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The Kilgrain Hare

[ Roud 2883 ; Henry H12 ; Ballad Index HHH012 ; Mudcat 40011 ; trad.]

Patrick Street sang The Kilgrain Hare as part of their Pity the Poor Hare medley on their 1978 Green Linnet album Cornerboys. Andy Irvine noted:

As John Moulden says in his book Songs of the People: Selections from the Sam Henry collection: “Ulster hare hunting songs are, if the words can be used, the most loving of their kind. The hare is portrayed as a harmless creature and in the most sympathetic way.”

This selection underlines those sentiments and, indeed, who could not feel sympathy for that innocent and attractive animal, hunted in the name of “sport”.

The first song [On Yonder Hill] was learned from the incomparable and late lamented Geordie Hanna from Derrytresk, County Tyrone, while the second [The Kilgrain Hare] is based on songs collected in County Antrim by Sam Henry. Another of my favourite singers, Len Graham, sings a different version called The Hare’s Lament.


Patrick Street sing The Kilgrain Hare

Come all you bold sportsmen of honour and fame
That weekly appears on the braes of Kilgrain;
With your servants and your horses and your dogs at command
And young Richard Hunter to lead on the band.

Chorus (after each verse):
With me hark tally ho, hark over yon brow,
She’s over says the huntsman and yonder she’ll go.

November fourteenth on that fatal day
As down from my dwelling I chanced for to stray,
All alone by the side of yon whinny green hill
Where oftimes in plenty I sported at will.

As I fed on green grass that grows on yonder ground
My heart was set beating by the cry of the hounds.
And Hunter, the foremost of all for the prey,
In a voice like the thunder cries out, “Hark away!”

Right over the mountain and away past Kilgrain,
Well buckled by Ringwood and Slasher by name,
Then down past Young’s buildings and away through Cloying,
That old beagle Draper, my curse light on him.

Right over my old course like lightening I flew
To keep a good distance from that bloody crew.
But the hounds in full cry filled my heart with despair;
That blood thirsty crew had my life in their care.

O now I must die and I know not the crime
To the value of sixpence I ne’er harmed mankind.
And the hounds to the trail, they were bred to obey,
It was you, Richard Hunter, led by life astray.

My race being run, I was forced to give o’er,
My innocent body in pieces they tore.
You may seek other pastimes and drink health’s galore
On the braes of Kilgrain you will hunt me no more.