DESCRIPTION: A lord's daughter loves Matt. "But when her parents came to know, They swore they'd drive him from this island." The girl bids Matt flee before he is transported. Eventually her father relents, and she bids him come home to marry her
EARLIEST DATE: before 1825 (broadside, Bodleian 2806 c.18(344))
KEYWORDS: nobility love separation exile transportation servant
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South)) Ireland US(NE) Canada(Newf)
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Morton-FolksongsSungInUlster 1, "Matt Hyland" (1 text, 1 tune)
Beck-FolkloreOfMaine, pp.95-97, "Mathireland" (1 text, 1 tune, a composite with the first two verses and the tune from Maine, the rest from Newfoundland)
Din Dobbin, "Matt Ireland" (on MUNFLA/Leach)
John James, "Matt Ireland" (on MUNFLA/Leach)
Liz Jefferies, "Matt Highland" (on Voice06)
Bodleian, 2806 c.18(344), "Young Mat Hyland," W. Armstrong (Liverpool), 1820-1824; also 2806 b.9(235), 2806 c.15(139), "Mat Hyland"
cf. "Young M'Tyre" (plot)
cf. "Erin's Lovely Home" [Laws M6] (plot)
cf. "Henry Connors" [Laws M5] (plot)
cf. "Richie Story" [Child 232] (plot)
cf. "The Kitchie-Boy" [Child 252] (plot)
NOTES [279 words]: This song has been claimed by Irish and Scottish sources, and I've also heard it sung by English singers. Interestingly, all the versions are very close, suggesting there is some single, recent source. This theory is supported by the ornate language, so atypical of traditional song. But no one seems to know what the source is.
There are several broadsides, at least one dated c. 1825 (though such datings are notoriously unreliable), entitled "Mat Hyland" or "Young Mat Hyland." None match the traditional text commonly sung; they are without exception wordier and poorer poetry. Still, they provide a strong indication that the song originated as a broadside -- though these prints (e.g. in the Bodleian collection) are probably not the original source, as no tune seems to be indicated!
In addition, a manuscript volume called "Songs and Ballads in use in the Province of Ulster...1845" is said by Hugh Shields to contain a version of the song, but I do not know if the dating of the volume is considered reliable. Still, there seems no doubt that the song was in existence by the early nineteenth century.
Jimmy O'Brien Moran writes to tell me that "the melody and title were collected by Henry Hudson from Paddy Conneely, a blind piper and singer in Galway, in October/November 1841. The melody is almost exactly the same as the version popularly sung today. Although Conneely had a large repertoire of song in Irish, he also had an extensive repertoire in the English language.... If it was already in Conneely's repertoire by 1841, it must have been around for some time, and quite popular, to allow it to travel (presumably from the northern counties) to Galway." - RBW
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