My Gray Haired Irish Mother

DESCRIPTION: Barney thinks of his childhood in Ireland and how blessed him when he left. He imagines her sorrow: "Your old Irish mother is waiting for you And when friends and companions will turn and desert you There's a place Barney darling at the old home for you"
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1929 (for USBallinsloeFair, according to site irishtune.info, Irish Traditional Music Tune Index: Alan Ng's Tunography, ref. Ng #2617)
KEYWORDS: homesickness separation Ireland nonballad mother home
FOUND IN:
RECORDINGS:
John McGettigan and his Irish Minstrels, "My Gray Haired Irish Mother" (on USBallinsloeFair)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "There's No One Like Mother to Me"
NOTES: "There's No One Like Mother to Me" and "My Gray Haired Irish Mother" are clearly related but clearly distinct. The question is: which is the original and which the derivative?
The tunes are closely related though the rests in "There's No One Like Mother To Me" are filled with text in "My Gray Haired Irish Mother."
The theme of both songs is: an expatriot remembers his childhood in a "cottage far over the sea" and recalls especially the mother that blessed him with tears on her cheeks.
"There's No One Like Mother to Me" has two verses and a chorus. "My Gray Haired Irish Mother" has five verses and no chorus.
Here is the first verse of "There's No One Like Mother to Me"
Sadly I'm thinking tonight
Thinking of days long gone by
Memories of childhood so bright
Come back like a dream with a sigh
I'm thinking of friends and of home
In that cottage far over the sea
Oh no matter where-ever I roam
There is no one like mother to me.
and the first two verses of "My Gray Haired Irish Mother"
How sadly I'm thinking tonight of my sire-land
Thinking of scenes and of days long gone by.
Memories of childhood so bright and so airy
Come rushing back to me with many's a sigh
I'm thinking of one whom I left far behind me
In that little thatched cottage far over the sea
Oh the one only cried Barney every noon and morning
Darling won't you come back to me.
The pattern is repeated in the remaining verse of "There's No One Like Mother to Me" and the third and fourth verses of "My Gray Haired Irish Mother."
We have sheet music dated 1885 for "There's No One Like Mother to Me" (LOCSheet sm1885 25967, by Gussie L Davis). The version recorded in 1936 by The Carter Family is almost identical to that original (source: Country Music Sources by Guthrie T Meade Jr, p. 324; the Bluegrass Lyrics site)
The John McGettigan recording of "My Gray Haired Irish Mother" in 1929 demonstrates that the songs co-existed. - BS
File: RcMGHIM

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