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Lyr Add: Limerick is Beautiful

Alice 18 May 99 - 11:31 AM
Jim Dixon 21 Dec 09 - 06:04 PM
GUEST,MizLiz 10 Jan 14 - 10:12 PM
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From: Alice
Date: 18 May 99 - 11:31 AM

I have a copy of a different version of "Oh, Limerick is Beautiful" than the version that is in the DT database. This is from Irish Country Songs, Vol. III, by Herbert Hughes. In the introduction, he discusses the fact that there are different versions, and compares the Michael Scanlan lyrics, (in the DT) to the lyrics written by Dion Boucicault.

Hughes collected a version from a local singer, and he writes in part:

".. Oh Limerick is Beautiful" is a further case of a song having more than one incarnation. I am inclined to think that the verses attributed to Dion Boucicault were, like those of Michael Scanlan, founded on an anonymous or traditional original. Otherwise it would be impossible to account for the close similarity between the work of the two writers. I give them here for comparison....[see the DT]

There are, no doubt, other versions extant, but the fragment I have noted from a local singer seems to me to get near enough to the root of the matter to deserve inclusion on its own simple merits. The Cailín Bán, like Róaisín of several symbolical names for Ireland....

As I write here from the wooded seclusion of Villa Nova, with the stark slopes of Castlequin and Knocknatobar behind me, the lively little town facing me across the Ferta, and Valentia out in the Atlantic to my right, I find myself preoccupied with impressions and memories of the last few months. Light-heartedness and conviviality, dignity and gentle manners, are outstanding characteristics of a community that faced pillage and death only a few years ago and will, no doubt, face the problems of tomorrow with equal fortitude. .... but the ballad is more honoured than the newspaper, if only because it is regarded as permanent and more true to life, and no one is more welcome round a fireside than the singer of a good song. -- Carhirciveen, September, 1936, Herbert Hughes"

Dion Boucicault

Limerick is beautiful,
As everybody knows;
The river Shannon full of fish,
Through that city flows.
But 'tis not the river or the fish,
That weighs upon my mind,
Nor with the town of Limerick
I've any fault to find -
Ochone, Ochone.

The girl I love is beautiful
As soft-eyed as the fawn;
She lives in Garryowen,
And is called the Colleen Bawn,
And proudly as that river flows
Through that famed city,
As proudly and without a word,
That Colleen goes by me -
Ochone, Ochone.

If I was made the Emperor,
Of Russia to command,
Or Julius Caesar, or the Lord
Lieutenant of the land.
I'd give the armies off the land
My fleets from off the sea,
With the Horse, the Rifles and the Foot
And the Royal Artillerie -
Ochone, ochone.

I'd give the crown from off my head
My people on their knees;
I'd give the fleet of sailing ships
Upon the briny seas.
A beggar I would go to bed,
And happy rise at dawn,
If by my side, for my sweet bride,
I had found my Colleen Bawn -
Ochone, ochone!

The above is the lyrics in the introduction of Vol.III compared to Scanlan's lyrics. Below are the lyrics printed with the music notation in Vol.III, as collected by Hughes from a local singer.


Oh Limerick is beautiful,
As everybody knows,
The river Shannon full of fish
Throughout the city flows;
It's not the river or the fish
That weighs upon my mind... or...
With the town of Limerick
Have I any fault to find.

Oh the girl I love is beautiful,
She is fairer than the dawn,
She lives in Garryowen, my boys,
And is called the Cailín Bán,
She kept the enemy out all night
Until the clear day dawned,
Most worthy of all my titles is
This darling Caílin Bán.

Her skin is whiter than the snow
All on the mountainside;
And softer than the creamy foam,
That flows down by the tide;
Her eyes are brighter than the dew
That sparkles on the lawn
She is the sunshine of my heart,
My darling Cailín Bán.

Oh, the girl I love is beautiful,
And fairer than the dawn.
She lives in Garryowen, my boys,
And is called the Cailín Bán.


alice in montana

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Limerick is Beautiful
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 06:04 PM

Songs of Ireland and Other Lands (New York: D. & J. Sadlier & Co., 1847), page 181, has 2 different lines in verse 3:

3. If I was made the Emperor
Of Russia to command,
Or Julius Caesar, or the Lord
Lieutenant of the land,
I'd give my plate and golden store,
I'd give up my army,

The horse, the rifles, and the foot,
And the Royal artillery.
Ochone, ochone.

...and otherwise agrees with the "Boucicault" version posted by Alice above. However, this book gives no attribution.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Limerick is Beautiful
From: GUEST,MizLiz
Date: 10 Jan 14 - 10:12 PM

In the Abelard Book of Folksongs, Norm Cazden has a variant entitled "Fair Julian Bond." I imagine that his American singers couldn't make sense of "Colleen Bawn" and folk processed it. But why Julian Bond?

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