Fiddler's Green

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Fiddler's Green is an after-life where there is perpetual mirth, a fiddle that never stops playing, and dancers who never tire. In 19th-century English maritime folklore, it was a kind of after-life for sailors who had served at least fifty years at sea.[1][2][3]

In literature[edit]

Fiddler's Green appears in Frederick Marryat's novel The Dog Fiend; Or, Snarleyyow, published in 1856, as lyrics to a sailors' song:[4]

At Fiddler’s Green, where seamen true
When here they’ve done their duty
The bowl of grog shall still renew
And pledge to love and beauty.

Herman Melville describes a Fiddler's Green as a sailors' term for the place on land "providentially set apart for dance-houses, doxies, and tapsters" in his posthumous novella Billy Budd, Sailor.

Fiddler's Green is the title of a 1950 novel by Ernest K. Gann, about a fugitive criminal who works as a seaman after stowing away.[5]

The author Richard McKenna wrote a story, first published in 1967, entitled "Fiddler's Green", in which he considers the power of the mind to create a reality of its own choosing, especially when a number of people consent to it. The main characters in this story are also sailors, and have known of the legend of Fiddler's Green for many years.[6]

Fiddler's Green is an extrasolar colony mentioned in Robert A. Heinlein's novels The Cat Who Walks Through Walls and Friday.

In Neil Gaiman's The Sandman comic book series, Fiddler's Green is a place located inside of the Dreaming, a place that sailors have dreamed of for centuries. Fiddler's Green is also personified as a character as well as a location in the fictional world, the former largely based upon casual associations of G. K. Chesterton. In the 2022 tv adaption of the books, the personification is played by Stephen Fry. From November 12 to 14, 2004, a comic book convention promoted as "Fiddler's Green, A Sandman Convention" was held at the Millennium Hotel in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Author Neil Gaiman and several Sandman series artists and others involved in the series' publication participated in the convention, with profits benefiting the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

In Patrick O’Brian’s novel ‘’Post Captain’’, the character Jack Aubrey describes several seamen living together on land by saying, “We’ll lay in beer and skittles - it will be Fiddler’s Green!”.

In music[edit]

  • A song called "Fiddler's Green" or more often "Fo'c'sle Song", was written by John Conolly in 1966,[7] a Lincolnshire songwriter. It has been recorded by Tim Hart and Maddy Prior for their album Folk Songs of Olde England Vol. 2 (1968), by The Dubliners for their album Plain and Simple (1973), and by The Irish Rovers for their album Upon a Shamrock Shore: Songs of Ireland & the Irish (2000).[8] The American sailor band Schooner Fare credits the song for bringing together their band. The song is sung worldwide in nautical and Irish traditional circles, and is often mistakenly thought to be a traditional song.[9]
  • "Fiddler's Green" is a song from the album Road Apples by Canadian rock group The Tragically Hip, written for lead singer Gord Downie's young nephew Charles Gillespie, who died before the album was released.[10] The track was covered by Welsh band Stereophonics on their 1999 Deluxe album Performance and Cocktails
  • "Fiddler's Green" is a song from Marley's Ghost's album Four Spacious Guys (1996).
  • Fiddler's Green is the title track and name of Tim O'Brien's Grammy Award-winning 2005 album.
  • Fiddler's Green is a German folk-rock band, formed in 1990.
  • "Fiddler on the Green" is a song by German-American power metal supergroup Demons & Wizards, from the self titled album released in 1999.
  • Fiddler's Green is mentioned in the Archie Fisher song 'The Final Trawl' from the album Windward Away about fishermen whose livelihoods are passing away.
  • Fiddler’s Green is also mentioned in the extended version of the song ‘Hoist the Colors’ from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films.
  • Friends of Fiddler's Green is a folk music group form Canada, founded in 1971.
  • Fiddler’s green is mentioned a number of times in the worthikids song “pizza delivery” from their 2017 SpongeBob and ween inspired album “bikini bottom”.

In art[edit]

In the United States military[edit]

The Cavalrymen's Poem, also entitled "Fiddlers' Green" was published in the US Army's Cavalry Journal in 1923 and became associated with the 1st Cavalry Division.[12]

Halfway down the trail to Hell in a shady meadow green,

are the Souls of all dead troopers camped near a good old-time canteen,
and this eternal resting place is known as Fiddlers' Green.

Marching past, straight through to Hell, the Infantry are seen,
accompanied by the Engineers, Artillery and Marine,
for none but the shades of Cavalrymen dismount at Fiddlers' Green.

Though some go curving down the trail to seek a warmer scene,
no trooper ever gets to Hell ere he's emptied his canteen
and so rides back to drink again with friends at Fiddlers' Green.
And so when man and horse go down beneath a saber keen,
or in a roaring charge fierce melee you stop a bullet clean,
and the hostiles come to get your scalp,
just empty your canteen and put your pistol to your head

and go to Fiddlers' Green.

The name has had other military uses. Many places associated with the US military have been named Fiddler's Green:[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Eyers, Jonathan (March 1, 2012). Don't Shoot the Albatross!: Nautical Myths and Superstitions. London: A&C Black. ISBN 978-1-4081-3131-2..
  2. ^ "The Sailor's magazine, and naval journal – American Seamen's Friend Society". Life on the Ocean. February 1898. p. 168. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
  3. ^ Hotten, John Camden (1859). A Dictionary of Modern Slang, Cant, and Vulgar Words. ISBN 978-1164343998.
  4. ^ Marryat, Frederick (1856). Snarleyyow Or, the Dog Fiend. G. Routledge & Company. ISBN 978-1846375392. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
  5. ^ Gann, Ernest K. (1950). Fiddler's Green. William Sloane Association.
  6. ^ McKenna, Richard (1976). Casey Agonistes and Other Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories. London: Pan Books. ISBN 978-0330248259.
  7. ^ When a Loose Cannon Flogs a Dead Horse There's the Devil to Pay: Seafaring Words in Everyday Speech by Olivia A. Isil
  8. ^ "The Irish Rovers – Upon A Shamrock Shore Songs Of Ireland And The Irish". Discogs. Discogs. Archived from the original on February 23, 2020. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  9. ^ Blood, Peter; Patterson, Annie, eds. (1988). Rise Up Singing. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: Sing Out!. p. 201. ISBN 1-881322-12-2. O Fiddler's Green is a place I've heard tell, where fishermen go if they don't go to hell
  10. ^ Rudnick, Natasha (August 19, 2016). "The Tragically Hip: 10 Essential Songs - "Fiddler's Green" (1991)". Rolling Stone.
  11. ^ David Morton (April 21, 2021). "The North Shields memorial to lost fishermen - how the striking statue was created". Chronicle Live. Reach plc. Retrieved September 22, 2022.
  12. ^ "Fiddler's Green and other Cavalry Songs by JHS". Cavalry Journal. April 1923.
  13. ^ Curry, Judi (July 29, 2019). "Restaurant Review: Fiddler's Green on Shelter Island in Point Loma". OB Rag. Retrieved July 13, 2020.

Further reading[edit]