The Parting Glass is a traditional Irish/Scot folk song that made it's first appearance in print in the 1770s in a Broadside Ballad book called Scots Songs. It was also recorded in the Skene Manuscript which is a collection of Socttish airs written between 1615 and 1635. Ot was also in Playford's Original Scots Tunes which is dated 1700.
Part of the first stanza of The Parting Glass appears in the early 1600s in a farewell letter as a poem now known as "Armstrong's Goodnight" by a prisoner who was executed in 1605 for the murder of Sir John Carmichael in the year 1600. This early lyric appearance shows that The Parting Glass was a part of Scot/Irish culture long before it was ever inked in public print.
Rhe Parting Glass was often sung a the end of a gathering of friends. It is claimed to be the most popular song sung in Scotland and Ireland before the composition of Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns in 1788. It is most known today from it's feature in the film Waking Ned Divine. In addition, it is the most sought-after Irish traditional search on about.com's "goireland" website.
The first video below is the Waking Ned Divine version by Shaun Davey. It is a moving rendition with a voiceover from the film, wonderful instrumentation, and solid traditional sounding vocals. The second video is a moving concert version by The High Kings. It has been recorded by over 20 artists since 1959 including Bob Dylan, The Pogues, Sinéad O'Connor, Shaun Davey, The High Kings, and Loreena McKennitt.
"So fill to me the parting glass. Good night, and joy be with you all."
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SOURCES and REFERENCE:
http://www.contemplator.com/ireland/pglass.html (warning! plays music with no off switch)
http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/Olson/ (verification of inclusion in Broadside Ballads books)
George Grove & John Alexander Fuller-Maitland, Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, The Macmillan Company, 1908, pg. 479.