19th Century Irish Composition|
Synthesized by UnKnown Artist
|1st Cavalry Division
Fiddler's Green, The CavalryMen's Poem
The first appearance of the poem, entitled "Fiddlers' Green", (in published form) was in a 1923 Cavalry Journal. Its origin and author is unknown. Although historical research indicates that it may have originated in Ireland, it was believed to have found roots in the United States Cavalry Units in the post Civil War period and was first sung by the troopers of the 6th and 7th Cavalry Regiments.
|1st Cavalry Division - Fiddler's Green, The CavalryMen's Poem|
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Halfway down the trail to Hell
Marching past straight through to Hell
Though some go curving down the trail
And so when man and horse go down
Fiddler's Green is a legendary imagined afterlife, where there is perpetual mirth, a fiddle that never stops playing, and dancers who never tire. Its origins are obscure, although some point to the Greek myth of the "Elysian Fields" as a potential inspiration. In general, historical data, referencing Fiddler's Green refers to both the sailor's and cavalry's paradise. The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition (OED2) has a citation from 1825 as the sailor's paradise. Since the 19th century, British sailors have called the traditional heaven of mariners Fiddler's Green, "a place of unlimited rum and tobacco."
Old seamen are such notorious yarn spinners that it is difficult to
know which of their stories to believe about Fiddler's Green. Some say
that an old salt who is tired of seagoing should walk inland with an
oar over his shoulder. When he come to a pretty little village deep in
the country, and people ask him what he is carrying, he will know he
has found Fiddler's Green. The people will give him a seat in the sun
outside the village inn, with a glass of grog that refills itself
every time he drains the last drop and a pipe forever smoking with
fragrant tobacco. From then onwards he has nothing to do but enjoy
his glass and pipe, and watch the maidens dancing to the music
of a fiddler on the village green.
Many believe that the origin and author of Fiddler's Green may have originated by the 5th Royal Irish Lancers who trace their origin back to 1689 when a cavalry formation known as Wynne's Regiment of Enniskillen Dragoons was formed by the then governor James Wynne. Although there no evidence that the Irish Lancers appropriated the paradise and incorporated it into a poem that emigrated to the US with its members, or whether the paradise and poem are of US origin.
The cavalry paradise reference seems to be associated with the 7th US
Cavalry from the post Civil War era and the Indian Wars period (circa
1860-1870). Now, there is a link between the 7th US Cavalry and
Ireland. Many troopers of the 7th Cavalry were of Irish origin, and
the 7th Cavalry's own insignia has the phrase "Garryowen" on it.
"Garryowen" is a derivative of the Irish Gaelic Garraí Eóin which
means Owen's Garden. Owen's Garden was a commons (open field) in
Limerick, Ireland that gave rise to a drinking ballad of the same
name. The 5th Royal Irish Lances, an Irish cavalry unit, used that
The story of Fiddler's Green was first published in the 1923 volume of the Cavalry Journal. According to this article, it was inspired by a story told by Captain "Sammy" Pearson at a campfire in the Medicine Bow Mountains of Wyoming. Common usage also seems to hold this view. as included in John Connally's (Ireland) song from circa 1960 and the Stereophonic's (Welsh Band) song from late 1990's. Fiddler's Green is listed sometimes as a poem and other times as a cavalry prayer.
It is still used by modern cavalry units to memorialize the deceased. The name has had other military uses. Fiddler's Green was an artillery Fire Support Base in Military Region III in Vietnam in 1972 occupied principally by elements of 2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry. Today, in the heart of the Helmand River Valley, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, the US Marine Corps operates a firebase (FB) named Fiddler's Green.
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Revised 12 Jan '13 SpellChecked