This is a nice little polka from the Isle of Man. Only about five polkas survive in collections of traditional music in the Island, including versions of Farewell to Whiskey and the Rakes of Mallow, but polkas would almost certainly have been as popular there as elsewhere at the time. It goes well with Sweeney’s and Egan’s.
Also known as The Branch Line. See https://thesession.org/tunes/3753
I have added the version found in the mysterious Greet manuscript, "found by Peter Hill in his loft" as referenced by Charles Menteith and Paul Burgess in their book The Colford Jig. Sorry it’s English.
When I said the tune was from the Isle of Man, that’s all I meant: it was collected there. And, in the same vein, its inclusion in the Colford Jig only makes it a tune collected in Gloucestershire.
I certainly didn’t believe it to be a Manx composition - so no apologies or sympathy needed!
There is an early 19th century ballad called Betsy Baker, printed in London, the words of which fit this tune. Two other ballads, Mary Martin and A Trip to the Harvest, give Betsy Baker as the tune to use (and, again, the words scan to the tune), so the ballad publisher must have thought it well known enough to include it. Also, it is a tune in the Rook ms of 1840 ("upwards of 1260 tunes selected by John Rook").
Which only goes to prove a good tune travels.
I was at weekend Fla in Andalucia recently and Matt Cranitch (sorry to namedrop but he has to be mentioned) told me about a reel version of Betsy Baker. He and Jackie Daly recorded it for their 2014 CD Rolling On. It’s in The Tunes of the Munster Pipers, number 102, and in O’Neill’s. A case of a good tune both travelling AND getting re-used.