UPDATED NOTES ABOUT THE ORIGIN OF THE SONG "ROCKS OF BAWN"
Throughout the summer and into the fall of 2008, I have seen many websites debating the origin of the song. There are links to only a few of those many sites here.
I noticed that a lot of people put great weight in Sam Henry's notes, dated July 10, 1926 and specifically the phrase regarding Pat Macgill saying that he had seen it on a broadsheet. I have NO argument with this! What I have issues with, is that it seems a lot of people think that if it was sold at a fair on a broadsheet, then that fact alone means it must be very old! I fully disagree with that idea of the song being so old. Broadsheets were common in the early 1900's (the more famous ones by the Yeats family have links posted here.) (More kudos to Librarians!)
From what I can read about Sam Henry, he had collected his songs from within 20 miles or so from his home in Coleraine, co. Londonderry, Northern Ireland. (see the "RASCAL" link). I think it took him two years because of his physical location and it's distance from Patrick Kelly's home in Cashel, co. Galway, Ireland. The mere fact of lack of widespread communication in the 1920's like the internet, would create delays of publications like broadsheets getting around the country. If broadsheets were sold at fairs, and I could imagine that they were not produced in great volume, then most of them would have been purchased by locals---and kept. It was not like you could jump onto a computer and purchase last week's printing of the local paper---once they're gone, that's it.
Patrick Macgill was born in 1891, and I would think that he remembered hearing the song at the Strabaine Fair in his young ADULT life. It surely wouldn't have been in the 1800's, because Pat would have only been 9 years old at the turn of the century. What 9 year old boy would even think about songs he heard at a fair, let alone pay attention to printed versions! That leads me to conclude that he was paying more attention to songs, and such, in his later years. He would have been about 35 years old during the time-frame that Sam Henry was doing his research. I could understand a young adult remembering the broadsheet, which would mean that time would be around 1911-1925.
In the link to the "Google.book" search of "The Dublin Magazine", you can see that Mr. Kelly's work was on "brochures" according to the reviewer. This review was printed in the October-December 1941 volume, page 73. The article puts the timeline in this sequence:
Ballads (published 1922)
Irish Statesman (publications of the newspaper began in 1923)
Dublin Magazine (which started printing his work about 1924)