niall hanna - The Mountains of Pomeroy

Mellon Homestead (location 6)

Song

The Mountains of Pomeroy, a latter-day anthem for Tyrone, was penned by Dr George Sigerson in the 1860s, borrowing from an existing air and adapting from previous lyrics. The rustic ballad of‘Reynardine’ or ‘The Mountains High’, featuring a fox-like rake near ‘Plimroy’ [or ‘Pimroy’], was sung on both sides of the Atlantic by the 1830s.

Sigerson’s ‘gallant Renardine’ is not a seductive were-fox but ‘an outlawed man’ hiding from all but his beloved bride, around Pomeroy, the highest village of the author’s native Tyrone. Whether he had in mind the rugged hills around Pomeroy or the majestic Sperrin Mountains several miles away, we’ll never know.

This mountainous lovesong has become popular since the 1950s. Today, its superbly crafted melody is often heard as a march and hornpipe, played in sessions throughout the island.

The morn was breaking bright and fair,
The lark sang in the sky,
Wheb the maid she bound her goIden hair,
With a blithe glance in her eye;
For, who beyond the gay green-wood,
Was a-waiting her with joy,
Oh, who but her gallant Renardine,
On the mountains of Pomeroy.

An outlawed man in a land forlorn,
He scorned to turn and fly,
But kept the cause of freedom safe
Up on the mountains high.

Full often in the dawning hour,
Full oft in twilight brown
He met the maid in the woodland bow'r,
Where the stream comes foaming down
For they were faithful in a love
No wars could e'er destroy.
No tyrant's law touched Renardine,
On the mountains of Pomeroy.

"Dear love, " she said, "l'm sore afraid,
For the foeman's force and you
They've tracked you in the lowland plain
And all the valley through.
My kinsmen frown when you are named
Your life they would destroy
'Beware,' they say, 'of Renardine,
On the mountains of Pomeroy."

"Fear not, fear not, sweetheart," he cried,
"Fear not the foe for me
No chain shall fall, whate'er betide,
On the arm that would be free!
Oh, leave your cruel kin and come,
When the lark is in the sky.
And it's with my gun I'll guard you,
On the mountains of Pomeroy."

The morn has come, she rose and fled
From her cruel kin and home;
And bright the wood, and rosy red,
And the dumbling torrent's foam.
But the mist came down and the tempest roared,
And did all around destroy;
And a pale, drowned bride met Renardine,
On the mountains of Pomeroy.

 

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Location

The Ulster American Folk Park developed around this cottage, the birthplace of Thomas Mellon in February 1813. This house was built by Thomas’s father Andrew and his father’s brother Archie. It began as a two-room house with two detached outhouses. The family farmed about 23 acres. They grew potatoes, flax and barley and raised poultry and some cattle. The Mellon family were prosperous tenant farmers. Other members of the Mellon family had left for America in previous years. Thomas’s father and mother received many letters informing them about life in America and its potential. They soon realised that if they too emigrated, they could have a better life.  In 1818, at the age of five, he emigrated with his parents to Pennsylvania. He would grow up to become a lawyer, a judge, and the founder of the Mellon Bank, which remains one of America’s largest. The Mellon Homestead is a living building – there are ducks and hens in the yard and soda bread on the griddle – just as it was in the 19th century.

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Artist

County Tyrone’s Niall Hanna was immersed in traditional singing at a very young age when he began to learn from the singing of his late Grandfather, Geordie Hanna. He won his first All Ireland title in singing when he was just 13 years old. Since then Niall has combined the traditional style of singing with his guitar playing and has performed on many stages. In 2011, Niall along with his brother Ciaran, fiddle player Niall Murphy and Bodhran player Eamon Rooney formed the young trad group ‘Reel It In’. All four musicians had met as pupils at the ‘Armagh Pipers Club’. The band combined lively sets with Niall’s traditional ballads and began to perform across Ireland and in Europe. As a solo artist, Niall became a recipient of the ‘Young Musician’s Platform Award’ and his first widely played album received two nominations, including Best Original Track, at the RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Awards which gained Niall recognition as a fresh talent in the Irish folk scene. Niall has shared stages with a range of highly established acts including John Mcsherry & Donal O’Connor, Barry Kerr, Rioghnach Connolly, Martin Meehan and the Ulster Orchestra. He has also toured in countries across Europe and in Australia where he has developed his ability to effectively convey the stories within his songs to a wide range of audiences. A star on the rise.

http://niallhanna.com

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