasion, Joe told Lucy Simpson (UW85-39.1-2) that he heard this song from a number of people at home, including his father, his aunt, his cousin Colm Keane (Colm Ó Caodháin), and his next-door neighbour, Seán Choilm Mac Donncha.

The song is transcribed – tune included – from a performance Joe recorded for Peter Kennedy of the BBC in 1959; see Peter Kennedy (ed.), Folksongs of Britain and Ireland, Oak Publications (1975), No. 164, p. 364 and note. On that occasion, Joe told Kennedy that he had learned the song from his father just before he died in 1937: ‘I heard him singing that since I was knee high but only picked up bits of it. There’s more of it than that. He sang at night. He’d go through them one after the other. Never stop singing. Never. He was always singing or humming. Always. Never stopped. I was ten years old (sic) when he died. I had very few of them learned. He was a small farmer, that’s all. Very small. The land there is hopeless. It is hard to believe that anyone can exist there.’

This song was recorded while Joe was Artist in Residence at University of Washington.