10. The Forger’s Farewell & Úna Bhán (song  & air)

Desi sings The Forger’s Farewell, an extraordinary song originally collected from Robert Cinnamond of Ballinderry (1884-1968). Robert called it Erin the Green.  This song is apparently based on the true story of William Hill, a Belfast printer, who was arrested and transported in 1825. John Moulden has published a booklet on the topic and with John’s help we will be adding some more of this story to this blog in the future – so watch this space!

Úna Bhán (Fair Úna) played here as an air on the pipes by Ronan is a caoineadh from the Conamara sean nós tradition. This version is from the singing of Cait Ní Choisdealbha through Máire Áine Nic Dhonnacha.

Farewell lovely Erin I’m bound for to leave you,

May peace be on your daisy clad hills.

In wild foreign lands I’m bound for to praise you,

And I’ll sing of your sweet winding rills.

My parents for my welfare they did their endeavour,

As parents will do for any son,

They bound me in my early days to be an engraver

But alas by that art I’m undone.

I set out the plates for forging notes and that I’ll ne’er deny,

Drawn on the Bank of Scotland and that company I defy,

They traced me unto Belfast all through a hired spy,

Which parted me from my Sweet Erin the Green.

It was not for murder that I received my sentence.

I ardently loved all mankind.

Through the naked I clothed I made the acquaintance,

Of friendship sincere and sublime.

When my enemy assaileth me no dagger I drew

He was of a savage temper, with a smile I did subdue

The noble bonds of charity I held all in my view,

From my childhood with Sweet Erin the Green.

Now alas in that sweet harbour of commerce and pleasure

William Hill now he bids you farewell.

You’re the sweetest in the North for talent and treasure.

And may peace and content with you dwell.

While though the cruel ocean, between us now does roll

My heart shall be as true as the needle to the pole.

A poor convict I remain, my sad spirits to condole,

Far away from you, my Sweet Erin the Green.