The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #11606   Message #2680294
Posted By: Matthew Edwards
14-Jul-09 - 05:27 PM
Thread Name: Lyr ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
There is an account given on the Newry Journal website, and in Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin's book A Hidden Ulster; People, songs and traditions of Oriel that The Bard of Armagh may be based on a lost Irish language song.

Sarah Humphreys, who died about 1918, of the townland of Doctor's Quarter, Lislea, Killeavy, County Armagh was the last Irish language speaker in that area. Many collectors came to see her to gather her rich store of religious and seasonal songs, but she chased them away if she felt they lacked respect. Apparently she told one collector, Fr. Larry Murray (Lorcán Ó Muirí), that English language song of The Bard of Armagh was "mere doggerel...a poor, unworthy and senseless imitation" of a Gaelic song, sung to the same air, which she had known in her youth.

The townland of Doctor's Quarter, where Mrs Humphreys lived, was so named for having sheltered the Bishop of Armagh, Dr Patrick Donnelly, after the 1697 Suppression Of Popery Act. Indeed the house in which she lived was reputed to be the same house which had sheltered the disguised bishop two centuries earlier.

See:- Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin, A Hidden Ulster; People, songs and traditions of Oriel, Dublin, Four Courts Press, 2005. pp.394-397

Incidentally, what is it with all this recent "hidden" Ireland stuff? Besides this 'Hidden Ulster', I've had CDs and a book of 'Hidden Fermanagh', and another CD of 'Leitrim's Hidden Treasure'. What else is out there in hiding?

Matthew Edwards