I was singing “Johnny I hardly knew ye” when this happened.

Hello friends,

Greetings from Halifax, Nova Scotia!

My husband and I drove across Canada in the last couple of weeks and we are on the east coast for the summer. We are back at the Dartmouth Yacht Club preparing our boat Theros, patiently waiting for us on the hard, for sailing.

Meanwhile, here is a video of a traditional Irish folk song called “Johnny I hardly knew ye‟, which I learned many years ago and it was one of the first folk songs I ever performed in folk clubs. It is believed to be an anti-recruiting song written in Ireland in the late 18th or early 19th century. You can sense how bitter and angry the song is by its harsh lyrics and rhythm of the syllables in each stanza, saved only by the tenderness of the last verse.

As before, I recorded it in the living room of our new house, which we are still in the process of building, hence the rustic environment. There are great acoustics though! I hope you enjoy this version.

Something unexpected happened during this recording….

I intend to record another version of this song a bit later on, in which I will include one or two more instruments – perhaps a hand drum, lyre harp or penny whistle…so do stay tuned. There have been several variations to the lyrics over the centuries, however, these are the lyrics I learned way back in the early 1990s.

Lyrics to Johnny I hardly knew ye (traditional)

Verse 1

While going the road to sweet Athy, haroo, haroo,

While going the road to sweet Athy, haroo, haroo,

While going the road to sweet Athy, a stick in my hand and a drop in my eye,

A doleful damsel I heard cry,

Johnny I hardly knew ye

Verse 2

Where are the eyes that looked so mild, haroo, haroo,

Where are the eyes that looked so mild, haroo, haroo,

Where are the eyes that looked so mild when my poor heart your first beguiled,

Why did you go and leave me and the child?

Johnny I hardly knew ye

Chorus

With drums and guns and guns and drums haroo, haroo,

With drums and guns and guns and drums haroo, haroo,

With drums and guns and guns and drums the enemy nearly slew ye,

My darling dear you looked so queer*,

Johnny I hardly knew ye

Verse 3

Where are those legs with which you run, haroo, haroo,

Where are those legs with which you run, haroo, haroo,

Where are those legs with which you run when you went to shoulder a gun,

Indeed your dancing days are done,

Johnny I hardly knew ye

Verse 4

You haven’t an arm and you haven’t a leg, haroo, haroo,

You haven’t an arm and you haven’t a leg, haroo, haroo,

You haven’t an arm and you haven’t a leg you‘re an eyeless, noseless, chicken-less egg

And you’ll have to be put with a bowl to beg,

Johnny I hardly knew ye

Chorus

With drums and guns and guns and drums haroo, haroo,

With drums and guns and guns and drums haroo, haroo,

With drums and guns and guns and drums the enemy nearly slew ye,

My darling dear you looked so queer,

Johnny I hardly knew ye

Verse 5

I’m happy for to see you home haroo, haroo,

I’m happy for to see you home haroo, haroo,

I’m happy for to see you home, back from the island of Ceylon,

So low in the flesh, so high in the bone,

Johnny I hardly knew ye

Verse 6

Sad as it is to see you so haroo, haroo,

Sad as it is to see you so haroo, haroo,

Sad as it is to see you so, now such an object of woe,

Poor Peggy will keep you on as her beau,

Johnny I hardly knew ye

Chorus

With drums and guns and guns and drums haroo, haroo,

With drums and guns and guns and drums haroo, haroo,

With drums and guns and guns and drums the enemy nearly slew ye,

My darling dear you looked so queer,

Johnny I hardly knew ye

(Repeat to fade)

*in this context the word queer refers to strange or odd, or could even be interpreted as spoiled or ruined.

Thanks for watching!

Please feel free to share the link with others and also don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel by clicking on the red subscribe button and hitting the bell so you will receive a notification whenever I upload a new video.

Thanks so much for liking , commenting on and sharing my videos. It warms my heart to know that you enjoy them.

Sending peace and love from the wild, atlantic shores of Canada!

Sarah xx

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