The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #37085 Message #3380648
Posted By: GUEST,Charles Friesen
23-Jul-12 - 10:55 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Castle of Dromore
Subject: RE: Origins: Castle of Dromore
Based on Masato's post (23 Nov 2002, 07:34 pm), it seems clear to me from the bibliographic attribution of the book in which the song was first (apparently) published, that no claims to authorship of the song are being claimed by Harold Boulton. Boulton's intent seems to be to put forward a collection of traditional songs.
Apparently Boulton visited friends, the Mahony's, in the late 1800's at their home the Castle of Dromore (Kerry). There has been some conjecture that Harold Boulton was a friend of Harold Mahony (Wimbledon champion 1896, Irish champion 1898). Their birthdays are 8 years apart (Boulton 1859, Mahony 1867). I've also read (unsourced) that Boulton included (researched? transcribed?) the song as a thanks to the Mahony's for their hospitality.
However this does not settle to my mind the question of the song's origin. I think it would be entirely likely that residents of a Castle of Dromore would know and cherish a song about a Castle of Dromore, even if it referred to another Castle of Dromore. In fact, knowing that the song was an old traditional Irish song, would make it all the more fascinating to the Mahony's since obviously it couldn't refer to their "new" castle (built 1839).
Now it's possible that there had been an old of Castle of Dromore on the same site (I've seen no reference to such), or that the song refers to a different Castle of Dromore entirely.
Further, neither of the Mahony children (Nora b.1864 and Harold b.1867) had children of their own. It seems unlikely that Boulton would have written a lullaby about a childless castle.
Turning now to the "translation" by Douglas Hyde, again I see no difficulty. The published song book does not claim to contain original works but "A Collection of Old Songs." That they would need to be translated into English or Irish (or both) does not seem particularly troublesome. Both languages were spoken in Ireland at the time.
It's possible (even likely?) that the words of the song were obscure or archaic, or there might have been multiple traditional versions. The 'translation' could have been an attempt merely to solidfy the text into a comprehensible 'modern' version in either or both languages.
On the whole I find the explanation offered by Ms. Burgoyne (26 Mar 2008 12:41 pm) charming but unsatisfactory. The evidence offered by Boulton's book suggests a much older origin for the song, although his experience with the Mahony's has inevitably influenced the history of the song in the form we experience it today.
I would feel reasonably confident in asserting that the original song did not refer to the Castle of Dromore currently standing in Kerry, but that that castle may have influenced the revival of the song.