Johnny Come Down To Hilo was, and possibly still is, a folk club favourite. All photos from https://classic-sailing.co.uk where you can enjoy good company and learn the ropes.
At primary school we sang a different version of this song and when I went to secondary school we sang this one. I liked the unusual leap on the word ‘laddy’, which was a significant challenge to some of my classmates and the cause of much giggling. Both songs originated in Tyneside, in the north-east of England. The one I sing here was collected by Cecil Sharp from Sister Emma, aged 71, at Clewer, Berkshire on 27th February 1909. She had a great fund of traditional songs and stories from her childhood (incidentally, she sang ‘dance to thee daddy’) but died the following month just before Sharp was to visit her again. Valerie Bonham wrote a fascinating biography in three volumes about Emma and her family, beginning with: A Joyous Service.
The picture (to an entirely different song) is by the inimitable Randolph Caldecott.
The cheerful Rosemary Lane has a composite text from a number of versions I heard when touring the 1960s and ’70s folk clubs.
To celebrate the day here’s a favourite version of an Irish song I learned from Pete Cunningham when we sang together in the mid-60’s. His father had a large collection of Irish music.
Sheep Shearing came from Mrs Dommett, Staplehay, Pitminster, Somerset, and was collected by Cecil Sharp on the 23rd August 1907.
I happened upon the sheep shearing pictured above as I cycled home yesterday and filmed it but I can’t get the video to display here so you must use your imagination!
There were about sixty sheep in the fold; one man put the sheep in a line up the ramp on the left, two men sheared, taking about 2 minutes per sheep, and two men (behind the tree) folded the fleece, stacked them to be loaded on the trailer and set each sheep free to join the others among the lush grass and trees. The sheep were placid throughout and glad to be free of their hot overcoats. The shearers deserved their wages. It’s back-breaking skillful work.
Girl About The Farm is a very interesting link to shearing.
A very well-known and well-liked song in both merchant and Royal Navy ships, not to mention the folk clubs of the 60’s & 70’s, this was sung to Cecil Sharp by Captain Lewis (aged 70) at Minehead, Somerset, 4th April 1906.
Madam, Madam was collected by Henry & Robert Hammond, c.1905-6, from Mrs Elizabeth Simonds (or Sims), Uploaders, Dorset, and Mrs Forsey, Watton, Dorset.
Photos: Above cowslips, below oxlip.