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Lyr ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh

DigiTrad:
BARD OF ARMAGH


cleod 16 Jun 99 - 12:35 PM
toadfrog 02 Jun 01 - 07:28 PM
GUEST,Brían 03 Jun 01 - 12:15 AM
Big Tim 03 Jun 01 - 04:17 AM
wysiwyg 03 Jun 01 - 04:58 AM
Joe Offer 02 Feb 04 - 05:46 PM
GUEST,Morrigan Wallace 02 Feb 04 - 07:28 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 02 Feb 04 - 08:14 PM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 03 Feb 04 - 10:14 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 03 Feb 04 - 10:20 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 03 Feb 04 - 10:22 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 03 Feb 04 - 10:26 AM
Big Tim 03 Feb 04 - 04:21 PM
Fiolar 04 Feb 04 - 09:06 AM
ard mhacha 04 Feb 04 - 09:44 AM
Big Tim 04 Feb 04 - 10:26 AM
ard mhacha 04 Feb 04 - 01:26 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 04 Feb 04 - 01:30 PM
Fiolar 05 Feb 04 - 08:35 AM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 22 Aug 06 - 02:40 PM
ard mhacha 23 Aug 06 - 11:54 AM
Thompson 12 Jul 09 - 03:13 AM
MartinRyan 12 Jul 09 - 04:56 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 12 Jul 09 - 01:12 PM
Thompson 12 Jul 09 - 02:35 PM
Fiolar 13 Jul 09 - 08:23 AM
JedMarum 13 Jul 09 - 08:52 AM
JedMarum 13 Jul 09 - 08:54 AM
ard mhacha 13 Jul 09 - 10:30 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Jul 09 - 01:42 PM
MartinRyan 13 Jul 09 - 01:52 PM
MartinRyan 13 Jul 09 - 01:55 PM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 13 Jul 09 - 02:44 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Jul 09 - 02:57 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Jul 09 - 03:01 PM
MartinRyan 13 Jul 09 - 03:23 PM
MartinRyan 13 Jul 09 - 03:51 PM
Fiolar 14 Jul 09 - 08:14 AM
Peace 14 Jul 09 - 08:18 AM
MartinRyan 14 Jul 09 - 08:33 AM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 14 Jul 09 - 02:39 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 14 Jul 09 - 03:02 PM
Matthew Edwards 14 Jul 09 - 05:27 PM
MartinRyan 14 Jul 09 - 06:49 PM
Matthew Edwards 14 Jul 09 - 07:44 PM
MartinRyan 15 Jul 09 - 03:49 AM
MartinRyan 15 Jul 09 - 08:15 AM
ard mhacha 15 Jul 09 - 01:25 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 15 Jul 09 - 02:14 PM
ard mhacha 15 Jul 09 - 04:40 PM
GUEST,JTT 15 Jul 09 - 07:07 PM
GUEST,JTT 15 Jul 09 - 07:09 PM
MartinRyan 16 Jul 09 - 02:25 AM
Fiolar 16 Jul 09 - 08:06 AM
GUEST,JTT 16 Jul 09 - 11:06 AM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 16 Jul 09 - 12:28 PM
MartinRyan 16 Jul 09 - 12:30 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 16 Jul 09 - 01:15 PM
MartinRyan 16 Jul 09 - 02:00 PM
MartinRyan 16 Jul 09 - 02:41 PM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 17 Jul 09 - 11:44 AM
Jim Dixon 20 Dec 09 - 11:56 PM
Jack Campin 26 Nov 10 - 06:39 PM
GUEST 11 Jul 11 - 02:32 PM
Jack Campin 11 Jul 11 - 05:26 PM
Big Ballad Singer 11 Jul 11 - 08:06 PM
Thompson 06 Mar 17 - 06:39 AM
Jack Campin 06 Mar 17 - 08:40 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: THE BARD OF ARMAGH
From: cleod
Date: 16 Jun 99 - 12:35 PM

I went searching in the archives for this but the one I found had slightly different lyrics from the version I heard.

The Bard of Armagh

O list to the lay of a poor Irish harper,
And scorn not the strains of his old withered hand.
But remember those fingers could once move more sharper
To raise up the mem'ries of his dear native land.

At a pattern or a fair I could twist my shillelagh,
Or trip through a jig with my brogues bound with straw.
And all the pretty colleens around me assembled,
Loved bold Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh.

And when Sergeant Death in his cold arms shall embrace me
O lull me to sleep with sweet Erin go bragh.
By the side of my Kathleen, my young wife, o place me,
And forget Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh.

Sung by the Shannon Castle Singers (I forget the cd title, something like A Medieval Irish Evening? not sure.)


Also see Exile of Erin


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Subject: RE: Lyr. Add: The Bard of Armagh
From: toadfrog
Date: 02 Jun 01 - 07:28 PM

Margaret Barry also sings this. Her Bard is "Philip" Brady - is "Phelim" an Irish name? I had not heard it before.


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Subject: RE: Lyr. Add: The Bard of Armagh
From: GUEST,Brían
Date: 03 Jun 01 - 12:15 AM

In the book IRISH NAMES by Donnchadh Ó Corráin & Fidelma Maguire, Fedelmid,Feidlimid, Feidhlimidh, Feidhlim was a very popular name in early Ireland and throughout Gaelic Ireland. It has been anglicised to Felix, Phelim and Philip.

Brían


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Subject: RE: Lyr. Add: The Bard of Armagh
From: Big Tim
Date: 03 Jun 01 - 04:17 AM

This song is supposedly about Doctor Patrick Donnelly, Bishop of Dromore, who was deposed under the "Bishops Banishment Act" (1697) and took up outlaw refuge on the slopes of Slieve Gullion (South Armagh)adopting the role of itinerant harper and the persona of Phelim Brady. I've read that the song is mid 19th century. Anyone have firm knowledge of its origins? The song has been recorded by everyone from Joseph Locke [Joe McLaughlin] to the Clancys and in recent years Tommy Makem has taken to referring to himself as The Bard of Armagh!.


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Subject: RE: Lyr. Add: The Bard of Armagh
From: wysiwyg
Date: 03 Jun 01 - 04:58 AM

How about a link to the other thread so later searchers can find it more easily?

~S~


See Exile of Erin.


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Subject: Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Feb 04 - 05:46 PM

How old is this song? Is it the source of the tune for "Streets of Laredo," or is it the other way around?
-Joe Offer-


Here's the entry from the Traditional Ballad Index:

Bard of Armagh, The

DESCRIPTION: "O, list to the tale of a poor Irish harper... Remember those fingers could once move much sharper To waken the echoes of his dear native land." The bard recalls the days of his youth and vigor, then makes requests for his death and burial
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1873 (broadside, LOCSheet sm1873 14657); c.1867 (broadside, Bodleian Firth b.25(11))
KEYWORDS: harp music age death burial
FOUND IN: Ireland
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Silber-FSWB, p. 320, "The Bard of Armagh" (1 text)
O'Conor, p. 50, "The Bard of Armagh" (1 text
Hayward-Ulster, pp. 65-66, "The Bard of Armagh" (1 text)DT, BARDARMA*
ADDITIONAL: Richard Hayward, Ireland Calling (Glasgow,n.d.), p. 10, "The Bard of Armagh" (text and music)
Kathleen Hoagland, editor, One Thousand Years of Irish Poetry (New York, 1947), p. 248, "Bold Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh" (1 text)

Roud #2654
RECORDINGS:
Margaret Barry, "The Bard of Armagh" (on IRMBarry-Fairs)
The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, "The Bard of Armagh" (on IRClancyMakem02)

BROADSIDES:
Bodleian, Firth b.25(11), "The Bard of Armagh", P. Brereton (Dublin), c.1867; also Harding B 26(35), "The Bard of Armagh"
LOCSheet, sm1873 14657, "The Bard of Armagh", E. H. Harding (New York), 1873 (tune)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The Unfortunate Rake" (tune, subject) and references there
cf. "The Streets of Laredo" [Laws B1] (tune, subject) and references there
File: FSWB320B

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Bibiography
Go to the Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2007 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


There's also an entry at www.folktrax-archive.org

    BARD OF ARMAGH, THE - "O list to the strain of a poor Irish harper" - ROUD#2654 - HUGHES ICS 2 1914 p1 3v Co Tyrone -- tune used for UNFORTUNATE RAKE ("The Streets of Laredo") - BLANTYRE EXPLOSION (Jon Raven) -- Margaret BARRY (with tune hummed) rec by PK 19/8/56: FTX-071/ SAYDISC SDL-407 1994 - Story on 7"RTR-0600 (AL-71)/ ROUNDER 11661-1774-2 1998 - CLANCY Brothers & Tommy MAKEM: TRADITION TLP-1042 1961/ CBS 63249 1968 - THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS: PICKWICK Allegro ALL-869 1967


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Subject: RE: Lyr. Add: The Bard of Armagh
From: GUEST,Morrigan Wallace
Date: 02 Feb 04 - 07:28 PM

The copy I have says gives credit to Thomas Campbell in 1801.


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Subject: RE: Lyr. Add: The Bard of Armagh
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Feb 04 - 08:14 PM

Found very little.
Broadsheets in the Bodleian Collection are dated c. 1867; printed in Dublin. No tune indicated (Streets of Laredo etc. used now). Can't find any good evidence of source.
The versions in the DT and in the Bodleian Coll., by the wording, are 19th c and later, but is there an earlier lyric?


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Subject: RE: Lyr. Add: The Bard of Armagh
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 03 Feb 04 - 10:14 AM

What does Big Tim say? He discusses the song in his book - I don't have it to hand at the moment.

Don't think its Thomas Campbell, anyway.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr. Add: The Bard of Armagh
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 03 Feb 04 - 10:20 AM

The Streets of Laredo link is to The Unfortunate Rake which has a similar theme and references. The Bard of Armagh is a kind of spur line - same tune, different song.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr. Add: The Bard of Armagh
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Feb 04 - 10:22 AM

See Big Tim post above (but an old one).


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Subject: RE: Lyr. Add: The Bard of Armagh
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 03 Feb 04 - 10:26 AM

Yes Q - I'm assuming he's found out by now!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr. Add: The Bard of Armagh
From: Big Tim
Date: 03 Feb 04 - 04:21 PM

I haven't researched the song any further since - sorry. Thomas Campbell (1733-95) is certainly the right era, and area - well Tyrone, but, like Martin, I think it's unlikely that he wrote the song: there's no mention of him writing any songs in the Oxford Companion. Mid 19th C. was as far back as I could take it. It is tho generally accepted locally in South Armagh that the song is definitely about Bishop Donnelly.


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Subject: Lyr Add: BOLD PHELIM BRADY, THE BARD OF ARMAGH
From: Fiolar
Date: 04 Feb 04 - 09:06 AM

In the book "1000 Years of Irish Poetry" the following version is given under Anonymous Street Ballads:

BOLD PHELIM BRADY, THE BARD OF ARMAGH

"Oh! List to the lay of a poor Irish harper,
And scorn not the strains of his old withered hand,
But remember those fingers they could once move sharper
To raise the merry strains of his dear native land;
It was long before the shamrock our green isle's loved emblem
Was crushed in its beauty 'neat the Saxon lion's paw
I was called by the colleens of the village and valley
Bold Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh.

How I long for to muse on the days of my boyhood,
Though four score and three years have flitted since then,
Still it gives sweet reflection, as every young joy should,
That merry-hearted boys make the best of old men.
At a pattern or fair I could twist my shillela
Or trip through a jig with my brogues bound with straw,
Whilst all the pretty maidens around me assembled
Loved Bold Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh.

Although I have travelled this wide world over,
Yet Erin's a home and a parent to me,
Then oh, let the ground that my old bones shall cover
Be cut from the soil that is trod by the free.
And when Sergeant Death in his cold arms shall embrace me,
O lull me to sleep with sweet Erin go bragh,
By the side of my Kathleen, my young wife O place me,
Then forget Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh."

I have never heard the above version sung in full by any recording artist. It seems that most of them slected a shortened version.


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Subject: RE: Lyr. Add: The Bard of Armagh
From: ard mhacha
Date: 04 Feb 04 - 09:44 AM

Tim, You may have mmost of this information on Bishop Donnelly, [The Bard of Armagh].
From the Dromore Historical Annual, "Dr Donnelly was born near Cookstown in County Tyrone, circa 1649. He was ordaind by Oliver Plunkett in 1673 in Dundalk.
In the register of 1704 Dr Donnelly is recorded as, Parish Priest of that part of Newry that lies in Conty Armagh. His residence is as Corrimallagh which is situated at the foot of Slieve Gullion mountain.
He was arrested on information by spies at Lathbriget in the house of Rev John McParlan Forkhill on 14th Sept 1706.
He was acquitted on the 13 of May 1707. Tradition associates Dr Donnelly with the ballad "The Bard of Armagh".
He died in 1716 in his native Diocese and was interred in Desertcreat near Cookstown".
His grave is covered by a large flatstone, I visited th Cemetry many years ago on a field trip with the Armagh Historical Society.
Oliver Plunkett the ArchBishop of Armagh who ordained Bishop Donnelly wasn`t so fortunate as Dr Donnelly, as he was hang drawn and quartered at Tyburn.


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Subject: RE: Lyr. Add: The Bard of Armagh
From: Big Tim
Date: 04 Feb 04 - 10:26 AM

Thanks guys: a few additional snippets there.

There seems to be plenty of info on Patrick Donnelly but nothing definitive (as yet traced) on the origins of the song. I only scratched the surface of the story, seeing only a few secondary sources, for, as John Moulden said, I had to do as best I could in the time available, before dashing off to investigate the next mystery! However I believe that the answer exists. It's just a question of having the time, opportunity and the motivation to go digging deep.                     

Personally, I've never been 100% convinced that the Bard and Donnelly are the same person. This MAY be purely legendary. I know of one scholar near Mullaghbawn (a rather staid fellow, it has to be said) who is outraged at the thought of the good Bishop being linked with the worldly Bard.


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Subject: RE: Lyr. Add: The Bard of Armagh
From: ard mhacha
Date: 04 Feb 04 - 01:26 PM

I wouldn`t be too sure about the worldly bit, in view of all the various church scandals even St Patrick is suspect.


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Subject: RE: Lyr. Add: The Bard of Armagh
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Feb 04 - 01:30 PM

The version quoted by Fiolar is almost identical to a broadside in the Bodleian Collection (Harding B 26(35), P. Brereton, Dublin., c. 1867. First line of second verse starts Ah how I love to muse ...; Fiolar has How I long for to muse...; this is the only difference outside of a few spelling variations.
A second copy (Firth b25(11)) again is the same but for a word or two, same printer but different Dublin address, also c. 1867.

In any case, this version seems to be the oldest in print. Fiolar, I presume your "1000 years...") is the one edited by Kathleen Hoagland.


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Subject: RE: Lyr. Add: The Bard of Armagh
From: Fiolar
Date: 05 Feb 04 - 08:35 AM

Q-pm: Yes. I picked it up while on holiday in Ireland a few years ago. A great book even though there are some of what I would regard as great poems/songs missed out.


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Subject: RE: Lyr. Add: The Bard of Armagh
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 22 Aug 06 - 02:40 PM

The three-verse version quoted earlier was published in 1909 by Hughes in his "Irish Country Songs", with a splendid arrangement (for piano accompaniment), and was recorded by John McCormack on at least three occasions; with orchestra (!) in 1920, and twice in the 1930s, accompanied on piano first by Teddy Schneider and later by Gerald Moore. Thomas Campbell seems likely as the maker of the verses with regard to approximate period , BUT, I found in a late C19th collection of Scottish poetry a set of words by A Ritchie which are poetically inferior to the three verses published by Hughes, and hardly likely to be a copy of anything by Campbell (even if anyone would dare claim as his own the work of a noted poet). It's clear, then, that a few people have had a go at it.

This might qualify it as a "traditional"/"folk" song, but not in everyone's estimation. I was once dissuaded from offering it in a traditional singing competition because (and I quote), "it's just not.. you know...". I wonder what this reservation might reveal about hidden assumptions about what constitutes a "traditional" song; was the reservation simply because (in its familiar form) this song is just too poetically accomplished for some tastes, or attitudes? Any thoughts? (I've been deliberately vague, at present).


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Subject: RE: Lyr. Add: The Bard of Armagh
From: ard mhacha
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 11:54 AM

In all the years I have been going to folk sessions in Armagh, I have never heard this song, although when I was young John McCormacks recording was popular.
    Threads combined. Messages below are from a new thread.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: Lyr Add: BOLD PHELIM BRADY, THE BARD OF ARMAGH
From: Thompson
Date: 12 Jul 09 - 03:13 AM

Is there a recording of The Bard of Armagh with the full lyrics of the traditional ballad - the 'Green isle's loved emblem' verse included?

I quote the lyrics below for reference, as posted by Jean Rice on rootsweb:

BOLD PHELIM BRADY, THE BARD OF ARMAGH

Oh! List to the lay of a poor Irish harper,
And scorn not the strains of his old withered hand,
But remember those fingers they could once move sharper
To raise the merry strains of his dear native land;
It was long before the shamrock our green isle's loved emblem
Was crushed in its beauty 'neath the Saxon lion's paw
I was called by the colleens of the village and valley
Bold Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh.

How I long for to muse on the days of my boyhood,
Though four score and three years have flitted since then,
Still it gives sweet reflections, as every young joy should,
That merry-hearted boys could make the best of old men.
At a pattern or fair I could twist my shillela
Or trip through a jig with my brogues bound with straw,
Whilst all the pretty maidens around me assembled
Loved bold Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh.

Although I have travelled this wide world over,
Yet Erin's my home and a parent to me,
Then oh, let the ground that my old bones shall cover
Be cut from the soil that is trod by the free.
And when sergeant death in his cold arms shall embrace me,
O lull me to sleep with sweet Erin go bragh,
By the side of my Kathleen, my young wife, O place me,
Then forget Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh.

-- Anonymous Street Ballad
A pattern is a gathering at a saint's shrine or well, a festival for a patron saint; pattern is derived from patron. Shillela is apparently a stick or club, bard an exalted national poet.


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: MartinRyan
Date: 12 Jul 09 - 04:56 AM

Robbie McMahon, of Spancilhill fame, certainly sings that verse. Whether he has recorded it or not, I'm not sure offhand.

Regatds


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Jul 09 - 01:12 PM

Does the old McComack recording have it?

Lyrics with that verse posted by Fiolar, thread 11606: Bard of Armagh
No mention in that thread of specific recording, however.


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: Thompson
Date: 12 Jul 09 - 02:35 PM

No, McCormack skips that verse, at least in the version on YouTube.


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: Fiolar
Date: 13 Jul 09 - 08:23 AM

I have a copy of the John McCormack recording and he doesn't sing it. Amazon lists a few other singers who have recorded it, but I don't know if the full version is available.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE BARD OF ARMAGH
From: JedMarum
Date: 13 Jul 09 - 08:52 AM

The song is hundreds of years old. When did it ever have "the full" set of lyrics? Verses come and go, over time. They are mixed and matched.

Having said that, I found these lyrics with the phrase in question:

Oh! List to the lay of a poor Irish Harper
And scorn not the strains of his old withered hand,
But remember those fingers they could once move more sharper
To raise the merry strains of his dear native land.

It was long before the shamrock, our green isle's loved emblem,
Was crushed in it's beauty 'neath the Saxon Lion's Paw
I was called by the colleens of the village and the valley
Bold Phelim Brady the Bard Of Armagh.

How I long for to muse on the days of my boyhood,
Though four score and three years has flitted since then,
Still it gives sweet reflections, as every young joy should,
That the merry-hearted boys make the best of old men.

At a pattern or a fair I could twist my shillegagh
Or trip through a jig with my brogues bound with straw,
Whilst all the pretty maidens around me assembled loved
Bold Phelim Brady the Bard of Armagh.

Although I have traveled this wide world over,
Yet Eire's my Home and a parent to me,
Then, oh, Let the ground that my old bones shall cover
Be cut from the soil that is trod by the free.

And when Sergeant Death in his cold arms shall embrace me,
O, lull me to sleep with sweet Erin go bragh,
By the side of my Kathleen, my young wife, O place me, then
Forget Phelim Brady the Bard of Armagh.


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: JedMarum
Date: 13 Jul 09 - 08:54 AM

I haven't heard any recording with that verse, though. I wouldn't be surprised if it is hundreds of years newer then the verse that precedes it.


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: ard mhacha
Date: 13 Jul 09 - 10:30 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsP7pG80O3A
A nice spoken version.


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Jul 09 - 01:42 PM

No evidence of the song before the 19th century.
Without providing evidence, William Cole has attributed it to a Thomas Campbell, 1801.
As noted in other threads, the only broadside at the Bodleian was printed in the 1860s, Dublin.


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: MartinRyan
Date: 13 Jul 09 - 01:52 PM

Q

The tone is very much of early 19th C. literary work, isn't it? I don't recall the attribution to Campbell, who was involved in another confusing case - The Wounded Hussar IIRC

Regards


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: MartinRyan
Date: 13 Jul 09 - 01:55 PM

Click here for a traditional account of the origin of the song.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 13 Jul 09 - 02:44 PM

As in the case of most recordings of this song that I've ever heard, John McCormack's is of the arrangement by Herbert Hughes, in his "Irish Country Songs" of c.1910 (there are, I think, four volumes); actually, there are at least three recordings by McC. one from 1920 and two others from the 1930s. In one of these, for an American wireless programme, he's accompanied on piano by Edwin Schneider; in the other, by Gerald Moore. The earliest version has orchestral accompaniment. In every case, he sings three verses, approximating to the first, fourth and sixth of the version given by JedMarum above. I agree with Martin Ryan that there's a literary feel to the song, though I doubt if it's as early as Thomas Campbell, for the following reason. In a collection of largely Scottish songs from about 1880, there's a set of words ascribed to one A Ritchie, poetically inferior (in my view) to the versions quoted above (the last line is simply, "she loved PB, the Bard of Armagh".


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Jul 09 - 02:57 PM

Thanks, Martin. That story has been mentioned briefly in another thread, also the supposed tie-in to Patrck Donnelly.
And thanks to Fiolar for checking lyrics on McCormack.

There also is little evidence that the song was ever widespread (not in collections of Sam Henry, O Lochlainn, Graves.

Seems like one of those retrospective 19th c. songs published on broadsides, and taken up in the 20th c. by folk singers who search through broadsides.

The tune well could be older, and, like so many, fitted or revised for a later lyric.

McCormack obtained his version of "Bard of Armagh" and other Irish songs from Herbert Hughes (graduated Royal College of Music in 1901), a folk song collector and composer who published several volumes of Irish songs and arranged them for concert performance. His arrangement of "Down by the Sally Gardens" is perhaps his best-known.


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Jul 09 - 03:01 PM

Martin, do you know which Hughes volume contains the "Bard ..."?


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: MartinRyan
Date: 13 Jul 09 - 03:23 PM

There also is little evidence that the song was ever widespread (not in collections of Sam Henry, O Lochlainn, Graves

... nor in any of the 19C. collections I've ever seen - which is odd, really, given its literary feel.

On Hughes - I don't know offhand but will check when and where I can.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: MartinRyan
Date: 13 Jul 09 - 03:51 PM

Q

Not in Vol 4 anyway!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: Fiolar
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 08:14 AM

There is an interesting item in Wikepedia regarding the "Bard". It states that a Catholic bishop took the name "Phelim Brady" during the Penal times. Check it out.


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: Peace
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 08:18 AM

"The story behind the song itself is perhaps even more interesting. The Bard of Armagh was, in effect, Patrick Donnelly, a priest of the Armagh diocese. Born in Desertcreat in County Tyrone in 1649, Patrick Donnelly was ordained a priest by the then Archbishop of Armagh, Oliver Plunkett in 1673."

http://www.derryjournal.com/features/The-bard-of-Armagh-and.3709915.jp


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: MartinRyan
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 08:33 AM

As mentioned in my earlier post and referenced in the link, this is the traditional account of the story. How true it may be is hard to judge in the absence of evidence about the origins of the song.

The tone just seems very literary - more so than the usual run of broadside ballad material IMHO. Yet I've not seen any other printed source - and I've seen lots of 19C. collections, primary and secondary. On the other hand, it doesn't sound like something that's been "in the mouths of the people" for generations - which tends to have a wearing effect, as we know! With the exception of the verse that drops in and out, the text seems very stable.

So what are its origins? I'll have a look in Hughes's books to see what, if anything, he says - but I may not have a chance for a few weeks at least.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 02:39 PM

Re. the text being very stable (I agree, incidentally!), there is one other verse which I've seen in several printed sources - all of these being of the popular "50 best Irish Songs" variety - which seems a later interpolation intended to localise the song in a particular time, though in a place rather remote from Armagh:

"When I was a young lad, King Jamie did flourish;
With my harp owre my shoulder I followed the war:
I was known in every glenside from Wexford to Durris
As the bould Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh."


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 03:02 PM

Agreed, Martin. Seems to be a 19th c. product. It may show up in some literary journal like Blackwoods, Gentleman's, etc.
Putting old history or tales into poems was common.


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 05:27 PM

There is an account given on the Newry Journal website, and in Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin's book A Hidden Ulster; People, songs and traditions of Oriel that The Bard of Armagh may be based on a lost Irish language song.

Sarah Humphreys, who died about 1918, of the townland of Doctor's Quarter, Lislea, Killeavy, County Armagh was the last Irish language speaker in that area. Many collectors came to see her to gather her rich store of religious and seasonal songs, but she chased them away if she felt they lacked respect. Apparently she told one collector, Fr. Larry Murray (Lorcán Ó Muirí), that English language song of The Bard of Armagh was "mere doggerel...a poor, unworthy and senseless imitation" of a Gaelic song, sung to the same air, which she had known in her youth.

The townland of Doctor's Quarter, where Mrs Humphreys lived, was so named for having sheltered the Bishop of Armagh, Dr Patrick Donnelly, after the 1697 Suppression Of Popery Act. Indeed the house in which she lived was reputed to be the same house which had sheltered the disguised bishop two centuries earlier.

See:- Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin, A Hidden Ulster; People, songs and traditions of Oriel, Dublin, Four Courts Press, 2005. pp.394-397

Incidentally, what is it with all this recent "hidden" Ireland stuff? Besides this 'Hidden Ulster', I've had CDs and a book of 'Hidden Fermanagh', and another CD of 'Leitrim's Hidden Treasure'. What else is out there in hiding?

Matthew Edwards


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: MartinRyan
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 06:49 PM

What else is out there in hiding?
Don't ask me - I'm not a shrink! ;>)}

More seriously: as I type, a signed copy of Padraigín's book is on a shelf behind me! To my shame, I haven't yet read it - bar dipping in for a specific or two on Gaelic songs. I'll read what she says about The Bard. Does she identify the song in Irish mentioned by Mrs. Humphrey's? Claims of Gaelic predecessors of well known songs always need to be treated with caution, of course (as in all transitional cultures, I reckon).

Regards


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 07:44 PM

The fuller story of Mrs Humphrey's claim that she knew a Gaelic version of The Bard of Armagh is told in the Newry Journal website, but no source is given; Pádraigín only mentions the claim in passing in her book on p.397, but in a footnote she refers to an article, 'Pathways of Stone', by Hugh Murphy in The Ring of Gullion, Cottage Publications, 2001.

I agree it would be wise to be cautious about the existence of an earlier Gaelic version, particularly since no such song was actually collected at the time, and it is very unlikely to turn up now. But an examination of Ó Muirí's papers might well be worthwhile.

I think that the Herbert Hughes arrangement of The Bard of Armagh was in Volume Two of his Irish Country Songs (Click on the 'Contents and Reviews' button on the page for a drop down menu listing the songs.)

A Hidden Ulster is a really well researched book, resurrecting a once vigourous culture. Her portraits of the singers and collectors are written with real understanding. She explains the contexts of the songs in the lives of the people who sang them with great insight. Even though I struggle with the Gaelic, the book is well worth persevering with.

Matthew Edwards


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: MartinRyan
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 03:49 AM

Thanks for that, Matthew - I'd missed the Contents and Review button on that page!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: MartinRyan
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 08:15 AM

Click here for a shot of a broadsheet copy in the Irish Traditional Music Archive.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: ard mhacha
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 01:25 PM

From an article in the Seanchas Ardmhacha 1958,
Patrick Donnelly was born in 1649 in the parish of Desertcreat County Tyrone. He was ordained by Oliver Plunkett.
The conclusion of the article confirms that Bishop Donnelly ended his days in the south Armagh area,

   Dr Donnelly remained on in his cabin at the foot of Slieve Gullion in County Armagh until he died in 1716, his body was brought back at night to his to his native Desertcreat in County Tyrone where he was buried.


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 02:14 PM

The 19th century saw many songs, screeds, books, and articles about Ireland and its struggles, and its early history and legends, much romanticized and treated as fact rather than legend.
The "Bard of Armagh" seems to be of that time; its language is of that time.
Any relationship to the time of Donnelly is dubious.

An interesting book for young readers, published in 1886, was one of many keeping the old stories alive.
"Young People's History of Ireland," by George Makepeace Towle, one of the 'romantic' historians of the time, published in Boston.

From his Introduction-
To justify her oppression, England has resorted to a system of misrepresentation and misreport. Irish antiquities have been doubted and belittled. --- The ancient history of Ireland has been set down as unreliable, mythical, - a story born of Celtic pride, imagination and passion." .....................
"Yet the student who turns to the history of Ireland finds at a glance that he has entered an original and authentic region, on a study not only national but racial. ......... of music, coming down from pre-historic times, and still sung by peasant girls and played by the wandering minstrels; ......."

The history and legends of Scotland were treated in much the same way.


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Subject: RE: Bard of Armagh
From: ard mhacha
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 04:40 PM

Q, Of course it is a romanticised version of the life of Donnelly, I don`t believe for a moment that many an Irish person would be taken in by the lyrics of the song.
When Dawson and his `hang drawn and quarter` brigade were chasing Donnelly and his fellow priests around the country the last thing the priest would have been doing was humping a harp around.


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 07:07 PM

Priosún Cluain Meala is sung to the same tune, and is on a similar theme, though there the youth awaiting execution is remembering his days on the hurling field and feats in hunting, as far as I recall the words. Here's a midi on a site with a bit about it: http://www.irishpage.com/songs/clonmel.htm


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 07:09 PM

Incidentally, that translation is distinctly freehand - no tormenting of cattle in the version in Irish.


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: MartinRyan
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 02:25 AM

Hoagland's 1000 Years of Irish Poetry referenced in the Traditional Ballad Index earlier, adds no detail other than calling it a traditional street ballad and defining the term "pattern".

Regards
p.s. In my sleepy head at this hour of the morning, Priosún Cluain Meala is not all that similar in tune? It's an interesting thought, though.


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Fiolar
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 08:06 AM

Funny enough regarding similar tunes but different words than "The Bard", I believe that "The Streets of Laredo" has the same air.


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 11:06 AM

Maybe not - here's
John McCormack singing The Bard of Armagh , and Luke Kelly singing an English version of Priosún Cluain Meala


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 12:28 PM

In addition to "The Streets of Laredo", there are to my ear anyway some similarities with the familiar "Road and the miles to Dundee" (and compare "Sweet Carnlough Bay"). Having read GUESTJTT's suggestion about "The Jail of Clonmel"/"Priosun Cluain Meala", I can now recognise some similarities, too, but not that strong.


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: MartinRyan
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 12:30 PM

Fiolar
Yeah - that connection, through The Unfortunate Rake (Lock Hospital and lots of other names)is well known. I don't think there's any evidence of The Bard turning up in America.

Regards


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 01:15 PM

Song sheet producers on both sides of the Atlantic shipped copies across; sheets produced in England turn up in American collections and v. v. A few transplants became popular, many didn't.
"The Bard ..." is not known in America, although Irish nostalgia and complaints were the subject of many song sheets produced in America.
It seems "The Bard..." never entered the 'folk' realm.

The connections of "Laredo," "Unfortunate," etc., pointed out by MartinRyan, have been more than amply covered in other threads.


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: MartinRyan
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 02:00 PM

So, in summary so far, we have:
- a story said to relate the song to 17/18th. C. real life characters. We don't have an idea of how long that story is around.
- 19 C. ballad sheets
- Herbert Hughes arrangement at the beginning of the 20th. C. Haven't yet seen his comments, if any. May well be the main source of modern singing of the song - particularly as a parlour song.
- Padraigín's indirect report of Mrs. Humphrey's claim of a version in Gaelic. It would be nice to have more detail on this. Such claims are often made by English speakers without direct knowledge of the language and its song repertoire. This does not appear to be the case here.

Regards


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: MartinRyan
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 02:41 PM

ABCD

Have you details of the Scottish version you mentioned, back in August 2006?

Regards


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 17 Jul 09 - 11:44 AM

It's not a Scottish version, except that the name of the author (or, at least person to whom it is ascribed) is "A Ritchie"; in looking through the book in a second-hand bookshop, I found this song (words only) among others, and being familiar with the three-verse Herbert Hughes arrangement and also a longer set of words published in "The Capuchin Annual" of 1974, I remember being struck by the differences I found. In particular, the very last lines about laying him down by the side of his young wife stay in my mind, since in McCormack's 1920 version (I can't access the clip from GUESTJTT above, so I don't know which it is) he does make a significant pause in the final words, "Then... forget Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh" and so I was certain that the version in the antiquarian book did indeed differ, and was, in my view, inferior to that with which I was familiar. Now, would anyone really prefer "She loved Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh" to "Then forget Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh"? This leads me to the deduction that A Ritchie was the maker of the original version, which others have refined and polished. But, who knows? The book was quite dear, and I didn't buy it.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE BARD OF ARMAGH (A A Ritchie)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 11:56 PM

From Whistle-Binkie: or, the Piper of the Party, Volume 2 edited by John Donald Carrick, Alexander Rodger, David Robertson (Glasgow: David Robertson & Co., 1878), page 285:


THE BARD OF ARMAGH.
Alex. A. Ritchie
Air—" The Exile of Erin."

Oh! list to the lay of a poor Irish Harper,
Though wayward and fitful his old withered hand;
Remember his touch once was bolder and sharper,
When raising the strains of his dear native land.
Long before the shamrock, our isle's lovely emblem,
Was crush'd in its bloom 'neath the Saxon lion's paw,
I was called by the coleens around me assembling,
Their bold Phelim Brady, the bard of Armagh!

Oh! how I love to muse on the days of my boyhood,
Tho' fourscore and three years have flitted since then!
Still it gives sweet reflection, as ev'ry first joy should,
For free-hearted boys make the best of ould men.
At the fair or the wake I could twirl my shillelah,
Or trip through the jig in my brogues bound wi' straw;
Faith, all the pretty girls in the village and the valley
Loved bould Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh!

Now tho' I have wander'd this wide world over,
Still Ireland's my home and a parent to me;
Then O! let the turf that my bosom shall cover,
Be cut from the ground that is trod by the free!
And when in his cold arms Death shall embrace me,
Och! lull me asleep wid sweet Erin go Bragh!
By the side of my Kathlin, my first love, O! place me;
She loved Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh.


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Jack Campin
Date: 26 Nov 10 - 06:39 PM

The song is printed in Campbell's collected poems (which are all in a similar bombastic style - even though I could once have bought a copy for 3 quid, I passed). It's easy enough to date when he wrote it - he was in Germany at the time. He had never been to Ireland at that point (not sure if he ever did) - born in the west of Scotland and educated in Edinburgh.

Thomas Campbell on Wikipedia

The tune is "The Banks of the Devon", a mega-hit of the time thanks to Burns's words for it. Burns got it on his one and only visit to the Highlands (I think it's the only tune he collected there) and he found it used for a Gaelic Jacobite song on the '45, which unusually for such songs was written fairly near the time of the events it describes. So the tune is Scottish and must have been around in the middle of the 18th century.

"Banks of the Devon" was used for a lot of broadsides. One much better than "The Bard of Armagh", though very little known, is a song that sympathizes with the French prisoners of the Napoleonic War interned near Edinburgh. I think John Leyden wrote it, but the author stayed anonymous.

Esk Mill


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 02:32 PM

I didn't know this song very well until I went to the shops and found a John McCormac CD and found that the tune is the same as 'The Cowboy's Lament', otherwise known as 'Streets of Laredo', a song I prefer to sing. In the story of the Irish song some folks say that 'The Bard of Armagh' was a Gallic song which the words were mabye sung but not to this tune. This tune has about 19 or 20 difrent songs sung by different singers from the 1900s to just now in folk music. In the first two decades of the 20th century about 19 singers were singing one morning in May and 'The Bard of Armagh' and 'The Unfortunate Rake'. This is enough for a CD to be made but it would be quite hard to do. This recording of all different singers singing the same tune but the words, well, might be be 'Marty Robbins' or 'Hank Snow' singing the 'Streets of Laredo' and also John McCormack singing 'The Bard of Armagh'. Such a CD would help me decide on my favourite, or the best. Other songs like 'Battle Hymn of the Republic', 'Londonderry Air' (better remembered as 'Danny Boy', many others should do the same thing. When i first heard this song from Ireland I was quite angry about that arguments of what came first on Jon Kavanah's review of 'The Unfortunate Rake' on Songlines!


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 05:26 PM

You're shooting from the hip.

There has been a lot written here about all those songs. Look back through this thread and the related ones.


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Big Ballad Singer
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 08:06 PM

Beautiful song, lovely lyrics, I think.

No offense, Big Tim, but Tommy Makem did not take "to calling himself the 'Bard of Armagh'". He was nicknamed that for his stellar and absolutely critical work in maintaining, preserving and performing songs, poetry and stories from Ireland's historic past. Without the work of Tommy Makem, the modern world of folk and popular music would be much poorer today, as Mr. Makem was successful on the popular music scene on a level which a lot of other folk performers have never reached. His career as a veritable catalog of Irish music and fable have been critical to the spread of Irish culture around the world.

I believe he, if no one else in the modern era, deserves rightly to be called the Bard of Armagh.


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Thompson
Date: 06 Mar 17 - 06:39 AM

The idea that a priest wouldn't hump a harp around is predicated on the harp being the modern concert harp - that would be unlikely all right - rather than the small metal-stringed harp used by earlier Irish musicians. Like Carolan, Bishop Donnelly is said to have been an itinerant musician; the harp was a good disguise for a priest, since only two bishops were left alive in Ireland at the time by the raging anti-'Papist' English who were determined to wipe out both Catholicism and Irishness.
The tune is typically Irish - typically northern, even; the words are typically 19th-century, but also, I think, typical of the softening and simplifying of more complex and intellectual verse of the previous century in Irish.
The fact that the story comes to us from béaloideas rather than being written down by scholars does not make it untrue; how many stories of today's South Sudan massacres will be lost if only the ones typed up by journalists or in UN reports are later believed?


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Mar 17 - 08:40 AM

Have you actually seen an early Irish harp, like the one in Trinity College Dublin or those in the National Museum of Scotland? They are nothing like a revival-era folk harp, and weigh several times as much - the frame is a great big lump of oak, you would not take it anywhere without a horse or cart.

We know a lot about the tune, back to around 1700; there is nothing "typically Irish" about it since it was commonly used in England and Scotland before there is any record it in Ireland. It's obvious where Campbell got it - Burns made it hugely popular and it had been reprinted and circulated many times all over the British Isles. Broadside publishers didn't need to print the tune: they'd just name it, as "Banks of the Devon" - any literate singer from Cork to Lerwick would know what was intended. (Burns was first published in Ireland in 1787).

A harp would be no sort of disguise at all. There were very few harpists at any time and anybody who knew anything could name every one they were likely to encounter. And if any priest actually managed to learn the harp well enough to pass as a pro, we'd know about it.

I have an early edition of Campbell's poems where the editor says who Campbell actually had in mind - an Irish exile from the 1798 rising who he knew in Germany. No 17th century bishops involved.

There can't be many songs with such a well documented origin which so many ideologues are determined to ignore.


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Jack Campin
Date: 15 Nov 17 - 12:05 PM

To add to that: I haven't seen Hughes's collection (which, via John McCormack, seems to be the origin of all currently sung versions) - what does he say about the tune? Had he personally collected it from tradition, or from some earlier printed source? We seem to have a gap of about 100 years between when Campbell wrote it and when Hughes classed it as a "country song".


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE BARD OF ARMAGH (Ritchie, 1847)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 25 Nov 17 - 09:38 PM

From The National Songster; a Collection of Scotch, English, and Irish Standard and Popular Songs (Glasgow: Francis Orr and Sons, 1847), page 437:

THE BARD OF ARMAGH
J. L. Ritchie.

O list to the lay of a poor Irish harper,
And scorn not the strings for his old wither'd hand;
Remember his fingers once could move sharper,
To raise the merry strains of his dear native land.
'Twas long before the shamrock, our green isle's lovely emblem,
Was crush'd in its beauty 'neath the Saxon lion's paw,
I was call'd by the coleens, around me assembling,
Their Bould Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh!

Ah, how I love to muse on the days of my boyhood,
Tho' fourscore and three years have flitted since then
Still it gives sweet reflection, as every young joy should,
For the merry-hearted boys make the best of old men.
At the fair or the wake I could twirl my shillelah,
Or trip through the jig in my brogs bound with straw;
Sure all the purty maids in the village or the valley
Lov'd Bould Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh.

Now tho' I've wandered this wide world over,
It's Ireland is my home and a parent to me;
Then, O! let the turf that my old bones shall cover
Be cut from the ground that is trod by the free.
And when serjeant Death in his cold arms shall embrace me,
Low lull me asleep with "Erin go Bragh,"
By the side of my Kathleen, my young wife, oh place me,
Then forget Phelim Brady, the Bard of Armagh.


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Nov 17 - 04:28 AM

"it was commonly used in England and Scotland before there is any record it in Ireland."
“The Venerable Bede reported cattlemen passing around a harp and singing 'vain and idle songs'.”
[R J Page Life in Anglo-Saxon England}
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: ADD/Origins: The Bard of Armagh
From: Lighter
Date: 26 Nov 17 - 09:45 AM

Jack, "The Bard of Armagh" is the first song in Hughes's second volume, and is "copyright 1914."

He says nothing about it other than associating it with County Tyrone.


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