A Bunch of Green

A Bunch of Green

Does anybody KNOW ( as distinct from "well it might mean" ) what "a bunch of green " refers to in the line "and I’ll crown my love with a bunch of green" . It appears in the last line of a song titled "The Streets of Derry " or "Streets of Derry" Also is it a love song or political song ?.Please don’t bother replying unless you are pretty certain of your information

Re: A Bunch of Green

I think in the Bothy Band version sung by Triona the last words are, "I’ll crown my Johnny with the laurel wreath".

A laurel wreath - here meaning from the bay tree, not the laurel common in Ir / UK gardens and shrubberies - was used to crown victors in war / games / competitions / whatever in the Classical world. (It was not the only plant so used.) I do not suppose these words imply a literal intent. Hackle-raising poetry, though.

Re: A Bunch of Green

its actually referring to a treatment for thrush.
parboiled and heavily salted spinach would be applied to affected area, every day until symptoms cleared.

not so much use now, what with antibiotics etc. but its still very common in Guatemala.

Re: A Bunch of Green

Well, Heavens above.

Re: A Bunch of Green

Actually, it’s a reference to something else entirely. Come on, the guy’s just been taken down from the gallows, he must be kind of stressed. She’s saying she’s going to apply a traditional remedy for such stress, one which I believe is still used in Ireland to this day. 🙂


More seriously, it’s hard not to be struck by the classical references in what’s ostensibly a folk tradition.Anybody got any bright ideas on what it tells us when the native songs of Ireland are all packed with references to Greek heroes and gods and sporting customs?

Re: A Bunch of Green

In the c18 especially, poetry *did* tend to be full of such references, in Britain and I assume over Western Europe generally. And when Irish culture was being suppressed around this time, wasn’t there a tradition of "hedge schools" run undercover by people with ambitions to maintain education in general among the people? These probably taught Latin and maybe Greek, along with gen on the ancient legends, not only to enable people to get along in the English culture, but to enrich their own and the Irish-language culture. After all, Classicism was the big international cultural movement of the time.

Re: A Bunch of Green

I agree with Nic
Remember that schooling was not a right at this time and a high percentage of the population was illiterate. Enlightenment was seen as the way to freedom, empowerment and improving ones self, look up the words to Loch Erin Shore on the Andy Irvine / Paul Brady Blue Album for another fine example.

Re: A Bunch of Green

Actually, the line I quoted may be, "I’ll crown my Johnny with the laurel leaf". (As opposed to "wreath".)

Re: A Bunch of Green

Bunch of green rushes?

Re: A Bunch of Green

Nicholas is right about the victor being crowned with laurel/bay. There is quite a lot of underlying ‘pagan’ imagery in this song - as in many others. Anyone interested may care to read the books by singer Bob Stewart on this subject. I recommend ‘Where is St George - Pagan Imagery in English Folk Song’

Re: A Bunch of Green

I remember seeing a review of that book, round about 1980, by Bob Copper. He absolutely panned it and thought the scholarship was rubbish. I should imagine Bob Copper was the one with the more authority about the material.