“Barney McCoy”

Alternate titles: “Nora Darling”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1879 (Journal from the A Hicks)
Keywords: love separation emigration family parting
Found in: US(MW,SE,So) Australia Ireland

Description

"I am going far away, Nora darling... It will break my heart in two Which I fondly give to you, And no other is so loving, kind, and true." He is going away on a ship to seek his fortune; she stays to care for her mother. They do not expect to meet again

Supplemental text

Barney McCoy
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

From the recording by Alec "Uncle Eck" Dunford of Galax, Virginia and
Ernest Stoneman (Victor 20938B). Said to have been learned from a
schoolmate of Dunford's. Transcribed by Lyle Lofgren.

"I am going far away, Nora darling,
Going to leave such an angel far behind;
It will break my heart in two, which I fondly give to you,
For no other is so loving, kind, and true.

"Yes, I'm going far away, Nora darling,
Just as sure as there's a God that we adore;
And remember what I say, that until the judgment day,
You will never see your Barney anymore.

"Then, it's come to my arms, Nora darling,
Bid your friends and old Ireland far behind,
And it's come and go with me to the dear land of the free,
Living happy with your Barney McCoy.

"I would go with you, Barney darling,
But the reason why I told you oft before;
It would break my mother's heart, if from her I was to part,
And go roaming with you, Barney McCoy."

"I am going far away, Nora darling,
And the ship is now anchored in the bay;
And before tomorrow's sun, you will hear the signal gun,
So, be ready, it will carry us away.

"Then, it's come to my arms, Nora darling,
Leave your friends and old Ireland far behind,
And it's happy we will be in the dear land of the free,
Living happy with your Barney McCoy."

"I would go with you, Barney darling,
If my mother and the rest of them were there;
For I'm sure we would be blessed, in that dear land of the west,
Living happy with you, Barney McCoy."

Notes

Everything about this song says Ireland -- except the references; I have been unable to locate a single guaranteed-traditional Irish text. There is a copyright claim from 1881, but the song is evidently older. - RBW

Might it have been "stage-Irish," American-composed? - PJS

Possible, though it's an above-average job in that case. And note the lack of a happy ending. - RBW

O'Conor not only provides an Irish claim but an indeterminate and possibly happy ending

"I am going far away, Norah, darling, And the ship is now anchored at the bay, And before to-morrow you will hear the signal gun, So be ready--it will carry us away." - BS

Broadsides

Recordings

References

  1. Randolph 776, "Barney McCoy" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. BrownII 113, "Barney McCoy" (1 text plus mention of 2 more)
  3. Meredith/Covell/Brown, pp. 103-105, "Barney McCoy" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Huntington-Whalemen, pp. 302-303, "Norah Darling" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. O'Conor, p. 134, "Barney McCoy" (1 text)
  6. cf. Gardner/Chickering, p. 477, "Barney McCoi" (source notes only)
  7. ST R776 (Full)
  8. Roud #2094
  9. BI, R776