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This version, from Mick O'Connor and "Bobbin Along" is actually one of my favorites. It appears and disappears on YouTube, and has reappeared just in time for a little March 17th celebration. It's no wonder that it's the one Irish song everybody knows. the tune is infectious, bouncy and so lively you just want to dance. It was G.K. Chesterton who said,“The great Gaels of Ireland are the men that God made mad,for all their wars are merry, and all their songs are sad.”
I don't agree with the "merry wars part," but Irish songs can be so very sad. And the saddest ones are those that are calls to arms from various sides of the sectarian violence known as "the Troubles." "Raggle Taggle Gypsy" comes from a strain of folk songs that inspired the Appalachian folk songs I learned as a child, songs that really haven't changed much in the hundreds of years they've been sung, songs that were accompanied by fiddles and hammered dulcimers and autoharps and flutes.
I love the ballad language of the song--"the milk-white steed" has been a trope of ballads since forever. And of course, the story is a tale of love and betrayal--a juicy story in other words. And I love a good story.