The Heelers Diaries

the fantasy world of ireland's greatest living poet

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Location: Kilcullen (Phone 087 7790766), County Kildare, Ireland

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

poem and parody


This week's poem is in fact a song called The Gypsy Rover but it has plenty of poetry in it. It was written by Leo Maguire and has been recorded by dozens of artists from Joe Lynch in 1950 (four decades before the same Joe Lynch inflicted the character Dinny upon Ireland in the television manure opera Glenroe) and afterwards by the Clancy Brothers, Foster And Allen, Elton Hayes, a very famous group called The Highwaymen and a slightly lesser known group called The Wiggles, among countless others. I expect my own parodaic version which is printed below the original, will probably attract just as many artists wishing to record it. By the way, there are other claimants to the authorship of this song but Leo Maguire copyrighted it in 1950. I've been told the story and air is found in the songs sung by Irish tinkers at the fireside over hundreds of years and has also surfaced in folk songs in America which were apparently influenced by Irish culture. Leo Maguire presented a radio programme for RTE over many years but he is perhaps more well known for having taught me English for three days in 1973 while he was a substitute teacher at Terenure College. I kid you not. I remember Mr Maguire as an elderly dignified man with a shock of white hair and an unholy scream. What was particularly terrifying about him, was the smooth transition from dignity to screaming, and then his near cosmic incoherency thereafter. The kids in the class were about seven years old. Each morning he would get us individually to read out passages from our English book. Then for no apparent reason he would cut loose screaming at a kid who to all intents and purposes was reading better than the rest of us had. Mr Maguire would scream something that sounded like: "Thee, thee, thee." His face would turn red then purple. He would gesture wildly. It was most quaint. And honest to goodness, it kept happening for the three days he was our substitute teacher without any of us knowing what the hell was going on. Back home on Main Street Tallaght, my brother Peter asked me what was it like being taught by Mr Maguire. His exact words were: "Did he shout thee at you?" Eventually after much pleading the brother explained that Mr Maguire believed the word "the" should be pronounced "thee" if it came before a vowel. Well why didn't the daft ha'aporth just say that then! Anyhoo. Nuts or not, Leo Maguire also wrote the Dublin Saunter which is also a song with plenty of poetry in it, the most famous version of which became a rather good ad for Murphy's Beer. That's two classics right there, more than most poets write. So let's forgive him the lunaception.

The Gypsy Rover
by Leo Maguire

The gypsy rover came over the hill
Down through the valley so shady.
He whistled and he sang till the green woods ran
And he won the heart of a lady.
She left her home, her castle great
She left her fair young lover
She left her servants and her estate
To follow the gypsy rover.
Her father saddled up his fastest steed,
Roamed the valleys all over,
Sought his daughter at great speed
And the whistling gypsy rover.
He came upon a mansion fine
Down by the river Claydee
And there was music and there was wine
For the gypsy and his lady.
"He is no gypsy, My Father," she said,
"But lord of these woods all over,
And I will stay till my dying day
With my whistling gypsy rover."
Fol dee doo fol dee doo rye aye
Fol dee doo rye dee ay ee
He whistled and he sang till the green woods rang
And he won the heart of a lady."

*************

The Whistling Gypsy
by James Healy

the whistling gypsy came over the hill
down through the valley so shady
he whistled and he sang till the green woods rang
and he won the heart of a lady

"That is no gypsy father dear
but lord of these woods all over
and I will stay till my dying day
with my whistling gypsy rover"

"Alright Esmerelda if that's what you want
You run away with the gypsy
I'm giving your inheritance to your sister Griselda
And moving myself to Poughkipsie."

"Hold on a moment father dear
You really mustn't dash
I'm very very fond of my gypsy love
But I'm extraordinarily fond of your cash."

The whistling gypsy came over the hill
He was wearing barely a stitch
He whistled and he sang till the green woods rang
And he won the heart of a bi-i-i-i-itch.


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