Come Back to Erin
DESCRIPTION: The singer's sweetheart has left Killarney for England. He seems surprised that "my heart sank when clouds came between us... Oh, may the angels, oh, waking and sleeping Watch o'er my bird in the land far away." Does she think of me?
AUTHOR: Charlotte Alington Barnard ("Claribel") (1830-1869)
EARLIEST DATE: before 1867 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 11(965))
KEYWORDS: courting emigration separation nonballad Ireland
FOUND IN: US(MW)
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Dean-FlyingCloud, pp. 79-80, "Come Back to Erin" (1 text)
O'Conor-OldTimeSongsAndBalladOfIreland, p. 103, "Come Back to Erin" (1 text)
Heart-Songs, pp. 438-439, "Come Back to Erin" (1 text, 1 tune)
Jolly-Miller-Songster-5thEd, #95, "Come Back to Erin" (1 text)
Hylands-Mammoth-Hibernian-Songster, p. 26, "Come Back to Erin" (1 text)
Bodleian, Harding B 11(965), "Come Back to Erin", J. Harkness (Preston), 1840-1866; also Firth c.12(253), 2806 c.8(238), Harding B 15(49a), Johnson Ballads 1898, 2806 b.11(224), Firth c.12(253), "Come Back to Erin"; 2806 c.8(237), "Come Back to Erin, Mavourneen, Mavourneen"
NOTES [205 words]: According to Spaeth, p. 143, Claribel "managed to turn out both words and music of a great many ballads that found immediate favor on both sides of the Atlantic. Her first song to make it mark here was called Janet's Choice, appearing in London in 1860, although its American publication was delayed until 1871.... [She] made her most lasting impression with Come Back to Erin (1868), which is still heard with honest preasure and often regarded as an Irish folk-song. Mrs. Barnard was a woman of some musical education, but depended chiefly on her intuitive expression of the sentimentality of her day."
I do not know how to reconcile Spaeth's statement that the song was published in 1868 with the broadside which seems to come from at least two years earlier. Williams, p. 41, also says "The song came out in 1866." Perhaps the broadside was pirated from one of Claribel's performances?
For another song in the Index credited to Claribel, see "We'd Better Bide a Wee." Williams, p. 41, seems to consider this her biggest hit, followed by "I Cannot Sing the Old Songs" (which can be found in Heart-Songs, pp. 282-283). Heart-Songs, pp. 265-2676, includes "Take Back the Heart," so that presumably was also fairly popular. - RBW
Last updated in version 6.1
- Spaeth: Sigmund Spaeth, A History of Popular Music in America, Random House, 1948
- Williams: Alfred M. Williams, Studies in Folk-Song and Popular Poetry, Houghton Mifflin, 1894
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