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
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
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 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
“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