The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #82243   Message #1547441
Posted By: Liam's Brother
22-Aug-05 - 11:20 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Napoleon's Defeat (from Frank Harte)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Napoleon's Defeat (from Frank Harte)
Ireland has long been a country more diverse than most of us realize. For example, at various times as much as 25% of its population has been something other than Roman Catholic. I have heard it said often that support for an independent Irish nation was very uneven at the time of the 1916 Rebellion. I only write this because, historically, the attitudes of Irish people towards Britain varied greatly from time to time and from person to person.

It is clear from reading Mr. Hayes' text that "Napoleon's Defeat" had changed dramatically from the long, old broadsides printed in England. Whether its unbroken line of diffusion passed through Ireland, I don't know. However, it is possible that it did. At certain times, many Irish would not have been too bothered about singing "Britain's sons." Conversely, in the northern woods singers from here, there and everywhere brought and took away songs from here, there and everywhere else. Maybe it arrived in North America directly from Britain.      

As I wrote above, Frank was not slow to pick up the pen but he was also an inclusionary guy. I think he changed "Britain's sons" to "Ireland's sons" because he felt the former would have turned off too many Irish people today. Frank was very interested in spreading folk songs. Singing a text unpalatable to many would have doomed the ballad from the beginning. Ireland's song tradition being a living one, Frank had the right to make the changes he did and, once again, the ballad had been altered greatly before the "Dean of Dublin Singers" ever started working on it.

All the best,