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[Note 307.0] This poem was written by a Scot who "travelled extensively throughout the eastern counties of Scotland, visiting local fairs and markets, where he recited and sold his poetry to an audience composed principally - though not exclusively - of farm servants and labourers" [Ref: University of Aberdeen website https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/search/archives/50d4fca5-abec-3c78-b081-af00063e15a6.] His audience would have included some of the large numbers of Irishmen who went to Scotland to work on the harvest; their journey made faster and more comfortable by paddle steamers. The characterisation of the Irish labourer as naïve and ill-educated is typical; see for example two other Scottish songs, bar304 ~ Paddy on the Railway and bar184 ~ Iron Horse

gloss "Lammas day" - a festival to mark the wheat harvest

[Note 307.1] "the steamboat Fingaul" - The paddle steamer Fingal was built in Greenock for the Belfast and Glasgow Steamship Company [Ref: http://clydesburn.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/]. She is included in the Post Office Directory of Steam Boats on the River Clyde for June 1826. [Ref : https://i0.wp.com/www.dalmadan.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Post-Office-Directory-1826.jpg]

 

[Note 307.2]: "I'll take you to Glasgow for only sixpence" - The first regular steam-service route, from Belfast to Glasgow in 1818, charged 14 shillings steerage - a couple of week's wages for a labourer. The cheapest passage on the Fingal in 1828 cost three shillings. Fares fell to as little as six pence a head as stated in the poem. [Ref http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.movinghere.org.uk/galleries/histories/irish/journeys/journeys.htm].

[Note 307.3] "I thought by the number that stood on the beach" - This suggests that there was no quay at Belfast which was accessible to steamers at all states of the tide. Alternatively that the Fingal was picking up passengers at some other place.

gloss "Donnybrook fair" - a fair held in Dublin until the late 1850s - slang term for a brawl or riot [ref: ]

[Note 307.4] "We landed at a place that they call Broomielaws" - The picture below shows steamer quay in Glasgow in the mid 19th century. The varied funnel liveries suggest that the steamers of at least three companies are shown.

 

[Note 307.5] "fish they call spaldings was fray'd In a creel" - A speldring is a spilt and dried fish [OED] and a creel is a large wicker basket coupled in pairs across the back of horses for the transport of good [OED]. "Fray'd" does not have an obvious meaning in this context.

[Note 307.6] "large wooden houses set all in a in a row. They were filled with wild beasts" - The following advertisement appeared in the Glasgow Herald of Friday, April 17, 1840.

GLASGOW ZOOLOGICAL GARDENS,
CRANSTON HILL.


THE Nobility, Gentry and Inhabitants of this city are most respectfully informed that Mr ATKINS of the Liverpool Zoological Gardens, having arranged with the proprietors of the above delightful site, is now in active preparation in bringing forward amusements for the forthcoming Summer, on the same splendid scale as exhibited in the Zoological Gardens of London and Liverpool. The celebrated artist, Mr Danson, and assistants, are now engaged in erecting the splendid model of Mount Vesuvius, on the same gigantic scale as that originally designed and erected by him in the Royal Surrey Zoological Gardens of London, acknowledged to be the most astonishing and attractive exhibition ever produced in the Metropolis. To give the utmost possible effect, Mr ATKINS has secured the services of the celebrated artist, Mr D'Ernst, Pyrotechnist to her Majesty, to display the Grand Eruption of the Mountain.
Further notice will be given of the various Animals, Birds, &c., intended to be located in the Gardens.

[Ref: http://glasgowzoo.co.uk/articles/zoodetails/gardens1840.php#ref8]

[Note 307.7] "Young Bonapart on him did stare"" - Prince Louis, the future Emperor Napoleon III, attended the Eglington Tournament of 1839 which took place in Ayrshire so the poet is not stretching credulity too far by imagining that Paddy may have seen him in Glasgow [Ref: http://www.glasgownecropolis.org/profiles/francois-foucart/ ]. "I wondered what brought his from Germany there" - The poet is getting his history muddled, Napoleon II lived in Austria https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleon_II] but his son Prince Louis Napoleon was born in Paris [Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleon_III].

[Note 307.8] "For to shake hands with him I did not seem slack, But a man with a red neck be made me stand back" - Originally the epithet "redneck" was applied to Scottish Covenanters, a religious group who rejected rule by bishops. By the time that this song was written the term simply meant Presbyterian; a member of a strict Protestant church. [Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redneck#Historical_Scottish_Covenanter_usage]. Napoleaon III might well be seen as a representative of Catholisim. Many Irish had been sympathetic to his grandfather and on both counts a "redneck" might find him objectionable

[Note 307.9] "He was telling the people the hours of the night" - It was common for night watchmen to cry out the time as they went their rounds.

[Note 307.10] Lothians - A mainly agricultural area south of the forth estuary. The east of Scotland was the poets stamping ground.

 

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