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How reliable is Folk History ?

Jim Carroll 11 May 18 - 01:38 PM
Keith A of Hertford 11 May 18 - 02:12 PM
Keith A of Hertford 11 May 18 - 02:22 PM
Jim Carroll 11 May 18 - 08:09 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 11 May 18 - 08:54 PM
Joe Offer 12 May 18 - 01:58 AM
GUEST,Observer 12 May 18 - 02:28 AM
Dave the Gnome 12 May 18 - 02:41 AM
GUEST,Observer 12 May 18 - 03:12 AM
BobL 12 May 18 - 03:30 AM
David Carter (UK) 12 May 18 - 03:31 AM
Dave the Gnome 12 May 18 - 03:45 AM
Dave the Gnome 12 May 18 - 03:48 AM
GUEST,Mike Yates 12 May 18 - 03:55 AM
Jim Carroll 12 May 18 - 04:23 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 12 May 18 - 05:35 AM
Jim Carroll 12 May 18 - 06:32 AM
theleveller 12 May 18 - 06:38 AM
David Carter (UK) 12 May 18 - 06:45 AM
David Carter (UK) 12 May 18 - 06:47 AM
Jim Carroll 12 May 18 - 07:02 AM
GUEST,Dalillama 12 May 18 - 07:12 AM
John Moulden 12 May 18 - 07:19 AM
GUEST,Dalillama 12 May 18 - 07:28 AM
Keith A of Hertford 12 May 18 - 07:29 AM
Keith A of Hertford 12 May 18 - 07:31 AM
Jim Carroll 12 May 18 - 08:25 AM
Joe Offer 12 May 18 - 10:09 AM
GUEST,Nemo 12 May 18 - 10:58 AM
Joe Offer 12 May 18 - 11:37 AM
Jim Carroll 12 May 18 - 12:04 PM
GUEST,Nemo 12 May 18 - 12:56 PM
Steve Gardham 12 May 18 - 02:40 PM
Jack Campin 12 May 18 - 05:07 PM
Allan Conn 12 May 18 - 07:26 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 12 May 18 - 07:40 PM
GUEST,Observer 13 May 18 - 03:46 AM
Jim Carroll 13 May 18 - 03:56 AM
Jim Carroll 13 May 18 - 06:22 AM
GUEST,Observer 13 May 18 - 07:05 AM
Jim Carroll 13 May 18 - 07:23 AM
Jim Carroll 13 May 18 - 08:26 AM
Steve Gardham 13 May 18 - 11:04 AM
GUEST,Observer 13 May 18 - 11:26 AM
Jim Carroll 13 May 18 - 12:17 PM
Steve Gardham 13 May 18 - 01:02 PM
Jim Carroll 13 May 18 - 01:11 PM
GUEST,Nemo 13 May 18 - 02:22 PM
Howard Jones 14 May 18 - 06:17 AM
Jim Carroll 14 May 18 - 08:20 AM
GUEST,Derrick 14 May 18 - 09:23 AM
GUEST,paperback 14 May 18 - 09:33 AM
Jim Carroll 14 May 18 - 10:20 AM
Kenny B 14 May 18 - 10:21 AM
Howard Jones 14 May 18 - 10:29 AM
Steve Gardham 14 May 18 - 11:35 AM
Jim Carroll 14 May 18 - 11:52 AM
David Carter (UK) 14 May 18 - 01:48 PM
Jim Carroll 14 May 18 - 02:50 PM
Kenny B 14 May 18 - 03:00 PM
David Carter (UK) 14 May 18 - 04:34 PM
GUEST,Observer 14 May 18 - 05:02 PM
Steve Gardham 14 May 18 - 05:31 PM
rich-joy 14 May 18 - 10:03 PM
GUEST,Observer 15 May 18 - 02:56 AM
The Sandman 15 May 18 - 03:19 AM
GUEST,Observer 15 May 18 - 03:26 AM
The Sandman 15 May 18 - 03:32 AM
Jim Carroll 15 May 18 - 03:56 AM
The Sandman 15 May 18 - 04:02 AM
Jim Carroll 15 May 18 - 04:13 AM
Keith A of Hertford 15 May 18 - 04:29 AM
Howard Jones 15 May 18 - 05:02 AM
David Carter (UK) 15 May 18 - 05:21 AM
Howard Jones 15 May 18 - 06:18 AM
GUEST,Observer 15 May 18 - 07:36 AM
Allan Conn 15 May 18 - 07:55 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 15 May 18 - 02:24 PM
GUEST 15 May 18 - 03:44 PM
Jim Carroll 15 May 18 - 08:38 PM
The Sandman 16 May 18 - 12:29 AM
Harry Rivers 16 May 18 - 01:58 AM
Joe Offer 16 May 18 - 02:09 AM
Jim Carroll 16 May 18 - 03:06 AM
Joe Offer 16 May 18 - 03:21 AM
GUEST,Observer 16 May 18 - 03:40 AM
Jim Carroll 16 May 18 - 04:10 AM
Jim Carroll 16 May 18 - 04:18 AM
David Carter (UK) 16 May 18 - 04:54 AM
GUEST,Observer 16 May 18 - 05:37 AM
Jim Carroll 16 May 18 - 06:14 AM
Jim Carroll 16 May 18 - 06:44 AM
GUEST,Observer 16 May 18 - 07:07 AM
Jim Carroll 16 May 18 - 07:12 AM
Jim Carroll 16 May 18 - 07:22 AM
Howard Jones 16 May 18 - 07:43 AM
GUEST,Harry Rivers 16 May 18 - 10:09 AM
Jim Carroll 16 May 18 - 02:36 PM
David Carter (UK) 16 May 18 - 03:03 PM
GUEST,Harry Rivers 16 May 18 - 03:30 PM
David Carter (UK) 16 May 18 - 03:38 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 16 May 18 - 04:04 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 16 May 18 - 04:08 PM
GUEST,Harry Rivers 16 May 18 - 05:29 PM
David Carter (UK) 17 May 18 - 03:12 AM
Jim Carroll 17 May 18 - 03:26 AM
Howard Jones 17 May 18 - 04:43 AM
David Carter (UK) 17 May 18 - 06:44 AM
Jim Carroll 17 May 18 - 08:33 AM
Howard Jones 17 May 18 - 09:14 AM
Jim Carroll 17 May 18 - 09:57 AM
Jack Campin 17 May 18 - 12:28 PM
GUEST,Observer 18 May 18 - 02:20 AM
Jim Carroll 18 May 18 - 02:59 AM
Howard Jones 18 May 18 - 05:06 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 19 May 18 - 01:18 PM
The Sandman 21 May 18 - 02:11 PM
David Carter (UK) 21 May 18 - 02:19 PM
GUEST,Harry Rivers 21 May 18 - 02:37 PM
Jim Carroll 21 May 18 - 02:50 PM
GUEST,Observer 21 May 18 - 03:01 PM
GUEST,Harry Rivers 21 May 18 - 03:05 PM
Jim Carroll 21 May 18 - 03:21 PM
The Sandman 22 May 18 - 12:30 PM
GUEST,Observer 22 May 18 - 03:34 PM
David Carter (UK) 22 May 18 - 04:18 PM
Jim Carroll 22 May 18 - 08:17 PM
David Carter (UK) 23 May 18 - 02:32 AM
Howard Jones 23 May 18 - 04:04 AM
Jim Carroll 23 May 18 - 06:46 AM
David Carter (UK) 23 May 18 - 08:02 AM
Jim Carroll 23 May 18 - 08:48 AM
Jim Carroll 23 May 18 - 09:09 AM
Jack Campin 23 May 18 - 10:32 AM
Jim Carroll 23 May 18 - 10:51 AM
GUEST,Observer 23 May 18 - 11:04 AM
GUEST,Craig 23 May 18 - 11:42 AM
David Carter (UK) 23 May 18 - 12:28 PM
Jim Carroll 23 May 18 - 01:05 PM
Jim Carroll 23 May 18 - 01:42 PM
GUEST,Observer 23 May 18 - 02:11 PM
David Carter (UK) 23 May 18 - 02:19 PM
Jim Carroll 23 May 18 - 03:18 PM
David Carter (UK) 23 May 18 - 03:44 PM
The Sandman 23 May 18 - 04:26 PM
David Carter (UK) 23 May 18 - 04:42 PM
GUEST,paperback 23 May 18 - 04:45 PM
Jim Carroll 23 May 18 - 07:09 PM
GUEST,Greg F. 23 May 18 - 09:16 PM
David Carter (UK) 24 May 18 - 03:16 AM
Jim Carroll 24 May 18 - 06:18 AM
David Carter (UK) 24 May 18 - 08:42 AM
Jim Carroll 24 May 18 - 09:03 AM
John Moulden 24 May 18 - 11:35 AM
David Carter (UK) 24 May 18 - 12:23 PM
David Carter (UK) 24 May 18 - 12:25 PM
Jim Carroll 24 May 18 - 12:45 PM
David Carter (UK) 24 May 18 - 02:48 PM
Jim Carroll 24 May 18 - 03:21 PM
The Sandman 24 May 18 - 04:56 PM
GUEST,paperback 24 May 18 - 10:04 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 25 May 18 - 12:39 AM
Jim Carroll 25 May 18 - 02:11 AM
GUEST,Some bloke 25 May 18 - 02:20 AM
Jim Carroll 25 May 18 - 02:45 AM
David Carter (UK) 25 May 18 - 02:55 AM
Jim Carroll 25 May 18 - 03:44 AM
David Carter (UK) 25 May 18 - 03:46 AM
David Carter (UK) 25 May 18 - 03:55 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 25 May 18 - 04:37 AM
Jim Carroll 25 May 18 - 04:44 AM
David Carter (UK) 25 May 18 - 02:02 PM
Jim Carroll 25 May 18 - 02:42 PM
GUEST,Some bloke 25 May 18 - 02:59 PM
David Carter (UK) 25 May 18 - 03:16 PM
Steve Gardham 25 May 18 - 04:19 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 25 May 18 - 08:51 PM
David Carter (UK) 26 May 18 - 03:54 AM
Jim Carroll 26 May 18 - 04:12 AM
Jim Carroll 26 May 18 - 04:15 AM
David Carter (UK) 26 May 18 - 04:31 AM
GUEST,Some bloke 26 May 18 - 05:20 AM
Jim Carroll 26 May 18 - 05:37 AM
Steve Gardham 26 May 18 - 02:15 PM
rich-joy 26 May 18 - 08:54 PM
rich-joy 26 May 18 - 09:13 PM
GUEST,paperback 27 May 18 - 12:58 AM
DMcG 27 May 18 - 03:05 AM
David Carter (UK) 27 May 18 - 03:05 AM
Jim Carroll 27 May 18 - 03:20 AM
David Carter (UK) 27 May 18 - 03:32 AM
Jim Carroll 27 May 18 - 04:09 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 27 May 18 - 04:20 AM
Keith A of Hertford 27 May 18 - 04:48 AM
Jim Carroll 27 May 18 - 05:15 AM
GUEST,Boom Boom Boom Boom 27 May 18 - 07:20 AM
Greenie 27 May 18 - 07:25 AM
Keith A of Hertford 27 May 18 - 07:58 AM
GUEST,Boom etc 27 May 18 - 08:04 AM
Keith A of Hertford 27 May 18 - 08:17 AM
Steve Gardham 27 May 18 - 09:05 AM
Keith A of Hertford 27 May 18 - 09:09 AM
Keith A of Hertford 27 May 18 - 09:20 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 May 18 - 01:38 PM

Yesterday I sent a posting to the “Censorship-songs of certain folk singers” which met with rather more opposition than I expected
The historical importance of folk songs has been my interest for some time now so, as it was suggested that I took the argument elsewhere – here goes
Below are the first shot fired in the argument – you may read the other thread to see the whole battle, but rather the confine the discussion to one event, perhaps the more general “how reliable is folk history” might be better
I’ve also included the BBC note to the song
It was suggested that this discussion should be in the B.S. section, but if we can’t discuss folk songs in theis secrtio, why bother discussing them ?
Jim Carroll

In the 1950s the BBC embarked on a collecting campaign recording songs and music throughout the British Isles
They recorded a song from Mohill singer, Thomas Moran, concerning the assassination of William Sidney Clements, Third Earl of Leitrim in 1878
Lord Leitrim was one of the worst landlords of 19th century Ireland, reputed to have exercised the Medieval right of Droit du seigneur - "breaking-in" the brides of his tenants on their wedding night.
The notes to the song in the Beeb catalogue describe it as scurrilous and defamatory - they gave it an "S" number to indicate that it could only be played with special written permission
As far as I know, there is only one other folksong with this number
It transpires from an article I am reading by D K Wilgus and Eleanor Long that there are around two dozen other songs on the same subject

LORD LEITRIM
O you boys of the shamrock, pay attention to my ditty.
Be alive to your duty, be wise and be witty.
Keep your powder dry, and we’ll make the tyrant fall,
And we’ll give them what Lord Leitrim got below in Donegal.
Riddle-addle-day-ri, fol-the–rol-the–ree.

It being on the 2nd of April, this old debaucher left his den,
He left bailiffs, bums and harlots in the castle of Lough Rynn.
To Makim and Kincaid he gave a hellish bawl,
Saying: ‘We’ll tumble down the cabins in the County Donegal!’
With me Riddle-addle-day-ri, fol-the–rol-the–ree.

‘Twas two crafty-looking renegades old Shiney did obey,
Saying: ‘We’ll hurl out the Papish and we’ll drown them in the sea.
As Cromwell did in days of yore, we’ll waste ‘em, great and small,
And we’ll desolate their farms here below in Donegal.’
With me Riddle-addle-day-ri, fol-the–rol-the–ree.

‘Oh, me lord, I’ll feel so horrified,’ poor Makim he did say
‘For it has foretold me we’ll meet Rory on the way.”
His lordship then made answer in the presence of Kincaid:
‘Of Rory or the devil, sure, I never was afraid!”.
With me Riddle-addle-day-ri, fol-the–rol-the–ree.

So they druv away together on that unlucky day,
Until they came to Cretlagh Wood, near an angle of the sea,
Where bold Rory he was standing there, just threatened by a squall,*
All to protect the widows in the County Donegal.
With me Riddle-addle-day-ri, fol-the–rol-the–ree.

When young Rory seen him coming, his heart did jump for glee.
He gave three cheers for Tenant Right, Home Rule and liberty.
‘Our maiden fairs and Colleen Bawns that was proper, straight and tall,
Caused by you they were sent o’er the seas, far, far from Donegal.’**
With me Riddle-addle-day-ri, fol-the–rol-the–ree.

Oh, this monster’s face began to foam.
His venom he did spew,
And roared out in a hellish tone: ‘Sir, Tell me who are you?
‘Well, my Lord, I’m Rory of the Hill, that makes you welcome all
To a hearty dose of bullet pills below in Donegal.’
With me Riddle-addle-day-ri, fol-the–rol-the–ree.

Oh, young Makim cries: ‘Spare us our lives, Miser Rory, if you please!’
‘No, no, for when you lie with dogs you’re sure to rise with fleas.’
The boys was laughing at the joke, they stood behind the wall,
Saying: ‘We’ll pepper ‘em up with powder and smoke this day in Donegal.’
With me Riddle-addle-day-ri, fol-the–rol-the–ree.

‘Oh, go on, my boys,’ says Rory. ‘Make ready, present and fire!’
At his old brain they took fair aim and they hurled him in the mire.
To revenge the joke, his head they broke, and his carcass there did maul.
They stuck him in a pool, his head to cool, below in Donegal.
With me Riddle-addle-day-ri, fol-the–rol-the–ree.

‘Well done, my boys,’ says Rory, as he turned to the sea,
Where the men they jumped into a boat that there at anchor lay.
‘We can paddle our own canoe, we’ve got a speedy shawl,
And hooray, me boys,’ say Rory, ‘For the maids of Donegal?’
With me Riddle-addle-day-ri, fol-the–rol-the–ree.

Oh, the policemen like beagles gathered round this dirty beast,
And the devils all, both great and small, they had a sumptuous feast.
He was dissected like a bullock down at Manorvaughan Hall,
And the devils ate him, rump and stump, that night in Donegal.
With me Riddle-addle-day-ri, fol-the–rol-the–ree.

(Source: This text is published and discussed by A.L. Lloyd in ‘Rebels and Their Causes’, Maurice Cornforth (ed), Lawrence and Wishart, London 1978, pp177-179. This is substantially the version as sung by the late Thomas Moran, Mohill, Co. Leitim and recorded by Séamus Ennis in 1954 [BBC recording S21899])

1   Singer: Miles Duggan                                                                4.45
S/19356
Beleek, Co. Fermanagh.
10.8.2 (P.K - S.O’B.)
'You boys of the shamrock
2.   Singer: Thomas Moran                                                                3.51
S/21899
Mohill, Leitrim.
December 1954 (S.E.)
'O you gentlemen of the shamrock ...'
This is a violent and scurrilous diatribe: Lord Leitrim, according to Miles Duggan, was a landlord from Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim., who had an estate in Donegal, where he carried out evictions.   He was assassinated, according to the song, on April 2nd by Rory of the Hill, who shot him from an ambush, The singer maintains that he was killed on account of his exercise of the 'droit de seigneur'.
The tune is similar to that of the English folk song 'The Crabfish'.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 11 May 18 - 02:12 PM

Battle of New Orleans. The British did not run and Packenham was their leader.
Plains of Mexico. Most versions give Santa Anna as the victor, not Gen.Taylor.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 11 May 18 - 02:22 PM

D Day Dodgers. Lady Astor never said that.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 May 18 - 08:09 PM

"D Day Dodgers"
It's a moot point whether Lady Astor made the comment that was attributed to her, but it was hardly out of character with the type of woman she was
An anti- Catholic, anti semitic supporter of Hitler, a researcher describes her -

"It is generally believed that it was Lady Astor who, during a World War II speech, first referred to the men of the 8th Army who were fighting in the Italian campaign as the "D-Day Dodgers." Her implication was that they had it easy because they were avoiding the "real war" in France and the future invasion. The Allied soldiers in Italy were so incensed that they composed a bitingly sarcastic song to the tune of the haunting German song Lili Marleen (popularized in English by Marlene Dietrich) that they called "The Ballad Of The D-Day Dodgers," written by Major Hamish Henderson of the 51st Highland Division.
She also made a disparaging remark about troops involved in the Burma Campaign, warning the public to "Beware the men with crows' feet." This was an allusion to the white lines often found around the eyes of white soldiers in hot climates due to squinting in the bright sunlight as it tanned their faces. Soldiers of the 14th Army were slightly bemused to be accorded such attention and it was strongly rumored among them that her prejudice was the result of a 14th Army officer on leave either impregnating Astor's daughter or infecting her with a sexually transmitted disease."

Maybe a case of the anonymous songsmakers Hamish Henderson compilled his song fro got it only partly right
It could be the case with many of these songs
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 11 May 18 - 08:54 PM

Bahamian folk history is tourist fare, infotainment. It moves along with all the other popular fashions.

Battle of New Orleans
Jimmy Driftwood (James C. Morris, 1907-1998)

“...started writing songs during his teaching career to teach his students history in an entertaining manner.” [wiki]

Steinbeck, Guthrie and Offer's creosoted peaches never happened. Truth would be the 1932-33 Soviet famines (4 million dead) and California's Madera Plan (zero dead in all North America) but that wouldn't sell in Hollywoodland.

Debating the spelling of shanty-v-chantey; video games; Afro-Caribbean roots ad nauseum whilst failing to mention the word 'celeusma' even once in 20+ years is… not reliable.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 May 18 - 01:58 AM

Well, Phil, I worked up and down the Central Valley of California for thirty years, and I had a lot of contact with ag people from farmworkers to ranchers to processors to USDA officials. I guess the only crop that I myself personally saw destroyed, was a huge supply of marijuana that the sheriff and fire chief of Madera County were burning when I went to interview them (I was hoping, but the smoke had no effect on me). But I often saw fruit in Dumpsters; and I heard tales of excess milk being dumped and of produce that was dumped because it did not meet the size or quality specifications of marketing orders. I also heard stories of substances being poured on dumped produce to make it inedible - not creosote, but other noxious substances.

So, I still believe that creosote may have been dumped on excess oranges to make them inedible and thus unmarketable. You made a valiant effort to disprove Woody and Steinbeck (and me), but I don't buy your argument yet. I know California agriculture at many levels and find the use of creosote credible -although I don't have knowledge of it beyond Guthrie and Steinbeck. Woody didn't have much ag experience, but Steinbeck certainly knew the Central Valley and its agriculture well. I saw excess crops being dumped and read newspaper reports of dumped crops being made inedible; and since creosote was readily available on every farm, the use of creosote to destroy dumped crops seems entirely credible.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 12 May 18 - 02:28 AM

What a strange conclusion to draw Joe.

Your own personal experience confirms what was stated by Phil, yet because you have "often heard tales" and "often heard stories" none mentioning the use of creosote you come out with - "So, I still believe that creosote may have been dumped on excess oranges to make them inedible and thus unmarketable."

That sort of reasoning would suggest that to you - If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, it must be a leopard because Woody and Steinbeck told you so. Some "investigator" you must have been, also please never sit on any jury in any criminal trial where only evidence can be considered in reaching a verdict.

I dare say with a fair degree of certainty that "folk history" in both song and story in some instances will be based on fact, on myth and coloured by political thinking and leanings. There will also be a marked difference depending upon when the song was written in relation to the subject being written about. Folk history would therefore be best taken with a very large pinch of salt and should never outweigh studied historical work.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 12 May 18 - 02:41 AM

Interesting topic. I think that whether the song is factual or not is only part of the story. As long as the song is contemporary to the event it tells us a lot more about how people felt and the ordinary man's views than any dry tome in a mainstream bookshop ever could. We will always see some 'poetic licence' as well but, that aside, if, for instance, the soldiers at the time were singing that Lady Astor did make that remark then it is a good indication of how they felt about her. Or if the people of Donegal were celebrating Rory of the Hill as a hero then it gives us an idea what they thought of Lord Leitrim!

FWIW, Jim, I think this should remain firmly above the line.

Also, out of interest, the song in question contains the phrase 'bailiffs, bums and harlots'. I always though 'bum' was an Americanism for 'tramp' but it obviously has roots elsewhere. Whatever it means here seems to have connections with the Lancashire phrase 'bum bailiff', used in old children's songs and elsewhere so there we have another window on life and language as it was.

Folk songs contemporary to the event are, in my opinion, a good source of how people thought, reacted and described events. A window on to times gone by that plain old facts can never show.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 12 May 18 - 03:12 AM

Much to agree with in what you say there Dave, but the following should have been qualified:

"As long as the song is contemporary to the event it tells us a lot more about how those people affected by the event and its aftermath felt and the ordinary man's views than any dry tome in a mainstream bookshop ever could."

Would also add the ordinary man's views is a bit too far and too great a claim to make as the ordinary man, back in the day. in nine instances out of ten would not know that anything had occurred at all.

"Folk songs contemporary to the event are, in my opinion, a good source of how some people thought, reacted and described events."

You have it spot on when you state - A window on to times gone by that plain old facts can never show.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: BobL
Date: 12 May 18 - 03:30 AM

Blow away a burglar, you know that it makes sense,
Grind him up for dog food so they eat the evidence.
And if you are invited to explain to the assize,
Ask for consideration for a Tony Martin prize.


Topical at one time, but treat it as comment rather than accurate reporting.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 12 May 18 - 03:31 AM

Sorry, but if by a "dry tome in a bookshop" you mean a researched historical text, then I would rely on that to inform me about the event in question. Various people, whether ordinary or not, might write a broadsheet or sing a song about the event from their perspective, but that will inevitably be coloured by their prior viewpoint. So folk songs may be a good source of how people thought and reacted. As a source of what really happened, they are not so good.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 12 May 18 - 03:45 AM

Good points, Observer, but I think there are probably more people who knew about and had contemporary views on the events than you indicate. Ok, the was not the mass media we have now but there were broadsheets and musicians did wander about. Of course this in itself has the 'Chinese whispers' effect which may contribute to the facts being mangled:-) but the feelings still remain.

There are also the songs that helped to make history. The calls to arms or the tales of political misdeeds that helped to raise armies or undo the career of a particularly nasty politician. All these things are inexorably linked and I don't think any single source tells the whole picture.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 12 May 18 - 03:48 AM

Is that not what I said, David Carter?

I thought it was so I apologise if it was not clear enough and thank you for clarifying what I meant.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 12 May 18 - 03:55 AM

The Dogon people of Mali have a whole range of tales, which have been studied over the years by countless people. (Joke: How many people make up an average Dogon family? Answer: Mum, Dad, two children and the resident French anthropologist.)One story involves a bright red star seen at a certain point in the sky. Nobody bothered much about this, until it was worked out that an exploding star would have been seen in that spot in the 12th century. This was the bright red star and had been remembered, orally, throughout the remaining centuries.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 May 18 - 04:23 AM

These songs are certainly evidence that the events took place - we have a number regarding undocumented information which, when asked about drew the response "I'd forgotten all about that", which led to more details emerging.
"but that will inevitably be coloured by their prior viewpoint."
Not too sure of this - the survival of many songs depends on their being accepted by the community.
It's true that some songs were deliberately composed to mislead; the bard who made The Haughs of Cromdale brought together two different battles to cover the ignominy of the Cromdale defeat
I'm left with the impression of the local songs we collected that they are basically accurate but sometimes over-creative in detail
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 12 May 18 - 05:35 AM

Joe: "You made a valiant effort to disprove Woody and Steinbeck (and me), but I don't buy your argument yet."

My argument is The Grapes of Wrath is shelved under fiction and Mudcatters invented the rest in circular reporting and gossip. You've admitted that much, twice. We're good.

Unless mental illness or substance abuse are involved, nobody dies of starvation or famine in the U.S. and the system Steinbeck, Guthrie and you champion has killed untold millions. That's big truth behind this folk history.

It doesn't meet any kind of standard for reliable. Caveat emptor.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 May 18 - 06:32 AM

Seems to me the 'Grapes of Wrath' was steeped in fundamentalist controversy from day one - it was publicly burned, banned and shops which sold it were set on fire
THIS is the most convincing account I have read of the condditions which gave rise to it
Like, Upton Sinclair's 'The Jungle', it had an enormous impact in drawing the public's attention to appalling conditions, though, in the case of the latter, rather than bringing about changes in those conditions, it caused a widespread panic about food hygiene (following the description of a worker falling into a meat-chopping machine and being canned and shipped off to be sold) and brought about massive reforms
My father related with some amusement that 'The Jungle' was the onlr progressive books allowed in the prison library when he was incarcerated during the Spanish Civil War - they thought it was a travel book !
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: theleveller
Date: 12 May 18 - 06:38 AM

It's been said that the victors write the history - or at least the educated, privileged classes. Historians like Hobsbawm, E P Thompson and Christopher Hill tried to redress the balance and Hill's excellent book, Liberty Against the Law, draws on popular ballads, poem and plays to paint a different perspective on history. Well worth a read.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 12 May 18 - 06:45 AM

Sorry DtG, yes it is mostly what you said, but I did feel that when you wrote "dry tome in a mainstream bookshop", you were intending that phrase to be a bit pejorative. Those "dry tomes" are fundamental studies of events. and it is what happened that I want to know, not what people felt about it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 12 May 18 - 06:47 AM

Jim wrote:

"Not too sure of this - the survival of many songs depends on their being accepted by the community."

So sadly is the survival of the Daily Mail, but I think we can agree that this is not a good thing.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 May 18 - 07:02 AM

A little different Dave - one is news shipped in from outside, the other is home recorded information recording the lives of those living in the communities in which they thrived
You can hardly describe a copy of the Daily Mail "surviving" - when I worked on the docks it was torn into squares and hung in the jacks for future use
Not a thing I'd like to keep in my mouth!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Dalillama
Date: 12 May 18 - 07:12 AM

Phil, you seem to be possessed of a peculiar idea that peaches and oranges are staple crops, deliberate destruction of which would result in a famine, and that lack of such a famine means the destruction described did not happen.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: John Moulden
Date: 12 May 18 - 07:19 AM

All I know (just about) is cotained in my thesis "The Printed Ballad in Ireland: a guide to the popular printing of songs in Ireland, 1760-1920" which may be freely downloaded:
https://aran.library.nuigalway.ie/handle/10379/5020


Abstract
This thesis is concerned with the survival, influence and scholarly use of songs printed cheaply in Ireland, from the beginnings of the trade in the middle 18th century until its decline in the early 20th. It aims to make songs printed on ballad sheets and in small (8-page) song books accessible to students of history and cultural studies, to survey trade practices and their history, judge the influence such songs exerted upon the knowledge, beliefs, attitudes and actions of 'ordinary' people and to assess how such materials have been used as evidence, presenting a range of methods whereby the songs may be questioned. The thesis is organised in four parts with a prefatory section setting out problems and discussing definitions. The first part presents a guide to all the known collections in Ireland and to the most significant in Britain, and lists their contents. The listing approaches a comprehensive survey of the corpus. The second section considers trade practices, production and distribution, and examines the careers of some of the personnel. The third outlines the nature of the oral song culture into which songs were introduced, how trade considerations conditioned what was produced; describes interactions between songs and the people and considers the effects of literacy and how the form and language of certain songs militated against their absorption. Finally in this section attempts are made to gauge the influence of the ballad trade upon the oral tradition and how the ballad trades of Britain and Ireland interacted. The last part discusses a range of methods of using ballads in historical and cultural study and exemplifies them using a range of case studies. It also assesses the state of scholarly study of the ballad trade and scholarly use of ballads as evidence in Ireland, Britain and North America.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Dalillama
Date: 12 May 18 - 07:28 AM

Re: Dave the Gnome's poibt, and the OP,
in The Wheels of the World a verse goes

Wellington he was a spinning
his wheels they were at Waterloo
But if Grouchy had never been bribed
the French would have split him in two

In fact Emanuel de Grouchy was not bribed, and his failure to intervene at a key point in the battle was simply the vagaries of war, but his reputation was destroyed and his career ended. Clearly thr song was written when gis name hadn't yet been cleared or the author didn't believe it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 12 May 18 - 07:29 AM

You can hardly describe a copy of the Daily Mail "surviving" - when I worked on the docks it was torn into squares and hung in the jacks for future use

It is not just surviving, it is by far the biggest selling paper.
The Guardian is surviving, running at a loss and needing donations.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 12 May 18 - 07:31 AM

Wrong thread somehow. Sorry!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 May 18 - 08:25 AM

Not sure the argument of who made the songs is relevant here John (I would certainly like to avoid re-opening the argument)
It was you who kindly gave me a copy of the 'Lord Leitrim' article and we have discussed the importance of locally made songs over a pint
Many of the songs we have discovered were spontaneously made, never (to my knowledge) written down and have survived orally
Even the 'ballad selling' trade' largely by non-literate Travellers, was based on orally transmitted songs recited to a printer.
There is evidence that orally made and transmitted songs have existed in these islands since the time of the Venerable Bede so we can safely assume that the practice of oral composition continued right into the twentieth century and may still be alive among Travellers - it most certainly was thirty years ago.
Right thread Keith - wrong answer
I was referring to individual copies not the industry
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 May 18 - 10:09 AM

Observer and Phil, the only missing piece of my puzzle is the specific use of creosote to make dumped produce inedible. The rest is common knowledge in the ag industry of the Central Valley of California. In recent years, the ag industry has prided itself in finding less wasteful ways of utilizing excess produce, but it is still common practice to withdraw excess produce from the market to stabilize prices. It's used for "cogeneration" of electric power, for animal feed, for organic fertilizer, and for countless other purposes.

But the California ag industry was in its infancy in the 1940s, and dumping was a common practice for disposal of excess produce to stabilize prices. If that dumped produce was easily obtained by scavengers, it could be sold at prices far lower than the market order, thus destabilizing the market. So, yes, it was common to mix produce with a noxious substance to make it inedible and unsaleable. To this day, there is excess produce everywhere in the Central Valley at harvest time - oranges and tomatoes strewn from open trucks at every freeway interchange. Excess produce is a fact of life in large-scale farming, and excess produce that gets into the black market is bad for business. Woody and maybe Steinbeck may have condemned dumping as a social evil, but I see it as "just business" when it isn't a time of famine. And there has been no famine in the rich Central Valley.

The only thing I couldn't document or observe myself is the use of creosote as the particular noxious substance used. Since creosote was cheap and readily available on every farm for wood treatment for fence posts and other wood, it certainly seems likely that farmers could have used it.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Nemo
Date: 12 May 18 - 10:58 AM

Unless mental illness or substance abuse are involved, nobody dies of starvation or famine in the U.S....

Excuse me?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 May 18 - 11:37 AM

In a perverse sort of way, "Observer" makes a point in questioning my believing Steinbeck and in this:
    I dare say with a fair degree of certainty that "folk history" in both song and story in some instances will be based on fact, on myth and coloured by political thinking and leanings. There will also be a marked difference depending upon when the song was written in relation to the subject being written about. Folk history would therefore be best taken with a very large pinch of salt and should never outweigh studied historical work.


I think that "folk history" and and other fiction have a high level of accuracy, although that accuracy is different from that found in historical research. Although a novelist may be writing fiction, that fiction must be truthful. People can't relate to fiction unless it tells the truth about life experience. Steinbeck may have used fictional characters and fictional stories, but he presented a very real and accurate and credible picture of agricultural life in California. I've lived in Steinbeck Country for most of the time since 1973, and I can tell you that he's telling the truth.

As for creosote, I think it's unimportant to know exactly what substance was mixed with the dumped produce. I've known of fuel oil and lime, but creosote would do the job just as well - so I don't really care whether it's fuel oil, lime, or creosote. No doubt that took black market money away from poor farm workers, so no doubt they resented that. But I can see why dumped produce would be made inedible if there's a pilferage problem, so I don't make a judgment against the practice.

I suppose one could debate where there's starvation or famine in the U.S., but it's clear that undernourishment is common.

As for "folk history" - it may lack accuracy in some details and it may be fictional, but it still can do a good job of portraying the realities and attitudes of the times it stems from.

Fiction is often more truthful than fact.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 May 18 - 12:04 PM

I assume everybody is aware of this, composed by my old comrade,JACK WARSHAW
Still moistens an eye after all these years
Based, of course, on Woodie's 'Los Gatos'
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Nemo
Date: 12 May 18 - 12:56 PM

Fiction is often more truthful than fact.

Absolutely. Just ask Mr. Trump.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 May 18 - 02:40 PM

The problem with any media, both now and in the past, is not so much what they do tell us as much as what they don't tell us. At least folk material and street literature often give a slant that is more in tune with the people, and as we have seen with some examples given here, they cover things that the established media ignore or deliberately hide from us.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 12 May 18 - 05:07 PM

Apart from the very obvious fuckups of songs like The Haughs of Cromdale (which mixes up two battles decades apart to make a story about one that never happened) or Chevy Chase/The Battle of Otterbourne (two sides of the same fight where one major character is unhurt in one version and chopped to pieces in the other) the more important issue is - what never makes it into songs.

It seems that the more catastrophic a historic event the less likely it is there will be songs about it. There are a lot of sad songs from the Middle Ages but nothing about the Black Death. A lot of songs from the mediaeval Islamic world but nothing about the Mongol invasions. Quite a few songs about the smaller conflicts of WW1 but nothing from Russia (with by far the highest death toll of any combatant nation) and nothing about the pandemic influenza that killed more people than the entire war. A few songs and military tunes about the colonial wars of the late 19th century, but about the Leopoldian genocide (20 million dead), nothing. 20 million Chinese dead from Japanese militarism and nothing but a few Maoist rallying songs. Lots of songs about the relatively bloodless Irish war for independence and nothing but patriotic fluff about the partition of India (about a million dead).

The most important historic events are just too horrible to sing about.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Allan Conn
Date: 12 May 18 - 07:26 PM

I heard the suggestion that Haughs of Cromdale can be explained by it being about two battles,that is Cromdale itself and an earlier battle of Montrose's campaign but that still doesn't work. Where does Cromwell and the English army come into it? It would need to be at least three battles as Cromdale didn't involve an English army and neither did any of the Montrose campaign. Plus Montrose was executed by the Scottish gvt some time before Cromwell set foot in Scotland. Lyric makes no sense@


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 12 May 18 - 07:40 PM

Joe: Fiction is fiction and you either can't or won't do fact. Doesn't matter which.

Dalillama: No, just that Joe never saw anything like what he said and the trio's motivation was to promote a lethaly inferior ag system.

Now we waffle, move the target and change the subject in a half dozen ways but the bottom line is still a mean spirited fiction.

Union activism has left tonnes of crops to rot in the field on purpose. Vegetable oil and wine are being denatured by the tank car every season. I've never met the U.S. field worker who would suffer an Amazon warehouse for five minutes nor healthcare pro who thinks hunger is a bigger problem than obesity. So what?

On topic, the folk history of the Yank's so-called creosote dumps is not reliable in letter or spirit.

Good thread.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 13 May 18 - 03:46 AM

rom Steve Gardham

The problem with any media, both now and in the past, is not so much what they do tell us as much as what they don't tell us.

How do you know what you are not being told if you were not there, or unless you have not studied the facts of the matter from all perspectives?

At least folk material and street literature often give a slant that is more in tune with the people,

Only some of the people.

and as we have seen with some examples given here, they cover things that the established media ignore or deliberately hide from us.

What examples given here?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 May 18 - 03:56 AM

"Union activism has left tonnes of crops to rot in the field on purpose. "
I think this is a statement of "which side ou are aon", which is why I didn't want this discussion to go below the line on this forum
Is there any chance we can keep this on the songs rather than turn it into a political battle ?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 May 18 - 06:22 AM

Specifically on songs
I believe Steve Gardham's statement on information is spot on regarding the access to information
The Irish Famine (1845-1850) was Ireland's greatest catastrophe - at least one million dead and another million were left wih no other alternative but to emigrate - that emigration goes on to the present day.
Up to the 150th anniversary of the event there was one serious study of the subject, by an Englishwoman (The Great Hunger, Mrs Cecil Woodham Smith 1962).
Until Independence in 1922 the news was heavily influenced by British colonial interests and after independence, by the Irish need to maintain friendly relations with her English neighbors for the purposes of keeping the door open to the continuing flow of emigrants.
There were few songs made about the Famine while it was occurring, ("people were too busy dying") but the period from 1798 to the middle of the 20th century is rich in historical accounts of Irish life, from its politics to everyday living - songs about emigration represent the largest number in the folk repertoire, next to love songs   
As I said on the other thread, to quote a 90 year old farmer/singer we recorded a couple of years ago, "In those days, if a man farted in church, somebody made a song about it"
That to me, puts the importance of songs, as entertainment and as carriers of information, in a nutshell
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 13 May 18 - 07:05 AM

Just an observation but

In his post of 13 May 18 - 03:56 AM, Jim Carroll makes the specific request - Is there any chance we can keep this on the songs rather than turn it into a political battle ?

Which he then immediately follows with a subjective post addressing politics. Strange.

Can't really see how a song about someone farting in church would be considered important, but I suppose it takes all sorts.

Regarding newspapers in Ireland in the 19th century. On the evidence of census information, the rural population of Ireland from 1851 to 1911 was well educated. The percentage of the population over five years of age which claimed to be able to read rose from 53% to 88%. The number of newspapers and periodicals published and distributed in Ireland rose from 109 in 1853 to 230 in 1913. The papers became synonymous with political literature in nationalist Ireland. The Dublin based newspapers, especially The Nation became the leading voices of nationalist opinions, the same could be said of The Connaught Telegraph and The Kerry Sentinel.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 May 18 - 07:23 AM

I have no objection whatever to discussing the political implications of songs - that wa what my first song example was about, but I believe "Union activism has left tonnes of crops to rot in the field on purpose" heads the discussion off into an entirely new direction, (leading to a cul-de-sac as some of us have often discovered) - unless of course you can produce songs about workers having done so
I have no power to prevent this discussion heading in whatever direction the posters choose but I'd hate it to end up in a left-right catfight
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 May 18 - 08:26 AM

Incidentally
My comments were not politically "subjective" - the facts I put forward are an undisputed matter of history
My point was about the availability and flow of information - a gap filled by the song repertoire
The efforts to limit information is pretty plain from the number of books on the famine, but is underlined by the fact that, despite large swathes of Ireland being Irish-speaking a conscious effort was being made to suppress the language
We have recorded a number of accounts of children being given the "stick" treatment at school - a short stick was hung around the necks of pupils and each time they were heard speaking Irish, a notch was put in it
At the end of the week, the pupil received the indicated number of strokes of the cane
What is this if it is not an attempt to control expression of opinion ?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 May 18 - 11:04 AM

>>How do you know what you are not being told if you were not there, or unless you have not studied the facts of the matter from all perspectives?<<   Observer.
Our past (and present) gives us numerous examples of those in positions of power manipulating the media by twisting reality and hiding/ignoring important information, among other crimes. We are at least more aware of this nowadays, partly because of the increase in different types of media.

In the past ballads have been used in a similar way, but at least many of them, give a different point of view, even if that can also be distorted. A man in the street can write a ballad but he can't influence what is printed in the national press or what is spewed out by the BBC.

>>Only some of the people.<< Okay I meant the common people, those not in a position of power.

'Whistleblowers' are still treated abominably by the powers that be.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 13 May 18 - 11:26 AM

The balladeers also do their fair share of "twisting reality" and hiding/ignoring important information Steve.

In the song about LL there is scant mention of his alleged misconduct with young girls. There is absolutely no evidence to support the allegations leveled against him over the mythical "Droit du seigneur" also known as jus primae noctis. There is no evidence of the right being exercised in medieval Europe, overall, medieval jus primae noctis can be considered a historical fiction fabricated after that era.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 May 18 - 12:17 PM

"In the song about LL there is scant mention of his alleged misconduct with young girls."
There are twenty or so other songs an him some mention his sexual appetites
"the mythical "Droit du seigneur"
THere is a great deal of local information about it from simple farmers to the clergy - it is hardly something the establishment were going to publicise
Even Leitrim's peers considered him a "bad lot"
As for the rest - what an incredibly sweeping statement - masses have been written about the murderous activities of Gilles de Rais, the Hellfire Clubs, - Havelock Ellis mantions the practice, writers like Gershon Legman dealt with the practice in detail....
THere's quite a readable book on the sexual proclivities of our betters 'Love Lockes Out' by James Cleugh
This seems to be an attempted public whitewashing of history
Much of the evidence is anecdotal - mainly contemporary to the events - the gentry were hardly likely too allow their dirty linen to be washed in public
Jim Caaarroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 May 18 - 01:02 PM

Absolutely, Obs, but the twisting done from the bottom up pales into insignificance alongside the twisting done from top down. Another factor is we make our own decisions generally on what ballads contain, but the media is believed by an awful lot of gullible people.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 May 18 - 01:11 PM

Sorry to bring this up but may as well get it out of the way
I believe the "Balladeers" are largely the people who make songs because they happen, Steve argues that they are largely those who make a living from making songs
Don't want to make an issue of this here but I think there is an essential difference
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Nemo
Date: 13 May 18 - 02:22 PM

Regarding The Great Creosote War Of 2018, there are any number of searchable, on-line newspaper historical databases available these days.

A search of California newspapers from the Steinbeck/Guthrie era for "Creosote" or "creosote and crops" & other variations might actually turn up something germane.

Go for it & report back to the class..


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 14 May 18 - 06:17 AM

I am no historian, but I suspect folk songs are often fairly unreliable as historical sources, at least without additional evidence. Firstly, even impartial and entirely honest witnesses may report the same event differently, as no once can see the whole. Creators of folk songs may not be impartial, they may be prejudiced because of their social class or position, because of more overt political opinions, or because they have a personal interest in the event or people involved.

Secondly, the overriding imperative of a song is to tell a good story, so if facts have to be changed to achieve that, or simply to make a rhyme, that's artistically acceptable.

In the case of Lord Leitrim, there seems to be some uncertainty over the motives for his murder and it seems more likely to have been political, but the allegations of 'droit du seigneur' seem to be unfounded. However it's a good story to tell about an unpopular landlord (today it would be alleged he was a paedo) and no doubt the audience were more than willing to believe it. To accept the ballad at face value is dangerous, as we cannot know without additional evidence whether it simply reflects local rumours, may even be the source of them, or is in fact the truth, or a partial version of it

That's not to say folk songs cannot play a part, they may contain some truth, and they may show how an event was perceived by the public. However they cannot be treated as reliable evidence.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 18 - 08:20 AM

Hard to know whwre this "additional evidence' is going to come from Howard
In the case of Lord Leitrim, although he was condemned by his fellow members of The House of Lords, scarcely anything is written about him so we largely have to rely on passed-down experiences
When you consider it took a far more open society over thirty years to acknowledge that the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre was unlawful and the consequences of that event are still being squabbled over, what chance do we have of knowing what happened over a century and a half ago in a rigidly class-bound situation in one of the colonies?
I think this is a perfect example of an encapsulated piece of history in song
THIS ALMOST FORGOTTEN PIECE OF HISTORY IS ANOTHER

King George met Joe Devlin a short time ago,
And he said ‘Good morning, how do you do, Joe?
Will you drop into breakfast, and see Mary, too?’
‘Oh, be God then’, said Joe, ‘I don’t mind if I do.’

To the palace they rambled – T.P. he was there,
John Dillon he sat on a plush-covered chair,
‘Will you all’, says Queen Mary , ‘have some Irish stew?’
Oh they roared in one voice, ‘We don’t mind if we do.’

‘Sinn Feiners’, said Georgie, ‘are spoiling my plan.
DeValera, their leader, he seems a strong man.
Will you tell him his flag should be red, white and blue?’
‘It’s no use’, says T.P., ‘he won’t mind if I do.’

‘Behind prison walls they should all be’, said Joe.
‘When you had them in there sure you let them all go.
To spread their sedition each county around,
And to knock out the men with the four hundred pounds.’

‘That’s right’, said T.P., ‘I agree with you there.
The rod on the rebels, oh Georgie, don’t spare!
The whole world over sure they’ve knocked me flat,
I am back from the States with a big empty hat.’

The flag of Sinn Fein everywhere it do fly,
And ‘Down with the Party’ is now Ireland’s cry.
The green, white and orange, alas and alack,
Has taken the place of the old Union Jack.

‘Recruiting’, said Mary, ‘is now very low.
To the trenches in Flanders the Irish won’t go.
Why not try conscription – oh John, what says you?’
‘Oh be God then’, said Joe, ‘there’ll be hell if we do.’

“According to historical accounts the 1910 British General Election left the Liberals as a minority government dependent upon the votes of Irish Nationalist parliamentarians so, in order to gain their support, Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, introduced legislation that would give Ireland Home Rule; the bill was opposed by the Conservatives and Unionists. Desperate to avoid the prospect of Civil War in Ireland, King George V called a meeting of all parties at Buckingham Palace in July 1914 in an attempt to negotiate a settlement. After four days the conference ended without an agreement so, on 18 September 1914, the King, having considered vetoing the legislation, gave his assent to the Home Rule Bill after it had been passed by Westminster. Its implementation was postponed due to the outbreak of the First World War. Joseph Devlin, mentioned in the song, was an Irish journalist and influential nationalist politician, a member of the British parliament for the Irish Parliamentary Party. This wonderful parody commemorates ‘The Buckingham Palace Meeting’.”
LISTEN HERE

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 14 May 18 - 09:23 AM

How reliable is any history?
It is often said that history is written by the victors ie any account is coloured by the authors point of view.They emphasise what they feel is important and downplay other things or leave them out.
Folk history is often a mixture of true facts that are omitted from the "official" history and "I heard from my mate, who heard from someone who said he was there".
In other words all anybody can do is read the most reliable and unbiased histories and hope to get a reasonable picture of what really happened.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,paperback
Date: 14 May 18 - 09:33 AM

Well I see Jim has his dirty thumb in the soup again


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 18 - 10:20 AM

"Well I see Jim has his dirty thumb in the soup again"
Seems this thread if becoming Redneck-Troll infected
Maybe I should have put it below the line
If you have an argument against what I said, feel free to put in instead of lurking in the shadows
Why do you people do this can't you play in the garden because it's raining?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Kenny B
Date: 14 May 18 - 10:21 AM

Does soupercalifragilisticexpialidocious apply?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 14 May 18 - 10:29 AM

Jim, finding evidence is the work of historians.

It is possible that every word of the Lord Leitrim ballad is true. Or it may all be a pack of lies to blacken his name. Or the truth may lie somewhere in between, or somewhere else entirely. My point is that the song - any song - cannot be trusted to tell the unvarnished truth. We simply don't know the real motivation of the author (although we might guess) or where he got his information from, or how reliable that was. For a song, that doesn't matter. For a historical source it does. The song is part of a historical picture but it cannot be trusted as a source of facts.

Bloody Sunday is a good example of a highly emotionally-charged situation where any song about it is going to be coloured by a particular viewpoint. Anyone who was there would have had a different story to tell, and a very different perception of events depending on whether they were republican, loyalist, army, police, journalist or passer-by. They may tell the truth, as they see it, but it could be only part of the truth, and it may be mixed up with propaganda, misunderstandings, rumours and lies. Their songs may make rallying calls for one community or another, they may create and reinforce myths, and they may shed interesting light on different reactions to the event. They are very unlikely to be accurate unbiased reporting and a reliable source of facts, and if they were they would probably make very poor songs.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 May 18 - 11:35 AM

>>They may tell the truth, as they see it, but it could be only part of the truth, and it may be mixed up with propaganda, misunderstandings, rumours and lies.........may make rallying calls for one community or another, they may create and reinforce myths, and they may shed interesting light on different reactions to the event. They are very unlikely to be accurate unbiased reporting and a reliable source of facts<<
Excellent description of the British Media, Howard.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 18 - 11:52 AM

"Jim, finding evidence is the work of historians. "
That's a bit elitist isn't it Howard
Did you know, for instance Beckett Whitehead was a local historian ?
Rural England, Scotland and Ireland are full of such people - we have speakers at our local history group regularly.
If you believe it is "a pack of lies to blacken his name" then you have oto do as wall historians, amateur or professional do, and gather as much information and, when you have it yo have to assemble it - and then you have to put it in context of the times these things occurred.
This was the period when many thousands of FAMILIES were being driven out of their homes and their homes destroyed - do humane, businessmen and politicians strike us as the sort of people who would stop short of seducing - or even raping young women !
You can shift this to any part of the Empire where these things were common - the Highland Clearance brought about similar situations.
Out of curiosity - why do you choose not to believe it - unlikely, impossible - out-of-character
This would be the time when wealthy men were roaming the East end of London looking for young women victims - even children
Sorry - beyond me completely
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 14 May 18 - 01:48 PM

An historian to me is someone in an academic department making a submission to Unit of Assessment 30 of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. And writing peer-reviewd papers in respected journals. Or the equivalent in their own country if they are not in the UK. Not someone who does their research at the end of a keyboard and gives talks in village halls.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 18 - 02:50 PM

"An historian to me is someone in an academic "
Academic elitism I'm afraid Dave
Thank god for armatures if David Irving is among those you come up with
AS very few "Historians" chose not to comment on Leitrim's shenanigans that the lorrd for amateurs and victim statements - otherwise we'd never know what our betters got up to inn our name
Sorry - still didn't get an answer to my question - WHY?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Kenny B
Date: 14 May 18 - 03:00 PM

"Thank god for armatures " and don't forgetthank goodness for the stators quo


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 14 May 18 - 04:34 PM

David Irving is not and never has been an academic. He has never held an academic position. He has never even completed a degree (ironically the one he started was in Physics). He is absolutely an "armature". In fact you might well describe him as a folk historian.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 14 May 18 - 05:02 PM

"The Buckingham Palace Meeting" - That Jim Carroll thinks is a perfect example of an encapsulated piece of history in song

No idea who the character referred to a T.P. is but the problem is where to start in detailing the errors and inaccuracies contained in this song, it certainly does not encapsulate any event in history. In July 1914 no-one would have heard of Eamon de Valera. The entire song is absolute nonsense.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 May 18 - 05:31 PM

>>>An historian to me is someone in an academic department making a submission to Unit of Assessment 30 of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. And writing peer-reviewd papers in respected journals.<<<

And of course these people never have any personal agendas or prejudices
and are completely free to publish what they like without having to please their superiors!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: rich-joy
Date: 14 May 18 - 10:03 PM

I was recently sent a lengthy - but eye-opening - essay by the “Hidden History” scholars, Jim Macgregor and Gerry Docherty, regarding the weapon of “Fake History” and also detailing the hiding and/or destruction of vast quantities of files pertaining to the World Wars and other conflicts, esp by Britain and America.

[ viz George Orwell : “Who controls the past controls the future …… The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”]

It’s well worth a read (later - grab a cuppa!)***

Like me, you may be outraged, but not really surprised (and as a Baby Boomer, I was fed a steady diet of WWII propaganda via British and American films/movies and also stories of the greatness and goodness of our glorious British Empire!)

Sadly, the oftimes morally bankrupt actions and views of some bureaucrats, politicians, media moghuls, aristocracy, clergy, even academics and scientists, et al, have shown that they cannot be trusted to present an accurate recording of our history.

So (getting back to the Thread’s original purpose), I have no problem considering as valid, the viewpoint of “the man in the street” or one “working at the coalface” – e.g. the ballad writer and the “folk” singer - and the stories of Joe the shepherd, having a bevvy down the pub.

Class and education – and manners – do not maketh the man. Upper class villains are still villains. And they fully understand that the Truth will not set them free!

Cheers,
R-J (Down Under)

*** http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/48862.htm

PS        Hope the glam and glitz and the gush of the Royal Wedding between Britain and America is keeping you preoccupied. Anything to stop you thinking and questioning further. :))
[ “Glamour” a variant of Scottish gramarye "magic, enchantment, spell” ]


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 15 May 18 - 02:56 AM

A couple of examples of the accuracy and reliability of folk history through songs.

The subject matter relates to a naval battle fought in 1746 between HMS Nottingham and a French ship the Mars. Under the command of Captain Philip Saumarez, a Guernsey man, Nottingham, while on a cruise in the Soundings, on 11 Oct. he fell in with the French 64-gun ship Mars, and captured her after a two hours' engagement. Quite accurate to date the song as in it Philip Saumaez is being toasted and is very much alive, by the 3rd May 1747 Philip Saumarez was dead, killed in action off Cape Finisterre.

WARLIKE SEAMEN
(Misinformation and inaccuracies highlighted in italics)

Come all you warlike seamen, that to the seas belong
I'll tell you of a fight, my boys, on board the Nottingham
It was of an Irish captain, his name was Somerville
With courage bold, he did control, he played his part so well.

Twas on the eighth of June, my boys, when at Spithead we lay
On board there came an order, our anchor for to weigh
Bound for the coast of Ireland, our orders did run so
For us to cruise, and not refuse, against a daring foe.

We had not sailed many lengths at sea before a ship we spied
She being some lofty Frenchman, come a-bearing down so wide
We hailed her of France, my boys, they asked from whence we came
Our answer was from Liverpool, and London is our name.

Oh pray are you some man of war, or pray, what may you be?
Oh then replied our captain, and that you soon shall see
Come and strike your English colours, or else you shall bring to
Since you're so stout, you shall give out, or else we shall sink you.

The first broadside we gave to them, which made them for to wonder.
Their mainmast and their rigging came a-rattling down like thunder
We drove them from their quarter, they could no longer stay
Our guns did roar, we made quite sure we showed them British play.

So now we've took that ship, my boys, God speed to us fair wind
That we might sail to Plymouth town, if the heavens prove so kind
We'll drink a health unto our captain, and all such warlike souls
To him we'll drink, and never flinch, out of a flowing bowl.


NOTTINGHAM & MARS

October 11, 1746
Broadside ballad - Tune the Dolphin

Come all you jolly sea men bold a tough old tar I am
I'll sing to ye of a fight me boys fought in the Nottingham
Twas by a brisk young Captain, Phil Saumarez was his name
He was bent with bold intent old England's foes to tame

On the fifth day of October our anchor we did weigh
And from Plymouth sound me boys we shaped our course away
Along the coast of Ireland our orders were to go
The seas to cruise and none to refuse but boldly fight the foe

We had not been out many days before we chanced to spy
A sail all to the westward which drew us up full nigh
She hailed us loud in French me boys and asked from whence we came
From Plymouth Sound we've just come down and the Nottingham's our name.

Are you a man of war they said or a privateer maybe
We are a man of war we said and that ye soon shall see
So haul up smart your courses and let your ship lie to
If you stand out or put about we'll sink you ship and crew

The first broadside we let them have we made the rascals quail
To see the gallant topmast come rattling down like hail
We drove them from their quarters their Captain he frantic grew
He cursed our shot that came so hot from the gunners in our crew.

We fought them seven glasses when to add to all their fears
The shout was raised for boarders and we gave three ringing cheers
Down came her flag we took her, her name it was the Mars
The French be damned they never can stand a fight with British Tars

And should you once more enquire our gallant Captain's name
He was young Phil Saumarez from Guernsey's isle he came
Commanded the brave Nottingham and beat the cowardly Mars
Let every man stand true to his guns and salute those British Tars


So “Warlike Sailor” would appear to be a load of jumbled, inaccurate nonsense, while “Nottingham & Mars” ticks all the boxes (If you visit Sausmarez Manor on the Island of Guernsey there is a hand written copy of the song Nottingham and Mars on display.).


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 May 18 - 03:19 AM

"Bloody Sunday is a good example of a highly emotionally-charged situation where any song about it is going to be coloured by a particular viewpoint. Anyone who was there would have had a different story to tell, and a very different perception of events depending on whether they were republican, loyalist, army, police, journalist or passer-by. They may tell the truth, as they see it, but it could be only part of the truth, and it may be mixed up with propaganda, misunderstandings, rumours and lies. Their songs may make rallying calls for one community or another, they may create and reinforce myths, and they may shed interesting light on different reactions to the event. They are very unlikely to be accurate unbiased reporting and a reliable sourc of facts, and if they were they would probably make very poor songs."
Why , then did Cameron, apologise? and as for makin poor songs what a INACCURATE thing to say, the quality of the song depends on the song writer, here is an example of a song written by MacColl that is a fine song,,"The Manchester Rambler", also known as "I'm a Rambler" and "The Rambler's Song", is a song written by the English folk singer Ewan MacColl. It was inspired by his participation in the Kinder trespass, a protest by the urban Young Communist League of Manchester, and was the work that began MacColl's career as a singer-songwriter.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 15 May 18 - 03:26 AM

Rich-joy

This from "Hidden Histories"

Lies concocted in 1914 to blacken Germany in every way are still circulated today as fact. This False History lives on through the British Court Historians1 who repeat the nonsense. We prove absolutely that while Nurse Edith Cavell – the great British heroine of the war who was executed by a German firing squad in Belgium in 1915 – was indeed a brave patriot, she was secretly and intimately associated with a Belgian spy ring 2 linked to the British Secret Service. Edith Cavell and her Belgian associates helped repatriate hundreds of British and French soldiers who were stranded behind enemy lines in the first months of the war. They also passed vital information about German deployment to the War Office in London 3. But Edith threatened to endanger the secret agreements about food supply by revealing the scandal through he connections with the Times 4. For generations that fact was buried so that her execution would look like an act of brutality by the German commanders against an innocent, humanitarian nurse. The truth is otherwise.

1: What is a British Court Historian?
2: Obviously she was in touch with Belgians resisting the German occupation of their country - she's helping people escape from the Germans.
3: The Belgian spy ring might well have done this, it would come with the job description, but Nurse Edith Cavell would have had little input, working as she did in a hospital far removed from the front line.
4: Secret agreements about food supply by revealing the scandal? Taking your tip and thinking and questioning further causes to ponder exactly what would a 49 year nurse working in a clinic in Brussels would know about any agreement, secret or otherwise about food supply that would be likely to cause any scandal. Her connections with "The Times"? Rather difficult for her doncha think. By all means think and question.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 May 18 - 03:32 AM

Here is another well written song based on folk history
Sinking of the Reuben James
Woody Guthrie
Have you heard of a ship called the good Reuben James
Manned by hard fighting men both of honor and fame?
She flew the Stars and Stripes of the land of the free
But tonight she's in her grave at the bottom of the sea.
Tell me what were their names, tell me what were their names,
Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James?
What were their names, tell me, what were their names?
Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James
Well, a hundred men went down in that dark watery grave
When that good ship went down only forty-four were saved.
'Twas the last day of October we saved the forty-four
From the cold ocean waters and the cold icy shore.
It was there in the dark of that uncertain night
That we watched for the U-boats and waited for a fight.
Then a whine and a rock and a great explosion roared
And they laid the Reuben James on that cold ocean floor.
Now tonight there are lights in our country so bright
In the farms and in the cities they're telling of the fight.
And now our mighty battleships will steam the bounding main
And remember the name of that good Reuben James.
Songwriters: Woody Guthrie


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 May 18 - 03:56 AM

"The entire song is absolute nonsense."
It represents a satirical view by the man in the street of a very real event which took place on the eve of World War One and, if it hadn't been for that war, would have signalled a turning point in Ireland's history (not necessarily a good one, some believe)
The Easter Week uprisings a couple of years later made it's decisions irrelevant anyway
If you actually read the historical link to what was put up you would know who TP was - as you appear to not be interested in what others have to say or what the 'man in the street' passed on to is in the form of oral history, I see little point in continuing with you
I sense an atmosphere of hostility from you and others towards the idea that "our betters" were anything less than paragons of virtue - very much not the case, I'm afraid
As I said, much of Irish history in the latter half of the 19th century has been shunned and manipulated and many of the details have been preserved in songs, tales and oral accounts; as unreliable as they may be, at least we have them.
The 1930s 'Schools Project' probably holds more accessible history on certain subjects than do our libraries.
I've alredy mentioned The Famine; another example of suppressed formal history is the Easter Week Uprising - massively covered in songs and accounts from the point of view of the rebels
After the rising, 15 of the leaders were secretly tried, condemned and executed (without the right to speak on their own behalf or a defence council to represent them)
Despite British laws of disclosure, the details of those 'trials' are still not accessible to either researchers or the public.
A mass of details of the Rising appeared for the first time two years ago, mainly from newspapers and oral accounts - a century after the events
Many, many more remain as inaccessible as they were 100 years ago, locked away in the archives in (I think) Kew Gardens.
Can I make it clear - my interest in all this is not political - I am not Irish and I certainly am not a nationalist
Four decades of collecting and research has whetted my curiosity as to the importance of songs as history bearers - discussions like this have gone some way to convince me that they are essential in providing a view of the participants that has largely been missed or deliberately ignored - in many cases they are the only accounts we have
Lord Leitrim is an excellent example of this
Thanks for your last ironic comment Steve - I concur absoluteely
Thanks also for the comments from Down Under - a country with a short but eventful history inseparable linked to Britain's and in some ways an essential resource for understanding our own (I regard Hughes's 'The Fatal Shore' a fantastic 'in' to understanding our poaching and transportation repertoire and the Enclosures which inspired them)
I still haven't had a reply to my "why" concerning Leitrim - though I appreciate the reference to typos as an indication that I probably won't get one
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 May 18 - 04:02 AM

Does anyone dispute the accuracy of this song
They came in a blizzard, we offered them heat
A roof for their heads, dry shoes for their feet
We wined them and dined them, they ate of our meat
And they slept in the house of MacDonald.

Chorus:
O, cruel was the snow that sweeps Glencoe
And covers the grave o' Donald
O, cruel was the foe that raped Glencoe
And murdered the house of MacDonald

2. They came from Fort William with murder in mind
The Campbell had orders King William had signed
"Put all to the sword" these words underlined
"And leave none alive called MacDonald"
Chorus:

3. They came in the night when the men were asleep
This band of Argyles, through snow soft and deep
Like murdering foxes amongst helpless sheep
They slaughtered the house of MacDonald
Chorus:

4. Some died in their beds at the hand of the foe
Some fled in the night and were lost in the snow
Some lived to accuse him who struck the first blow
But gone was the house of MacDonald
Chorus:

       In 1688, William of Orange convinced the English Parliament to oust the current King James VII of Scotland and of England and install William himself as regent. At the time, England and Scotland were a boiling cauldron of national and religious animosities, not only between the two countries but amongst political factions and the clans themselves.

       A minor event in history was the appropriation of MacDonald property by the Campbells. The MacDonalds felt free to to reclaim cattle which they still considered their own. The Campbells called them reivers and no love was lost between the clans.

       Then King William demanded an oath of loyalty by all clan chiefs with a deadline of 1. January 1692. MacDonald Clan Chief MacIain of Glencoe, leaving this distasteful necessity to the last moment, made his way to Fort William on 31. December 1691. Glencoe presented himself to Colonel Hill the governor, asking him to administer the required oath of allegiance. Hill told Glencoe that he must go to Inverarary, which wasn't easy in deep mid-winter snow, and mountainous terrain, so he was late. This appears to have been a premeditated plot, involving secret letters, ignored letters of free passage and other skullduggery by the current political officials. They gleefully planned to make an example of the Ian MacDonalds at Glen Coe and the Campbells were not in the least reluctant to assist in the execution of this plan.

       With instructions to kill every man of the Glen Coe clan under 70 (approximately 200), Campbell of Glenlyon and some 128 soldiers, of various clans, including Campbells, called on MacDonald, said they were in the area to collect taxes and asked his hospitality. For 12 days they had a spontaneous ceilidh, ate the MacDonalds' winter food supply, drank to each other's health and made marriage plans between the young ones.

       Exactly according to plan, at five o'clock on the morning of 13. February 1692 Campbell of Glenlyon and his soldiers rose from their beds to massacre their hosts.

       They managed to kill "only" 38, including some women, children and an 80 year old man, but some escaped and women and children were sent naked, into a sudden blizzard, from their razed and looted homes.

       This event is still much debated today

       The monument to the fallen MacDonalds is situated in the Glencoe village, and MacIain was buried on the island of Eilean Munde, in Loch Leven, near the entrance to the Glen.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 May 18 - 04:13 AM

Seems pretty accurate Dick - not really disputed anymore
Four excellent and very readable surveys by John Prebble include one devoted to The Massacre
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 15 May 18 - 04:29 AM

That is a Jim McLean song from early 60s.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 15 May 18 - 05:02 AM

Jim, I can only conclude that either you have not read my post properly or you have deliberately chosen to misinterpret it.

Firstly, you accuse me of elitism. I simply pointed out that looking for evidence is what historians do. What have I written that leads you to think that I do not include your local historians in that?

Secondly, you have taken a single phrase and decided that is what I have chosen to believe on the Lord Leitrim matter. I took care to point out that there were several possible interpretations, so why you have picked on this particular one is beyond me. I come at this with an open mind.

The question is whether folk history, including songs, can be considered reliable? I remain of the view that they cannot. Stories and songs are likely to be embellished, whether for artistic reasons or to make a particular point. Incidents may get exaggerated or forgotten. Unless the writer has researched it exhaustively they are likely to tell the story from only one point of view. They may provide valuable context, but they cannot be relied upon to report the facts accurately.

In the Lord Leitrim example, the existence of the song is evidence that there were allegations and rumours circulating at the time and suggests that these were believed by the local population, or at the very least were sufficiently believable to enter circulation. That is useful in itself from a historical perspective, and as a pointer to a line of enquiry for historians to pursue. However it cannot be relied upon as an accurate report of the facts, without additional corroborating evidence.

Songs and stories may aim to tell a bigger truth, but they are under no obligation to represent facts accurately. They are art, not reportage.

To say something is true because you heard it in a song is like saying it's true because you read it on the internet.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 15 May 18 - 05:21 AM

Actually Howard it was me he is accusing of elitism, and he is right to an extent. But the elites whose efforts I am championing are academic elites, they are people working in centres of learning whose work is based upon sound methodology, and which is assessed by their peers through formal review processes. They are not "our betters" or court historians or royal historians of political propagandists or anything like that. In fact the work of real academic historians often dissects the partiality of such people. I would far rather put my trust in people who have a background in historical research than in songwriters, although of course the former may include the latter amongst their many sources.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 15 May 18 - 06:18 AM

Dick, I'm not sure what you mean by your reference to "The Manchester Rambler". It's undoubtedly a fine song,but it does not depict the Kinder Trespass itself, although it provides some context for it. It sweeps up what are probably a number of different incidents perhaps involving different people to tell a bigger truth. We are not meant to believe that those words were actually spoken, simply that those were attitudes expressed. Above all it is most certainly not impartial, and all the better for it.

As Keith has pointed out, "Glencoe" is a fairly modern song based on historical sources, rather than actual folk history passed down from the event itself.   If such stories and songs exist (presumably in Gaelic) they will no doubt tell us what the victims thought about it, but that is not to say that their interpretation of the facts, and especially the circumstances leading up to it, can be relied upon to be correct. No doubt useful and interesting stuff, but inevitably seen from a particular point of view, and perhaps embroidered over the passing centuries. If the Campbells have any songs, I would imagine they celebrate tricking their traditional clan rivals and dealing out righteous retribution to the King's enemies. All evidence of a sort, but not necessarily reliable.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 15 May 18 - 07:36 AM

Not wishing to take exception Jim but I did read the link you put up very carefully.

Here are the names of those mentioned:

King George V - attended the conference
Charles Stewart Parnell
H. H. Asquith - attended the conference
Lord Randolph Churchill
Andrew Bonar Law - attended the conference
Lloyd George - attended the conference
John Redmond - attended the conference
John Dillon - attended the conference
Edward Carson - attended the conference
James Craig - attended the conference
Lord Lansdowne - attended the conference
The Speaker of the House of Commons presided at the conference.
Terence MacSwiney
Éamon de Valera
James McNeill

So those being the ONLY names appearing in your link the question still stands - Who is the T.P. mentioned in the song which I now note is not an excellent example encapsulating an actual historical event, but a satirical view of an actual historical event.

On the Lord Leitrum thing the only real piece of evidence is the written statement by his Housekeeper in the form of her letter dismissing the allegations as nonsense - everything else is hearsay and unconfirmed gossip.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Allan Conn
Date: 15 May 18 - 07:55 AM

I think though it can be important too folk history also has to be questioned also. For instance the slant on the Glencoe Massacre that often comes into it is that it was carried out by "the Campbells" which seems to be not so. It was carried out by a Scottish gvt force. The commander of the troops on the ground was a Campbell and if we are to take it that the muster roll was the same or similar to the muster roll the previous year then a small percentage of the troops were Campbells which amounted to only a handful of Campbell men amongst the total force. So no it doesn't appear to be a clan conflict as such. I suppose it suited the central authorities in Edinburgh to have the finger pointed at those bloody Highlanders killing each other than it being pointed at the real culprits - who were the same said central authorities in Edinburgh. They planned and ordered the whole thing. Some things get fixed in the popular mind though.

Same in poetry. For instance Sorley Maclean (arguably the greatest Gaelic poet of the 20thC and campaigner for the language) speaks about the poetry of Mairi Mhor nan Oran who was a poet of the Clearances period. He talks about how in regard to the Skye clearances she lashes out at everyone like the English, the Lowlanders and even the sheep. Everyone that is apart from the people responsible - that is the Highland land owners themselves. Again in regard to Skye he writes "she attacked the English for their doings in Skye when it is clear that not one Clearance in Skye had been made by anyone who had not a name as Gaelic as her own" He continues that she was a great supporter of the crofters but that she had a respect "that made it difficult for her to attack anyone who bore a name that had been great in Skye tradition".

From "Ris a' Bhruthaich - the Criticism and Prose Writings of Sorley Maclean"


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 15 May 18 - 02:24 PM

Nemo: “A search of California newspapers from the Steinbeck/Guthrie era for "Creosote" or "creosote and crops" & other variations might actually turn up something germane.

Go for it & report back to the class...


I did, before my first post on the subject, and all roads lead back to… Mudcat, with Joe Offer leading the village parade.

David Carter (UK): “Not someone who does their research at the end of a keyboard and gives talks in village halls.

Jim Carroll: “Seems this thread if becoming Redneck-Troll infected.

Gawduh forbid you should have to communicate with an actual farmer on the subject of farming at some point in your clueless opinionating. Joe should have found beechwood creosote is still an approved food and drug additive (it's not coal tar crosote) but never has been for peaches or any other fruit. It's controlled by the Feds.

Marketing orders are from voluntary grower co-ops. They couldn't order denaturing if they wanted to.

So-called “excess” table grade fruit is not destroyed. It is down graded. There are no quotas for juicing, canning and sileage.

Just because you can eat it, doesn't mean it was grown for you to eat. There are perfectly valid mechanical and manufacturing uses for vegetable oils, vinegar &c that are none of your beeswax.

And Joe... and all of Mudcat for all its existance… is, apparently, unaware of that portion of the harvest set aside for the hungry since the Old Testament was new:

And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 23:22)

If Steinbeck had really cared about human suffering Grapes of Wrath would have been set in Euro-Asia and plenty of more his characters would have to die before "The End."

Ask a redneck about the Society of St. Andrew if you actually care about the truth. Avoid Mudcatters like the effing plague.

Hate, ignorance and hero worship, what could possibly go wrong? Boy howdy.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST
Date: 15 May 18 - 03:44 PM

I did, before my first post on the subject, and all roads lead back to… Mudcat

Fascinating, Phil - Joe and Mudcat feature in California newspapers of the '30'a and '40's.

You must be Dr. Who in real life.

As for the rest of your spittle-flecked screed, it has nowt to do with owt.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 May 18 - 08:38 PM

First
Can we drop the hostility please
My suggesting the good and great were not angels seem to have trodden on a few toes - good - it was intended to
Plenty more where that came from

"by his Housekeeper in the form of her letter dismissing the allegations"
How can this be considered any more "evidence" than the dozens of local reports or the twenty-odd songs describing his bad behaviour ?
How can someone testify that something "never happened" unless the accusations are specified?
Her statement amounts no no more than "'is lordship would never do such a thing"
Her accusation that the women were to blame for getting themselves into trouble and making it up amount's to little more than the common reaction to all rapes "she 'ad it comin' to 'er your hounors - she wuz a bad lot all round" - classic cap-doffing
What else is a woman who relies on sucking up to the gentry for her living going to say?
Nobody seems to want to discuss the actual surroundings of the situation and the power of (virtually) life and death these people wielded and the proven way they used it to exile millions and evict many more millions to homelessness and permanent exile
Nobody has responded to his feller's reputation as described by his fellow peers - if they said he was bad in the circumstances that prevailed at the e time - he must have been vicious prick.
It was a fairly common suggestion that the landed gentry liked to dip their quills in the local inkwells - why not Leitrim?

Buck House meeting
T.P. O'Connor was a gofer for the National Party and was instrumental, along with the Journalist, Joe Devlin, in setting up the meeting
I put it in my original library notes but the staff must have considered it superfluous for an Irish audience
"I now note is not an excellent example encapsulating an actual historical event, but a satirical view of an actual historical event."
If you believe that satire cannot be "an excellent example encapsulating an actual historical event" then you obviously haven't read Swift's recipe for cooking dead children to feed the poor, or Jaroslav Hasek's 'Good Soldier Schweik' showing how a supposed idiot-soldier used his idiocy to survive a devastating war - or many other such works that use humour to accurately recreate bureaucracy or the waste of human life or military incompetence - Catch 22 is still a classic in my opinion.
This song does exactly that - it deals with some of the most complicated stumbling blocks of Home Rule by poking fun at the surroundings of the conference - in seven verses   
Brilliant in my book

I have steered clear of the Grapes of Wrath argument - I've read and heard too much of the whitewashing of The Great depression to be bothered, just as I have, as a worker, been expected to take whatever shit a boss throws at us for as little as he cares to pay, and end up being the criminal when we bother to complain
I put up what I believe to be a fair description of the period - if nobody is going to discuss it, it remains the reliable document I believe it to be.
If anybody hasn't come across it, MacColl and Seeger published a fascinating monograph entitled 'Shellback' based on interviews with Ben Bright, a welsh seaman who jumped ship in the thirties and became an I.W.W. activist, working with such people as T-Bone Slim and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn - fascinating and inspiring stuff
PM me if you have a problem getting it
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 May 18 - 12:29 AM

Howard your argument does not alter he fact that your statement was inaccurate, the merit of a song is down to the abilty of the song writer,nothing else


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Harry Rivers
Date: 16 May 18 - 01:58 AM

History 101: Assessment of Primary Sources

Who wrote it?

Why did they write it?

What was the intended audience?

Oh, and don't forget the unwitting testimony . . . . what are they telling us they didn't realise they were telling us?

And from there we start to tell our version of History. Folk songs and stories are just another Primary Source; some more useful than others.

If you want 'truth', you'll need Philosophy 101 . . . . . shit, that's Indiana Jones!

Harry


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 May 18 - 02:09 AM

Well, shoot. I don't know how Phil d'Conch got a bee up his ass, but I guess he did. I worked as a federal investigator in the Central Valley of California for over 20 years, and did many security clearance investigations for many agencies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including the Agricultural Marketing Service, which uses marketing orders to regulate the sale of dairy products and fruits and vegetables. I got to know all aspects of Central Valley agriculture quite well - and I had previously done agricultural intelligence work in Berlin in the Army Security Agency. And I came from Wisconsin, another farm state. I've baled hay and milked cows and driven tractors and shoveled manure. And I've read the ag news in Central Valley newspapers every day since 1980.

That's why I was so interested in Woody Guthrie's "Deportees," and that's why I have been researching the song since 1996. I read dozens of newspaper accounts of the crash and tracked down and communicated with the principal reporter for the Associated Press. I went to the site of the 1948 plane crash; and I visited the memorial at the mass grave of the victims in Fresno, that I had donated money to erect.

These facts are clear:
  • Excess produce that exceeds market order is dumped when it can't be used for alternative purposes (although less now than in 1948)
  • When there is a pilferage problem with dumped produce, the produce is sometimes mixed with noxious substances to make it inedible and unsaleable.
This is common knowledge in the Central Valley. The most common "noxious substances" are lime and fuel oil - and government authorities object to fuel oil because it is environmentally unsafe.

I have found mention of creosote only in Steinbeck and Guthrie, but it's a likely substance to be used (because it is readily available on farms and is similar to fuel oil in effect) - and it has a more poetic sound than "lime" or "fuel oil." We give "poetic license" to songwriters in such cases, unless we are politically-motivated literalists.

And that's the point that applies to this thread. Folk songs, like all literature, cannot be understood by literalists who are interested only in the so-called "facts" of an event. Songs and literature are meant to convey an understanding and appreciation of the emotional and personal impact of an event, not the legal "facts." Whether the produce was mixed with lime (most likely) or creosote is immaterial. Both made it impossible for farmworkers to sell or consume the produce, and that wasn't likely to make farmworkers or their supporters (like Woody and Steinbeck) happy. As for me, I see both sides of the issue - that of the farmer who wants to keep a business alive, and that of the farmworker who wants to supplement family income. I've interviewed dozens of Central Valley farmers and farmworkers, and I respect and sympathize with both.

No, I wouldn't expect Woody Guthrie or John Steinbeck to be historians, but they produced literature and song that illustrated their eras and environs very well and gave a human understanding of events that historians often cannot supply.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 May 18 - 03:06 AM

Moving on
The Emigtrations produced the largest number of songs in the repertoire next to love songs, (but the two subjects became inevitably mixed)
Most of them were sentimental yearning for home, but a few tackled the subject head on - dealing with the practicalities of the New World

Michael ‘Straighty’ Flanagan Inagh

You loyal-hearted Irishmen that do intend to roam,
To reap the English harvest so far away from home.
I’m sure you will provide with us both comrades loyal and true;
For you have to fight both day and night with John Bull and his crew.

When we left our homes from Ireland the weather was calm and clear.
And when we got on board the ship we gave a hearty cheer.
We gave three loud cheers for Paddy’s land, the place we do adore,
May the heavens smile on every child that loves the shamrock shore.

We sailed away all from the quay and ne’er received a shock,
Till we landed safe in Liverpool one side of Clarence Dock.
Where hundreds of our Irishmen they met us in the town;
Then ‘Hurrah for Paddy’s lovely land’, it was the word went round.

With one consent away we went to drink strong ale and wine,
Each man he drank a favourite toast to the friends he left behind.
We sang and drank till the ale house rang dispraising Erin’s foes,
Or any man that hates the land where St Patrick’s shamrock grows.

For three long days we marched away, high wages for to find.
Till on the following morning we came to a railway line.
Those navies they came up to us, and loudly they did rail,
They cursed and damned for ould Paddy’s lands, and the sons of Granuaile.

Up stands one of our Irish boys and says, ‘What do you mean?
While us, we’ll work as well as you, and hate a coward’s name.
So leave our way without delay or some of you will fall,
Here stands the sons of Irishmen that never feared a ball.’

Those navies then, they cursed and swore they’d kill us every man.
Make us remember ninety-eight, Ballinamuck and Slievenamon.
Blessed Father Murphy they cursed his blessed remains,
And our Irish heroes said they’d have revenge then for the same.

Up stands Barney Reilly and he knocked the ganger down.
‘Twas then the sticks and stones they came, like showers to the ground.
We fought from half past four until the sun was going to set,
When O’Reilly says, ‘My Irish boys, I think we will be bet.’

But come with me my comrade boys, we’ll renew the fight once more.
We’ll set our foes on every side more desperate than before.
We will let them know before we go we’d rather fight than fly,
For at the worst of times you’ll know what can we do, but die.

Here’s a health then to the McCormicks to O’Donnell and O’Neill,
And also the O’Donoghues that never were afraid.
Also every Irish man who fought and gained the day
And made those cowardly English men - in crowds they ran away.


“Irish immigrants fleeing the Famine and the mass evictions were met with prejudice and violence in many of the places they chose as their new homes. This account from Terry Coleman’s ‘Railway Navvies’ gives a vivid description of the reception many of them received when they landed in Britain. It describes the plight of the men who took work as railway navvies in the English/Scots border country:
‘Throughout the previous year the railways had been extending through the English border country and into Scotland. A third of the navvies were Irish, a third Scots, and a third English: that was the beginning of the trouble - easy-going Roman Catholic Irish, Presbyterian Scots, and impartially belligerent English. The Irish did not look for a fight. As the Scottish Herald reported, they camped, with their women and children, in some of the most secluded glades, and although most of the huts showed an amazing disregard of comfort, the hereditary glee of their occupants seemed not a whit impaired. This glee enraged the Scots, who then added to their one genuine grievance (the fact that the Irishmen would work for less pay and so tended to bring down wages) their sanctified outrage that the Irish should regard the Sabbath as a holiday, a day of recreation on which they sang and lazed about. As for the Scots, all they did on a Sunday was drink often and pray occasionally, and it needed only an odd quart of whisky and a small prayer to make them half daft with Presbyterian fervour. They then beat up the godless Irish. The Irish defended themselves and this further annoyed the Scots, so that by the middle of 1845 there was near civil war among the railway labourers. The English, mainly from Yorkshire and Lancashire, would fight anyone, but they preferred to attack the Irish. The contractors tried to keep the men, particularly the Irish and Scots, apart, employing them on different parts of the line, but the Scots were not so easily turned from their religious purposes. At Kinghorn, near Dunfermline, these posters were put up around the town:

"Notice is Given
that all the Irish men on the line of railway in Fife Share must be off the grownd and owt of the countey on Monday th nth of this month or els we must by the strenth of our armes and a good pick shaft put them off
Your humbel servants, Schots men."

Letters were also sent to the contractors and sub-contractors. One read:

"Sir, - You must warn all your Irish men to be of the grownd on Monday the 11th of this month at 12 o'cloack or els we must put them by forse FOR WE ARE DETERMINED TO DOW IT."

The sheriff turned up and warned the Scots against doing anything of the sort. Two hundred navvies met on the beach, but in the face of a warning from the sheriff they proved not so determined to do it, and the Irish were left in peace for a while. But in other places the riots were savage. Seven thousand men were working on the Caledonian line, and 1,100 of these were paid monthly at a village called Locherby, in Dumfriesshire. Their conduct was a great scandal to the inhabitants of a quiet Scottish village. John Baird, Deputy Clerk of the Peace for the county, lamented that the local little boys got completely into the habits of the men - "drinking, swearing, fighting, and smoking tobacco and all those sorts of things". Mr Baird thought that on a pay day, with constant drunkenness and disturbance, the village was quite uninhabitable.

A minority of the navvies were Irish, and they were attacked now and again, as was the custom. After one pay day a mob of 300 or 400, armed with pitchforks and scythes, marched on the Irish, who were saved only because the magistrates intervened and kept both sides talking until a force of militia came up from Carlisle, twenty-three miles away.'
The writer goes in to explain that the worst of the riots were to follow. This song describes the situation in Britain, specifically in Liverpool; we have never come across it before and can find no trace of it. A similar song ‘Seven of our Irishmen’ (Roud 3104), sung by Straighty and by Pat MacNamara, deals with those who landed in America and were targeted as possible recruits for the U.S. army."

Reference:
The Railway Navvies, Terry Coleman, 1965.
LISTEN HERE

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 May 18 - 03:21 AM

That's my point, Jim. The song posted does a terrific job of portraying the human and emotional impact of an historical event. It is an accurate portrayal of the impact of the event, even though certain details may be altered to make the song work.
So, we listen to the song for what it has to teach, and don't get bogged down by immaterial details.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 16 May 18 - 03:40 AM

By all means let us drop any hostility Jim. None was ever intended. Thank you for explaining who the T.P. mentioned in the song was, although why you simply did not do that in the first place I do not know. I would also like to thank you for the rather round about admission that his name did not appear in any link supplied by you making your highly judgmental statement "If you actually read the historical link to what was put up you would know who TP was - as you appear to not be interested in what others have to say or what the 'man in the street' passed on to is in the form of oral history, I see little point in continuing with you totally in error and without foundation.

You say of this statement "by his Housekeeper in the form of her letter dismissing the allegations" - How can this be considered any more "evidence" than the dozens of local reports or the twenty-odd songs describing his bad behaviour ?

It can be considered as being evidence under what is known as "rules of evidence" in that it was a written statement in response to the accusations leveled against her employer as being the possible motive for the attack on him that left three men dead. The "droit de Seigneur" nonsense was a red herring designed to throw the police off the scent. Lord Leitrum was murdered because of his policy of eviction, nothing else:

The assassins, Nial Shiels of Doughmore, an itinerant tailor, Michael Hergarty of Tullyconnell, and Michael MvElwee of Ballyworiskey (The actual assassin of Lord Leitrum), were from the remote Fanad Peninsula. In 1877, "McElwee's father was involved in litigation with Leitrim with the result that McElwee was rendered bankrupt, and his house and farm were sold at auction."

Somebody saying something about a third party because they "heard it" from someone else down the pub who was married to someone who "heard it" from her cousin who's aunty delivered vegetables to the grocer who supplied big house cannot be considered "evidence" under those very same rules. Just because someone WANTS to believe a story does not make the story TRUE. Strange that after his death not a single one of his victims ever came forward to corroborate the allegations.

The letter was written at the time when rumour of this "droit de Seigneur" were proposed to her as being the cause of Lord Leitrum's murder.

How can someone testify that something "never happened" unless the accusations are specified?
Her statement amounts no no more than "'is lordship would never do such a thing"


You say, and here you are expressing your opinion, you are not stating fact - "Her statement amounts no no more than "'is lordship would never do such a thing" - What is stated in the letter written by the person in charge of the house and all those employed in the household is a categorical refutation of the allegations inferred by what was nothing more than unverifiable and unsubstantiated gossip.

Another opinion offered by you states - What else is a woman who relies on sucking up to the gentry for her living going to say? - If the story you believe to be the truth is the truth then it would appear that everybody in the area relied on their living by sucking up to the gentry yet you find one section is to be believed but others are not. The letter was written after Lord Leitrum's death so she had no need to suck up to anybody, her "living" had gone.

Nobody has responded to his feller's reputation as described by his fellow peers That some of his fellow peers in the House of Lords described Lord Leitrum as a bit of a "bad lot" is irrelevant and could relate to a whole host of other reasons for them passing that judgement. Nowhere is it stated that it had any connection to the "droit de Seigneur" nonsense.

It was a fairly common suggestion that the landed gentry liked to dip their quills in the local inkwells - why not Leitrim? It being a "fairly common SUGGESTION" does not make it established fact.

Nobody seems to want to discuss the actual surroundings of the situation and the power of (virtually) life and death these people wielded and the proven way they used it to exile millions and evict many more millions to homelessness and permanent exile What would there be to discuss? We are talking here of an event that happened in 1878 when things were very different to the way things are now. But with regard to the payment of rent by a tenant the simple fact remains that if rent is not paid the tenant is evicted that was and still is the case anywhere in the UK and I dare say in the ROI.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 May 18 - 04:10 AM

"It can be considered as being evidence under what is known as "rules of evidence"
As evidence of good character - no more
As I said you can only give evidence that a crime was committed - unless the crime was specified with time, date and location, that's all
Whatever way you look at it Leitrim was not of good character (even though his housekeeper said he was, plenty more, including his peers in the House of Lords denied this)
"The "droit de Seigneur" nonsense "
You know this of course - of course you don't, nobody does, but the exercising of power and influence to gain sexual favours is as documented a fact as you could wish to have
It seems to me you are defending the indefensible
Your reason for doing so becomes obvious in your sentence "the simple fact remains that if rent is not paid the tenant is evicted that was and still is the case anywhere in the UK and I dare say in the ROI."
Are you really suggesting that the death of millions and the forcible emigrations that followed the famine are less important than paying the rent
Had the Famine occurred in the Midlands and a similar approach was taken, there would have been guillotines on the streets of Birmingham
Evidence such as this, from the man appointed by the British Government to deal with the effects of the Famine, Sir Charles Trevelyan, suggest that it wasn't just mishandled, but deliberate policy.

In a letter to an Irish peer, Lord Monteagle of Brandon, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, he described the famine as an "effective mechanism for reducing surplus population" as well as "the judgement of God" and wrote that "The real evil with which we have to contend is not the physical evil of the Famine, but the moral evil of the selfish, perverse and turbulent character of the people"

That seems to be what you are supporting
Think we're finished here
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 May 18 - 04:18 AM

Wonder how Tribus is getting on these days
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 16 May 18 - 04:54 AM

That last sentence in red, Jim, is similar to comments I have heard from rich people in fundamentalist churches who refuse to get involved in any kind of societal activity.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 16 May 18 - 05:37 AM

Jim this is the statement of yours that I responded to:

Nobody seems to want to discuss the actual surroundings of the situation and the power of (virtually) life and death these people wielded and the proven way they used it to exile millions and evict many more millions to homelessness and permanent exile?

However this is the one you now appear to be taking me task for, which is something I have never commented on:

It seems to me you are defending the indefensible
Your reason for doing so becomes obvious in your sentence "the simple fact remains that if rent is not paid the tenant is evicted that was and still is the case anywhere in the UK and I dare say in the ROI."
Are you really suggesting that the death of millions and the forcible emigrations that followed the famine are less important than paying the rent


Please show me in the first quotation above where you mention the death of millions - or is this another example of the non-existent name you took me to task for earlier.

Simple fact Jim there is just simply no discussing anything with you, all you seem to seek is sycophantic agreement of every utterance.

How reliable is "Folk History"? The answer is Not very reliable at all.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 May 18 - 06:14 AM

Think we're finished here Ter....
We really have been here a thousand times before - I'm not interested in reopening it with you

"is similar to comments I have heard from rich people in fundamentalist churches "
Trevelyan was a religious fundamentalist but his appointment gave Government blessing to is inhumanity
Large numbers of Irish people have always referred to The Famine as Ireland's Holocaust - the revelations rising from the awakened history after the 10th anniversary indicate that there is a foundation for that belief
Trevelyan's letter in full, (a large missal sent in two parts) was reproduced in Tim Pat Coogan's 'The Famine Plot' - a depressing and anger-making read but one of the most important ones of the deluge of works produced at the time.
Another religion-connected issue he dealt with was the 'Soupers' the Protestant schools that doled out food to starving children in exchange for them renouncing their religion
I can see one from our back window, referred to o - now in use for selling used cars and repairing punctures - never sure if there's a symbolic significance in that
Jim Caarroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 May 18 - 06:44 AM

is similar to comments I have heard from rich people in fundamentalist churches "
Whoops - should read 150th aniversery

SOUPERISM
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 16 May 18 - 07:07 AM

Throughout the previous year the railways had been extending through the English border country and into Scotland. A third of the navvies were Irish, a third Scots, and a third English: that was the beginning of the trouble - easy-going Roman Catholic Irish, Presbyterian Scots, and impartially belligerent English. - Terry Coleman’s ‘Railway Navvies’

Nothing "easy going" about Roman Catholicism (Far to many strictures: You can't do this, you can't do that. You must eat this you can't eat that on certain days. You must do this, you must do that - all bound up in anything against the diktat of the Pope, the Bishop or the Priest is a mortal sin that will send you to hell). Presbyterianism while strict in observance has far fewer such strictures. Wonder why after describing the others in terms of religion Coleman then describes the English Navvies as he does - surely they would have mostly been Church of ENgland (The most laid back religion in the world, born as it was out of convenience).

Hidden in all the cut'n'paste verbiage the real reason the Irish emigrants were met with hostility not only in Liverpool, Glasgow, Boston, Chicago and New York is given:

their one genuine grievance (the fact that the Irishmen would work for less pay and so tended to bring down wages)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 May 18 - 07:12 AM

Sigh!!!!!
Take it up with the researcher Teribus
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 May 18 - 07:22 AM

Reverend Charles Kingsly's Christian take on the Irish

I am haunted by the human chimpanzees I saw [in Ireland] . . . I don't believe they are our fault. . . . But to see white chimpanzees is dreadful; if they were black, one would not feel it so much. . . ." (Charles Kingsley in a letter to his wife, quoted in L.P. Curtis, Anglo-Saxons and Celts, p.84).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 16 May 18 - 07:43 AM

In addition to Harry Rivers' History 101 you have to add the "folk process". How much has the story been changed in the telling? Historical documents are at least set in stone (sometimes literally), folk history and songs are always liable to change.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Harry Rivers
Date: 16 May 18 - 10:09 AM

Howard,

"Folk process" is covered by "Who wrote it?"

All historical documents can be changed (re-written), none are set in stone, either literally or metaphorically; a half-decent mason can change a carved inscription which even the keenest eye can miss.

If the will is there, whole libraries can be edited.

That's why we start with "Who wrote it?".

Harry


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 May 18 - 02:36 PM

"That's why we start with "Who wrote it?"."
An impossible question Harry and getting more so as time passes.
Far easier to ask "who does it represent"
Jim Carrolll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 16 May 18 - 03:03 PM

What you are describing Harry, is forgery. Yes documents can be forged. But it is in many cases possible to establish their provenance, particularly if they reside in an established library (e.g. the Bodleian). Whole libraries cannot be edited. Thats why people who don't like what is in them destroy them instead.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Harry Rivers
Date: 16 May 18 - 03:30 PM

Jim, I'm well aware that it is difficult, sometimes impossible, to identify the "who". The inability to identify the "who" weakens the source and questions its reliability as a source for History.

That's not to say it's worthless, just less reliable.

The thread is "How reliable is Folk History?", is it not?


David, fair cop, I was using hyperbole to establish a point but do you really believe that repressive regimes haven't edited the contents of their national libraries?

Egyptian Pharoahs, Roman Emperors, Mediaeval Kings, and fascist dictators have all 'edited' the national records that may have questioned their legitimacy.

A resource such as the Bodleian is invalauable but it exists within a realtively free western democracy. The UK may not always be such a State.

How many modern photographs (one of tomorrow's primary sources for a history of today) can we really trust?

The Great Russian Encyclopaedia has corrected many of the flaws of the Great Soviet Encyclopaedia but would you trust it more ot less than Britannica or Wikipedia?

I think the way you answer that question depends, essentially, on the "who".

Cheers,
Harry


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 16 May 18 - 03:38 PM

Well I would trust for instance that the ancient documents held by the National Library of China have not been edited. It could be that in the past they were selective about what was housed there, but editing historical documents? I doubt it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 16 May 18 - 04:04 PM

Mystery guest: “Fascinating, Phil - Joe and Mudcat feature in California newspapers of the '30'a and '40's.

Other way round. The “folk history” is absent from the document record until the 1990s and Mudcat. I searched, for anything, anytime even remotely related to:

“The crops are all in and the peaches are rott'ning,
The oranges piled in their creosote dumps."

are another protest by Guthrie. At the time, government policies paid farmers to destroy their crops in order to keep farm production and prices high. Guthrie felt that it was wrong to render food inedible by poisoning it in a world where hungry people lived.”
[song wiki, check the footnote.]

Mentions linking Guthrie's “creosote dumps” lyric to crop poisoning, Federal subsidies, prices &c first appear here on Mudcat, nothing in the decades before that. Not even Guthrie or Steinbeck to be fair to the artists mentioned. It's just Mudcat and unsourced “everybody knows,” “common industry knowledge” & “seems reasonable to me” statements of “fact” as above and in the song threads.

Joe found the same, he recalls reading the sources but can't retrieve them now. Not even in the one (1) link provided. Nada.

The single reference he's located so far is the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 program that authorizes those same voluntary commercial grower co-ops. So we agree, I assume, up to the point that co-ops exist and there's no mention of deliberate crop destruction or Federal payouts in them anywhere. Zilch.

Absent any document record, we've waffled back down to how we treat food waste which, on the other hand, is not the same as wasted food at all. 2-10% of every harvest is inedible waste, cull and trash by law and industry standards. If you're good at it. Railcars full of the stuff and zippo to do with pricing, marketing orders, pilfering or safe, edible food of any kind.

This folk history meme has already devolved a long, long way from the song wiki and Joe's opening gambit in the song thread and I don't feel noways tired.

Next!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 16 May 18 - 04:08 PM

Fake news:
Michigan Farmers Forced to Destroy Edible Cherries to Prop Up Imports?

True: Michigan cherry farmer Marc Santucci destroyed 14 percent of his 2016 crop due to cherry industry limits on the supply of marketable cherries.

False: Cherry farmers requested they be covered by a USDA marketing order (it was not imposed on them), the order was implemented to stabilize the volatile cherry market (not to "protect imports"), and farmers are not required to destroy surplus cherries.


Ver$u$ everyday reality of farming:
Johnston said that in the past, he's had to sell as many as 75,000 40-pound boxes of navel oranges to juice makers, getting about 50 cents a box, because quotas prevented him from selling them as fresh fruit, for which he gets about $8 a box.
[17 May 1994 LA Times article on demise of Sunkist's Depression era quota system.]

Note: Insult to injury, poor farmer Santucci had to pick up all the cherries after the reporters left or face an illegal dumping citation to boot. Farmer Johnston got paid and we got juiced. Happy HAZOPing!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Harry Rivers
Date: 16 May 18 - 05:29 PM

David,

All I am trying to say is: if folk songs are being used as historical sources, they should be submitted to the same vigorous, crtitcal appraisal as all sources for history; and, authenticity should not be assumed even if the lyric resides in an august institution such as the National Library of China.

And I'm done.

Harry


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 17 May 18 - 03:12 AM

Absolutely they should Harry, and I think that the only way that this can happen is if there is a verifiable broadside kept somewhere like the Bodleian, and that historians know who the writer is and they can assess their reliability in the same way as they would assess any other manuascript.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 May 18 - 03:26 AM

Sorry lads
Broadides are far from reliable as historical documents - assuming the songs have made it to the prsses anyway - in the case of Leitrim, few if any did
All "historical accuracy" depends on access to the original information - oif that is not available, the most reliable sources we have are the local testimonies in whatever form they reach us - and a touch of logic, of course.
There is no reason in the world not to believe Lord Leitrim behaved as hr did - they were all at it
Access to local women ws a perk of the job, but it was also a display of power over your sujects - a way of reminding them who they were
Surely the clerical abuse revelations have shown that (the first reference to clerical abuse was made at the time The Book of Kells was being written)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 17 May 18 - 04:43 AM

Jim, it may well be local testimonies are the only sources available, the question is how reliable are they? This is not singling them out, all historical sources must be assessed for reliability.

Your assumption that the allegations against Lord Leitrim are true are based on your prejudice against his class, which is not unjustified given actual historical evidence of landlords' behaviour and attitudes at that time, together with the number of similar allegations made about him. No smoke without fire. On a balance of probabilities, the allegations are believable. That does not mean they are true.

It is likewise well-recorded that members of the upper classes would frequently take advantage of lower class women, especially those in their households over whom they held most power (nothing much has changed there). Again, on a balance of probabilities this is entirely believable. However 'droit du seigneur' is a very specific form of abuse which goes way beyond seducing parlourmaids on the billiard table.

The original ballad refers simply to his debauchery, and only in passing as a character defect rather than the specific motive for the murder. The suggestion of droit du seigneur came from the singer from whom it was recorded, 76 years after the events in question. He could have had no direct knowledge of them, and who knows how many mouths the story had passed through before it reached him? How reliable can that testimony be?

Droit du seigneur would have been so unusual and so outrageous that if this was alleged about him it is perhaps surprising that the song does not explicitly mention it. Calling him a debaucher hardly covers it.

Leitrim does seem to have been an exceptionally nasty piece of work, which makes it entirely believable that he might be guilty. Hearsay gossip after three quarters of a century is not reliable evidence of it.

To avoid you jumping to conclusions again, I am not defending him. I am simply saying that evidence is lacking.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 17 May 18 - 06:44 AM

Broadsides for which the author is known, either because the name is printed on the sheet or through other means is what I mean't.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 May 18 - 08:33 AM

"the question is how reliable are they? "
They are relaiable as confirmation that they probably happened aand that the information contained within is acceptable as an account of what happened to the community
"Your assumption that the allegations against Lord Leitrim are true are based on your prejudice against his class,"
That is an assumption on your part about me - I don't think we've ever met or discussed the matter
I have neen con
versant with the situation following the famine in Ireland for most of my life, from family background and from studying the period
There is little argument that that period was brutish and inhuman and that the consequences for the people of Ireland - that is beyond dispute
That landlords behaved as is claimed of Leitrim is part of the local history o my chosen home - common knowledge
Who knows the truth of the 'droit du seigneur' accusations, and when it comes down to it, what does it matter if a landlord took women based on an acncient right or just an exercise of power?
Either way, the woman endes up raped - in a period that talked about girls being "ruined" by such behaviour that was a catastophic event to someone who would quite possibly be ostracised for 'allowing' such things to happen to her
The Magdalene Laundries were full of raped girls
There can be no dobt that people in power debauched women at a whim - is seems an awfull fuss is being made about whether they did it formally, as of right - either way, they took advantage of their positions
I can't file at present, but there are a large number of songs on the same subject all similar in their description of Leitrim's behaviour
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 17 May 18 - 09:14 AM

Jim, I think you are missing my point. I am not trying to prove or disprove the allegations against Lord Leitrim. I am trying to answer the question posed by this thread, "How reliable is Folk History ?"

My conclusion on your views is based on what you have written, but you are going from the general to the specific. Yes there is plenty of actual evidence that the landlord class behaved appallingly, including their treatment of women. There are allegations, rumours and gossip about a specific individual. Taken together, on the balance of probabilities it is not unreasonable to believe that those rumours may be true about him. But believing is not knowing. What we cannot say is that those rumours, even (perhaps especially) when set out in song or passed down the generations by word of mouth, can be relied upon to any significant extent as confirmation that they are actually true. Neither can we say that there is not some basis of truth there either.

The same is true of any folk history. This is how legends arise.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 May 18 - 09:57 AM

My main objection was you attributing motives to me I do not have
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 17 May 18 - 12:28 PM

Somebody here once reported that an Australian history professor once ste as an assignment or exam question, "describe all the mistakes you can find in The Band Played Waltzing Matilda". The students were expected to get about three pages just from the first verse.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 18 May 18 - 02:20 AM

"describe all the mistakes you can find in The Band Played Waltzing Matilda".

That Professsor set a really easy question/assignment Jack and if he expected three pages from the first verse, you'd get double that from the second.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 18 - 02:59 AM

"Band" isn't a folk song and was written many decades after the event
I don't think it attempted to convey anything other than the emotional and physical effects of war, which is what, in my opinion, makes it a good song
The main value of the songs we have been discussing is that they were mainly made while the 'corpses were still warm' so to speak and the represent views based on being there, views that are seldom if ever covered by formal histories.
Some were deliberately made for a purpose; a case in point being 'Patrick Sheehan' created by author, Charles Kickham to discourage Irishmen from enlisting to fight in British wars
It was a work of fiction, but it was based on the experiences of a former soldier
It was made when the author observed an ex-soldier who ha been blinded at Sebastapol reduced to begging on the streets of Dublin because his army pension had expired - a song describing a peiod of history rathe than actual events.
Apart from acting as a propaganda piece, it also forced the authorities to review their policy on pensions
Jim Carroll

Patrick Sheehan (Laws J11; Roud 983)
Tom Lenihan
Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay
Recorded 1977
Carroll Mackenzie Collection        

Tom Lenihan
My name is Patrick Sheehan, and my years are thirty-four;
Tipperary is my native place, not far from Galtymore;
I came of honest parents but now they are laid low
And many a pleasant day I spent in the Glen of Aherlow.

My father died, he closed his eyes outside our cabin door;
The landlord and the sheriff, too, were there the day before;
And then my loving mother, and sisters three also,
Were forced to go with broken hearts from the Glen of Aherlow.

For three long months, in search of work, I wandered far and near;
I went into the poorhouse to see my mother dear.
The news I heard near broke my heart; but still, in all my woe,
I blessed the friends that made their graves in the Glen of Aherlow.

Bereft of home, and kith and kin with plenty all around;
I stayed within my cabin, and slept upon the ground.
But cruel as my lot was, I ne'er did hardship know
Till I joined the English army, far away from Aherlow.

‘Rise up there,’ says the corporal, ‘you lazy Irish hound,
Why don’t you see, you sleepy dog, the call to arms sound?’
Alas I had been dreaming of days long, long ago.
I awoke before Sebastopol, but not in Aherlow.

I grouped [groped] to find my rifle, how dark I thought the night;
Oh, blessed God, it was not dark; it was the broad daylight;
And when I found that I was blind, my tears began to flow;
I longed for even a pauper’s grave in the Glen of Aherlow.

Oh, Blessed Virgin Mary, mine is a mournful tale,
A poor blind prisoner here I am in England’s dreary jail;
Struck blind within the trenches where I never feared the foe,
And now I'll never see again my own sweet Aherlow.

Dear Irish youths, dear countrymen, take heed in what I say,
And if you join the English ranks you'll surely rue the day,
Whenever you are tempted a-soldiering to go,
Remember poor blind Sheehan from the Glen of Aherlow.

Conversation after the song between Tom Lenihan, Pat Mackenzie and Jim Carroll:
Tom: Patrick Sheehan is a ballad I bought from Bully Nevin years ago.
Jim: Yeah, so it was on the ballads?
Tom: It was on the ballads.

“‘Patrick Sheehan’ was written by author Charles Kickham (1826-1882) under the pseudonym Darby Ryan Junior, and was printed in 'The Kilkenny Journal' in October 1857. Its purpose was to protest the arrest in Dublin of a veteran soldier of that name who had been blinded in the trenches before Sebastopol and had been discharged on a pension of sixpence a day; at the time of his arrest the pension had expired. The song became very popular and was soon to be heard all over Ireland. It was said to have shamed the authorities into awarding Sheehan a life pension of a shilling a day. It has been found in America and as far afield as Australia. There appears to have been only one English version, got from a singer in Portsmouth Workhouse in 1907, taken down by George Gardiner. We recorded incomplete sets from several Travellers and full versions from Vincie Boyle and Martin Reidy."

Reference:
Songs of Irish Rebellion, Georges-Denis Zimmerman.
The Constant Lovers; Selections from the Hammond and Gardiner collection , Frank Purslow (ed).
Jim Carroll
See also
Patrick Sheehan sung by Vincie Boyle

LISTEN HERE


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 18 May 18 - 05:06 AM

"My main objection was you attributing motives to me I do not have"

No more so than you did with me, Jim, but let's leave it there.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 19 May 18 - 01:18 PM

Me: "Mentions linking Guthrie's “creosote dumps” lyric to crop poisoning, Federal subsidies, prices &c first appear here on Mudcat,..."

Minor correction: It appears Joe may posted, or provided info, to Google Groups or another folk site in the late 1990s before Mudcat. He would know better than I.

Two blunt questions Joe:

how long have you been accusing American farmers and farm workers of "creosote dumping," or whatever, and

have you ever done a proper fact check before now?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 May 18 - 02:11 PM

Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll - PM
Date: 16 May 18 - 02:36 PM

"That's why we start with "Who wrote it?"."
An impossible question Harry and getting more so as time passes.
Far easier to ask "who does it represent"
Jim Carrolll
Establishment and Official history represents the establishment point of view. French Establishment history represents the French government at the time it was written,   English establishment history represents the English government at the time it was written., AND YETCAN THEY CONTRADICT EACH OTHER THUS MAKING THEM UNRELIABLE
My Nephew went to school first in England and then in France, AND DISCOVERED that they both had won the same wars, the conclusion to this that Establishment history is unreliable
Folk History IS RELATED BY THE PEOPLE WHO WERE THERE, and who do not have a vested interest in using it as government propoganda, and in my experience is less unreliable than the Establishment official history.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 21 May 18 - 02:19 PM

Thats why we have academic historians who can analyse the reliability of all of the contemporary sources, and reach a balanced, if not necessarily final, view.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Harry Rivers
Date: 21 May 18 - 02:37 PM

Sandman,

If you can't say who wrote it ("An impossible question Harry and getting more so as time passes"), how do you know, definitively, they they were there?

"Folk history IS RELATED BY THE PEOPLE WHO WERE THERE" . . .   really?

Now, would you categorise EP Thompson as an Establishment historian?

What about Karl Marx?

Harry


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 May 18 - 02:50 PM

"Now, would you categorise EP Thompson as an Establishment historian? "
Neither Thomson not marx were 'Folk Historians'
We have a recording of a lecture he gave in Birmingham where he acknowledges his indebtedness to 'Folk History'
Marx was an economist - Fred Engles was the historian (but not a folkie) - can't wait to see the film if it ever moves further West than Dublin
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 21 May 18 - 03:01 PM

David Carter has pointed out the major flaw in The Sandman's argument. In researching any event in history a vast array of sources written from different perspectives are studied in detail - the "Establishment and Official history" represents only ONE of those perspectives.

"Folk History IS RELATED BY THE PEOPLE WHO WERE THERE, and who do not have a vested interest in using it as government propoganda, and in my experience is less unreliable than the Establishment official history."

Robert Burns wrote a song that recalls the events relating to the Battle of Sherrifmuir fought in November 1715. Burns actually talked to two people who fought in the battle (One who fought on the Government side and the other who fought on the Jacobite side), he also talked to someone who had stood and watched the battle from afar (This was a battle that Rob Roy MacGregor "sat out" having arrived too late to take part in it). Those three people that Burns talked to "WHO WERE THERE" all gave markedly different accounts of what they saw and experienced as individuals. Go to the location of the battle and you can instantly see why. The perceptions were that the right flank of the Jacobite Army defeated to left flank of Argyll's Army, the right flank of Argyll's Army absolutely trounced the left flank of the Jacobite Army, the action fought by the centres of both was very inconclusive as neither side could determine what was happening to their respective rights and lefts. So from the song written on the accounts of people WHO WERE THERE tells you nothing, so this particular piece of FOLK HISTORY is not so much unreliable as being totally useless.

See further up in the comparison between "The Warlike Sailor" and "The Nottingham & Mars". Many examples exist illustrating horrendous errors in folk history as portrayed in song. I have yet to come across any lyric of any folk song that corrects history.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Harry Rivers
Date: 21 May 18 - 03:05 PM

I sometimes wonder if contributors to Mudcat can actually read because they seldom bother to do so.

If half of you knew half as much as you think you know, you'd be dangerous.

I'm not going to waste any more of my time.

Adieu.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 May 18 - 03:21 PM

My apologies Harry - responded in a hurry and misread your question
Lousy at multi-tasking
Teribus -
"The Warlike Sailor" and "The Nottingham & Mars".
Despite the few who wish it was - Broadside History is not 'Folk History
Te folk tended to comment on the results of war on those who were forced to fight it rather than war itself anyway
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 May 18 - 12:30 PM

Official Establishment History is written by Academic historians, since these academics CANNOT agree on who were the victors, historically their work becomes unreliable, these academic historians write french and english history, and cannot agree, that makes their work unreliable.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 22 May 18 - 03:34 PM

Official Establishment History is written by Academic historians, since these academics CANNOT agree on who were the victors, historically their work becomes unreliable, these academic historians write french and english history, and cannot agree, that makes their work unreliable.

I hate to disabuse you Sandman but most history, "official", "establishment", or otherwise is actually written by "academic" historians all of whom have studied history and know what is required in terms of objective research and analysis to arrive at whatever conclusions they reach. I would love to hear from you which academic historians declare that Napoleon won the Napoleonic Wars.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 22 May 18 - 04:18 PM

Academic historians write academic papers and publish them in journals like these ones. They also write books. Their publications are peer reviewed, cited by others, sometimes supportively, sometimes critically. In the UK, their work is also reviewed for the Research Excellence Framework. They do not write for establishment or other figures, whether in the UK or France. The situation in the 18th and 19th centuries, well I cannot say so much about that. But I know that academic historians now, as opposed to folk historians like David Irving, have standards of objectivity and transparency which they must meet as a condition of their academic employment.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 May 18 - 08:17 PM

"Academic historians write academic papers"
Laargely for other academics - a totally incestuous exercise
Take six histories on one subject and you are quite likely to arrieve at twice that many conclusions.
History is a balance of facts and analysis - quite often, when the facts correspond their analyses clash a major interest of mine is the political history of the late 19th/20th century of Europe
I am now on my (at least - lost count) 20th major work on the left movements of the early twentieth century
All contain valuable information, few agree overall
In the end, you make up your mind base on the sum total of all, plus your own understanding, on both factual and philosophical understanding of the subject
Unless you come into these subjects at 'Ladybird Books' level, that is what you need to do.
For 150 years, the history of the Irish Famine lay dormant, for political/social reasons
Since the 150th anniversary in 1995, the subject has blossomed, and continues to do so.
Governments and institutions protect themselves by setting time limits to which they can legally restrict public access to certain information
Without naming names (for fear of closing this thread), despite that time now being long expired, one Government has not so long ago recalled a large number of documents regarding a major historical political figure
No historian is free of such restrictions
There is an aura of supposed unbiased purity surrounding formal historians which needs bursting
All historians come to their subjects burdened by often deliberate misinformation and prejudices of their own and past generations, just like Sinbad was burdened by The Old Man of the Sea
Like Sinbad, they need to rid themselves of that burden if they are going to make sense of their subjects
In this respect, formal history is no more reliable than is folk history (in many ways, probably less, as folk history is subject to no restrictions
Jim Carroll

PS
A favourite passage of mine describing the function of History - From James Stephens's Irish Faairy Stories (1920)
Once, as they rested in a chase, a debate arose among the Fianna as to what was the finest music in the world.
‘Tell us that’ said Finn, turning to Oisin.
‘The cuckoo calling from the tree that is highest in the hedge,’ cried his merry son.
‘A good sound’, said Finn. ‘And you, Oscar,’ he asked, what is to your mind the finest of music?’
‘The top of music is the ring: of a spear on a shield’, cried the stout lad.
‘It is a good sound’, said Finn.
And the other champions told their delight the belling of a stag across water, the baying of a tuneful pack heard in the distance, the song of a lark, the laughter of a gleeful girl, or the whisper of a moved one.
‘They are good sounds all,’ said Finn.
‘Tell us, chief,’ one ventured, ‘what do you think’.
‘The music of what happens,’ said great Finn, ‘that is the finest music in the world’.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 23 May 18 - 02:32 AM

You are right that in order to access the material from which to form a balanced viewpoint you probably need access to a university library (often a question of distance, not permission) or to pay for some journal subscriptions. You are reading books written from a particular viewpoint, and these have often not been through any review process, although some may have (for instance) been submitted to RAE or REF. But if the havn't then you need to take them all with a pinch of salt. Not that they are all nonsense of course. And not all serious historians work in universities. The author of the primary source on the issue of Lord Leitrim, which started all of this, is Fiona Slevin, who as far as I can see does not hold a university position, but whose research seems to adopt academic methodology. So you need to assess the capabilities of the author, unless through a formal review process it has already been done for you


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 23 May 18 - 04:04 AM

History is not the work of any one historian. Like any academic discipline, it is an attempt to reach a consensus on what happened, why it happened, and what were the consequences,based on an understanding of known facts. Like any academic discipline, knowledge is imperfect as not all the facts can be known, and of course different people will come to different conclusions. Where enough historians can agree then something can be said to be decided, but only for now. Knowledge evolves over time as new facts emerge and new interpretations are made.

All sources are unreliable until their provenance can be established. The problem with folk history is that those provenances are usually unknown. In most cases we do not know where the story or song originated, whether the author was an eye-witness or based it on hearsay, whether details were changed to make a better story or to achieve a rhyme, or to what extent the story was altered in subsequent re-tellings. That is the very nature of folk history.

Folk history may be able to tell us a lot about a community's attitudes to something, both around the time of an event and subsequently. Whether it can be relied upon as a description of that event is very doubtful, and can probably only be known if the details can be confirmed from other sources.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 May 18 - 06:46 AM

"You are right that in order to access the material from which to form a balanced viewpoint you probably need access to a university library"
You are missing the point David
Governments actually remove historical documents they deem sensitive
I've already mentioned the post Easter Week trials - they have never been available and I doubt if they ever shall be
Recently masses of British documents disappeared in an administration "botch-up", including the 'Zinoviev Letter' - accident or or chnge of political circumstances
The other example I mentioned, that of the David Ben Gurion manuscripts, was most definitely the latter.
A period of history almost contemporary with Leitrim - that of the Congolese enterprises of Leopold II, King of Belgium provide an example of the powerful hiding their misdeeds on a grand scale
10 million Congolese tribesmen died in the ruthless pursuit for rubber, churchmen wrote about it, protesters like Mark Twain produced pamphlets on it, yet a little more than a decade after the events the world was plunged into war, one of the slogans that brought about that bloodbath was "The Rape of Gallant Little Belgium"
When Leopold's business crumbled into ruins his staff spent three days incinerating the records.
No great importance has been attached to Leopold's behaviour in the intervening 120 years
We are told what is considered fit for for us to know on certain subjects, no more   
"Fiona Slevin,"
Who he/she?
As far as I know, the main research on Leitrim was done by local researcher, Liam Dolan, a non historian
He drew his information from local records, newspapers, parish documents and contemporary local accounts
If his and local claims contradicted documented accounts of Leitrim's behaviour you might have a point
There is no documented account as far as I am aware, local records and accounts and the songs and stories are all we have to go on.
There seems to be a lot of "it didn't happen because it's detrimental to Britain's colonial record if it did" going on here
We don't know for certain, but it's more than possible that it happened - that's what empowered maen do, given the opportunity - go ask the victims of Harvey Weinstein or Jimmy Savile or the rapist priests...
I really think we've said all that needs to be said on this particular song (one of a dozen or so on the same evil character)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 23 May 18 - 08:02 AM

Well Jim, you know even less than Wikipedia then. There are two more recent (than Dolan) books on Leitrim, by Fiona Slevin in 2006 and A.P.W. Malcolmson in 2008. Undoubtedly both would have counted Dolan's research amongst their sources. As they dates are so close whether they were aware of each other is unclear. There is a third, broader from the title, book by Mary Lydon Simonsen in 2017, although Mary Lydon Simonsen is mostly a writer of fiction.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 May 18 - 08:48 AM

I wan't aware of Slevin's work but I do know that Malcommson was an unashamed advocate of Leitrim's good character - hardly borne out by the description of him by his colleagues in The House of Lords
Your insistence of "real historians" can hardly include a writer of fiction as an expert
This is probably the most revealing evidence of the likelihood of it having happened
SEXUAL INTEMPERANCE AND MONEY ON AN IRISH ESTATE 1840S

This, from a review of Slevin's book makes interesting reading
As a young man he was preoccupied with “social life, travel and the opposite sex” and left a trail of lovers and mistresses across the continent. His siblings relied on him as the only one capable of dealing with their mother’s mental illness, which he apparently did with patience and love.
Hardly attributes that we normally associate with Lord Leitrim, a man we are more used to describing as an embittered tyrant and oppressor who was disliked by his fellow-landlords as much as by his tenants.
In the Mohill & District Historical and Heritage Society talk on April 11,
“He was not a bad man if he got his way”
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 May 18 - 09:09 AM

This fom the latter of Fr. Keegan, accusing Leitrim of abusing Women
Jim Carroll

23. An account of the alleged sexual behaviour of the third Earl
of Leitrim (William Clemence) has been provided by James Keegan,
a Catholic priest from Co Leitrim who emigrated to the USA.
Redpath’s Weekly was published in New York, and Keegan wrote for
it under the name “Pastheen Fionn”. In the issue dated 8
December 1883 he wrote as follows: “One of the motives for the
eviction of the Catholics [by Clemence] was in order for the people of other religions, or of no religion, who had fair wives and daughters and were not chary of their virtue, to be in convenient distance of the [Clemence] castle. I have never been able to make out a single case of a Catholic girl being ruined by Lord Leitrim in the county of Leitrim. To their credit be it spoken, there were Protestants - notably one man - who gave up his house and farm sooner than sacrifice his daughter to the hoary rerobate .... It is not universally true ... that his Lordship’s ‘servant girls’ were all sent off to England and America and elsewhere. No; his Lordship made exceptions; he married some of them to his Orange tenants, and when the happy men afterwards resented further familiarities and refused to live with such vile women, his Lordship evicted them”. It therefore seems that in Keegan’s opinion Clemence specialized in having sex with Protestant women and girls. We have no means of verifying
Keegan’s account.
I thank my former colleague James Heslin, now retired, for giving me a copy of Keegan’s article, cited above.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 23 May 18 - 10:32 AM

A quote from Brecht, repeated in a Facebook post just now by the Turkish percussionist Gizem Altinordu as a summary of what the political events of her entire 28-year life have felt like:

The first time it was reported that our friends were being butchered there was a cry of horror. Then a hundred were butchered. But when a thousand were butchered and there was no end to the butchery, a blanket of silence spread. When evil-doing comes like falling rain, nobody calls out "stop!" when crimes begin to pile up they become invisible. When sufferings become unendurable the cries are no longer heard. The cries, too, fall like rain in summer.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 May 18 - 10:51 AM

Nice one Jack
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 23 May 18 - 11:04 AM

Or as Joseph Stalin put it:

The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Craig
Date: 23 May 18 - 11:42 AM

The Demon Lover (The House Carpenter) on SingOut!
- somewhat relevant to this thread as it spends quite a lot of time comparing how/when/why the lyrics have changed in different versions

https://singout.org/2012/09/03/the-demon-lover-the-house-carpenter/


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 23 May 18 - 12:28 PM

His name was Clements. If Keegan got that wrong, I wouldn't take the rest of what he says on trust.

Wikipedia, quoting Simonsen (who would seem to be at least as reputable a source as a Priest) hints at a more likely motive for the murder.

"The assassins, Nial Shiels of Doughmore, an itinerant tailor, Michael Hergarty of Tullyconnell, and Michael MvElwee of Ballyworiskey, were from the remote Fanad Peninsula. In 1877, "McElwee's father was involved in litigation with Leitrim with the result that McElwee was rendered bankrupt, and his house and farm were sold at auction."

If one thing is more often a motive for murder than sex, its money.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 May 18 - 01:05 PM

"If Keegan got that wrong, I wouldn't take the rest of what he says on trust."
Typos and mis-spelling of names is a pretty pathetic defence of s known tyrant David
You are nit-picking to avoid the obvious
Leitrim was generally hated - by his tenants, by his fellow landlords and his fellow peers

You brought up Slevin - that is what her researches revealed   
C'mon - he was a bad lot among badl lots exploring a mass tragedy
Mis-spelling - you have to be joking
No reference to the documented evidence of the general behaviour of landlords in that period
Rather than Teribus's Stalin quote I would much rather accept the wonderful opening to the late Frank Harte's lecture on Irish Political Song given to an audience at the National folk Festival in Sutton onnington

He opened:
"The english have never understood the Irish" - heavy pause - "but the Irish have always understood the English"

I've never seen a shudder run through a roomful of people as it did that morning
Britain still has to get to grips with its shameful behaviour in Ireland
Leitrim was one of many
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 May 18 - 01:42 PM

Eexploring
Exploiting a mass tragedy of course
Don't want another typo getting in the away, do we?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 23 May 18 - 02:11 PM

Teribus? Haven't you been paying attention Jim? Get in touch with Backwoodsman according to him Iains is Teribus.

Judging from the opinions given on this thread it would appear that the reliability of folk history is very much in doubt. Anyone who does not fall in with your interpretation must be automatically "defending" someone accused with debauchery purely on the basis of unconfirmed gossip and rumour. The FACT is that no-one knows, so best leave it at that.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 23 May 18 - 02:19 PM

"Leitrim was generally hated - by his tenants, by his fellow landlords and his fellow peers"

Yes, Slevin says that and all of the historians seem to agree on that. However, the specific accusation of droit de seigneur, none of the three historians seem to support. And that is the accusation that you claimed that a song provided support for.

Pursuing someone to bankruptcy might also provide a reason for someone to hate him.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 May 18 - 03:18 PM

"However, the specific accusation of droit de seigneur, none of the three historians seem to support"
Slevin actually says that there is no evidence to support it as does Liam Nolan - both thought it credible enough to include in their histories without dismissing it out of hand
Nolan makes the poin that there was a large body of information to hand that he did not use due to his being unable to confirm it
Malclolmson dismisses all criticism of Leitim out of hand
As for your novelist, she deals only with the murders - can't find a comment from her one way or the other
Several things about this; the victims would hardly go about shouting what had happened to them at a time when rape victims wre considered as guilty as their rapists, if not moreso
One victim was said to hev drowned herself to avoid the shame
The families would not make too much of a fuss for fear of eviction
The auhorities would have bent over backwards to cover such events up to save embarrasing his ludship - Irland was a powder keg of revolt and land wars without adding something like this to the already toxic atmosphere.
Despite all this, a century and a half later these accusations have remained as fresh as they were on the day they were made
You have yet to comment on the document you were linked to which outlined the sexual behavior of our betters at the height of their powers
I would say I wonder why but I wouldn't be telling the truth
"Haven't you been paying attention Jim?"
I sure have - as old as I am my sense of smell is as good as it ever was Teribus
Your style of evasion and your cap-doffing sycophancy would have giben you away across the length of a football field
You've just given yourself away by identifying yourself with something Baccy wrote anyway
None so dim.... as they should have said
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 23 May 18 - 03:44 PM

"You have yet to comment on the document you were linked to which outlined the sexual behavior of our betters at the height of their powers"

Because that refers to behaviours in the 1840s, Leitrim's murder was in 1878.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 May 18 - 04:26 PM

"Whether it can be relied upon as a description of that event is very doubtful, and can probably only be known if the details can be confirmed from other sources." so official history written by academic historians is no more reliable than folk history, to quote Henry Ford history is bunk, Ford was tal;king about offical history written by academics.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 23 May 18 - 04:42 PM

Dick you are being silly now. Academic historians use all available sources, place the highest emphasis on material which is corroborated by several sources. I have no idea what you mean by "official history", but academics in any subject do not bow to pressure from anyone to publish conclusions which are contrary to the evidence from their sources, whatever those sources are.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,paperback
Date: 23 May 18 - 04:45 PM

"Henry Ford history is bunk, Ford was talking about offical history written by [Jewish] academics."

I may be assuming the worst, as people do, but maybe not.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 May 18 - 07:09 PM

Because that refers to behaviours in the 1840s, Leitrim's murder was in 1878."
"Leitrim’s batchelorhood undoubtedly lent itself to imputation of lasciviousness on his part. Otherwise it appears that there was nothing in particular in his diaries to suggest this, nor indeed is he accused of it in the reports of police and of poor law inspectors who accuse him of a host of other malpractices. It may be that the imputation of Because that refers to behaviours in the 1840s, Leitrim's murder was in 1878.asciviousness to him is primarily a way of denigrating him, of underlining and illustrating his oppressive character in the minds of many and of lending some justification for his assassination .... There may be some significance in the fact that in his will Leitrim bequeathed £20 to
each of his female se rvants but made no similar bequest to his male servants"

Whoops, I wonder how that got there - that is a direct quote regarding the character of Lord Leitrim from the document - please have the decency to read what I put up.
It wouldn't matter anyway
The description of predatory immorality by the rich and powerful didn't stop suddenly - as I pointed out, it continues to the present day..... Weinstock, Savile, et al
You really should have quit when you wereonly as far back as you were a few postings ago
Jim Caaarroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Greg F.
Date: 23 May 18 - 09:16 PM

to quote Henry Ford history is bunk

As if he was even remotely qualified -with an eighth grade education-to make such a statement.

He sounds kinda like Trump, no?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 24 May 18 - 03:16 AM

No idea what you are talking about now, Jim. I have read everything you have posted. I have followed your links at least far enough to ascertain whether they are relevant or not.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 May 18 - 06:18 AM

You have just been given a statement about Leitrim from a document I posted which you dismissed as only dealing with events up to the 18840s
"Because that refers to behaviours in the 1840s, Leitrim's murder was in 1878.""
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 24 May 18 - 08:42 AM

Ok, Jim, its there on page 15, I had not read this far as up to then it was all irrelevant. It says, as you have quoted already:

"Leitrim’s batchelorhood undoubtedly lent itself to imputation of lasciviousness
on his part. Otherwise it appears that there was nothing in particular in his diaries to suggest this, nor indeed is he accused of it in the reports of police and of poor law inspectors who accuse him of a host of other malpractices. It may be that the imputation of lasciviousness to him is primarily a way of denigrating him, of underlining and illustrating his oppressive character in the minds of many and of lending some justification for his assassination .... "

So this source, along with all other historical sources, finds no evidence for the accusation which you levelled against Lord Leitrim in another thread and all those posts ago.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 May 18 - 09:03 AM

If you quote further you will ffind that he also comments on the fact that all the women servants of the household received financial gifts on his death whereas none of the men did, implying that there might be substance to the rumours
Bit selective!!
It has already been made clear that there is no solid evidence so harping on it is meaningless
The fact that the writers included him on an article regarding the sexual conduct of the landed gentry in Ireland implicates him with the rest of them - if the writers believed he was innocent they would have said so.
It is highly likely that, given his established sexual record , that he "he was preoccupied with “social life, travel and the opposite sex” and left a trail of lovers and mistresses across the continent", makes the accusations even more likely.
He was a man who liked sex, who had an invalid wife, was hated by his neighbors and fellow landlords and spent long periods living in isolated rural areas
He was brutal to his servants (some of them actually colluded in his murder by re-setting the house clocks).
Why is is so difficult to beliebe this upper-class thug didn't help himself to the daughterrrs of his tenants, using eviction as a bargaining chip ?
This fits in perfectly with the story of the girl who drowned herself rather than run the risk of becoming his servant
If you read up on the behavior of any of the landlords in this period, there is very little actual evidence of how any of them behaved
Around here, with the locals place lendlords in two categories - good one and bad ones - and anybody you ask will tell you excatly why they are remembered as they are
Jim Caarroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: John Moulden
Date: 24 May 18 - 11:35 AM

Folk History is the same as any other history: subject to the deficiencies and prejudice of the sources and to the deficiencies and prejudices of the inquirer.

I pointed above towards elements of my thesis (which can be freely downloaded) and found almost all of what I said was ignored. However, the intention was to indicate a range of inquiries I, and others, had conducted into the 'relative truth' of a number, or range of songs about verifiable events. In doing so I suggested a series of methods whereby a degree of reliability could be established. These might have helped avoid some of the more bitter exchanges herein: - which in any case serve no purpose beyond the tempering of opinion.

The point I would make, as my last word, was provided by Bert Lloyd, of flawed and immortal memory: 'Folk songs do not tell us what happened; they tell what people believed happened' - however, Bert did not say as I think obvious: It is what people believe that tempers their actions. As such Folk History is intensely important in establishing some elements of 'Why?' events unfolded, as distinct from 'What' 'actually' happened.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 24 May 18 - 12:23 PM

""he was preoccupied with “social life, travel and the opposite sex”"


Doesn't exactly mark him out amongst young men of any social class.

"and left a trail of lovers and mistresses across the continent"

Which marks him out as someone with the resources to do so across the continent rather than closer to home.

And he bequeathed his women servants £20. Seems more likely to be out of respect rather than penance.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 24 May 18 - 12:25 PM

John Moulden:

"The point I would make, as my last word, was provided by Bert Lloyd, of flawed and immortal memory: 'Folk songs do not tell us what happened; they tell what people believed happened' - however, Bert did not say as I think obvious: It is what people believe that tempers their actions. As such Folk History is intensely important in establishing some elements of 'Why?' events unfolded, as distinct from 'What' 'actually' happened."

Well what actually happened is absolutely crucial. Folk songs may provide evidence of motivation, but they do not provide justification (for instance of murder).


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 May 18 - 12:45 PM

"but they do not provide justification (for instance of murder)."
I think this hits the nub of the whole argument
How do you define "murder" - national liberation struggle, a fight against injustice and oppression - war maybe
Does the taking of life have to be blessed by some higher authority before is ceases to be murder and becomes acceptable - when does a murderer become a national hero or a fighter for justice?
As far as the accuracy of the songs, John is quite right (as he usually is), as was Bert all those years ago
The point about song and lore is that it provides information on the subject from a point of view not usually taken into consideration, and in doing so, it becomes evidence
In the absence of other evidence, once it is examined for flaws, it becomes a feasible account of an event or situation, particularly when it was made contemporary to events described.
Jim Caarroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 24 May 18 - 02:48 PM

Courts define murder, not me or you.

"The point about song and lore is that it provides information on the subject from a point of view not usually taken into consideration, and in doing so, it becomes evidence"

If that point of view is tainted by partiality, that evidence is likewise tainted.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 May 18 - 03:21 PM

"Courts define murder, not me or you. "
Not in the case of national liberation wars when the courts are appointed by the people you are fighting they don't
Ireland as a colony was in dispute with the British empire constantly - in the particular period we are speaking about land was the issue - this eventually developed into a war of independence
Every nation has the right to oppose those who acts unjustly
Nobody refers to The Isreali, or Indian, or Afican fights for national Liberation as "murders"
Britain was regarded as an oppressor, Leitrim represented that oppression perfectly and needed to be opposed
What do you suggest - take him to court.
"If that point of view is tainted by partiality, that evidence is likewise tainted."
You would rather take the "untainted" evidence of who exactly?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 May 18 - 04:56 PM

me being silly, hilarious. history is bunk both the official and folk history , however of the two i would give more crednce to folk history rather than the official history ,which is written by the lackeys of the establishment, a prime example is shakespreares version of richard the third, complete cow towing to the tudor dynasty, henry 7[who defeated richard,and his descendants henry 8,elizabeth 1, which defeated richard the third, extremely unreliable history, absolute unreliable bunk


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,paperback
Date: 24 May 18 - 10:04 PM

sandman, didn't you read the disclaimer at the end of the movie? Based on a true story


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 25 May 18 - 12:39 AM

Most of what I'm reading confuses reliability with accuracy. They're not the same things.

Fiction is, by choice and by design, the opposite of fact. Steinbeck, Shakespeare et al are works of fiction. If there is a history, it's adulterated.

It's not reliable until the accurate bits are distilled & validated to a degree of certainty.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 May 18 - 02:11 AM

"Fiction is, by choice and by design, the opposite of fact. "
Utter nonsense
The best of fiction has its roots in fact - Steinbeck, Dickens, Mrs Gaskell, Wilkie Collins, Sebastian Faulks, Upton Sinclair, Tolstoy, Jaroslav Hasek..... many, many more... used fictional characters to depict real fife situations.
How well or accurately they did it depended on how much background research went into their work
Sinclair's 'The Jungle' was so accurate in its description of the Chicago meat-packing trade that it led to a total reform of the industry.

This song quite possibly depicts an actual happening; if it does, the characters are unknown
What it does do is describe a common occurrence in Irish rural life - and far beyond
Scotland has many similar songs
Jim Carroll

That Cold Man by Night.   Martin Long, Tooreen, Inagh, Recorded July 1975 at Willie Clancy Summer School
The practice of young women being pressurised or even forced into arranged marriages of convenience to older men has inspired many songs throughout these islands; sometimes depicting the tragedy or resigned bitterness of the situation the woman finds herself in, but occasionally, as with this one, open defiance, with a touch of humour.
This appears to be a locally-made song; we have been unable to find another example of it outside Clare.
Particularly interesting is the description of the visit to the matchmaker (the “learned man”) and the celebratory ceremony to seal the ‘made match’.

I am a handsome comely maid; my age is scarce eighteen,
I am the only daughter of a farmer near Crusheen,
‘Tis married I intend to be before its winning daylight,
Oh, my father wants me to get wed to a cold man by night.

This man being old, as I am told, his years are sixty-four,
I really mean to slight him, for he being wed before,
His common shoes are always loose, and his clothes don’t fit him right,
Oh I don’t intend the wife to be of that cold man by night.

The very next day without delay they all rode into town,
To a learned man they quickly ran the contract to pin down;
Into an inn they did call in to whet their whistles nigh,
In hope that I would live and die with that cold man by night.

My father came, I did him blame and thus to him did say,
“Oh father dear, you acted queer in what you done today,
In the Shannon deep I’ll go and sleep, before the mornings light,
Before I’ll agree the wife to be of that cold man by night”.

“Oh daughter dear, don’t say no more, or be a foolish lass,
For he has a house and four good cows, and a sporting fine black ass,
He has a handsome feather bed where ye may rest by night,
So change your life and be the wife of that cold man by night”.

“Oh father dear, don’t say no more, for I’ll tell you the reason why,
Before I’ll agree the wife to be, I’d first lay down and die,
In the Shannon deep I’ll go and sleep before the mornings light,
Before I’ll consent to be content with that cold man by night.

My match is broke, without a joke, I’ll marry if I can,
Before Sherofe* is over I’ll have a nice young man,
That will take me in his arms in a cold and frosty night,
And some other dame might do the same with that cold man by night.

*Sherofe Period between winter and the time when the work on the farm begins in earnest - It was reckoned that if a man hadn’t found a wife by the end of that time he would not do so for the rest of the year.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Some bloke
Date: 25 May 18 - 02:20 AM

No. Fact and fiction have opposite meanings. Basing your fiction on facts is however commonplace, most political propaganda for instance. Slip in a few facts and distort them gives credibility to lies.

Songs, whether portrayed as written or after a couple of centuries of edit, mishearing and adapting will of course be a combination of fact and fiction. Historians may try to separate the two out. Whether that adds or subtracts from the song is a moot point.

After all, tomorrow’s newspapers can’t agree what happened today.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 May 18 - 02:45 AM

"No. Fact and fiction have opposite meanings."
No - they can be inter-related
Where do we go from here ?
"After all, tomorrow’s newspapers can’t agree what happened today."
Neither can many historians - go read up WW1, or more recently, The Vietnam War as an example
Or try to get some of our historians to agree on the behaviour of some of our past Royals - I'll go get the bucket, sponge and towel
History is as much prone to personal viewpoint as is oral literature
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 25 May 18 - 02:55 AM

Shakespeare is in fact a very good example, he was a playwright, not a historian of any kind. But he did draw on the work of historians including Raphael Hollinshead. Hollinshead's work in some places offended the Privy Council who removed some places, but Hollinshead's work still exists in its entirety. Shakespeare did exactly what the songwriters did, which is to take history, embelish it, and superimpose a bias which is either theirs or the bias of those who pay them. Shakespeare's history is folk history.

Modern historians would not dream of taking Shakespeare into account without understanding this, and looking for corroboration of anything they might find. So it is with folk songs.

Jim says of a song he posted:

"This song quite possibly depicts an actual happening; if it does, the characters are unknown.
What it does do is describe a common occurrence in Irish rural life - and far beyond"

None of this is corroborated, and the first sentence can't be. The second might be, but I am not aware of documentary sources which would provide such corroboration.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 May 18 - 03:44 AM

"None of this is corroborated, and the first sentence can't be. "
Of course it is corroborated
Arranged marriages for financial convenience were a fact of life in rural Ireland were common occurrences up to comparatively recently - we have met a number of people who were one half of "made matches"
The practice generated generations of 'matchmakers' who were recognised as craftsmen in bringing couples together - the now 160 year old Lisdoonvarna matchmaking festival commemorates a fair held annually where local farmers would come in annually to look for a wife
The Travelling Community carried on the practice of matchmaking at least up tho the sixties, when they moved wholesale into urban areas - and even beyond that
Sorry - I didn't realise I was dealing with such a greenhorn in Irish affairs - will try to bear it in mind
The practice of trading off eligible daughters in order to expand your land holdings has been a part of the oral tradition at least as far back as 'Tiftie's Annie'
As far as the factual history of the practice - we have our own dear Royal family as a shining example of marriage for empowerment
Shakespeare is probably the worst example here - he never attempted to depict history as it was, but used it as a backdrop to examine the human condition - brilliantly - his historical accuracy is as naff as it comes
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 25 May 18 - 03:46 AM

"Neither can many historians"

I think that depends upon where they are writing, and who for. If they are writing a scholarly article in a peer reviewed journal, they will stick to verifiable facts, here there is less disagreement, although possibly still some as there will be differences as they will afford different weight to different sources. If they are writing a book they they are not subject to such rigorous peer review, and they will overlay the facts with their interpretation, which may have some bias. This is where you get the statement that historians disagree with issues such as who won a particular war, or caused it, which is a meaningless proposition anyway. The facts are that the war happened and that certain numbers of people were killed and that territory was gained or lost. If they are writing in a newspaper, and historians do do this although most articles on history in newspapers are written by journalists, then the bias they overlay may be slanted towards the editorial stance of the particular newspaper.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 25 May 18 - 03:55 AM

And example of where historians do disagree because of the varied reliability of the contemporary sources is the Battle of Brunanburh. There is general agreement on who the protagonists were, and that there was great slaughter, and that in some sense Aethelstan "won". But what there is no agreement on is the site of the battle, and this is because the main documentary source, the Anglo-Saxon chronicle, is silent on the issue. Now there will be articles in scholarly journals from historians proposing, providing evidence for and against, various sites. And that evidence will be weighed up, but none of those historians will say that they have the definite answer. This is scholarly debate, not disagreement, it is part of the process by which facts are established, and in this case the prime fact has not yet been established.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 25 May 18 - 04:37 AM

Me: Fiction is, by choice and by design, the opposite of fact.

Jim Carrol: Utter nonsense. The best of fiction has its roots in fact.


Fiction is the antonym of fact in every standard reference I own. You?

Having your "roots in fact" is not the same as reliable or accurate fact. It just means the parts not rooted in fact are fiction and until somebody sorts fact from fiction the whole of it is adulterated. It's an unknown. Maybe it is, maybe it ain't.

The fiction process does not produce nonfiction and it is the process that makes the product reliable. The fiction author has few obligations. The fiction process does not require reliability or accuracy. It's optional, sentence by sentence.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 May 18 - 04:44 AM

"Having your "roots in fact" is not the same as reliable or accurate fact"
Nobody has suggested it is - as I said, itdepends on the research put into the subject
Attempting to separate the two is insane
David "peers" are as likely to have their own agendas when judging the works of others as are those who made songs
I take it that we're finished with the nonsense of made matches being "uncorroborated"
All this is exr=temely unhelpful and unproductive
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 25 May 18 - 02:02 PM

Have you ever held an academic position Jim? If not I suggest that you are in no position to comment on peer review.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 May 18 - 02:42 PM

"If not I suggest that you are in no position to comment on peer review."
How bleedin' elitist is that!!!
Go and find one of your desk-jockeys who has spent thirty to forty years in the field interviewing the people who lived in the areas where these events took place and who absorbed the stories from their forebears
A large number of these recordings are now part of the British Library Collection and in the next few months will be housed at Limerick University for future generations to be 'misinformed'
Academic snobbery really does get up my nose
I've spent best part of a lifetime pursuing this information because I enjoy doing so - not because somebody pays me to do it
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Some bloke
Date: 25 May 18 - 02:59 PM

As ever, an interesting topic but because Jim thinks nobody knows as much as he does, every view other than his is ridiculed.

Some excellent contributions on this thread. Just try to ignore the silly irrelevant waffle from Prof Carroll trying to put you down.

A pity because his knowledge is fairly good, just his lack of appreciation for the knowledge of others that's off-putting

Sigh


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 25 May 18 - 03:16 PM

I would not comment on making field recordings or dismiss those who made these recordings as operating with an agenda. So Jim, I suggest you do not do the same to academics.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 May 18 - 04:19 PM

I frequently co-operate and discourse with academics, and indeed supply some of them with specialist information, having spent a long time studying the minutiae of the subject. There are several points that might be relevant here. Just as there are relatively isolated scholars beavering away for decades, who occasionally get things wrong, there are academics in quite high places who do so as well.


We also need to take into account that our subject is very understudied and undervalued for various reasons, and academics and scholars in the subject are indeed few and far between, particularly in the UK. In fact I would go as far as to say the UK is arguably the poorest represented country in the First World in our subject.


Peer review is indeed very valuable, when it works, particularly in subjects that are heavily studied. However internal politics in our institutions often come into play, for instance, where a leading professor presents the fruits of some theorising, and lesser mortals have to be careful what they criticise.


I don't wish to name any names, but several years ago a professor wrote a book on our subject that contained some ground-breaking assertions. At first the book received rave reviews, mainly because he was highly respected in his own faculty and in the genre in general. It was a few years later that other academics began to pull his theses to pieces and showed how inaccurate they were.


Independent scholars have their own agendas (Bert Lloyd?), but so do academics.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 25 May 18 - 08:51 PM

Me: Having your "roots in fact" is not the same as reliable or accurate fact
JC: Nobody has suggested it is...

Au contrair. This thread is doing it in both type I&II fashion:

Joe incorrectly accepts fiction (Steinbeck) as nonfiction.

Sandman incorrectly rejects fiction (Shakespeare) as nonfiction.

Fiction can't be accepted or rejected to the standard of nonfiction. Wrong metrics.

Fwiw: When I got paid to write it was technical - food, drug, and nuclear grade nonfiction. Manufacturer's instruction manuals at the bottom and the Code of Federal Regs. at the top of a pyramid of knowledge and every stone audited to a schedule. Continuous improvement was the norm. “Creosote dumps” harumpf -

The phrase (grapes of wrath) also appears at the end of chapter 25 in Steinbeck's book, which describes the purposeful destruction of food to keep the price high:

    [A]nd in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.
” ['Grapes' wiki]

Now I just wonder where they got that linkage from?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 26 May 18 - 03:54 AM

What do you mean by your subject Steve? Genuine question, do you consider your subject to be music or folklore?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 May 18 - 04:12 AM

"Now I just wonder where they got that linkage from?"
And I wonder where you got yours from - it sounds like a political establishment issued document to me, and given the history under discussion, that would be heavily influenced be Senator Joe McCarthy who decided what information was or was not permissible every bit as his counterpart in th USSR
I grew up with an interest in History; my family background and my love of song took me to Ireland where I found the two went hand in hand
Ireland's history is recorded in songs made by the people who also made their history and played an active part in changing its course
Ireland's written history is full of deliberate gaps and still locked up archive, as is the case with every former subject nation
I mentioned the Easter Week Executions earlier - Britain has a 'Thirty Year Rule' on disclosure of historical information, yet a century later there is no access to the proceedings that led to those executions.
I also mentioned The Belgian Congo and the destruction of all documentation following the collapse of Emperor Leopold's Lethal Enterprises
All past documentation of history came with an agenda and quite often the writing of history eually comes with their own agendas
For instance, we have numerous contradictory histories of The Miner's Strike
To understand that historical event you have to pick your way through them all and make up your own mind - if you have a shred of fairness in you, you go and ask the miners as well.
That goes for every aspect of oral culture I have ever been involved in - I have not gone with my own agenda and imposed it on what we collected, but have attempted to record the opinions of those who were generous enough to give us their time and information, and everything they had to say is documented and on record (and freely available, where possible - difficult in Britain, where what 'ordinary people' have to say is of no great interest to our 'betters' or by our trained experts.
People like Charles Parker, Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger blasted the media wide open with eight hour-long radio programmes based on the people's voices - after the eighth, the BBC got cold feet and silenced those voices
For me - it is what they had to ay that is the essence of our history - not the often heavily agenda driven professional writings of trained historins
"Our history's got a hole in it", as the song should have said
"Now I just wonder where they got that linkage from?"
As usiual, you reduce these discussions to ill-manned and somewhat cowardly slanging
I don't know who you are, you choose to write from the safety of anonymity
Anybody interested enough can go listen to our work - it's pretty well archived and available
I don't know everything - I don't know very much; but I have spent a lot of time asking people who know far more than I do and trying to pass on what they have to say
Please stop behaving like a schoolyard bully - it really doesn't impress and it certainly doesn't help with the sharing of ideas
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 May 18 - 04:15 AM

Sorry
That last was addressed to our man in the shadows "some Bloke"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 26 May 18 - 04:31 AM

"All past documentation of history came with an agenda and quite often the writing of history eually comes with their own agendas"

This is the kind of statement Jim which loses you support and sympathy. History isn't my subject, Astrophysics is, and it really annoys me when ignorant people (such as creationists) accuse all astrophysicists of having an agenda. But this is what you are doing to academics in history, some of whom I know and respect.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Some bloke
Date: 26 May 18 - 05:20 AM

I rest my case m'lud


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 May 18 - 05:37 AM

"I rest my case m'lud"
What case - have you actually said anything of the subject
I've said all I intend to on the elitist approach to history -
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 26 May 18 - 02:15 PM

David,
My 'subject' is folksong and its history, that is folksong as set out by the '54' descriptors, not the wider sense mostly used here, but obviously also includes all of the genres that overlap.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: rich-joy
Date: 26 May 18 - 08:54 PM

Re DC at 4.31am :
"All past documentation of history came with an agenda and quite often the writing of history eually comes with their own agendas" :

"This is the kind of statement Jim which loses you support and sympathy. History isn't my subject ...... "


Sorry, but No, it isn't. I for one, agree with that statement from Jim.

Would that ALL academics, scientists, public servants et al, were worthy of the trust and respect in which you appear to hold them, David.
Sadly, events on Planet Earth in recent years, thanks to the courage of whistle-blowers and other forms of exposé etc, have often shown otherwise.....

Just MHO of course.
R-J

.... and please don't bother now asking me to supply evidence to all that. It's all out there; it's all been written up before, by those more learned than me.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: rich-joy
Date: 26 May 18 - 09:13 PM

Yes, yes, and even "by those more learned than I"!! :))
R-J


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,paperback
Date: 27 May 18 - 12:58 AM

All past documentation of history...

If you don't want to end up like Snowden, Richard Thieme suggests: "the only way to tell the truth is in fiction".

This may not only be true now but in the past also, (though Richard appears to be 'on' something).

Yet, the telling of the everyday life of just regular folk you really don't need to lie, just exaggerate.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: DMcG
Date: 27 May 18 - 03:05 AM


Sorry DtG, yes it is mostly what you said, but I did feel that when you wrote "dry tome in a mainstream bookshop", you were intending that phrase to be a bit pejorative. Those "dry tomes" are fundamental studies of events. and it is what happened that I want to know, not what people felt about it.


I am very late to this discussion, and I would not contradict what was said there, but it is important to remember the authors of the 'dry tome' are themselves in a specific time and place and subject to often unrecognised attitudes that influence the research.

Which is why you can take almost any historical subject - let's say the English Civil War as an example - and find that new aspects of it can be found every few years even at this distance in time. The same source documents are used, but their relative importance and interpretation changes. So while these academic treatises do give an account of events, it can never be 'the' account.


Long may it remain so!

As to folk songs in particular, I think most posters have it right, they are a view onto how some people understood events. Contemporary accounts definitely, but later songs also: a 1950's song about a 1888 event tells us how some people in the 1950's thought, but little about 1888.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 27 May 18 - 03:05 AM

Well rich-joy, indeed lots has been written up. In the UK for instance in the copious documentation on the submissions and outcomes of the Research Excellence Framework. Sure, not everyone in any given profession is trustworthy, but the vast majority are. Your argument is depressingly similar to those used by creationists and climate change deniers.

Please re-read your post, and particularly the quote from Jim. The first word is "All". Do you still agree with Jim's quote?


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 May 18 - 03:20 AM

It seems to me that anybody that anybody who takes an aactive part in any discipline, history, music... whatever, does so because the subject interests them personally, which implies that they bring to their subjects pre-formed opinions and pre-gained knowledge
Some time ago I became involved in some heave arguments about World War One - it became as grueling as a bad day in the trnches
I came to the subject as a left-leaning humanist who ha done a great deal of serious political reading on early twentieth century political history - I believed, and still do, that the war was a battle between Empires to divide up the world.
I began to dip into serious historical works to check on some of the facts being thrown about and I found that the historians I was reading were approaching the subject in the same way - they brought to the subject their own personal philosophies, the result being that they produced unique works based on an analysis of the events filtered through their own personal biases - different conclusions - some for the war, but just as many against.
In the end, you need to examine the information to hand and make up your own mind
On this particular occasion I had the advantage of being able to throw in a half-donen tapes worth of interview we recorded from a veteran who has lied about his age and enlisted to fight in the tranches - an added batch of information that none of the historians appeared to have had access to.
Is my opinion any less valid than any of those I had read?
This argument started about the behaviour of an English Landlord who was was widely notorious for his ruthless treatment of his tenants and who was operating in a situation where he not only held the power of life and death over those under him, but also, because of his position, he was answerable to no-one
In this situation, local information, in the form of songs, local stories, family information, parish records... are virtually all we have to go on.
The two historians that have been mentioned are sharply divided; one appears to believe that here is a sound foundation for his appalling reputation, the other believes the sun shone out of his backside
So much for your unassailable historical view.
I really can't see the problem here - if you are discounting oral history as "biased", you are ignoring important evidence.
For me, that is what folk history is - evidence
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 27 May 18 - 03:32 AM

No, I am not discounting oral history, I am saying that historians have to assess this evidence and its reliability alongside other records. It certainly helps to establish the provenance if the evidence was written down at the time (e.g. Parish records).

Your earlier arguments were with Keith, who most certainly has an agenda, but Keith is an amateur, every bit a folk historian. And Keith in that argument was trying to say that all historians agreed on stuff which in the journal articles would be subject of debate. Consider what the historians say, not what Keith says they say.

But I think you are confusing history, which is the record of what actually happened, with political philosophy. People who write historical books tend to mix these, if not confuse them. They are not so mixed in journal articles, even by the same people.

So WWI was "a battle between empires" - quite evidently true. "To divide the world", there we diverge from historical fact and touch on questions of motivation, which are much harder to be definite about. And motivations for different individuals would have been different.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 May 18 - 04:09 AM

"But I think you are confusing history, which is the record of what actually happened, with political philosophy."
No - I am saying that all hisr=torians who publish do so from a philosophial point of view
"but Keith is an amateur, every bit a folk historian"
Keith -is not a historian in any shape or form - cut-'n-pasting arguments that suit pre-formed attitudes is not what history is about
What Keith does is equivalent to my recording only songs that please me
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 27 May 18 - 04:20 AM

“Creosote dumps” and all the rest isn't amateur or professional anything. It's just gossip. THere wasn't an attempt at history.

Shanties I would file under pseudo-scholarship.

The hard science on how not to jerk things around at work would fill a medium-sized library. Lifts, cranes, hull design; banking tracks race & rail; sorting your left from right-handed snail? There's an equation for that.

But in a century+ of study, there is no body of naval science, metrology or engineering on shanties to date. Still checking tho. The naval history, devoid of the Reformation, celeusma, locomotive lecture &c &c &c and/or a clear scope - "needs improvement" to meet accurate or reliable.

Etymology, mercy me, we got.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 27 May 18 - 04:48 AM

Britain was not intending to join the war between empires.
It went to war over the invasion of Belgium, with the overwhelming support of the people.

I quoted numerous historians in support of my views, and no-one could find a single living academic historian who contradicted my views.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 May 18 - 05:15 AM

Taker your lost arguments elsewhere Keith
they have no place here
Are you trying to get this thread closed?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Boom Boom Boom Boom
Date: 27 May 18 - 07:20 AM

Jim or Keith... Whose standard do I run towards? Difficult under any circumstances.

Most of those posting on this thread seem to grasp it. Song reflects the thoughts of those experiencing the subject. The Rufford Poachers were heroes to the original singer of the song, yet the records show that many people in Edwinstowe tipped off the authorities. Songs glorifying fox hunting might not resonate with the smallholders whose crops were ridden over.

WW1? Plenty of information demonstrating how populism and jingoism led millions to an early grave, hastened by the donkeys leading the lions. Although I think the revisionists let the mask slip when Max Hastings defended shooting our own men for cowardice.

I hope Jim enjoyed that last paragraph. I pulled my trousers up to my tits specially as I wrote it.

zzzzz


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Greenie
Date: 27 May 18 - 07:25 AM

I don't post much. I joined Mudcat primarily to learn, not to offer opinions on subjects I know nothing about. I am very new to the Folk music scene and several of you here have been very kind and generous to me. So before reading can you all accept that this is offered with respect, please?

There seems to be some confusion here as to what "History" is.

I am (or rather, was) a Historian. I was in academia for many years. I am aware, if not fully cognisant, of my biases; as were the majority my colleagues.

Following my interview for Oxford (I was turned down!), I was told to go away and read some right-wing history. I did and I still came to many of the same conclusions.

Back in the 1970s, Arthur Marwick wrote a book called "What is History?" and I don't believe it has been bettered. He was very critical of the historians who had preceded him (in much the same way as many of you here) and he set new standards for my generation. It is precised here:

What is History?

If anyone does bother to read the above link, please pay particular attention to "9. The Arts as Sources"

The Lord Leitrim song at the head of this thread is not History of any kind (not Folk, not Oral); it is a SOURCE for History.

It might well be an accurate portrayal of what happened. Equally, it might be a piece of propaganda of the kind that seems to dominate today's social media as 'fake news' or gets spouted by a Daily Mail reader on a Friday night after too many lagers.*

The pursuit of History helps us to discover which it is more likely to be.

A half-decent Historian would read as many published histories of the period as possible. S/he would critically assess hundreds, thousands, of other sources, before attempting to draw any conclusions. All this in full knowledge that some documents might turn up in the future which could totally contradict those conclusions; ideally, being delighted if they did because it all contributes to our knowledge.

"Ideally"? Yes, we're only human. Spending hundreds of fruitless hours digging away in archives only to be presented with a slip of paper that refutes your entire argument can challenge the stoutest of egos. But all History is 'work in progress'.

'Conversation' is an important part of the process and I don't know many historians who wouldn't welcome informed input from the likes of Steve Gardham or Jim Carroll.

Of course, there are people out there (such as David Irving) who will ignore the evidence that contradicts their point of view and it's part of life in modern society to be able to spot these charlatans. But what they write is not History.

History is not a "record of what actually happened", it is the process of getting as close to what actually happened as we can through the slow accretion of knowledge.

Greenie


*Did you spot my bias there?


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 27 May 18 - 07:58 AM

Jim and Boom ,
I formed my views by reading history.
On the issues I defended, that the war had the support of the people and that the British army was generally well led, there is a consensus among current historians.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Boom etc
Date: 27 May 18 - 08:04 AM

Consensus?   A climb down from “all” I suppose.

It’s popular to write the sort of history Gove wanted for school text books a few years ago. When a government asks for a more “patriotic” revision, it’s time to worry.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 27 May 18 - 08:17 AM

That is what consensus means Boom, or have you yet found an academic historian who disputes those claims?


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 May 18 - 09:05 AM

'the support of the people' through propaganda spread by the politicians via the biased media, just like today in fact. Little changes!

'the British army was generally well led'. Neat pun! Was the Navy led by admirable admirals? Purely a matter of opinion. I don't think those fellows going over the top to their doom thought that, or their relatives. I think 'Blackadder' was closer to the truth than the propaganda of the time.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 27 May 18 - 09:09 AM

Steve, if you read the history of the war you will find that your views are not supported by any historian.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 27 May 18 - 09:20 AM

"Folk History" does agree with Steve, and we all know some of the excellent songs by Bogle and others that purport to speak for that WW1 generation, but do not.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 May 18 - 09:32 AM

Unless peoplple ccome up with some traditional songs on World War One, can they please go and re-fight it elsewhere
It has no place here
I'm delighted at Greenie's contribution - everything I wanted to happen to this thread
Back later - hopefully when the pest has gone
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 27 May 18 - 10:03 AM

Sorry to be a pest Jim, but you raised the subject of our WW1 history debate, and I was repeatedly referred to by name in the subsequent discussion you had with Dave.
I was entitled to put the record straight.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 27 May 18 - 10:03 AM

Bogle, though he set his songs in a WWI context, was really writing for the Vietnam War generation. And although its not my country, I know enough Australians of my generation and what they thought to believe that he captured their mood.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 27 May 18 - 10:07 AM

And indeed Keith, they are excellent songs. Not historically accurate, but then that wasn't their purpose.


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