The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #23696   Message #729055
Posted By: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar
13-Jun-02 - 07:09 AM
Thread Name: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?

My sediments entirely.

I didn't know that Leo Maguire wrote The Whistling Gypsy, but it doesn't entirely surprise me. The song is one of my earliest childhood memories, as indeed is the Waltons programme. Don't forget the all-important introduction to the catch-phrase: "And remember, if you feel...".

I actually didn't like Irish trad music at the time (1950s), and the Walton's prog was a contributory factor with its wall-to-wall céilí bands and countless kitschy ballads of local patriotism ("there's none can compare/ with the County Kildare etc. etc. ad nauseam) and emigration ("If we only had old Ireland over here...."). A product of industrial protectionism as much as of cultural nationalism, it was a reflection of the stultifying introversion of Dev's and John Charles McQuaid's Ireland, and it came close to putting the music in the same ghetto as "compulsory Irish".

But then along came O Riada, the Chieftains and Planxty, and the rest is history. Now, oddly enough, I can even enjoy "The Homes of Donegal" as sung by Paul Brady, though it was an abomination in its original Waltons version.

Sorry, drifting/ranting a bit. But the people who sang THAT "Whistling Gypsy" would run a mile from a real one, just as most of the songs mentioning the pipes in the Waltons era (Danny Boy, The Kerry Dances etc.) were sung and listened to by people who had probably never even heard the sound of the uilleann pipes.