night_visiting
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release date:

March 13, 2009

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Hag's Head Records

All songs written by Barry McCormack

Barry McCormack - guitar and vocals
Gary Fitzpatrick - banjo, mandolin, accordion & backing vocals
Shane McGrath - mandolin, guitar & backing vocals
Colm Mac Con Iomaire - fiddle
Rob Bochnik - bannister percussion & backing vocals
Dave Trantina - backing vocals

Recorded & mixed by Rob Bochnik
Mastered by Brett Sparks

Sleeve design by Niall McCormack
Photography by Colm McCarthy

Night Visiting

LYRICS

SEAN RYAN

I won't forget that fateful day when I went into the town
The moon was out and ready to pounce
long before the sun had gone down

I was not long upon the road when I came to recognise
The face of the man approaching me
for l knew those beady eyes

'It's you, Sean Ryan‘. l said to him ‘The black—hearted ne'er—do—well
lt’s you, Sean Ryan, the son of Chris
Who wanders raising hell‘

And when he turned and shrugged his shoulders
It was than I was sure I spied his tail
Why are some men born into evil
Into malice and betrayal?

'It's me‘ Sean Ryan. the son of Chris
who at this very hour lies slain
I put my knife against his throat
And released him from his pain’

Then up he stepped and he said to me
'Hand me your shiny new brogues
Then he put his knife between my ribs
I fell bleeding to the road

And when he turned and shrugged his shoulders
It was then I was sure l spied his tail
Why are some men born into evil
Into malice and betrayal?

'Is that it. Sean Ryan, will you leave me here dying in the ditch‘?
Why do you laugh and spit in my Face
And call my wife a bitch?

What will you do when the magistrate comes
and robs you of your own breath?’
But l could see in eyes that he had no fear
For man, nor law. nor death

And when he turned and shrugged his shoulders
It was then l was sure I spied his tail
Why are some men born into evil
Into malice and betrayal?

THE MAN I WOULD REPLACE

I was hired by somebody
Who said he knew someone
Who said that he had known me
At Maguire. Gill and Dunne
At Maguire, Gill and Dunne

I impressed him with my answers
And he knew that I could tell
Many years of such encounters
Had served me well
Yes they had served me well

And soon he let his guard down
I could see it in his face
And he told me of the incident
With the man I would replace
The man l would replace

I knew that they were cowboys
I knew the corners they would cut
But I also knew when to turn my eyes
And when to keep my mouth shut
When to keep my mouth shut

It was best to keep my head down
Not to question nor to shirk
So when they came to screw me too
They could not fault my work
No they could not fault my work

But my mind was set to wander
Down to the sea at Ross
And all along the back roads
To take me in to Cross
That take me in to Cross

PILOTS' HILL

Early one morning I went down to his house
I hid in a copse as quiet as a mouse
I waited a while and when he did not return
I set fire to the barn and watched it burn

Then I went into the woods and put and axe to his still
And roaring drunk fell up Pilots' Hill

Well you may ask me why I would do such a thing
To the man who had taken me under his wing
Treated me as if I had been his own son
And supported everything that I'd done

It's true there was a time that I bent to his will
But something changed on Pilots' Hill

Late one night as I lay asleep
Not a creature on the hill was heard to peep
I awoke in the room and got a terrible fright
When I inhaled the fumes and knew the house was alight

They said he was dying. they said he was ill
But he'd carried a torch up Pilots' Hill

So I took the rusted Webley down from the rack
And when he turned to run I shot him in the back
And as I lay there dying in that smoky hell
It was a comfort to know he was coming as well

And everything was quiet and peaceful and still
Except for the blaze on Pilots‘ Hill

THE ROAD TO TYRRELLSPASS

Moran's jennet kicked and strained
And squealed an almost human squeal
I dipped my head against the light that remained
And gripped the bridal ring of cold steel

As I struggled hard to keep him straight
And away from the hungry grass
On the road. on the road to Tyrrellspass

Try as I might I could not keep
The thought of Moran from my mind
Though l knew I'd left him out cold in a heap
l did not dare to look behind

But despite my many misgivings
I knew I must continue, alas
On the road. on the road to Tyrrellspass

We'd set out early with Moran's saw
And on his lap a bag full of stout
I hacked at the sallies till my hands were raw
And when I turned he had passed out

While his arse played the drunkards' anthem
A skewed ballad on wind and brass
I yearned for the road. the road to Tyrrellspass

So l took the cart and led the jennet down
And into the Shannon l dumped its load
Then followed a nameless track past the town
And in the faded light we came to the road

Just me and the jennet. brothers of a sort
Both neither horse nor ass
on the road. on the road to Tyrrellpass

(This song was inspired by john McGahern's short story 'Christmas')

THE WAXING OF THE MOON

I had cured myself when Deasy came in
And told us all his prophecy
He said, 'Drink up, men. sup hard. breathe deep
For tomorrow we'll be swallowed by the sea

And you can say what you want to
But you know in your soul
That there is no fooling the waxing of the moon
Nor its waning as you're deep in your slumber'

'Well this townland where we stand. where we call home
Was once at the ocean floor
But do not weep. nor mourn. nor lament
That tomorrow it will return there once more

And you can say what you want to
But you know in your soul
That there is no fooling the waxing of the moon
Nor its waning as you're deep in your slumber'

'The pilgrims set out to see their God'
Said Deasy upon his throne
'But the question they asked and the answer he gave
The pagans had long since known

You can say what you want to
But you know in your soul
That there is no fooling the waxing of the moon
Nor its waning as you're deep in your slumber’

'I did not come here tonight’
I said to Deasy. "To hear of doom, nor the hereafter
I only came down to hear the tunes
And the gloom smothered by laughter

And you can say what you want to
That you know in your soul
That there is no fooling the waxing of the moon
Nor its waning as you're deep in your slumber
Nor its waning as you're deep in your slumber'

ENCOUNTER ON THE ROAD TO COBH

As I was going out one day upon the road to Cobh
I cursed the cruel vagaries that forced me to rove
My bicycle strained between my legs, I cleared the phlegm from my throat
I could feel an ooze beneath my arms seep into my coat

Suddenly in the distance there appeared a form
Steadily approaching in a police uniform
In my heart and my head and my guts I knew that I should turn around
But the sad fact was I had no choice. I had to go into town

I heard him as he approached me and I did not like his tone
'Get your skinny arse', said he, 'Down off its shaky throne
Where are your lights and reflective gear? I cannot see them. son
If you cannot produce these items I won't let you go on' '

Said I, 'Skiddle-eye—diddle-eye—diddle-eye'

Well I could not believe how he spoke to me, he was nearly half my age
Though I knew it best to say nothing. my ulcer screamed out in rage
I told him that I had no lights. but that I had to go into town
I assured him I'd be long at home before the sun had gone down

'How can you say you'll be long at home before the sun has gone down
Many's the fool left his wife at home because he had to go in to town
But never got further than Manley's house and wound up on the rip
Wandering ossified into the darkness. the taste of porter upon his lips'

I told him I was a Pioneer and I pointed to my pin
I said. 'Not one drop of porter has ever been loosed upon this chin'
I could not tell for all the world why he chose to pick on me
When there were murderers wandering the roadway from Great Island to the Lee

Said I, 'Skiddle-eye-diddle—eye-diddle—eye'

Then suddenly he gripped his chest, he looked as though he had been hurt
When his coat flew open I could see how high his gut rose up into his shirt
He coughed and spluttered and murmured and fell to the ground
And his face it turned a greyish green. the colour of Dursey Sound

Well I could not believe how my heart went out to this thick-necked son of the bog
Though he'd felt it his prerogative to speak to me like I was his dog
But I knew someone would come to his aid if this way they happened to rove
So I got back on my bicycle and continued on to Cobh

Said I, 'Skiddle-eye—diddle—eye-diddle-eye'

WHITE STRAND

The last thing that I remember
I went into the room to shave
I awoke face down in the sand
And beside me they were digging my grave

I kicked and I screamed and I struggled
But my hands and my feet they were bound
And Westby and Keane and Burton
Were furiously hacking at the ground

And the tide on White Strand crept in

Then Keane came over toward me
As the others continued to dig
I could see by the light of their torches
That Westby had removed his wig

Keane leant heavy on his shovel
With one hand upon his hips
And as he moved in closer
I could see the wine in the cracks of his lips

And the tide on White Strand crept in

Then Burton put down his shovel
And came and stood at Keane's side
'I thought that you said that you'd killed him‘?
'I thought I had'. Keane replied

Then Keane picked up his shovel
And brought down hard against my leg
I knew that their digging was finished
When Westby replaced his wig

And the tide on White Strand crept in

Some men will kill for hatred
Others for love or creed
But Westby and Keane and Burton
I knew they were killing for greed

I could see the light on the horizon
Soon it would be dawn
And I'd be in that hole forever
Westby and Keane and Burton would be gone

And the tide on White Strand crept in

THE SHIFTLESS SON

Come all you shiftless sons and those
Who spurn all labour and toil
I'll tell you the tale of how I wound up
Ploughing the bony soil
Ploughing the bony soil

My father came to me one morning
And told me he'd never leave me the land
But he said he'd met a man who needed a son
I was to ask for his daughter's hand
To ask for his daughter's hand

When I politely declined his offer
He called me a malcontent
Then my father's brothers
Came into the room
And they forced me to relent
They forced me to relent

Like so many things I cannot alter
I chose to pay it no mind
As I set out that day for the farmer's house
I was sure they were following behind, boys
I was sure they were following behind

Struggle.
0 struggle
When will you let me be?
I got down upon one knee

When I came to Shanahan's bridge, I knew
I'd only ever been this far
I feared for myself lost in the dark
Trying to spot the North Star
Trying to spot the North Star

I knew I was lost when I came to a man
Holding court in the ditch
He was digging at a splinter in his finger
And his hands were the colour of pitch
His hands were the colour of pitch

I said, 'Wandering man do not rob me
But tell me where I go from here'
And I turned my face as I spoke to him
To hide the shame of my tears
To hide the shame of my tears

I had wandered west into the darkness
When I finally came to the house
An aged man appeared at the doorway
My heart leapt into my mouth, boys
My heart leapt into my mouth

Struggle.
O struggle
When will you let me be?
I got down upon one knee

Then the farmer he approached me
And he took my hand in his hand
I knew he could tell from the softness of my palms
I'd never spent a day on the land
I'd never spent a day on the land

Then the farmer led me into the house
Saying, 'Come and meet your wife to be'
When my eyes adjusted to the darkness I could see
She was twenty years older than me
She was twenty years older than me

They toasted my health but soon I could feel
A malaise inside me creep
And when my father's brothers came into the room
I fell into a deathly sleep, boys
I fell into a deathly sleep

Struggle.
O struggle
When will you let me be?
I got down upon one knee

TATTERSVILLE

'Come all you folk of Tattersville!'
The prisoner yelled to the crowd
Who seemed bemused that a man in chains
Should seem so very proud

'Come simple folk of Tattersville
And listen to what l say
For when you squeeze the life from me
You won't forget this day

And when I'm in the light
When I'm on my way
You will shiver and your fingers turn to bone'

'Who would stare at my misfortune
If they poked out the gawkers' eyes
Who would turn to see the river shrink
And gape as they see my soul rise

When you feel me move amongst you
You will know then you've been had'
In the crowd they muttered amongst themselves
That the prisoner must be mad

'And when I'm in the light
When I'm on my way
You will shiver and your fingers turn to bone'

'Come simple folk of Tattersville
And listen to my refrain
For when I'm gone you will envy me
And curse that you remain'

The crowd they heard the prisoner's words
But soon they did forget
Then they dumped his body into the mill race
And shared out his cigarettes

'When I'm in the light
When I'm on my way
You will shiver and your fingers turn to bone'

NIGHT VISITING

I came in from Doolin with this suitcase in my hand
I turned to see the ocean tearing at the land
I followed the ragged coast to Fanore
I am night visiting. I'm waiting at your door

Is it far from DaIy's tavern in this mean bog-dark night?
Are there souls there I can speak to concerning my plight?
For I have raged and I have wandered and I can wander no more
I am night visiting. I'm waiting at your door

The stranger spoke to me in some kind of code
As a hail of loose chippings spat up at us from the road
Of journeys once forgotten, since passed into lore
I am night visiting. I'm waiting at your door

The rain is an old codger lost out on the bog
I could see the lights at Clane and hear the barking of a dog
Something in my soul says that I've been here before
I am night visiting. I'm waiting at your door

When I came in from Doolin. they were all gathered round
Like the ships of the Armada caught out in the sound
Petrified in the bog or buried deep on the shore
I am night visiting, I'm waiting at your door

All lyrics (c) Barry McCormack

"If you like dark ruminations and tales that come from a trady tradition quite at odds with fifteen years of the Celtic Tiger you'll love Barry McCormack...probably one of the best songwriters in the country and eventually people are going to find out" Hot Press *****

"F***ing brilliant...it's a testament to McCormack's literary songwriting that his work stands up to intense scrutiny" Slate magazine ****

"McCormack takes his listener into dark, surreal and often downright funny territory...this is Patrick McCabe put to music. And just as in McCabe's novels the macabre and the hilarious often sit side by side." Irish Independent ****

"Doom-laden but blackly comical...such is McCormack's eye for folk and trad detail that one expects Captain Farrell to come galloping in all his pomp across the Cork and Kerry mountains...Ronnie Drew will rest easier with talent like this around." RTE Guide ***

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