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How reliable is Folk History ?

Jim Carroll 01 Jun 18 - 11:23 AM
GUEST,Mike Yates 01 Jun 18 - 09:08 AM
GUEST,paperback 29 May 18 - 03:36 PM
Jim Carroll 29 May 18 - 11:31 AM
Jeri 29 May 18 - 11:09 AM
Jim Carroll 29 May 18 - 11:03 AM
GUEST,Observer 29 May 18 - 10:54 AM
Jim Carroll 29 May 18 - 10:16 AM
GUEST,Observer 29 May 18 - 09:53 AM
Jim Carroll 29 May 18 - 08:36 AM
Jim Carroll 29 May 18 - 06:24 AM
Jim Carroll 29 May 18 - 05:37 AM
GUEST,Mark Bluemel 29 May 18 - 05:11 AM
GUEST,Observer 29 May 18 - 04:33 AM
Keith A of Hertford 29 May 18 - 04:29 AM
GUEST,Observer 29 May 18 - 04:23 AM
Jim Carroll 29 May 18 - 04:11 AM
GUEST,Some Boom or other 29 May 18 - 03:17 AM
GUEST,Bob 29 May 18 - 03:13 AM
peteaberdeen 28 May 18 - 02:13 PM
GUEST 28 May 18 - 01:07 PM
GUEST,Observer 28 May 18 - 12:56 PM
Jack Campin 28 May 18 - 12:49 PM
Thompson 28 May 18 - 12:45 PM
GUEST,Observer 28 May 18 - 12:37 PM
GUEST,Jack Campin 28 May 18 - 08:48 AM
Jim Carroll 28 May 18 - 05:59 AM
GUEST,Nemesis 28 May 18 - 05:54 AM
Jack Campin 28 May 18 - 05:10 AM
Keith A of Hertford 28 May 18 - 04:22 AM
GUEST,John Orford 28 May 18 - 01:28 AM
Greenie 27 May 18 - 12:52 PM
GUEST,Modette 27 May 18 - 12:01 PM
Jim Carroll 27 May 18 - 11:24 AM
David Carter (UK) 27 May 18 - 10:07 AM
David Carter (UK) 27 May 18 - 10:03 AM
Keith A of Hertford 27 May 18 - 10:03 AM
Jim Carroll 27 May 18 - 09:32 AM
Keith A of Hertford 27 May 18 - 09:20 AM
Keith A of Hertford 27 May 18 - 09:09 AM
Steve Gardham 27 May 18 - 09:05 AM
Keith A of Hertford 27 May 18 - 08:17 AM
GUEST,Boom etc 27 May 18 - 08:04 AM
Keith A of Hertford 27 May 18 - 07:58 AM
Greenie 27 May 18 - 07:25 AM
GUEST,Boom Boom Boom Boom 27 May 18 - 07:20 AM
Jim Carroll 27 May 18 - 05:15 AM
Keith A of Hertford 27 May 18 - 04:48 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 27 May 18 - 04:20 AM
Jim Carroll 27 May 18 - 04:09 AM
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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Jun 18 - 11:23 AM

Aren't these all broadsides Mike ?
They don't seem to have appeared in the oral tradition
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 01 Jun 18 - 09:08 AM

Readers of this thread may care to have a look at a recent article by Tom Pettit on the Musical Traditions website. The article is "The Mary Thompson Cluster" (MT Article 319)and shows how a number of supposedly true accounts of various murders are actually all based on one story, which, it seems, is not true! In one case, the girl is actually murdered twice by two different men. Just the sort of thing that can happen in folksongs, I guess.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,paperback
Date: 29 May 18 - 03:36 PM

That old bookshop trope of yours always makes me cringe a bit. I see your point, I think : there is\was a certain snobbery attacted to books and the internet has wiped all that away, but a story if you have time.

When I bought a ten volume set of 1920s story books the clerk asked, "do people actually buy these?", (assuming I'd resale them). I don't know, I said, I buying them for myself. She replied after a short, confused pause, "just think of everything that's 'not' in them."

I read them daily to my mother. She though there was plenty in them.

++++++++++++++++

Tolkien was a bit of a book snob, too, if you want to called him that. He didn't like paperbacks!

letter-to-rayner-unwin


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 May 18 - 11:31 AM

Thanks for the warning Jeri
Hadn't really identified him ass such
Jim


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jeri
Date: 29 May 18 - 11:09 AM

Jim, if continue servicing the troll in this thread, I guarantee it will be closed.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 May 18 - 11:03 AM

If you're not you are about his intellectual level
I don't care who brought WW1 to this thread
It has no place here, even if it provides a perfect example of historians drowning in their own agendas
What logic - there has never been a logic fit to desrve asuch a description to explain away a war of attrition over who should rule the exploitable nations of the planet
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 29 May 18 - 10:54 AM

Been here before Jim - best you take a good look at GUEST Observer posting history - look for a thread BS Torture then come back and let me know if GUEST Observer and Teribus are one in the same poster.

I most certainly do not think I brought the subject of WWI into this thread - I rather think that it was you that did that, so button and up and bear the consequences, letting the thread take it's course. In any event my post was addressed to points made by rich-joy.

As far as factual accuracy goes. I do not believe that he, the writers of "hidden histories",or even yourself Jim can dispute or refute the information, or the logic outlined in my post.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 May 18 - 10:16 AM

Can we take WW1 and a replay of "real historians" who sell their books in "real bookshops" leave it to the dustbin of history to decide
It has no plaace here Teribus
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 29 May 18 - 09:53 AM

rich-joy
Date: 26 May 18 - 08:54 PM

It's all out there; it's all been written up before, by those more learned than me.


rich-joy was the person who advised me to read "Hidden Histories" about the First World War - I did and I found to my amazement that Germany and Kaiser Bill were not responsible for starting WWI, Great Britain and the USA were. This is the vaunted history of the courageous researchers and whistle-blowers so admired by rich-joy and offered as a reason for ignoring what Jim Carroll refers to as "formal history" whatever that meaningless term refers to.

So we are asked to believe that in 1914 two countries that were not allied to any other power block and not even allied to one another orchestrated events that would deliberately bring themselves into conflict with the most powerful military nations on the planet. The idea is ludicrous the USA had no Army at all to speak of in 1914 and the British mustering every man with even the remotest military experience she could call to arms could have fielded an army of under 450,000 men compared to France's 3.6 million, Germany's 4 million, Austro-Hungary's 2 million, Russia's 5.25 million.

Also in "Hidden Histories" the authors put forward the argument that this was done so that the armaments industries of the UK and the USA could make a profit. The one thing the authors of "Hidden Histories" fails to mention is that in 1914 those armaments industries were non-existent.

Of the know formal alliances that would have meant that the UK and the USA with no real armaments industry and less than three-quarters of a million men would have to have knowingly gone up against and alliance numbering some 8.85 million men backed with whatever was needed to them fighting, or an alternative alliance that would field 6 million men with even better back up.

Sorry rich-joy but that is laughable.

Those guys that wrote the "Hidden Histories" Blog, they didn't happen to write any songs did they?


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 May 18 - 08:36 AM

A comment I've just stumbled accross which to a degree reflects my own view of what we are discussing
It comes from “History, Heartbreak and Hope” Recording the Story Behind the Song
Margaret Bennett, Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama Glasgow, Feb. 2007
It can be found in @Dear Far-Voiced Veteran, (Essays in honour of the late Irish collector, Tom Munnelly
Jim Caarroll

The basic aim of recording a song repertoire was quickly reassessed, for, listening to Allan MacArthur and his generation, it became clear that their songs were their history books, preserving information of local and world politics without a page of print before them. Furthermore, the ‘story behind the song’ also had a vital role, not simply to provide the backdrop to the song, but equally to create a discussion forum to the family or community. In the context of a song, singers and listeners could discuss their hopes, dreams, fears, sorrows, anger, or any emotion. A song could also become the catalyst to conserve descriptions about community, family or individuals (often named), and a wide range of information of every conceivable subject concerning the community. And, while a song that incorporated description of social interaction, or of homes, farms, boats, food, drink or clothing (sometimes down to the very buttons) may have originally been composed for amusement, in the course of time, it takes on the function of social historian.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 May 18 - 06:24 AM

"probe to the same"
Prone of course (must slow down my typing speed)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 May 18 - 05:37 AM

"human prejudices, misrememberings, mishearings and misunderstandings."
Can't disagree with much of that other than to point out that formal history is probe to the same problems, especially if it involves controversial subjects
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Mark Bluemel
Date: 29 May 18 - 05:11 AM

(I'm going to regret this).

I think we've started on the wrong foot here. We don't seem to have started by defining terms of reference.

A discussion of what we mean by "Folk History" would probably be helpful - I'm presuming it refers to information pertaining to historical events which has been transmitted in some oral tradition, rather than in formally documented form.

Then the question arises as to what we mean by "reliable" - what are we relying on it to do?

If we are relying on a process of Chinese whispers to accurately relate fine details of some historical event, surely we are building on sand. When we add in the certainty that the original utterances reflected the positions of their originators - their politics, their prejudices etc - the expectation that they will accurately reflect objective reality seems a little unreasonable.

If we are looking for insight into attitudes, feelings and reactions concerning some event, the evidence is better, although I'd still contend that the Folk History that reaches us about activities a hundred or more years ago will have undergone a certain amount of editing - using "editing" here in an informal sense, in that the "folk process" will have changed wording to emphasise some things and de-emphasise others, exaggerations and elisions will have occurred and so on. That much is clear from the variations that we are aware of in so much folk song...

Folk History may not have been "written by the victors", but we can't claim that it was assembled other than by human activities reflecting human prejudices, misrememberings, mishearings and misunderstandings. It is an alternative source of insight, but I'd suggest the insight is more into the "softer" data - emotions and so on - than into hard evidence.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 29 May 18 - 04:33 AM

As a record of the night of that storm the original broadsheet that printed William Delf's Poem was by far way more historically accurate than the song "Three Score and Ten" that people sing today. The original names the vessels lost and named some of the men drowned. So here is yet another example of folk song, or folk history being inaccurate and unreliable.


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

Boom,
At least Keith’s comfortable armchair is in Hertford rather than The Somme,

I was not there and I am not an historian, but I read the work of historians.
The points I argued on WW1 are agreed by every current academic historian.
I quoted many and you failed to find any that disagreed.

If I am wrong about those points, so are the historians.
You may imagine you know more than the professional academic historians who have made it their life study, but I choose to believe the history books over your hubris.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 29 May 18 - 04:23 AM

“Three Score and Ten” was a poem written by a fisherman (who survived the said storm) in order to publish it and raise funds for the widows and orphans. Even then, he changed the ruddy month just for poetic convenience."

1: "Threee Score and Ten" was not the title that William Delf gave his POEM which in words and number of verses was far different from the song entitled "Three score and ten" collected in 1957 from master mariner J. Pearson of Filey, a member of the Filey Fishermen’s Choir who had preserved the song in their repertoire.

2. No evidence at all that William Delf was at sea on the night of the storm so to say that he was actually there is conjecture and to say that he survived the storm is no more remarkable than saying the the rest of the population of the British Isles survived the storm - absence being the best defence.

3. William Delf wrote a poem, which was printed in broadsheet form (Which according to Jim Carroll makes it NOT Folk), the poem was then transposed and fitted with a tune. Nobody knows when or by whom, the words and number of verses changed and it acquired a chorus and that was the song collected from J. Pearson of Filey.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 May 18 - 04:11 AM

Boom (I do wish people would choose names that sound as if I was making fun of them - sorry, a constant irritation)
So far, we have been talking about subjects that are poorly recorded by history - if at all; quite often the oral accounts are all we have to go on
Of course the poets used poetic licence; as the authorities who took down the details (or not) of the events used political licence and left us with onlty thee account they wished us to believe
Leitrim's exploits were not documented in detail, hardly anything exists of his behaviour other than his reputation as a vicious landlord
A great deal is true of all history
We know the land enclosures in Britain were at their worst in the late 18th - early 19th century - that is well documented; what were not well documented were the result of those actions on the individuals and families they effected most - the poaching songs, the transportation songs fill in that gap
WE are aware that armies going to war were accompnied by smaller armies of women and children, tradesmen, prostitutes, et al... 'camp -followers'
Little exists on the whys and wherefores of these people, other than in songs like Lisbon, Banks of the Nile, Manchester Angel, etc
Sure - the details may not be accurate, the passing on of the songs through time and distance make sure of that, as does the individual view of the incidents recorded - that's why I believe the 'Irish Dragoons' argument was a red herring
Can I say that I don't accept the view of Steve Gardham, Steve Roud and others who attribute the origins of our folk songs to the Broadside presses (there are enough examples of our differences elsewhere to have to go into it here)
One of our most staggering findings in our work in Clare, and to a lesser degree among the Travellers, was the existence of a staggering number of local made songs that were make up, (often on the spot) to record a local event, often one that had not been recorded elsewhere
We were told by one singer a few years ago "In those days, if a man farted in church, someone made a song about it"
These could be as unimportant as a fart or as significant as an ambush during the War of Independence, or a cattle rustling raid during the Land Wars, or a local comment on a national happening.... all have ready made songs to record their happening
The song below, we were told, was made up by four anonymous young men standing at a crossroads and throwing verses at one another until it became what it is
It comes from a time when the Black and Tans were jackbooting their way through Ireland to soften it up for accepting the terms of Independence in a few years hence
There is no documented evidence of the incident and it was a common enough occurence during a campaign of minor protests against the collusion between the local RIC and the Tans
The making of such songs was extremely popular in this area, which had a very rich song tradition to draw on as a template, but it seems to have been common practice throughout Ireland
I have little doubt that many of our folk songs had similar origins
Jim Carroll

The Quilty Burning (Roud 18471)
Mikey Kelleher
Quilty and Depford, London
Recorded in London, autumn 1977
Carroll Mackenzie Collection        

Mikey Kelleher

Oh the burning of Quilty, you all know it well;
When the barrack took fire where the peeler did dwell.
The flames bursted out, sure it was a great sight;
There were women and children out there all night.

Michael Dwyer, sure, he got a great fright.
He called on his wife for to rescue his life.
His daughter ran out and she roaring, “Ovoe,
Blessed light, blessed light, keep away from our door.”

Then Micho Kenny, looked out through the glass,
And he saw Patsy Scully outside at the Cross.
“Oh Patsy, oh Patsy, take out the poor ass,
For the whole blessed place it is all in a mess.”

Michael Dwyer, he came down on the scene;
He ran down to the cross and called up Jack Cuneen.
“My house will be burned before ‘twill be seen,
And my fool of a son is above in Rineen.”

Then Paddy Shannon thrown out his old rags;
He stuck his poor missus into the bag.
“The burning, the burning, it started too soon;
‘Twill be burning all night until next afternoon.”

Then Paddy Healy came out in the flames;
He could see nobody there but the peelers he’ll blame.
He went into Tom Clancy and told him the same.
“By damned”, said Tom Clancy, “‘tis now we want rain.”

Father McGannon came down to the gate;
He says to the boys, “there’s an awful disgrace;
For this old barracks is in an awful state;
It’s no harm to be banished and gone out the place.”

Now to conclude and to finish my song;
I hope you’ll all tell me my verses is wrong,
For this old barracks is no harm to be gone,
For many the poor fellow was shoved in there wrong.

"The incident, that gave rise to this song, now apparently forgotten, took place around 1920, when the Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks at Quilty, a fishing village a few miles south of Miltown Malbay, was set alight by Republicans. Mikey appears to be the only person to remember the song and told us that he recalls it being made by a group of local men shortly after the event. We have been able to get only very little information about either the song or the incident, apart from the fact that the ‘Father McGannon’ in the 7th verse was not a priest, but was the nickname of a local man. We once played this to a friend, the late John Joe Healy, a fiddle player from Quilty, who said of the Paddy Healy in verse 6: ‘that’s my father he’s singing about’."

The above commentary, lyrics and recording are taken from ‘Around the Hills of Clare: Songs and Recitations from the Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie Collection’ (2004) Musical Traditions Records MTCD331-2/Góilín Records 005-6.
LISTEN HERE


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Some Boom or other
Date: 29 May 18 - 03:17 AM

To be fair to Jim, the thread had a honourable aim.

I think that comparing verse to historical evidence is rather silly really. It’s all about perspective. Even songs written at the time of events by those there can have a degree of poetic licence.   

“Three Score and Ten” was a poem written by a fisherman (who survived the said storm) in order to publish it and raise funds for the widows and orphans. Even then, he changed the ruddy month just for poetic convenience.   He was there...   At least Keith’s comfortable armchair is in Hertford rather than The Somme, so playing with toy soldiers doesn’t give the imagery of the Sassoon poem quoted above.

In traditional song, the noble art of borrowing and assuming has in some versions of a song a blue cockade with most of the other verses singing of a time when cockades were either black or white, some historians noting that colour dye was expensive. I could go on but going on and on and on I leave to Jim because my trousers have fallen down.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Bob
Date: 29 May 18 - 03:13 AM

Imagine . . . . 200 years from now, you discover this lyric, together with the fragments of a recording . . . . . . what would it tell us about the collapse of Tsarist Russia and causes of the Russian Revolution:

There lived a certain man in Russia long ago
He was big and strong, in his eyes a flaming glow
Most people looked at him with terror and with fear
But to Moscow chicks he was such a lovely dear
He could preach the bible like a preacher
Full of ecstasy and fire
But he also was the kind of teacher
Women would desire
Ra ra Rasputin
Lover of the Russian queen
There was a cat that really was gone
Ra ra Rasputin
Russia's greatest love machine
It was a shame how he carried on

He ruled the Russian land and never mind the czar
But the cassock he danced really wunderbar
In all affairs of state he was the man to please
But he was real great when he had a girl to squeeze
For the queen he was no wheeler dealer
Though she'd heard the things he'd done
She believed he was a holy healer
Who would heal her son
Ra ra Rasputin
Lover of the Russian queen
There was a cat that really was gone
Ra ra Rasputin
Russia's greatest love machine
It was a shame how he carried on

But when his drinking and lusting and his hunger
For power became known to more and more people
The demands to do something about this outrageous
Man became louder and louder

This man's just got to go, declared his enemies
But the ladies begged, don't you try to do it, please
No doubt this Rasputin had lots of hidden charms
Though he was a brute they just fell into his arms
Then one night some men of higher standing
Set a trap, they're not to blame
Come to visit us they kept demanding
And he really came
Ra ra Rasputin
Lover of the Russian queen
They put some poison into his wine
Ra ra Rasputin
Russia's greatest love machine
He drank it all and said, I feel fine
Ra ra Rasputin
Lover of the Russian queen
They didn't quit, they wanted his head
Ra ra Rasputin
Russia's greatest love machine
And so they shot him 'til he was dead

Oh, those Russians
If you're wondering, here's the classic folk song Rasputin, by Boney M


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: peteaberdeen
Date: 28 May 18 - 02:13 PM

to take a contempory lyric at random (from show of hands 'arrogance, ignorance and greed')

'you're on your yachts, we're on our knees'

should a folk historian be studying the social comment parts of their work in future she might conclude that 'in fact in 2012 very few members of the very wealthy/bankers etc were on yachts while it was almost impossible to find a poor person on their knees at all'

alternatively 'people were increasingly angry about the crimes of the very wealthy and the bankers' greed and lack of probity in 2008' wealthy people were not punished in any way and were seen to be cruising around giving each other massive handouts at the expense of large sections of the country who were having a hard time and begging for a more humane and generous service from the uk government'

or 'steve knightly was making the point that people of england should get off their knees and fight these financial predators....'

etc. while the lyric is not literally true it illustrates a truth about our own times that we can recognise and agree with. there are a few ways to interpret it - doesn't make it wrong.

ordinary 'folk' have very few ways of documenting history or expressing their opinion of it in a way that might last. these days it is through the arts where always a 'left' perspective is going to be more trustworthy than a right. they can write songs which - inevitably - are often about injustices of their life and harsh, inhumane treatment by their 'masters' or leaders -political, religious or military. it was ever thus - it is, and has always been, us versus them. i know which version i trust and long ago made my choice.

it may have been a different regiment that was clearing homes in the highlands of scotland or in modern day palestine - but you can't say these things never happened.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST
Date: 28 May 18 - 01:07 PM

the official history ,which is written by the lackeys of the establishment

Oh yes? Lackeys like Philip Foner & Douglas Blackmon,perhaps?


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 28 May 18 - 12:56 PM

The Irish Dragoons were a regiment named under the understanding of the job of Heavy Cavalry in the 18th Century. However, Dragoons had been in existence prior to that date and the term in the song could refer to a group of Dragoons (basically mounted infantry who happened to be Irish as opposed to a specific regiment of Irish Dragoons.   

During the English Civil War dragoons were used for a variety of tasks: providing outposts, holding defiles or bridges in the front or rear of the main army, lining hedges or holding enclosures, and providing dismounted musketeers to support regular cavalry. Supplied with inferior horses and more basic equipment, the dragoon regiments were cheaper to recruit and maintain than the expensive regiments of cavalry.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 May 18 - 12:49 PM

Again: there was no regiment called the Irish Dragoons until 1788. So the Civil/Covenanting War period can't be it.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Thompson
Date: 28 May 18 - 12:45 PM

An Irish myth describes how Aengus Óg gathered all the people and laid a straight log road across the Bog of Allen. This was always regarded as apocryphal until it was found recently. Not that the news is all good.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 28 May 18 - 12:37 PM

when did the Irish Dragoons ever march through Aberdeenshire?

Asks Jack Campin - try the period during the English Civil War when the Marquis of Montrose was trying to win Scotland for the Royalist cause fighting against Government and Covenanter forces 1644 to 1646.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 28 May 18 - 08:48 AM

The Irish Dragoons only got that name in 1788 (see the Wikipedia page), so if folk history had them in Fyvie in 1664, it was wrong.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 May 18 - 05:59 AM

A large number of Montrose's army who took part in the capture of Fyvie castle in 1664 were Irish - don't know if they were Dragoons
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Nemesis
Date: 28 May 18 - 05:54 AM

Jack
Was it also true about the highland tinker?


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 May 18 - 05:10 AM

It just occurred to me about the Bonny Lass of Fyvie (who seems to have been from Derby originally) - when did the Irish Dragoons ever march through Aberdeenshire?


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 28 May 18 - 04:22 AM

No-one does John.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,John Orford
Date: 28 May 18 - 01:28 AM

Folk History is not just songs. Try Siegfried Sassoon who saw a lot of things in the 1914-18 war

I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.
   
In winter trenches, cowed and glum,         
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,   
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

Those who deny the evidence of those who know can safely be ignored.


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Greenie
Date: 27 May 18 - 12:52 PM

Modette,

He did indeed, in 1961.

I did, of course, mean "The Nature of History", happy to be corrected.

Greenie


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: GUEST,Modette
Date: 27 May 18 - 12:01 PM

Surely EH Carr wrote 'What is History?', Greenie?

Dr. Modette (History academic)


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Subject: RE: How reliable is Folk History ?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 May 18 - 11:24 AM

"but you raised the subject of our WW1 history debate, a"
Not as adiscussion point Keith, just as an example of the misuse of history
Hope we can move on now
Greenie
Thanks for your input - I'm happy to accept your "source for rather than history" definition - I was interested in your "go away and read some right-wing history" anecdote; it seems to confirm the subjectivity of history.
I think the main problem with discussing Irish history is that much of it was never really documented and a great deal that was was actively suppressed
It has always amazed me that unitl a century and a half after the event Ireland's greatest tragedy, The Famine, was covered by only one serious study, by Englishwoman, Mrs Cecil Woodham Smith, an English Graduate who became a formidable self-trained historian.   
THere are a few works of fiction and some references (largely in passing) in general history books, but up to the 1990s no other concentrated study.
Living in a County badly effected by the Famine, we were subjected to many dozens of local stories, my favourite being about the 'body which rolled off a 'dead cart' on its way up to the cemetry
The corpse rolled into the gutter outside the blacksmith's shop, where it was discovered to be alive - the man spent twenty odd years working as a blacksmith's assistant   
In the absence of any documented information - is that a piece of history?
THe famine wasn't documented for political reasons - the English Establishment wasn't proud of how they handled it and the later independent Irish Government didn't want to close of a place to send their emigrants by upsetting the neighbours
The Leitrim situation was similar in that the landowners had a free had to behave as they wished and they controlled the courts and the press, so most of the information of his behaviour is recorded only in the dozen or so songs that were made about him
The Famine was also recorded orally - Few songs, if any, were made between 1845 and 1850, but many hundreds were made in the later years, largely on the effects of the famine rather than the tragedy itself.
This is one of those

Far far from the isle of the holy and grand
Where wild oxen fatten and brave men are banned.
All lonely, alone, in a far distant strand
Do I wander and pine for poor Éireann.

Chorus:
Lonely and sad I roam, far from my island home,
Where the wild waves, surging foam, headlands appearing.
Clouded in silver spray, flashing through heaven's bright ray
For the glory and pride lovely Éireann.

Sweet, sweet Inis Cathaig the sacred, the blessed,
A fit place for a saint or a warrior's rest.
Your sentinel towers left each storm request
Your mourning waves wail for my Éireann.

How oft have I wandered by Shannon’s great floods,
And paused as I gazed where the mighty wood stood.
Oh God, that’s the ? should be best of the brood
Who now lights your beauty, my Erin.

Chorus:
Lonely and sad I roam, far from my island home,
Where the wild waves, surging foam, headlands appearing.
Clouded in silver spray, flashing through heaven's bright ray
For the glory and pride lovely Éireann.

How dearly I longed, for to wander once more
To the loved ones I left at my old cabin door.
My blessings I’ll give them a thousand times o’er,
And a prayer and a tear for poor Éireann.

There is nothing now left, holy isle, but thy name,
The ruin of thy glory, thy grandeur, thy fame.
For foreign laws sealed thy sorrow and pain,
Which now cause thy anguish, my Éireann.

Chorus:
Lonely and sad I roam, far from my island home,
Where the wild waves, surging foam, headlands appearing.
Clouded in silver spray, flashing through heaven's bright ray
For the glory and pride lovely Éireann.


Sad, sad is my fate in this weary exile
Dark, dark is the night cloud, oh lone Shanakyle.
Where the murdered sleep silently pile upon pile
In the coffinless graves of poor Erin.

I’m watching and praying through the length of the night,
For the grey dawn of freedom the signal to find.
My rifle is ready, my sabre is bright,
For to strike once again for poor Éireann.

"The song was thought to have been lost until it was recorded by Tom Munnelly from ‘Straighty’ in the mid-1970s. Shanakyle (in Irish, ‘Seana Chill’) is the site of a graveyard outside Kilrush; Inis Cathaigh is St. Senan's Island, also known as Scattery Island, on the Shannon. Three thousand, nine hundred people died in the workhouse in Kilrush during the three years 1847-49, most of whom were buried in a mass grave in Shanakyle Graveyard. Lone Shanakyle was written by Thomas Madigan of Carnacalla, Kilrush (1797-1881) who was a scholar and poet, writing in both English and Irish. It was probably written during the 1860s, the last verse being inspired by the expected Fenian Rising."
LISTEN HERE
Jim Carroll


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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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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: 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: 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 - 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: 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: 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 - 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: 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 - 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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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