Còig: ‘Mary and the Soldier/The Boys of Portaferry’

I thought I’d share a few songs from people I enjoyed at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival this past weekend. One band I really liked was Còig, from Cape Breton. Here they are singing an old Irish folk song I first heard from Paul Brady and Andy Irvine, ‘Mary and the Soldier’.

‘It’s the old story of the soldier heading for the wars and leaving the girl behind him. In some ballads she dressed herself up in men’s clothing and went along with him. Numerous too are the songs about female sailors and female soldiers. More often than not, she went along as the pretty drummer boy or the pretty cabin boy. In this particular song, he is so impressed by her loyalty that he marries her before he goes away. Sam Henry collected this song in Magilligan, Co. Derry, and it appears in his collection under the title of The Gallant Soldier’. (Frank Harte, notes ‘Andy Irvine & Paul Brady’)


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Tim Chesterton

Family man; pastor of St. Margaret's Anglican Church on Ellerslie Road, Edmonton; storyteller; traditional folk musician and occasional songwriter. Email me at timchesterton at outlook dot com.

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