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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Follow me down to… eBay

Carlow Ballad goes for a song

Is there anything that can’t be bought nowadays on the internet? Apparently not, as one Carlow man found out.

While browsing through the online auction site, eBay, one day, Malcolm Kelly came across an item that caught his attention. Up for grabs to the highest bidder worldwide was a Carlow ballad written almost one hundred years ago.

“Follow Me Down to Carlow” was written by the English songwriter, Percy Fletcher in 1915. How the lyrics and score of the song ever appeared for auction on an internet site remains a mystery.

However, the Fletcher ballad received its first airing in almost a century in Smyth’s of Newtown recently when well-known Carlow musician Eric Butler played it to a receptive audience in the county’s oldest and best known music venue.

Believe it or not, when Malcolm started to tender for the song he sparked a online bidding situation. Luckily, he successfully fended off the stiff competition from five other bidders and the copyright was secured for the princely sum of •9.78.

Malcolm’s idea was to present the words and music to Eric so they could be recorded for posterity on his new CD. And what more fitting a venue could be found for its first performance than in Smyth’s of Newtown.

Local historian Michael Purcell explained a bit more about the piece.

“The title of the song is a word play on the better known song and was written as a musical arrangement for ladies voices.

“Obviously Percy Fletcher must have had some knowledge of Carlow but we have not established what that is yet except that the lyrics in the song mention things like the Market Day, the castle ruins and the Barrow,” he said.

What is known about Percy Fletcher is that he was born in Derby, England on December 12, 1879 and died on December 10, 1932 at the age of 52. He was an accomplished musician and played violin, piano and organ and made a living as a musical director in the London theatre scene. Other songs composed by him included “Kitty, what a pity”, “Galloping Dick” and “The Bells of Youth”.

He was also the composer of a number of light operas, music for a military band and string quartet and most of his piano music was arranged from orchestral scores. Sadly, most of his music died with him.

“I think I must have seen or heard every song about Carlow but I had never heard this one,” Michael added. “It was written in a quick tempo and meant to be sung in a comical fashion but we don’t have a clue why Percy Fletcher would have included it in his repertoire of songs.

“I was amazed that we had never come across it before with all our research and we think it was probably written around 1915.

“It’s only a pity that we didn’t know about it in time for ‘A Song for Carlow’,” he joked

Source: Carlow Nationalist: Breaking News 7/6/2005

Garryhill Flageolet Band

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