Carrickfergus (Gaelic for The Rock of Fergus) is a coastal town in the Occupied Six Counties of Ireland. The origins of this particular song are subject to much speculation, but the melody is believed to be from a Gaelic song titled, “Do Bhí Bean Uasal” (There was a Noble Woman) which has been attributed to the poet Cathal Buí Giolla Ghunna who passed on in County Clare in 1756.
It has been recorded by many notable artists including The Dubliners, Bryan Ferry, Joan Baez, Van Morrison, The Chieftains, Katherine Jenkins and the comedian Jason Manford. It tells of an Irish immigrant who yearns to return to the land of his birth as he nears death. Factoid for the pedantic among you: there are no marble stones ‘as black as ink’ in Kilkenny, as the lyrics suggest. There is, however a type of black limestone that resembles marble. It contains small fossilised crustaceans and can still be cut and bought today.
Loudon Wainwright is a North American folk singer and father of Rufus and Martha Wainwright.