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Johnny o' Hazelgreen
(Roud 250, Child 293)
Packie Manus Byrne
Donegal, though living in Manchester when this was recorded in 1964.

One night as I rode o'er yon lea, with moonlight shining clear;
I overheard a fair young maid, lamenting for her dear.
She did cry as I drew nigh, the better it might have been;
For she was letting the tears roll down, for Johnny o' Hazelgreen.

'What is your trouble, my lovely maid, or what caused you to roam?
Is it your father or mother that's dead, or have you got no home?'
'My parents they are both alive, and plainly to be seen;
But I have lost my own true love, called Johnny o' Hazlegreen.'

'What sort of boy is your Hazelgreen? He's one I do not know.
He must be a braw young lad, because you love him so.'
'His arms are long, his shoulders broad, he's comely to be seen,
And his hair is rolled like chains of gold, he's Johnny o' Hazlegreen.'

'Dry up your tears my lovely maid, and come along with me.
I'll have you wed to my only son, I never had one but he.
Then you might be a bride,' I said, 'to any Lord or King.'
'But I'd far rather be a bride,' said she, 'to Johnny o' Hazlegreen.'

'She got on her milk-white steed, and I got on my bay.
We rode along that moonlight night, and part of the next day.
When we came up to the gate, the bells began to ring.
And who stepped out but the noble knight, they called Johnny o' Hazelgreen.

'You're welcome home, dear father' he said. 'You're welcome home to me.
You've brought me back my fair young maid, I thought I'd never see.'
The smile upon her gentle face, as sweet as grass is green.
So I hope she's enjoying her married life, with Johnny o' Hazlegreen.

Mike Yates writes: When I first got to know Packie he asked me to record some of his whistle tunes so that he could send a tape to a relative in Canada.  Accordingly, he came round to my home one evening and we recorded the tunes.  I had been reading Evelyn Wells' book The Ballad Tree at the time and, knowing that Packie knew some songs, I followed Evelyn's advice and asked Packie if he knew the one 'about the milk-white steed'.  "God, yes."  He said.  "But I haven't sung that in years."  I switched on the tape machine and Packie's sang me a version of Johnny o' Hazelgreen.  It was possibly the first version to come from an Irish singer and I was just about knocked out.  This is that early recording, and not the one that appeared on Packie's Topic LP Songs of a Donegal Man (12TS257).

Professor Child included five Scottish versions of Johnny o Hazelgreen in his collection, all of which date from the early part of the 19th century and, in the form rewritten by Sir Walter Scott, the ballad has proven especially popular in Scotland.  Versions have also turned up in North America.  Packie believes that the ballad was taken to Donegal by his grand-uncle, who had learnt it whilst working in Scotland, and who had taught the song to Packie's aunt, 'Big' Bridget Sweeney of Meenagolin, County Donegal, who in turn taught it to Packie.

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