The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #57991   Message #915101
Posted By: Malcolm Douglas
21-Mar-03 - 12:45 AM
Thread Name: Origins: rathlin bog / Rattlin' Bog / Rattling Bog
Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
Rattling Bog is a localised Irish form of a song that's known in one form or another in a lot of countries across Europe. The family is often called The Tree in the Wood or The Everlasting Circle, and is sung to a good few different tunes and in a good few different languages, but the basic content and the circular form doesn't seem to vary all that much. As we know it now, it doesn't mean a great deal, but essentially the same content also turns up in Asia (for example), where it has been used in Zen parables and the like. That doesn't mean that it's ever had any particularly deep meaning in Europe, but the human fascination with such things certainly goes back a long way.

"Rattling" in Ireland means exactly the same as it means everywhere else, so far as I know. "Rathlin" or "Raithlin" seems to be a misunderstanding, but not all that uncommon among people who have learnt this form of the song since it was popularised by the Clanceys and so on, without ever seeing it written down. The familiar tune is known in Ireland as a polka, in Scotland as a strathspey (John MacAlpin[e]) and in England as a North-West morris dance.