Tuesday, February 01, 2011

"The Fairy (Thorn) Tree" - Mary O'Hara / John McCormack

Mary O'Hara on harp ... an Irish art song called "The Fairy Tree" ... lyrics by Isabel Leslie, pen namme Temple Lane, who lived in Clogheen in Co. Tipperary in the early 1900s ... music written for John McCormack in 1930 by Vincent O'Brien, a choir director at St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin.

Audio of John McCormack from the album Closing on the Rhapsody website. Amazon.com has the album available as an mp3 download.

Mary O'Hara has music - for harp and voice - in Vol. 2 of Travels With My Harp" series of transcriptions. Available on her website.

Mudcat Cafe has the usual authoritative thread at http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=29496 with complete lyrics:
Subject: RE: The Fairy (Thorn) Tree
From: Alice
Date: 12 Jan 01 - 12:31 PM

Isabel Leslie, alias Temple Lane, Clogheen, Ireland

All night around the thorn tree,
The little people play,
And men and women passing
Will turn their heads away.
From break of dawn til moonrise,
Alone it stands on high,
With twisted springs for branches,
Across the winter sky.

They'll tell you dead men hung there,
Its black and bitter fruit,
To guard the buried treasure
Round which it twines its root.
They'll tell you Cromwell hung them,
But that could never be,
He'd be in dread like others
To touch the Fairy Tree.

But Katie Ryan who saw there
In some sweet dream she had,
The Blessed Son of Mary
And all His face was sad.
She dreamt she heard Him saying:
"Why should they be afraid?"
[O'Hara repeats "Why should they be afraid?"]
When from a branch of thorn tree
The crown I wore was made?

From moonrise round the thorn tree
The little people play
And men and women passing
Will turn their heads away.
But if your heart's a child's heart
And if your eyes are clean,
You'll never fear the thorn tree
That grows beyond Clogheen
There's also a page, with lyrics and local lore, put up by local authorities in Clogheen.

Lyrics on a CD by a Canadian singer named Calistia is Wiccan, leaves out the third and fourth verses on her website.

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