The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #77129   Message #1500036
Posted By: GUEST
04-Jun-05 - 08:32 AM
Thread Name: Origins: Castle of Dromore
Subject: RE: Origins: Castle of Dromore
I come to this thread very late. The Banshee has a specific role in Irish lore - it is the spirit which portends death in a family. Each household, or castle, or clan, may have their own banshee. The banshee wails before a death in the family. The howl of the banshee is like a keeing wind through trees (probably explains why it was heard quite often!). The spirits of the river Blackwater may refer to the dead of battles which took place there, or the location of Dromore's familial spirits generally, including the banshee.

Either way the banshee has a particular meaning and this may help you see what the song is about - how much of it is a lament, and how much of it a lullaby. It is a mother singing to a baby boy, probably the heir of Dromore, in the hope he will not die in infancy as was so common. She invokes Mary to protect her baby from the 'ill wind' or the banshee's wail, and begs the banshee to keep away or silent. A rather sad lullaby, to hope that the eaglet will survive to leave the nest rather than perish.

Bishop Percy, whose 'Reliques of Ancient Poetry' published in the mid-1700s is one of the first major works on old ballads and songs of Scotland, Ireland and England was Bishop of Dromore though resident in the North East of England most of the time (this being more or less a sinecure). Consequently the name of Dromore would always be known to Victorian traditional song and tune gatherer/authors like Boulton.