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On Yonder Hill There Sits a Hare

[ Roud 5173 ; Ballad Index RcOYHTSH ; trad.]

George Hanna learned On Yonder Hill There Sits a Hare from his father and his uncle George; there are no other known versions of this hunting song. He sang it on his and his sister Sarah Anne O'Neill's Topic album On the Shores of Lough Neagh: Traditional Songs of a Tyrone Family. This track was also included in 1998 on the Topic anthology To Catch a Fine Buck Was My Delight (The Voice of the People Volume 18). John Mulden commented in the original album's notes:

This seems to me the finest of all Ulster's hunting songs and known only from Geordie who has heard it from no-one but his father and Uncle George.

Hannah James and Sam Sweeney recorded On Yonder Hill There Sits a Hare in 2012 for their second CD, State and Ancientry, and performed it in November 2011 at the Shed:

Maggie Boyle sang On Yonder Hill, followed by Paul Downes' tune Boxty Bailey, in 2012 on her CD Won't You Come Away. She commented in her sleeve notes:

Some time in the late ‘70s, Oliver [Mulligan of Co. Monaghan] handed me a tape of Geordie Hanna (of Co. Tyrone) singing this single song. In turn, I highly recommend that you find Geordie on YouTube, singing Old Ardboe. It’s rare—and great quality—footage. I wish I had met the man. On Yonder Hill inspired this sweet, planxty-like new tune from Paul; our fearless producer inspired the title!

Sam Lee sang On Yonder Hill in 2012 too on his CD Ground of Its Own.

And Sound Tradition sang On Yonder Hill There Sits a Hare n their 2012 CD Under the Moon.

John Kirkpatrick sang this song as The Hi Ho Hare on his 2017 Fledg'ling CD Coat-Tails Flying, where he noted:

As you'll see later on, I had a bit of struggle getting to grips with what on earth Charlie Wills was thinking in his ramshackle take on The House That Jack Built, and kept repeatedly playing through his track on the CD To Catch a Fine Buck Was My Delight for most of the journey from Shropshire to Cornwall. For a bit of light relief I occasionally played through the rest of the CD, and unexpectedly fell in love with a song called On Yonder Hill There Sits a Hare, recorded from the Irish singer Geordie Hanna in County Tyrone in 1977. He'd learned it from the singing of his father and his Uncle George, but they seem to be the only people who were aware of the song, apart from a mention in an obscure book published in London in the 1820s.

Fans of the Irish style of singing will be appalled to learn that in living with the song for a while I've ironed out Mr Hanna's ornamentations and dramatic pauses. Not only that, but I also felt the heroic hare's exploits needed a couple of extra verses to emphasise the sweet triumph of the tale.

Lyrics

George Hanna sings On Yonder Hill There Sits a Hare

On yonder hill there sits a hare.
Full of worry, grief and care,
And o'er her lodgings it was bare,
    Singing ho, brave boys, hi-ho.
And o'er her lodgings it was bare,
    Singing ho, brave boys, hi-ho.

Now there came a huntsman riding by,
And on this poor hare he cast his eye,
And o'er the bogs halooed his dogs,
    Singing ho, brave boys, hi-ho.
And o'er the bogs halooed his dogs,
    Singing ho, brave boys, hi-ho.

And now she's gone from hill to hill.
All for the best dog to try his skill
And kill the poor hare that never done ill,
    Singing ho, brave boys, hi-ho.
And kill the poor hare that never done ill,
    Singing ho, brave boys, hi-ho.

And now she's turned and turned again,
Merrily as she trips the plain,
And may she live to run again,
    Singing ho, brave boys, hi-ho.
And may she live to run again,
    Singing ho, brave boys, hi-ho.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Req/Add: On Yonder Hill There Sits a Hare.