Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society, Volume 1, Issue 1, Page 37

Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society, Volume 1, Issue 1, Page 37
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Irish Folk Song Society
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Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society
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60following account of the blind bard of the Magilligans was taken from his own lips,July 3rd, 1805, by the Rev. Mr. Sampson, at the request of Miss Owenso, now LadyMorgan.Denis Harnpson, or the man with two heads, is a native of Derry. His father,Bryan Darrogher ( blackish complexion ) Hampson, held the whole towi -land ofTyrorevan; his mothers relations were in possession of the Wood-town (both considerablefarms in Magilligan). He lost his sight at the age of three years by the small-pox. Attwelve years he began to learn the harp under Bridget OCahan, for, as he said,in those old times women as well as. men were taught the Irish harp in the bestfamilies, and every old Irish family had harps in plenty. His next master was JohnC. (3anagher, a blind travelling harper, whom he followed to Buncranagb; where hismaster used to play to Colonel Vaughan; he had afterwards Laughlin Hanning andPatt Connor in succession as masters. All these were from Connaught, which was,as he added, the best part of the kingdom for music and for harpers. At eighteenyears of age he began to play for himself, and was taken into the house of CounsellorCanning at Garvagh for haif a year; his host, with Squire Gage and Dr. Bacon, foundand bought him a harp. He travelled nine or ten years through Ireland and Scotland,and tells facetious stories of gentlemen in both countries; among others, that in passingnear the place of Sir J. Campbell, at Aghanbrack, he learned that this gentleman hadspent a great deal, and was living on so much per week of allowance. Hampson through* Reprinted from the Biography of the Blind, a rare Belfast-printed volume of 1821, lent byFrancis Joseph Bigger, to whom we are also indebted for the block from whioh we reproduce Hempsonsportrait.61delicacy would not call, but some of the domestics were sent after him. On coming intothe castle, Sir T. asked him why he had not called, adding, Sir, there was never aharper but yourself that passed the door of my fathers house; to which Hampsonanswered, that he had heard in the neighbourhood that his honour was not often athome; with which delicate evasion Sir J. was satisfied. He adds that this was thehighest bred and stateliest man he ever knew. If he were putting on a new, pair ofgloves, and one of them dropped on the floor (though ever so clean), he would order theservant to bring him another pair. He says that in that time he never met but oneLaird that had a harp, and that was a very small one, played on by the Lairds father;that when he had tuned it with new strings the Laird and his lady were both so pleasedwith his music that they invited him back in these words: Hampson, as soon as youthink this child of ours (a boy of three years of age) is fit to learn on his grandfathersharp, come back to teach hire, and you shall not repent it; but this he never accom-plished.He told me a story of the Laird of Stone, with a great deal of comic relish.When he was playing at the house, a message came that a large party of gentlemenwere coming to grouse, and would spend some days with him (the Laird). The lady,being in great distress, turned to her husband, saying, What shall we do, my dear,for so many .in the way of beds? Give yourself no vexation, replied the Laird;give us enough to eat, and I will supply the rest; and as to beds, believe me, everyman shall find one for himself (meaning that his guests would fall under the table).In his second trip to Scotland, in the year 1745, being at Edinburgh when Charley thePretender was there, he was called into the great hail to play; at first he was alone,afterwards four fidilers joined. The tune called-for was, The King shall enjoy hisown again. He sung here part of the words following:I hope to see the dayWhen the Whigs shall run away,And the King shall enjoy his own again.I asked him if he heard the Pretender speak. He replied, I only heard him ask, IsSylvan there? on which someone answered, He is not here, please your RoyalHighness, but he shall be sent for. He meant to say Sullivan, continued Hampson,but that was the way he called the name. He says that Capt. MeDonnel, when inCbe Life of Denis bampsou.*Tus Bruce HABPER OF M&GILLIG (.The rolls of fame I will now explore,Nor need I here describe in learned lay,How forth the minstrel fared in days of yore.Right glad of heart, though homely in array,His waving beard and locks all hoary grey;While from his bending shoulders decent hungHis harp the sole companion of his way;Which to the whistling wind responsive rung,And ever, as he went, some merry lay he sung.V
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Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society, Volume 1, Issue 1

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