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Origins: Molly/Maureen Bawn

DigiTrad:
MOLLY BAWN (POLLY VAUGHN 2)
POLLY VAUGHN


Related threads:
Lyr Req/Add: Molly Bawn / Boating on Lough Ree (38)
DTStudy: Molly Bawn (Polly Vaughn) (156)
polly vaughan dick miles (49) (closed)
Lyr Add: Noreen Bawn (Neil MacBride?) (15)
polly vaughan (34)
Chords - Polly Von (17)
Polly Von - poaching (16)
Molly Bawn/Polly Vaughn.. How many do you know? (31)
Lyr Req: Polly Von (8)


M 04 Nov 99 - 05:16 PM
Martin _Ryan 04 Nov 99 - 05:50 PM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Nov 99 - 06:14 PM
Martin Ryan 05 Nov 99 - 06:22 AM
AKS 05 Nov 99 - 06:42 AM
Martin Ryan 05 Nov 99 - 09:04 AM
dick greenhaus 05 Nov 99 - 09:43 AM
M 05 Nov 99 - 10:19 AM
Malcolm Douglas 05 Nov 99 - 03:42 PM
M 08 Nov 99 - 03:40 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 08 Jul 03 - 12:42 PM
ard mhacha 09 Jul 03 - 04:35 AM
Dave'sWife 01 Mar 05 - 06:39 PM
Malcolm Douglas 01 Mar 05 - 07:02 PM
Dave'sWife 01 Mar 05 - 07:41 PM
Malcolm Douglas 01 Mar 05 - 08:05 PM
Dave'sWife 13 Apr 05 - 03:17 PM
Artful Codger 20 Nov 09 - 06:29 PM
Acorn4 20 Nov 09 - 07:17 PM
Artful Codger 21 Nov 09 - 02:39 AM
GUEST 15 Oct 12 - 11:12 AM
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Subject: Molly/Maureen Bawn?
From: M
Date: 04 Nov 99 - 05:16 PM

I just got this (old) album of Irish singers entitled "The Singing Men Of Ulster." On it is a song called "Molly Bawn," which is in the Digitrad. At a local session, there is a man referred to as The Man Form The North, who has sung an anti-immigration lament called, I think, "Maureen Bawn." I'm curious, is this Molly/Maureen Bawn thing a distinctly Northern phenomenon? Is there some quasi-historical/mythological woman by this name? Alison? Anybody? Any clues?


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Subject: RE: Molly/Maureen Bawn?
From: Martin _Ryan
Date: 04 Nov 99 - 05:50 PM

I thik the second song is "Noreen Bawn" - bit of a tear-jerker? Nothing particularly northern about either, as far as I know. Molly Bawn exists in lots of versions.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Molly/Maureen Bawn?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Nov 99 - 06:14 PM

Anti-emigration please, not anti-immigration!!!


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Subject: RE: Molly/Maureen Bawn?
From: Martin Ryan
Date: 05 Nov 99 - 06:22 AM

McGrath

Dead right! The anti-immigration element hasn't yet gotten round to writing songs, as far as I know!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Molly/Maureen Bawn?
From: AKS
Date: 05 Nov 99 - 06:42 AM

Unfortunately it has, Martin, at least here in Europe. It only hasn't reached the ears of us folkers, being some kind of heavy-metal 'noise' of neo-nazis and other groups of that type.

AKS Joensuu, Finland


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Subject: RE: Molly/Maureen Bawn?
From: Martin Ryan
Date: 05 Nov 99 - 09:04 AM

AKS

True, I'm afraid.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Molly/Maureen Bawn?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 05 Nov 99 - 09:43 AM

Martin- Anti-immigration songs have been an ignoble part of the folk tradition at least since the early days of organized labor. Check out Twelve Hundred More, in DigiTrad, for one example.


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Subject: RE: Molly/Maureen Bawn?
From: M
Date: 05 Nov 99 - 10:19 AM

Sorry, I meant anit-EMigration. Don't be offended--it was a product of overwork. Yes, Martin, you're right, the second one is "Noreen Bawn." The Mam From The North isn't a regular, so I've only heard the song twice. It is a tear-jerker, and he usually has to have a bit in him before he'll sing it (he's not a performer so it takes a bit of prodding also), and it becomes a bit more maudlin by then. Any background on either of these two songs?


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Subject: RE: Molly/Maureen Bawn?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 05 Nov 99 - 03:42 PM

Background to Molly Bawn[Bán]/Polly Vaughan/The Fowler/The Shooting of his Dear etc.

A.L.Lloyd has a good bit to say about it in Folksong in England; some of his ideas may be a little fanciful (to say the least), but they are still interesting. Here is a (shortened) version:

"[A song] despised by Jamieson (who thought it 'one of the very lowest descriptions of vulgar modern English ballads') and rejected by Child but still much loved by singers in Ireland and the eastern counties of England...[synopsis omitted].It seems clear enough that the story is a come-down relic of the same myth that, long before Ovid's time, became attached to the figures of Cephalus and Procris. Procris, an enthusiastic huntress, had a dog that never failed to catch its quarry and a dart that never missed its mark (she obtained them both from Minos in return for bed-favours). She gave both dog and dart to her husband Cephalus. He went out hunting in the dusk, and Procris, suspecting that he was visiting a mistress, put on a camouflage robe and stole out after him. As she hid in a thicket, the dog detected her, and Cephalus, mistaking her for a deer, cast his unerring dart and killed her. He was banished for her murder and haunted by her ghost.

Several commentators...have identified the girl under the apron as a descendant either of a swan maiden or an enchanted doe...in any case the magical maiden who is a woman by day and a beast by night, and fatally hunted by her brother as like as not, is as familiar a figure in folklore as the swans and other birds flying by night, who are thought to be souls in bird form. So the modern-seeming ballad of Molly-Polly Bawn-Vaughan, that Jamieson thought so paltry, in fact reaches far back beyond the time of classical mythology. The song that the experienced Irish folk song collector, Patrick Joyce, thought 'obviously commemorates a tragedy in real life' turns out to be connected with the fantasies of primitive hunting societies...."

Well, there you are!

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Molly/Maureen Bawn?
From: M
Date: 08 Nov 99 - 03:40 PM

Jeez! Thanks, Malcolm.


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Subject: RE: Molly/Maureen Bawn?
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 08 Jul 03 - 12:42 PM

Found a lot of information on that song here

Molly Bawn


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Subject: RE: Molly/Maureen Bawn?
From: ard mhacha
Date: 09 Jul 03 - 04:35 AM

Noreen Bawn from County Donegal. Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: Molly/Maureen Bawn?
From: Dave'sWife
Date: 01 Mar 05 - 06:39 PM

Malcom, you wrote your bit here on Molly Bawn 5 years ago, but many belated thanks.

I have a transcript from a recording made by a colleague of mine in the 1970's about a girl who could become a swan who gets accidntally shot by her father ( as opposed to brother) whislt in Swan form. It was collected from a woman who was about 82 at the time of the telling and in looking upon it recently I thought to myself "Aha! Molly Bawn!" but now I see I need to dig a great deal deeper into the background of the informant who was born in Sligo but emmigrated to the USA when still a very young woman. I was searching for orgins on Molly Bawn and saw your post in this thread. In the tale the informant said Molly revereted to human form as her father watched her die, having shot her through her heart. (Sort of like LonN Chaney Jr. in The Wolfman I suppose!)

Kinda freaky that the theme seems to go so far back but not surprising.

I don't visit Mudcat very often - just when I have enough stuff to look up to keep me busy for a few hours and I always find some wonderful material here. If I visted more often, I'd never get a thing done! Too much fascinating information here.


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Subject: RE: Molly/Maureen Bawn?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 01 Mar 05 - 07:02 PM

To be honest, my feeling was, and is, that Bert Lloyd's comments were over-romantic and barely even peripherally relevant. The "swan maiden" motif may very well have informed the song, but there's no evidence that any actual transformation is implied in (so far as I can tell) any version ever found anywhere.

Do please tell us more about the song or story you mention. Was the explanatory information included in the narrative itself, or was it a gloss supplied by the singer/teller? Was there any prompting by the collector?


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Subject: RE: Molly/Maureen Bawn?
From: Dave'sWife
Date: 01 Mar 05 - 07:41 PM

Oh..I should have stated that this was NOT a song. Sorry. I was merely a story collected by an amateur folklorist friend of mine who was out asking older folks born to tell him old stories they knew. It wasn't his style to prompt an informant even though he wasn't a "pro." I've not listened to the tape of THIS story since I don't know where it is presently and even if I did, I don't have a reel- to reel anymore. Still, of those I have heard..he just prompted with the typical "And then what happened" type of question. He and I gathered some stories together in 1983 and he was far less likely to prompt than the Folklorists I studied with.

The Swan girl story is the only one of its type in his notes which I inherited upon his death back in 1988. He wasn't an academic - never published anything in any serious forums. Just typed up all his collected songs and stories and shared them about. In fact, it was when I was in grad school that I met this fellow, relying on him to help me transcribe my own field work. He had written some rather nifty UNIX code for 3-line transcription useful when you needed to do running and literal translations atop eachother in text. Dating myself there for sure but in the early 80s, at my university, it was still UNIX or worse I'm afraid.

I was flipping through these all last week and sat down today to look up some themes and lyric snippets. I've known the standard version of Molly Bawn but assumed perhaps maybe there was something about it I didn't know. Turns out to be plenty I didn't know!

In the story as collected..

She's a Swan sometimes by night (not every night apparently)..girl by day just like her dead mother was. Her father knows nothing of this enchantment.. spies her in the brush (like the song) one summer night (the informant says "it was a night in late summer)") and shoots her through the heart. He goes to collect the dead bird, and as it lays dying, it reverts into the form of his own dear girl. The detail is that he shot her through the heart. She also forgives him before dying in his arms. It seems to me to be an amalgamation of the song as we know it, some Cinema tradition and maybe some old myth. The transformaion scene just smacked of Universal Horror film to me. It certainly seems plausible.

The informant does say the girl is 'Enchanted", does not name her Molly or anything else, states she is "fair" and that it was raining on the night in question. Other than that, there's nothing too emarkable.

Doesn't it sound like a mix of the song and a fairy story? That would be my guess.


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Subject: RE: Molly/Maureen Bawn?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 01 Mar 05 - 08:05 PM

It's certainly interesting, whatever its provenance. If you get the opportunity at some point, please do let us know more.

The Canadian Journal for Traditional Music paper mentioned earlier is interesting, but some of its suggestions go a little beyond the available evidence and should be considered speculative.


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Subject: RE: Molly/Maureen Bawn?
From: Dave'sWife
Date: 13 Apr 05 - 03:17 PM

Malcom Douglas --- check this out!

In looking for references to Water Horses, I found a reference to the Shape-shifting Swan maid!

>>>In other cases the old water beings have a more pleasing form, like the syrens and other fairy beings who haunt French rivers, or the mermaids of Irish estuaries. 3 In Celtic France and Britain lake fairies are connected with a water-world like that of Elysium tales, the region of earlier divinities. 4 They unite with mortals, who, as in the Swan-maiden tales, lose their fairy brides through breaking a tabu. In many Welsh tales the bride is obtained by throwing bread and cheese on the waters, when she appears with an old man who has all the strength of youth. He presents his daughter and a number of fairy animals to the mortal. When she disappears into the waters after the breaking of the tabu, the lake is sometimes drained in order to recover her; the father then appears and threatens to submerge the whole district. Father and daughters are earlier lake divinities, and in the bread and cheese we may see a relic of the offerings to these. <<


The full Article can be found HERE


So maybe my friend's informant wasn't mixing Universal Horor film mythology with an Irish song. Maybe she was relating a story which sprung from an older tradition. Pretty neat, eh? I went looking for a horse and found a swan.


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Subject: Origins: Molly Bawn
From: Artful Codger
Date: 20 Nov 09 - 06:29 PM

I transcribed one of the Bodley broadside versions ("Molly Whan", Harding B 16(152d)) in this thread: 44660. I'd mean to put it in this thread, but with multiple threads I sometimes get confused.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Molly/Maureen Bawn
From: Acorn4
Date: 20 Nov 09 - 07:17 PM

There seems to be a concurrent thread running on this one at the moment - called "Polly Von".


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Subject: RE: Origins: Molly/Maureen Bawn
From: Artful Codger
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 02:39 AM

Ahem, I know, I was the one who recently posted to that thread; it's the one where I posted the broadside transcription, and to which I linked above.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Molly/Maureen Bawn
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 11:12 AM

Noreen Bawn is a song based on the real life experience of a young Irish girl Briget Gallagher who emigrated from Cresslough County Donegal to the Us at the age of 16 in 1921 and returned very ill with either Scarlet Fever or TB 1927 and died 3 months later aged 23.
Practically every Irish artiest has recorded the song and if you google Noreen Bawn or go to You Tube there is no problem finding it.


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