Packie Manus Byrne

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Packie Manus Byrne: Was born in Co Donegal, but lived in England for many years.  He came to live in Manchester and he asked me to record a number of his whistle tunes, so that he could send a tape to a relative who lived abroad.  At the time I had been reading Evelyn Wells book The Ballad Tree and I remembered that she said that one of the ways to collect ballads was to ask the singer if they knew the one about the milk-white steed.  During a break in recording I plucked up my courage and asked the question to Packie.  Packie blinked his eyes with surprise, before saying, “God, yes.  But I haven’t sung that one in thirty years!” Then he sang me a version of Johnny o’ Hazelgreen (Child 293), which turned out to be the first version ever collected from an Irish singer.  (A later recording appeared on Packie’s album Songs of a Donegal Man - Topic 12TS257).

Part of the booklet notes, written by Mike Yates, to the Musical Traditions Records CDs The Birds Upon the Tree (MTCD311-2)