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Origin: The Old Triangle

DigiTrad:
OULD TRIANGLE


Related threads:
The Ould Triangle (59)
Lyr Req: The Auld Triangle (25)
The Ould Triangle: which gaol ? (32)
Tune Req: Old Triangle w/ Dermot O'Reilly voc (3)
Lyr/Chords Req: Old Triangle / Ould Triangle (12)


16 Jul 99 - 02:30 AM
Martin _Ryan 16 Jul 99 - 05:12 AM
16 Jul 99 - 05:55 AM
Martin _Ryan 16 Jul 99 - 07:52 AM
GUEST,walt 22 Jun 06 - 10:20 AM
Fergie 22 Jun 06 - 11:57 AM
GUEST 22 Jun 06 - 11:59 AM
Scrump 22 Jun 06 - 12:06 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 22 Jun 06 - 12:46 PM
GUEST,thurg 22 Jun 06 - 02:22 PM
Dead Horse 22 Jun 06 - 03:36 PM
Big Tim 23 Jun 06 - 01:05 AM
Dave Hanson 23 Jun 06 - 01:06 AM
Big Tim 23 Jun 06 - 03:20 AM
Dave Hanson 23 Jun 06 - 07:24 AM
GUEST,thurg 23 Jun 06 - 10:08 AM
DannyC 23 Jun 06 - 10:23 AM
Tannywheeler 23 Jun 06 - 07:36 PM
Malcolm Douglas 23 Jun 06 - 07:45 PM
Tannywheeler 23 Jun 06 - 08:19 PM
GUEST,Joe_F 23 Jun 06 - 09:30 PM
GUEST,thurg 23 Jun 06 - 10:20 PM
Fergie 23 Jun 06 - 10:48 PM
Abby Sale 23 Jun 06 - 10:53 PM
Deckman 23 Jun 06 - 11:25 PM
GUEST,thurg 24 Jun 06 - 02:54 AM
Big Tim 24 Jun 06 - 03:30 AM
Big Tim 24 Jun 06 - 03:53 AM
Declan 24 Jun 06 - 04:01 AM
Big Tim 24 Jun 06 - 12:16 PM
Tannywheeler 24 Jun 06 - 12:57 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 24 Jun 06 - 10:03 PM
Big Al Whittle 24 Jun 06 - 11:23 PM
GUEST 02 Jul 06 - 05:48 PM
GUEST,Susanne (skw) 02 Jul 06 - 05:51 PM
GUEST,mick 03 Jul 06 - 11:33 AM
bill\sables 04 Jul 06 - 08:12 AM
Big Tim 04 Jul 06 - 01:44 PM
GUEST 05 Jul 06 - 04:19 AM
vectis 05 Jul 06 - 07:06 AM
Joybell 05 Jul 06 - 09:51 AM
Big Tim 05 Jul 06 - 01:43 PM
Keith A of Hertford 05 Jul 06 - 03:19 PM
GUEST 07 Jul 06 - 07:14 AM
Fergie 11 Jul 06 - 03:24 PM
GUEST,Tom Neary 30 Jul 12 - 01:00 PM
MartinRyan 30 Jul 12 - 01:06 PM
MGM·Lion 30 Jul 12 - 01:44 PM
MartinRyan 30 Jul 12 - 01:58 PM
GUEST, Sminky 31 Jul 12 - 06:26 AM
meself 31 Jul 12 - 11:00 AM
Jim McLean 31 Jul 12 - 12:10 PM
GUEST,Tom Neary 31 Jul 12 - 12:25 PM
GUEST, Sminky 01 Aug 12 - 05:54 AM
GUEST,Tom Neary 01 Aug 12 - 02:06 PM
GUEST 01 Aug 12 - 06:04 PM
GUEST, Sminky 02 Aug 12 - 06:17 AM
GUEST 02 Aug 12 - 02:29 PM
Dennis the Elder 02 Aug 12 - 03:51 PM
GUEST 04 Aug 12 - 08:28 PM
GUEST,John 20 May 13 - 04:40 AM
GUEST,JTT 20 May 13 - 10:18 AM
GUEST,Sean 29 Oct 13 - 12:19 PM
mayomick 29 Oct 13 - 01:06 PM
MartinRyan 29 Oct 13 - 01:34 PM
mayomick 29 Oct 13 - 03:12 PM
MartinRyan 29 Oct 13 - 03:48 PM
GUEST,Bob 12 Apr 14 - 05:17 PM
Jim Carroll 12 Apr 14 - 05:57 PM
GUEST 12 Apr 14 - 07:38 PM
Steve Shaw 12 Apr 14 - 08:20 PM
GUEST,Patrick 19 Mar 15 - 03:59 PM
GUEST,Desi C 20 Mar 15 - 07:48 AM
MartinRyan 20 Mar 15 - 08:12 AM
mayomick 20 Mar 15 - 08:42 AM
mayomick 20 Mar 15 - 08:56 AM
Lighter 20 Mar 15 - 10:11 AM
GUEST,Deasún ÓSeanáin 21 Sep 15 - 05:08 PM
GUEST,Desi C 22 Sep 15 - 04:22 PM
MartinRyan 22 Sep 15 - 05:17 PM
GUEST,Desi C 23 Sep 15 - 01:38 PM
Peter K (Fionn) 23 Sep 15 - 08:14 PM
Matthew Edwards 24 Sep 15 - 04:07 PM
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Subject: The Old Triangle
From:
Date: 16 Jul 99 - 02:30 AM

Hi Does anybody know the history behind The Old Triangle Song? What "is" the Old Triangle, anyway? And why, how does it "jingle jangle"? Hans


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: Martin _Ryan
Date: 16 Jul 99 - 05:12 AM

It was a large iron triangle (with a gap, if you see what I mean!) within which the warder would rattle a rod to attract attention. "jingle-jangle" represents the sound.

regards


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From:
Date: 16 Jul 99 - 05:55 AM

Thanks Martin, why didn't I think of that myself?

And - the banks of the Royal Canal, I suppose they refer to a Dublin prison bank site? Do you know?

Hans


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: Martin _Ryan
Date: 16 Jul 99 - 07:52 AM

Hans

You're quite right! Mountjoy Jail is on the banks of the Royal Canal in Dublin

Regards


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST,walt
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 10:20 AM

hi hans,
as with most prison jargon the obvious explanation is meant for general consumption. however the esoteric version is much more human and indicative of what occupies the majority of a prisoners thinking. sex.
the 'auld triangle' is a coloquial term for the genitals. ie in britain 'meat and two veg' [vegitables]etc
and the 'royal cannal' is quite simply a womans vagina. ergo the 'banks of,,,' refers to the womans thighs.
which in the song intends to show that no matter what time of day or circumastance, the 'auld triangle' is reminding its owner that its still there. which echo's in the use of the steel triangle to signal morning and lights out. [pavlov might have had something to say along these lines!]

hope this helps.
walt, wales :-)


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: Fergie
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 11:57 AM

Jasus! Walt you are letting your overactive imagination run away with you.
Mountjay jail is situated on the south bank of the Royal Canal on the nortside of Dublin City. Many years ago (before there were cheap watches or electric clocks) it was customary to ring a bell to let the wardens in the various wings of a prison know the time of day (end of shift, feeding time, lights out etc. etc..). In Mountjoy prison they did not use a bell for this purpose, instead they used a large bar of metal that had been forged into the shape of a triangle (much cheaper than a cast bell) this instrument was suspended on a short chain in the exercise yard of the prison and it was beaten rapidly with a hammer at the oppropriate times.
Brendan Behan is reputed to have written this song, he was held prisoner in Mountjoy (universally referred to as the 'Joy in Dublin) Brendan was arrested for attempted murder of a Civic Guard (a policeman).
The song is evocative of the loneliness and tedium that prisoners experience, it is about life in prison it is not about the vagina, the genitals or womens' thighs. Get a grip on yourself Walt, you need to get out more.
Fergus


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 11:59 AM

If he got a grip on himself he wouldn't need to get out more.


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: Scrump
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 12:06 PM

LOL ;-)

I must admit in years of singing the song, I've never thought of those sexual references - apart from the verse about the female prison, of course.


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 12:46 PM

I feel pretty certain that Brendan Behan did indeed write the song. It was performed in hi play The Quare Fellow. I remember seeing it at Wyndhams Theatre off Charing Cross Road in London more years back than I care to think of.


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 02:22 PM

Behan wrote the lyrics. The melody is the same as that of The Galway Shawl, which I assume predates The Auld Triangle; likely the tune predates both songs.


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: Dead Horse
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 03:36 PM

And the Galway Shawl is a reference to pubic hair I suppose!!! ;-)


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: Big Tim
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 01:05 AM

Nowadays, Behan's authorship is seldom questioned, but it is very interesting to note how he introduced the song on radio in 1952. "This song was written by a person who will never hear it recorded, because he's not in possession of a gramophone. He's?he's? pretty much of a tramp".                                          

The comment is usually interpreted as Behan talking about himself: ironically, and with admirable modesty. However, having listened to the recording, it sounds, to me, more likely that he was in fact talking about another person. There is no hint of ironic humor discernible in his phrasing, and Behan was not renowned for his modesty: certainly not to the extent of crediting something successful that he had written to someone else.                     

In addition, his biographer Michael O'Sullivan writes that Behan asked for the radio royalty payment to be made to Dick Shannon, a Dubliner: possibly an old pub or prison acquaintance. O'Sullivan also quotes the show's producer, Micheál Ó hAodha, as stating "he [Behan] never claimed authorship". The 1952 broadcast consisted of only four verses, with three, five and seven above not included. The balance of probability is that Dick Shannon originated the song and that Behan later added to it.


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 01:06 AM

Brendan Behan wrote the song, it's verses to be sang in between scenes in his play ' The Quare Fellow ' about a man waiting exexcution.

Good song, good play too.

eric


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: Big Tim
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 03:20 AM

'Brendan Behan wrote the song'. That's a simple assertion, have you any evidence Eric?


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 07:24 AM

Soodlums, The Irish Ballad Book, page 85 and the credits to the film
' The Prisoner ' staring Patrick McGoohan, based on Behans play, The Quare Fellow.

What reason have you to doubt it ?

eric


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 10:08 AM

Um, Eric - did you read Big Tim's post on the subject?

When I myself asserted (above) that Behan had written the song, based on the same sort of evidence as yours, the thought crossed my mind that for all I knew he could have embellished or polished a song he had heard in the joint or elsewhere ... I figured if anyone had contradictory evidence they would weigh in, as has happened ...


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: DannyC
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 10:23 AM

The Oulde Triangle and The Old Triangle and their respective Canals...

As there was an artist involved - it/they could, of course, be both. I am of two minds on the matter.


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: Tannywheeler
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 07:36 PM

If Soodlums says "The Prisoner" (TV show with Patrick McG.) was based on Behan's "The Quare Fellow" they are mistaken. Aside from the basic fact of imprisonment, there's no connection. The idea must've been put forward by someone who'd never seen either the Tv program or Behan's play.(imnever-to-beho)             Tw


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 07:45 PM

Anything you read in a "Soodlums" anthology needs to be checked before you believe it. They are not well researched.


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: Tannywheeler
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 08:19 PM

It appears you're right, Mr. Douglas.          Tw


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST,Joe_F
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 09:30 PM

Small metal triangles are used as instruments in orchestras. Thus, it is no surprise that someone thought of using a big one as a gong.

I think I may have asked this elsewhere, but: Why does he care how many women there are in the female prison? You'd think it would be either "In the female prison Is a certain woman" or "Outside this prison Are a billion women".

--- Joe Fineman    joe_f@verizon.net

||: Which is worse: getting used to what you don't like, or to what you like? :||


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 10:20 PM

Yes, but outside the prison are also a billion or so competing men. Inside the female prison are 75 women who are presumably utterly desperate for, um, male attention. The thought of "a certain woman" is certainly romantic, and proper, but the thought of having 75 male-attention-starved women to oneself has a certain appeal to a type of improper imagination which I am sure is quite foreign to you and me. (I apologize for having to bring up such distasteful matter).


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: Fergie
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 10:48 PM

The female prisoners in the joy were used to "man" the prison laundry. Brendan Behan used to relate an anecdote concerning a male prisoner that pinned a note to the collar of his prisonshirt "more starch here" it said. The shirt came back from the laundry with a note pinned to the tail that said "less shite here".
Fergus


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: Abby Sale
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 10:53 PM

As indicated, Behan used the song, a verse at a time, in between the acts. There's often other "business" going on - the guard making comments about the singer's noise, etc.

The exact verses are slightly different from the way MacColl & most others later sing them. He _may_ have been the first to record it.

I got interested in the "proper" accent to use. Often it's sung in bog Irish or (more appropriately) prison/street slang, with which Behan would have been very familiar.   The song is written in standard English. The book gives no info on the accent to be used or social class of the singer. Well, other than his current situation.

I tried to get hold of an original recording. Turned out (this is mostly anecdotal & newspaper reporting...) the play was first produced in a miniscule theater(re) on zippo budget. To save on salaries, the singer is never seen. He sings from his cell only and is, in fact, a tape recording of Behan, himself.

The tape was stored with play paraphernalia and ultimately just disappeared. Gone. Zap. Seems that's pretty definitive. I'm told.

A shame. There is no credit (or disclaimer) in the book as to authorship.


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: Deckman
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 11:25 PM

Fascinating!


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 24 Jun 06 - 02:54 AM

How about singing it with your own accent?


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: Big Tim
Date: 24 Jun 06 - 03:30 AM

The verse beginning "in the female prison" can surely be nothing other than sexual symbolism?

The Royal Canal is simply the Royal Canal. Behan was born at 14 Russell Street, Dublin, between the North Circular Road and the Royal Canal. He played on its banks and learned to swim in its waters. It was important to him. (And to his brother Dominic, whose ashes were scattered in the Royal Canal). Mountjoy Prison is also on the Canal's banks and would have been visible from inside. The sight of it stretching away in the distance would,for Behan, have been a particularly poignant sight.

The Quare Fellow was inspired by the execution of the real life Barney Kirwan on 2 June 1943 (while Behan was inside) for the murder of his brother in a dispute over the inheritance of the family farm. He then skinned the body and buried it in a bog. Behan thought him "bloody gentle", but also, "a complete nut".

"The metal triangle used to be rung to call the prisoners to their tasks" - Kathleen Behan, Brendan's mother.


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: Big Tim
Date: 24 Jun 06 - 03:53 AM

I forgot to say that a statue of BB was erected on the banks of the Royal Canal in 2003.


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: Declan
Date: 24 Jun 06 - 04:01 AM

While I thought that Walt was a bit over the top with his use of imagery, Big Tim's opening remark is obviously correct. I've heard that verse sung with the words "Then me old triangle...".

If you want to sing the song with an accent other than your own then the appropriate accent is obviously a Dublin accent, since the song is set here in Dublin and Behan, being a Dub, would have sung it that way too.


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: Big Tim
Date: 24 Jun 06 - 12:16 PM

As a matter of interest, other songs that Behan sang on radio that night in 1952 (on 'The Ballad Maker's Saturday Night')included, 'The Boys of Kilmichael', 'The Coolin' (his all-time favorite song), 'The Zoological Gardens', and 'We're Here Because We're Queer' (which resurfaced in his most successful work, 'The Hostage', in 1958).         

Behan had an excellent singing voice and could probably have made it as a vocalist in a ballad group. The number of songs, and fragments of songs, many self-written, that he scatters throughout his various works, shows that, had he put his mind to it, and stayed off alcohol, he could probably also have achieved major success as a songwriter.   

After all, he did have an excellent songwriting example within the family, his uncle Peadar Kearney, who wrote the Irish national anthem.


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: Tannywheeler
Date: 24 Jun 06 - 12:57 PM

Several of the Clancy Bros. were in "The Quare Fellow"--a production of that play at Circle in the Square in Greenwich Village in NYC--in the mid-late 1950s(?'60s?). Liam sang it then.         Tw


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 24 Jun 06 - 10:03 PM

Don't Muck About With The Moon----one of my favorites.


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 24 Jun 06 - 11:23 PM

Don't know that one, Art.

he always sounds a bit of a rum character from stories. Donleavy tells this tale about Behan coming to see him in London, with a story about an American magazine that wants him to write something, so can he borrow JPD's typewriter?

Donleavy says no, you just want to pawn it to go boozing. Behan cheerfully admits that is indeed the case, and they sit down together friendly as puppies.

Sounds a difficult chap to sustain a friendship with, supposing he'd got the typewriter.....


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Jul 06 - 05:48 PM

To complete John's quotation from Kathleen Behan above:

[1984:] Our Brendan spent so long in jail, he wrote a lot about it. He wrote a lovely song to go with his play 'The Quare Fellow', and called it The Old Triangle, after the metal triangle that used to be rung to call the prisoners to their tasks. (Kathleen Behan, Mother of all the Behans 108)

She seems to be certain her beloved son wrote it.


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST,Susanne (skw)
Date: 02 Jul 06 - 05:51 PM

That was me. Sorry, didn't notice the %$*/& cookie has expired again! Susanne


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST,mick
Date: 03 Jul 06 - 11:33 AM

Patrick McGoohan played in the film version of the quare fella so there might be a cause for a memory mix-up there . There is imo a subtle sexual imagery in the song .I don't see how anyone who couldn't "get out more" would not be affected in such a way . The hungry feeling of the lag dreaming of his girl Sal surely refers to sexual appetite as well as the usual one .


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: bill\sables
Date: 04 Jul 06 - 08:12 AM

If you visit Kilmanham Goal in Dublin, which is now open to the public, you will see a large iron triangle which, according to the decription card, was the Old Triangle from Mountjoy and the one in the song


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Old Triangle' Song
From: Big Tim
Date: 04 Jul 06 - 01:44 PM

Thanks for the tip Bill. I didn't see when I was there a couple of years ago, will do next time. (In case anyone is searching, it's Kilmainham).


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Old Triangle' Song
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Jul 06 - 04:19 AM

I thought that "the prisoner" was supposed to have been inspired by Franz Kafka


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Old Triangle' Song
From: vectis
Date: 05 Jul 06 - 07:06 AM

I have a recording of Dominic Beehan singing this and the sleeve notes state thaat he was the author of the song not Brendan. Brendan probably nicked it to use in his play or Dominic may have written it specially for the Quare fellow.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Old Triangle' Song
From: Joybell
Date: 05 Jul 06 - 09:51 AM

Not much mention of the tune except for what GUEST,thurg has to offer - (The Galway Shawl)
It might be of interest, for the record, that the Australian song "Moreton Bay" has been collected here with the same tune. Singer Alan Musgrove notes that "the tune is English". It was collected by Norm O'Connor from Simon McDonald of Creswick, Victoria in 1960. Simon McDonald learned it from his uncle Jack McDonald who was born in 1850.
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Old Triangle' Song
From: Big Tim
Date: 05 Jul 06 - 01:43 PM

I'm sure it was agreed on another thread that the tune was a slowed down version of 'Galway Shawl'. I think Martin Ryan pointed that out.

Re Dominic as the composer; possible but unlikely. Maybe it was a missprint on the record! What date was that recording vectis? There was a dood deal of sibling rivalry between the Behan brothers; for example, Brian claimed to have originated 'McAlpine's Fusiliers'.

It would be interesting to know in what year 'Old Triangle' was inserted into the play, which Brendan began writing while in Mountjoy in 1945, when Dom was still very young. (The title 'Quare Fellow' was provided by Alan Simpson and/or his wife Carolyn Swift, directors of the Pike Theatre where the play was first performed. When Swift told Behan that the play would only be produced under the title of 'Quare Fellow', Behan replied, 'for £30, you can call it the 'Brothers Fucking Karamazov' if you want'. The original title was 'Casadh Sugáin Eile - the Twisting of Another Rope' (execution rope, get it!)


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Old Triangle' Song
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 05 Jul 06 - 03:19 PM

I have only ever heard it to Galway Shawl melody.
likewise Moreton Bay.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Old Triangle' Song
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Jul 06 - 07:14 AM

"he always sounds a bit of a rum character from stories. Donleavy tells this tale about Behan coming to see him in London, with a story about an American magazine that wants him to write something, so can he borrow JPD's typewriter?

Donleavy says no, you just want to pawn it to go boozing. Behan cheerfully admits that is indeed the case, and they sit down together friendly as puppies."

My favourite story is about when The Hostage was about to be premiered on Broadway. During rehearsal, Behan asked the director if he could make a sign for the set (the play is set in a whorehouse) which would say "bless this house" in Irish. He explained to the director that every house in Ireland would have one of these on the wall, even a house of ill repute, so the director agreed to this nice little touch of authenticity.

It wasn't till several weeks into the run that the director found out what "Pog mo thoin" actually meant. And he was furious.

Back OT: I've seen the Old Triangle at Kilmainham gaol as well, and was strangely moved...


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Old Triangle' Song
From: Fergie
Date: 11 Jul 06 - 03:24 PM

The triangle on display in Kilmainham Goal, is not the one from Mountjoy Goal. It is the original one from Kilmainham Goal, I was there today and checked it out.
Fergus


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST,Tom Neary
Date: 30 Jul 12 - 01:00 PM

I have posted the real explanation of what the Auld Triangle actually was on one of the other threads related to the song...The Auld Triangle was not in fact anything to do with the Joy itself, but was in fact the sound of the metal triangles used by the working boats on the Royal canal. They would make deliveries to the warehouses that ran on the banks opposite the prison, as a warning of a delivery or pick up. These deliveries were at six in the morning and six in the evening, so gave the men inside an idea of the time. Within the context of the song, it also represented a link to the normality of the outside world to the prisoners incarcerated within.


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: MartinRyan
Date: 30 Jul 12 - 01:06 PM

Click here for the thread GUEST TomNeary refers to.

Regards


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 30 Jul 12 - 01:44 PM

I think all these Goals referred to above must be Own Goals!


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: MartinRyan
Date: 30 Jul 12 - 01:58 PM

Naaah - they're Eoin Goals - truly Gaelic! ;>)>


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 31 Jul 12 - 06:26 AM

"I have a recording of Dominic Beehan singing this and the sleeve notes state thaat he was the author of the song not Brendan. Brendan probably nicked it to use in his play or Dominic may have written it specially for the Quare fellow."

Bert Jansch told me that Dominic wrote the song. Bert heard Dominic singing it in an Edinburgh pub and this formed the basis for Bert's version.


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: meself
Date: 31 Jul 12 - 11:00 AM

Check the thread that Ryan Martin linked to, three or four posts up.


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: Jim McLean
Date: 31 Jul 12 - 12:10 PM

Dominic didn't write the song. He wrote many fine songs but not this one. As there was no generally accepted author then, Dominic claimed it as he did with many 'trad' songs, a common practice. Barney McKenna once said that Dominic would copyright the bible!


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST,Tom Neary
Date: 31 Jul 12 - 12:25 PM

Sminky, Dominic Behan may very well be singing it on your recording, many have, but he definitely did not write the song. If Bert Jansch told you he did, then he has been sadly misinformed. Please take meselfs advice and visit the other thread linked by Ryan Martin, where you will find the real author of the song and it's meaning in the context of the play. You will also find a few other bits of information that may be of interest to you? Of course that doesn't mean that Dominic didn't add on a few verses later, but the basic song as we know it was written by Dickie Shannon...Fact!


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 01 Aug 12 - 05:54 AM

Gentlemen,

It would have been disingenuous of me not to pass on what Bert told me - albeit hearsay evidence.

Tom - it was right and proper for you to relate what your grandfather told you - albeit hearsay evidence.

It would be wise to remember that there is a big difference between hearsay evidence and 'fact'.


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST,Tom Neary
Date: 01 Aug 12 - 02:06 PM

Sminky...I thought you might come back with that line of doubt, so will only say that you are free to believe what you like, but the truth is there for all to see, should they wish to. As was quoted in an earlier post, Behans biographer Sullivan, said that Brendan demanded that any royalties should go to Dickie Shannon, as he wrote the song. That is not hearsay, but hard evidence gathered by Sullivan, otherwise i doubt he would have printed it. So obviously the proof is there somewhere? This was also confirmed in the same post, that someone else in a position to know, had received the proof of authorship from Brendan. Exactly how one would go about gathering such evidence, hearsay or otherwise, would i imagine be very difficult at this stage of the game? But if anyone benefited from it's popularity, it certainly wasn't Dickie or his family. Most of his children ended up in care, due to the dire poverty they were living in. Further, I should imagine that Brendans estate have been the main financial beneficieries. But as i stated in another post, Dickie would never have been aware of song rights or royalties, and he most certainly could never have afforded a lawyer to do it for him. He wrote it for a friend and the song is now a part of Irish tradition, which Dickie would have loved. He deserves his due for that at least!!! It's a shame that others don't want to give it to him, even after almost 60 years...

As a bynote...Please understand the point of my posts. It is not my intention to try and garner any financial advantage from Dickies song, but to try and get the credit placed where it truly belongs...With Richard Patrick Shannon (1916-1975), of Wellington Street, Dublin. Yes! A tramp, a drinker, a gambler and a rogue, but never a liar! Dickie detested liars above all else. He always said "a robber was honest when compared to a liar. A liar was the lowest of the low, as they would get you hanged for nothing more than malice"! Besides, Brendan freely admitted who the writer of the song was, not something he would readily have done had it been otherwise, so that should be good enough for both you and Bert Jansch in my humble opinion. If it is not, then so be it!? As for Dominic trying to claim any form of authorship, he should and probably did have knowledge of the songs true author, but it would hardly have been to his advantage to let it be known, would it? He freely plagiarized others work for his own benefit, so why should this be any different?? So less said is probably soonest mended on that score. The upshot of all this hearsay evidence as you choose to call it, is that it is still evidence that Dicky gave Brendan the song. Until some actual contrary proof is unearthed, then we are stuck with the only evidence available to us, hearsay or not??


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Aug 12 - 06:04 PM

Hi Sminky,
The Lyrics of the Auld Triangle were copyrighted by Brendan Behan and Theatre Workshop in 1956 Fact
Dominic Behan published a songbook containing 100 songs called "The Singing Irish in 1967, mostly self-penned. Fact
Dominic published another songbook in 1973, called "Ireland Sings", containing another 100 songs. Fact
The Auld Triangle does not appear in either book. Fact
Bert Jansch, on his 2006 CD "The Black Swan" credits the song to Brendan Behan. Fact.
Facts are facts, talk is cheap.
Both Dicky and Brendan could not have envisaged how popular the song would become, or they may have made a better arrangement, Brendan being more interested in the Play than the song.


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 02 Aug 12 - 06:17 AM

"Facts are facts, talk is cheap."

No need for such 'talk' - whoever you are.

I mentioned Bert Jansch's remark because when trying to establish the facts, one has to consider ALL the evidence, positive as well as negative.

For what it's worth, I happen to believe that Dicky probably DID write the song, but that is my belief - it is not based on fact.


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Aug 12 - 02:29 PM

Sminky...May i just add that the word hearsay implies nothing more than general gossip. I prefer the word anecdotal, as it describes precisely the situation we are discussing. Verbal evidence has been given by a number of people as to who the real author is, but it probably isn't worth the paper it's printed on??? lol! With that in mind, please don't get into a row about this subject, as it is only a song. As i've said on a number of occasions, It never enriched Dickie while he was alive, and was never that important to him in all fairness. It was if you like, a simple gift to his friend and drinking pal Brendan...FACT!!!

I'll leave it there i think?


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: Dennis the Elder
Date: 02 Aug 12 - 03:51 PM

Its not "just a song", it's a very good and meaningful song, at least!!


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Aug 12 - 08:28 PM

Dennis, I referred to it as just a song to avoid any unnecessary argument between two contributors to the thread. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, even if they are misinformed? So thank you for highlighting your passion for my granddads song, I genuinely never realised it meant so much to so many people. Dickie would have found that very odd indeed, but would have been very pleased too!


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST,John
Date: 20 May 13 - 04:40 AM

I distinctly remember old westerns where the triangle was used to inform outriders or those working in faraway parts a ranch that a meal was ready to be served. I know this is Hollywood, but a big old open triangle is a pretty easy and effective way to get sound to carry distances.
I see nothing strange in Bert's comment either, he was probably stating where he first hear the song, and nothing to do with authorship. Not sure that it would have mattered much to him and I don't think he was a man to use two or three words when one would do.


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 20 May 13 - 10:18 AM

I heard the same story as Big Tim; I heard it from a cousin of Brendan Behan's who used to share a house with him. Didn't hear about his signing the royalties to the actual writer - bless him. A decent man.


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST,Sean
Date: 29 Oct 13 - 12:19 PM

I knew Dominic Behan quite well.Although he wrote some very fine songs ,I never heard him claim The Auld Triangle. Brendan was always considered to be the Author.


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: mayomick
Date: 29 Oct 13 - 01:06 PM

I have only ever heard it to Galway Shawl melody.
likewise Moreton Bay..........Keith

I find it interesing that Moreton Bay and the Auld Triangle have the same or similar airs - (Boolavogue does as well btw) . The triangle was used in prisons throughout Britain and its colonies for the flogging of prisoners : "And Captain Logan he had us mangled upon the triangles of Moreton Bay".

I've suggested to people in Ireland that the original triangle referred to in the song may once have served this purpose. I have yet to find anyone who agreed with me !Any opinions from mudcatters?


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: MartinRyan
Date: 29 Oct 13 - 01:34 PM

Well......

I've only heard (and sung) Moreton Bay to variants of Youghal Harbour - which is the air (now) used for Boolavogue, amongst other well known songs. To my ear, The Galway Shawl and The Ould Triangle are closer to each other than to Youghal Harbour .

Regards


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: mayomick
Date: 29 Oct 13 - 03:12 PM

I have only heard Moreton Bay sang roughly to the tune now used for Boolavogue . You hear the similarity between Galway Shawl, The Ould Triangle and the tune now used for Boolavogue , do you Martin?


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Subject: RE: The Old Triangle
From: MartinRyan
Date: 29 Oct 13 - 03:48 PM

Mick

The Boolavogue tune is that of Youghal Harbour (and Sweet Omagh Town, amongst others). To my ear, The Galway Shawl is very close to The Ould Triangle - but different from Youghal Harbour . There are similarities but a deaf man on a galloping five-pound horse could probably still tell them apart!

Regards

p.s. Its always said that Boolavogue was originally sung to a different air and then moved to Youghal Harbour , for, I think, an early Feis Ceol competition. Thing is - I've never heard anyone identify the original air used!


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Subject: RE: Origin: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST,Bob
Date: 12 Apr 14 - 05:17 PM

My Mother is Dickie Shannon's sister. She is now 87years old, she along with Dickies surviving children know Dickie wrote the song. But even though they were brought up in poverty when I asked about this there answer was "what we never had we never missed" that saying they got from there dad Dickie I think that sums him up.


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Subject: RE: Origin: The Old Triangle
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Apr 14 - 05:57 PM

"Sullivan, said that Brendan demanded that any royalties should go to Dickie Shannon, as he wrote the song"
This was confirmed in an article in The Irish Times a couple of weeks ago - it was part of an interview with an agent of Behan's.
Can't remember the details, but I'm pretty sure it said that Behan instructed the interviewee to send a cheque to an address in Inchicore, where Dickie Shannon was living in at the time - it stuck in my memory because that is where some of my family lived
Jim Carroll.


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Subject: RE: Origin: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Apr 14 - 07:38 PM

Brendan Behan copyrighted his play, which included his verses of the song. My understanding is that he gave a once-off payment to Dickie Shannon for the rights to the song, rather than "any royalties" as mentioned above. At the time, neither visualized the song becoming so popular.


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Subject: RE: Origin: The Old Triangle
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 12 Apr 14 - 08:20 PM

Lovely thread, to which I can contribute very little! On our one and only visit to Dublin a few years ago we walked up out of the the middle of Dublin one evening past the pub called the Auld Triangle. We didn't stop there as I'd been invited to play in a session just round the corner in a pub on what was, I think, the north circular road. I can't remember the name of the session pub but we had a wonderful evening there.


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Subject: RE: Origin: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST,Patrick
Date: 19 Mar 15 - 03:59 PM

The double entendre in the song is blindingly obvious to me. I love this song for it's not-so-sly bawdiness most of all.


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Subject: RE: Origin: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 20 Mar 15 - 07:48 AM

It was written by one of my favourite Irish men Brendan Beham. If one needed qualifications to be an Irish hero, then Behan was over qualified. Born to fiercely nationalist parents, his Brother Dominic was one of Eire's greatest songwriters. Brendan joined the IRA and was arrested on his first failed mission. Was sentenced to death later commuted to Life, then released under a general amnesty. But while in the despised Mountjoy jail he developed his love for writing. Including the only song credited to him (not as some believe by his brother) The Auld triangle, written for his play The Quare Fella, (about a prisoner awaiting his execution) and surely about his own experiece of Prison. He was also a great raconteur and became a darling of chat shows, in Ireland, England but mostly in America and Canada and was outrageusly critical of Irish religion and government. Heavily alcoholic too and a devout womaniser. His wit was much feted and often quoted.
My favourite quote is on a handwritten note sent to a bar owner in my home town in Ireland, under a framed picture of Behan in the tiny bar it says "fellas, I've just arrived in Canada and saw a sign saying 'drink Canada Dry' I'm about to do my feckin best!" Sadly the drink took him at the height of his fame


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Subject: RE: Origin: The Old Triangle
From: MartinRyan
Date: 20 Mar 15 - 08:12 AM

As outlined earlier in the thread, Brendan acknowledged the man from whom he learned the basic song.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origin: The Old Triangle
From: mayomick
Date: 20 Mar 15 - 08:42 AM

Martin ,Sorry , I've been galloping around with the old nine-pounder a bit too much recently,and just saw your post of over a year ago. I don't hear the tune of
Moreton Bay being closer to Youghal Harbour than it is to The Old Triangle.
Youghal Harbour:
http://www.itma.ie/digitallibrary/sound/youghal_harbour_eddie_butcher  
Moreton Bay :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJEawKILe_A 

Boolavogue :

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Subject: RE: Origin: The Old Triangle
From: mayomick
Date: 20 Mar 15 - 08:56 AM

Fergie, I asked on another thread if the Old Triangle was originally a flogging triangle : they were once used in British prisons.If there was also a triangle at Kilmainham Jail , the suggestion that the purpose had something to do with the transportation of goods along the Royal Canal doesn't stand up . The song Moreton Bay mentions triangles btw: "Captain Logan had us mangled all on the triangles of Moreton Bay. "
Warning :
Another Mayomick conspiracy theory /fake folk possibility :
My very tentative suggestion if it was a flogging triangle : The Mountjoy prisoner who wrote Auld Triangle song had once heard the song Moreton Bay .


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Subject: RE: Origin: The Old Triangle
From: Lighter
Date: 20 Mar 15 - 10:11 AM

Why on earth should a flogging triangle be more likely to go "jingle-jangle" than a dinner triangle - which, as others have noted, was once a familiar method calling men to their meals?

Maybe Behan's autobiographical "Borstal Boy" can shed light on the whole matter.

My copy has unfortunately submerged from sight.


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Subject: RE: Origin: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST,Deasún ÓSeanáin
Date: 21 Sep 15 - 05:08 PM

My uncle Dickey Shannon has been named as the author of this song and I have being trying to contact Tom Neary about this matter. My father Thomas Shannon told me as far back as the 1950s that Dickey had written it. Dickey is buried in Manchester. It would be nice to see a plaque erected indicating him as the author. It would do something for the family that has suffered so much from capitalism, war, state oppression and emigration.
My email is deasun2@yahoo.com.


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Subject: RE: Origin: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 22 Sep 15 - 04:22 PM

It's written by Brendan behan, an autobiographical account of his imprisonment in Dublin's much loathed Mountjoy Jail on terrorist offences, originally sentenced to death it was later comuted to a life sentenced then pardoned under a general amnesty. The song was used for his play The Quare Fellow. The triangle in question hung on the prison wall next to The Royal Canal, it signalled the days events from waking up, to slopping out, mealtimes and bed time, A very hated sound


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Subject: RE: Origin: The Old Triangle
From: MartinRyan
Date: 22 Sep 15 - 05:17 PM

Not so, I'm afraid - see earlier posts re Behan's own statements.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origin: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 23 Sep 15 - 01:38 PM

RE MartinRyan
My account above is as correct a version of the origins of this song as is possible to get. Frankly I'm amazed at the sheer ignorance of a few posts on here. You can check my version with any historical account of Behan's life or with any Irish musical Scholar, though none come higher rated than my good self.
With references to those who claim The Auld triangle is a term for human sexual organs, Brendan was a man of great humour but he would have certainly laughed at that, it os of course total nonsense. Soodlums is also wrong re The Trisoner. Behan wrote the song long before The Prisoner was even conveived, where on earth they got that from is a mystery!


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Subject: RE: Origin: The Old Triangle
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 23 Sep 15 - 08:14 PM

Any newcomer opening this thread in reverse chronological order should note that Desi C's claims in recent days are plainly wrong, as Martin has tried to explain. This will be blindingly obvious to anyone who has read the whole thread (and the thread for which Martin provided a link).


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Subject: RE: Origin: The Old Triangle
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 24 Sep 15 - 04:07 PM

Brendan Behan recorded an LP of songs, I think based on a radio broadcast, which was released in 1960 in the USA on the Spoken Arts label, 760 LP, Brendan Behan Sings Irish Folk Songs and Ballads and in the UK on the Argo label, RG239LP, as Brendan Behan sings songs from The Hostage and Irish Ballads. The LP can be heard on You Tube Brendan Behan Sings; at 30:37 Behan introduces the song 'The Old Triangle' by saying "This other song was written by a person who will never hear it recorded because he's not in possession of a gramophone; he's...he's pretty much of a tramp."

This matches very closely the account given above by Tom Neary about Dickie Shannon as the author of the song, and it certainly confirms that Brendan Behan didn't claim to have written it himself, nor do there seem to be any grounds for attributing it to Dominic Behan.

I know that both Brendan and Dominic Behan enjoyed sowing confusion about questions of song authorship - I certainly was misled by Dominic's mischevious attribution of The Twang Man to Zozimus! - but Tom Neary's story and the account given by Brendan Behan's biographer Michael O'Sullivan that Behan ordered the royalties from a radio broadcast of the song to be paid to a Dick Shannon all look like strong and consistent evidence in favour of Dickie Shannon as the writer.

It would certainly be a great idea to mark Dickie Shannon's grave in Manchester with a plaque.

Matthew


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Subject: RE: Origin: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST,Deasún ÓSeanáin
Date: 25 Sep 15 - 03:28 PM

After this well put reply by Matthew to all the 'experts' in this thread my uncle Dickie Shannon is gaining ground. However my family background of lower working class outsiders with little clout or power makes it very difficult when up against the many followers of Brendan Behan one of Ireland's greatest playwright.
Brendan like myself learned Irish and that's a good thing to have in common.
Beidh an 'Sean Triantán'(Old Triangle) ag bualadh ar bhruach na Canála Ríogach le fada.

Deasún ÓSeanáin


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Subject: RE: Origin: The Old Triangle
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 29 Dec 15 - 01:32 PM

i read in the irish times long time back that the song was to do with
a 1938? snooker or billard trophy that was erected on the banks of the royal canal hence the triangle but was to much to maintain so it was scrapped


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