The Roslea Farewell | The Whistler of Roslea

from Mountscribe by Rowan Piggott

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I came across these lyrics (or something like them!) in a book of songs from Cathal McConnell and was so surprised to find an emigration song with a happy ending I decided I must sing it! I wanted to write a tune for the words that conveyed some of the adventure yet could still pass as traditional and this was the result.
The reel is one of Ed Reavy's, though he originally wrote it in the mixolydian as opposed to the dorian – quite a significant change we owe to Martin Hayes. It was supposedly named for a fishmonger who was famed for whistling fast ornamented reels as he worked.


One night as I lay slumbering
In my silent bed at home
Some rakish thought came to mind
Which caused me for to roam,
To leave my native country
And the girl that I adore,
Sure I thought fit to take a trip
Strange lands for to explore.

I packed my things all on my back
And started down the hill,
'Twas there I met my own true love
Her eyes with tears did fill,
I took her in my arms
And I gave her kisses nine
Saying "If ever I return again
Dear girl sure you'll be mine."

"My handsome lad do tell me first
What makes you go away
Pray stay at home and do not roam
From the green fields of Roslea
But if you love another
I bid you go to her,
For I cannot stand a faithless man
The heartache I prefer..."

"My darling dear I pray you hear
You're the keeper of my heart
But tomorrow morning I must sail
And you & I must part,
For I must explore a distant shore
Adventure for to find!"
So that next day I sailed away
And left my love behind.

I soon arrived on foreign soil
And the strangers gathered round
They taught me tunes, they taught me songs
So bleak and pure in sound,
That soon I longed for home & hearth
So when the tunes were o'er
I straightway went and sailed that day
Back to the shamrock shore...

Where trout and salmon float about
All around Lough Erin's way
I led my darling by the hand
To the chapel in Roslea
The lark and linnet tuned their notes
And sang them o'er and o'er
As I was wed unto my love
And left my home no more...


from Mountscribe, released January 14, 2018
Rowan Piggott – Voice / Fiddle
Felix Miller – Guitar
Philippe Barnes – Whistle


all rights reserved



Rowan Piggott Sheffield, UK

Rowan is a fiddle-singer, writer and tunesmith who grew up in the foothills of the Burren on the west coast of Ireland, surrounded by traditional music. The author of two successful tunebooks, he has also written articles for The Living Tradition magazine and led fiddle workshops at festivals all over the country. In 2016, he won the Future of Young Folk Award at Bromyard Folk Festival. ... more

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