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The Galway Shawl

[ Roud 2737 ; Henry H652 ; Ballad Index HHH652 ; trad.]

Margaret Barry sang The Galway Shawl in a recording made by Ewan MacColl on March 10, 1956 on her 1956 Riverside album Songs of an Irish Tinker Lady: Street Songs and Ballads. This recording was also included in 1965 on her Topic LP Her Mantle So Green: Irish Street Songs and Fiddle Tunes. Another recording made by Alan Lomax in 1953 was included in 1998 on her Rounder anthology I Sang Through the Fairs.

Fred Jordan sang The Galway Shawl in a recording by Dave Bryant from 1978/79 on his Veteran anthology of 2003, A Shropshire Lad. Mike Yates noted in the album's booklet:

Yet another song from Fred's mother, although Fred probably also heard the Irish singer Margaret Barry performing it at English festivals. Surprisingly, we can find no trace of an author for the words, although the tune is well-known under a number of different titles, including Eochaill—which is the Irish name for the town of Youghal—or else Boolavogue.

Peta Webb sang The Galway Shawl in a 1989 recording by David Kenny on her 2003 Musical Traditions CD The Magpie's Nest.

Ray Driscoll sang The Galway Shawl on October 27, 1993 to Gwilym Davies. This recording was released in 2008 oh Driscoll's CD Wild, Wild Berry. Gwilym Davies commented in the liner notes:

Another of the songs learnt by Ray from his father. Ray was scornful of revival folk singers who use the ‘she wore no jewels’ verse as a chorus.

Bob Fox sang The Galway Shawl in 2000 on his Woodworm CD Dreams Never Leave You.

Jack Rutter of Moore Moss Rutter learnt The Galway Shawl from the singing of Fred Jordan; they recorded this song in 2011 for their eponymous CD Moore Moss Rutter.

Andy Turner learnt The Galway Shawl from the singing of Fred Jordan too and sang it as the June 9, 2013 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.

Lyrics

Fred Jordan sings The Galway Shawl

As I was walking in the County of Galway
One pleasant evening in the month of May,
I met a maiden, she was tall and handsome,
She fairly took all my breath away.

Chorus:
For she wore no jewels, nor costly diamonds,
No shoes nor stockings on her feet at all,
But on her head a bonnet with ribbons on it
And round her shoulders was a Galway shawl.

We kept on walking and kept on talking
'Till her father's cottage came into view.
She said, “Kind sir, won't you bide a minute
And play for me, oh, The Foggy Dew.”

She sat me down beside the hearthstone,
I saw her father, he was six feet tall.
And while her mother put on the kettle
All I could think of was her Galway shawl.

Chorus:
For she wore no jewels, nor costly diamonds,
No paint nor powder, no none at all,
But on her head a bonnet with ribbons on it
And round her shoulders was a Galway shawl.

I played The Blackbird, The Rigs of Barley,
Rodney's Glory, and The Foggy Dew.
She sang on softly, like an Irish linnet,
And tears came down from her eyes so blue.

Early next morning, so very early
I took the road to old Donegal.
She climbed the gate and kissed me dearly,
And wished me godspeed in her Galway shawl.

(repeat first chorus)

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Origins: Galway Shawl - author.