As I Roved Out (1)

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  • Teideal (Title): As I Roved Out (1).
  • Uimhir Chatalóige Ollscoil Washington (University of Washington Catalogue Number): 853908.
  • Uimhir Chnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann (National Folklore of Ireland Number): none.
  • Uimhir Roud (Roud Number): 3479.
  • Uimhir Laws (Laws Number): none.
  • 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): Lucy Simpson.
  • Dáta an taifeadta (Recording Date): 19/12/1979.
  • Suíomh an taifeadta (Recording Location): Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York, United States of America.
  • Ocáid an taifeadta (Recording Occasion): private.
  • Daoine eile a bhí i láthair (Others present): unavailable.
  • Stádas chóipcheart an taifeadta (Recording copyright status): unavailable.

And as I roved out on a May morning, on a May morning quite early,
I met me love upon the way, oh lord but she was early.
Her hair was dark, her teeth were white, her buckles shone like silver,
She had a dark and a roving eye, and her hair hung o’er her shoulder.

And she sang riddle aye-dle iddle aye-dle iddle aye-dle iddle aye-dle dum and she
highdle deedle dum but she hidle deedle doo and she landy.

‘And who are you, me pretty fair maid, and who are you me darling?
And who are you, me pretty fair maid, who are you me darling?’
She answered me right modestly, ‘I am mammy’s daughter’.

With me roo-rum-raw, fra-the-deedle-aw, dye-ree-addle-eedle aye-ree-oh.

‘How old are you my pretty fair maid, how old are you my darling?’
She answered me right modestly, ‘Sixteen come Monday morning’.

But she sang riddle aye-dle iddle aye-dle iddle aye-dle iddle aye-dle dum
and she highdle deedle dum but she hidle deedle doo and she landy.

‘Do you want to marry me, pretty fair maid, do you want to marry me darling?
Do you want to marry me, pretty fair maid, do you want to marry me darling?’
She answered me right modestly, ‘I would but for my mammy’.

With me roo-rum-raw, fra-the-deedle-aw, dye-ree-addle-eedle aye-ree-oh.

‘Will you come up to me mammy’s house when the moon is shining brightly?
‘I’ll arise and I’ll let you in and me mammy won’t be hearing’.

And she sang riddle aye-dle iddle aye-dle iddle aye-dle iddle aye-dle dum and she highdle deedle
dum but she hidle deedle doo and she landy.

So I went up to her mammy’s house when the moon shone bright and clearly
I went up to her mammy’s house when the moon shone bright and clearly.
She arose to let me in but her mammy chanced to hear her.

With me roo-rum-raw, fra-the-deedle-aw, dye-ree-addle-eedle dairy-oh.

She took her by the top of her hair and to the parlour brought her;
With the end of a hazel-stick she was a well-bet1 daughter.

But she sang riddle aye-dle iddle aye-dle iddle aye-dle iddle aye-dle dum
and she highdle deedle dum but she hidle deedle doo and she landy.

[She took my horse by the bridle and reins and led him to the stable
She took my horse by the bridle and reins and led him to the stable
‘There is plenty of oats for the soldier’s horse, as fast as he can eat it!’

With me roo-rum-raw, fra-the-deedle-aw, dye-ree-addle-eedle dairy-oh.]

She took me by her lily white hand and led me to a table.
She took me by her lily white hand and led me to a table.
‘There is plenty of wine for the soldier lad as fast as he can take it’.

With me roo-rum-raw, fra-the-deedle-aw, dye-ree-addle-eedle dairy-oh.

And she went up and dressed the bed, she dressed it soft and easy.
I went up and I rolled her in. ‘Oh, my lassie, are you able?’

And she sang riddle aye-dle iddle aye-dle iddle aye-dle iddle aye-dle dum and she highdle deedle
dum but she hidle deedle doo and she landy.

And it’s there I stayed ’til the break of day and the devil a one2 did hear me
there I stayed ’til the break of day, devil a one did hear me.
I got up and put on me clothes, ‘My lassie, I must leave you’.

With me roo-rum-raw, fra-the-deedle-aw, dye-ree-addle-eedle dairy-oh.

‘Now when will you return again and when will we get married?’
‘When broken delft3 make Christmas bells, it’s then we will get married!’

And she sang riddle aye-dle iddle aye-dle iddle aye-dle iddle aye-dle dum and she highdle deedle
dum but she hidle deedle doo and she landy.

Now a pint at night is my delight and a gallon in the morning.
The old women are my heartbreak – but the young ones they’re me darling.

And she still sang riddle aye-dle iddle aye-dle iddle aye-dle iddle
aye-dle dum and she highdle deedle dum but she hidle deedle doo and she landy.

Notes

1. Well-beaten.

2. Nobody.

3. Crockery. Named after Delft in Holland, whence a great deal of common crockery was imported. The term is still in common usage; often as ‘delf’.

As Joe sings it, this song is a tour-de-force, requiring two separate airs and refrains. As he says himself, ‘It took me years to learn how to do this song, with the two different choruses, and the two different airs in the one song’. When Lucy asks him why the song had two tunes, he explains that the song ‘is usually sung by a man and a woman, and to distinguish between the two — who’s talking, and when — the two tunes was used, you know’. As Lucy points out, however, both speakers are usually heard from in every verse, not in alternating verses as Joe’s explanation implies, and most of the time the voice is that of the man. It it likely the case that Joe combined the two versions of the song himself and was reluctant to say so, and that his remarks about his father and Seán Choilm Mac Donncha singing it as a duet are an attempt at misdirection.

This interpretation is borne out by the evidence of another version of the song, recorded by singer/songwriter Geordie Mac Intyre at Joe’s home in Clydebank in 1964 or ’65. This earlier version leaves out all mention of the girl’s mother; adds the stanza about the soldier’s horse; and uses only the one air. Geordie (and at least one other person) can be heard joining in at the chorus of this performance.

Joe’s later version — the one transcribed here — represents a fusion of two narratives: one that assumes the old woman sleeps through the soldier’s visit, and the other requiring that she arise and punish her daughter. Joe gets around this by telling listeners that, having reprimanded her daughter and sent her to bed, the mother herself retires — whereupon the girl gets up, sneaks into the kitchen, opens the back door to her lovelorn suitor, and then proceedes to regale him with wine and other delights.

This song appears on other recordings made by Joe, including the double CD The Road from Conamara. In his review of that CD, the late Tom Munnelly hazards the guess that ‘Joe probably got [this song] from Sara Makem by way of the Clancy Brothers. His singing of it is almost as good as Mrs Makem’s, and that’s saying something!’. Joe tells Geordie Mac Intyre, however, that he learned the song when he was ‘about the size of a fairy’. Take your pick!