This ballad begins: 'Pity the fate of a poor Irish stranger, / That wanders so far from his home, / That sighs for protection from want, woe, and danger, / That knows not from which way for to roam.' It was published by James Lindsay of 9 King Street, Glasgow, and probably sold for one penny.
There are a number of other broadsides contained in the National Library of Scotland's collection that deal with the same issues as the 'Poor Irish Stranger'. The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries found thousands of Irish people leaving their homeland, to escape oppressive agricultural policies and the resulting threat of starvation. Many moved to Scotland hoping to find work in the rapidly growing industrial centres. This ballad would have struck a chord with all those who desperately longed for the shores of Ireland.
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.
View Transcription | Download PDF Facsimile
Probable date of publication:
1852-1859 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.178.A.2(050)
View larger image