Songs Of The Sea: Fiddler’s Green

No matter the time period, a life at sea is no picnic and sailors would often find ways to break up the monotony and pain of long voyages. Sea shanties were common and while many songs carried a melancholy tune, there were others that had a far more hopeful outlook. 

Fiddler’s Green is one such example. Described as an afterlife for sailors, Fiddler’s Green is a sea shanty that describes rebirth and endless possibilities.

Context

A type of forecast shanty, Fiddler’s Green was inspired by an otherworldly place from an Irish legend. The mythological paradise is for sailors who’ve served for at least fifty years at sea. In Fiddler’s Green there’s no more work, pretty women dance endlessly to a fiddle and rum grows on trees.

Perhaps the first mention of Fiddler’s Green in song comes from Frederick Marryat’s novel The Dog Friend; Or, Snarleyyow published in 1856.

At Fiddler’s Green, where seamen true
When here they’ve done their duty
The bowl of grog shall still renew
And pledge to love and beauty.

The song featured here isn’t a traditional sea shanty. It could’ve been inspired by this original verse. The most popular version of Fiddler’s Green was written by a Lincolnshire songwriter called John Conolly and recorded by bands such as The Dubliners and The Irish Rovers.

Lyrics

As I walked by the dockside one evening so fair
To view the salt water and take the sea air
I heard an old fisherman singing a song
Won’t you take ma away boys me time is not long

Wrap me up in me oil-skin and jumper
No more on the docks I’ll be seen
Just tell me old shipmates, I’m taking a trip mates
And I’ll see you some day in Fiddler’s Green

Now Fiddler’s Green is a place I heard tell
Where the fishermen go if they don’t go to hell
Where skies are all clear and the dolphins do play
And the cold coast of Greenland is far, far away

Wrap me up in me oil-skin and jumper
No more on the docks I’ll be seen
Just tell me old shipmates, I’m taking a trip mates
And I’ll see you some day in Fiddler’s Green

When you get on the docks and the long trip is through
There’s pubs and ther’s clubs and there’s lassies there too
When the girls are all pretty and the beer it is free
And there’s bottles of rum growing from every tree

Wrap me up in me oil-skin and jumper
No more on the docks I’ll be seen
Just tell me old shipmates, I’m taking a trip mates
And I’ll see you some day in Fiddler’s Green

Now, I don’t want a harp nor a halo, not me
Just give me a breeze and a good rolling sea
I’ll play me old squeeze-box as we sail along
With the wind in the rigging to sing me a song

Wrap me up in me oil-skin and jumper
No more on the docks I’ll be seen
Just tell me old shipmates, I’m taking a trip mates
And I’ll see you some day in Fiddler’s Green

One thought on “Songs Of The Sea: Fiddler’s Green

  1. Pingback: Nelson’s Memorial – The Rum Ration

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