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The Ould Triangle

DigiTrad:
OULD TRIANGLE


Related threads:
(origins) Origin: The Old Triangle (85)
Lyr Req: The Auld Triangle (25)
The Ould Triangle: which gaol ? (32)
Tune Req: Old Triangle w/ Dermot O'Reilly voc (3)
Lyr/Chords Req: Old Triangle / Ould Triangle (12)


GUEST,Irish Rover 08 Jun 00 - 06:43 AM
Brendy 08 Jun 00 - 06:55 AM
Steve Parkes 08 Jun 00 - 07:38 AM
Brendy 08 Jun 00 - 07:44 AM
MartinRyan 08 Jun 00 - 07:45 AM
Steve Parkes 08 Jun 00 - 12:09 PM
Roger in Sheffield 08 Jun 00 - 12:20 PM
GUEST,Mrr 08 Jun 00 - 12:58 PM
Sandy Paton 08 Jun 00 - 01:37 PM
Abby Sale 08 Jun 00 - 05:43 PM
Steve Parkes 09 Jun 00 - 03:47 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 09 Jun 00 - 02:54 PM
Susanne (skw) 16 Jun 00 - 07:37 PM
bob jr 16 Jun 00 - 07:49 PM
GUEST, James Molloy 07 May 10 - 07:49 AM
Andrez 08 May 10 - 01:35 AM
Murray MacLeod 08 May 10 - 03:26 AM
ruairiobroin 10 May 10 - 03:48 PM
meself 10 May 10 - 10:53 PM
Dave Hanson 11 May 10 - 02:19 AM
Murray MacLeod 11 May 10 - 02:47 AM
GUEST 11 May 10 - 12:24 PM
GUEST,Rog Peek 11 May 10 - 12:25 PM
Dave Hanson 11 May 10 - 01:55 PM
Rog Peek 11 May 10 - 02:01 PM
Murray MacLeod 11 May 10 - 03:39 PM
Rog Peek 11 May 10 - 03:42 PM
Paul Burke 11 May 10 - 03:49 PM
meself 11 May 10 - 05:25 PM
ruairiobroin 12 May 10 - 10:33 AM
GUEST,Guest, Tw in Tx 12 May 10 - 11:17 AM
GUEST 12 May 10 - 06:36 PM
McGrath of Harlow 12 May 10 - 08:12 PM
GUEST 13 May 10 - 08:44 PM
Dave MacKenzie 14 May 10 - 03:19 AM
Andrez 14 May 10 - 03:24 AM
GUEST,Tom Neary 21 Jul 12 - 08:11 PM
zozimus 21 Jul 12 - 08:49 PM
meself 22 Jul 12 - 12:35 AM
GUEST,Tom Neary 24 Jul 12 - 05:46 PM
meself 25 Jul 12 - 01:52 AM
gnu 25 Jul 12 - 04:44 AM
MGM·Lion 25 Jul 12 - 05:28 AM
GUEST 25 Jul 12 - 07:41 AM
GUEST,Tom Neary 26 Jul 12 - 03:16 PM
GUEST,Tom Neary 26 Jul 12 - 03:18 PM
Jim McLean 26 Jul 12 - 04:05 PM
meself 26 Jul 12 - 04:21 PM
GUEST,Tom Neary 26 Jul 12 - 06:18 PM
meself 26 Jul 12 - 09:10 PM
GUEST,Tom Neary 27 Jul 12 - 12:19 PM
Dennis the Elder 27 Jul 12 - 01:44 PM
Deskjet 27 Jul 12 - 01:47 PM
GUEST,Tom Neary 29 Jul 12 - 05:56 PM
GUEST 31 Jul 12 - 02:09 PM
meself 31 Jul 12 - 09:18 PM
GUEST 02 Aug 12 - 02:02 PM
GUEST,Tom Neary 30 Aug 12 - 04:03 PM
Abby Sale 31 Aug 12 - 12:44 PM
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Subject: The Ould Triangle
From: GUEST,Irish Rover
Date: 08 Jun 00 - 06:43 AM

In this song, (also in Never Let Your Braces Dangle), what is the triangle referring to?


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: Brendy
Date: 08 Jun 00 - 06:55 AM

The execution bell, wasn't it?

B.


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 08 Jun 00 - 07:38 AM

They used to lash peiople to a big triangle for flogging, but these would usually have been wooden structures, and I wouldn't expect them to make a noise! I always assumed the triangle in the song was to wake everyone up at some ungodly hour of the morning, or to mark the hours or periods of the day; but I don't actually know.

Steve


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: Brendy
Date: 08 Jun 00 - 07:44 AM

That was why I wasn't sure. Kilmainham prison may have had different uses for the 'ould triangle'. It certainly, in the context of this question anyway, relates to a prison bell of some sort.

B.


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: MartinRyan
Date: 08 Jun 00 - 07:45 AM

Steve's alarm clock theory is right.

Regards


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 08 Jun 00 - 12:09 PM

Then the other sort must be the new triangle?


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: Roger in Sheffield
Date: 08 Jun 00 - 12:20 PM

I am glad someone asked. I wondered what the lyric refered to and assumed every body else knew!

Roger


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: GUEST,Mrr
Date: 08 Jun 00 - 12:58 PM

On the back of the album I have it on, it was explained as a dinner bell kind of thing, like the musical triangle. Could also have been an alarm clock, but that isn't what they said. Will look for the album and re-read.


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 08 Jun 00 - 01:37 PM

Triangles were certainly used as dinner bells on farms and ranches all over the U.S. When I heard Dominic Behan sing this song in London (1958), I just assumed the function was the same. Never occurred to me to ask, dammit!

Sandy


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: Abby Sale
Date: 08 Jun 00 - 05:43 PM

I'm just finished reading "The Quare Fellow" for which Behan wrote (and, on tape, sang) "The Old Triangle." If anyone wants the words as per the play, let me know. All the action takes place just out side the punishment cells. Picture solid-door cells similar to a Western showing 1880's prisons. All the terms are explained by context of the play and, clearly, MacColl picked up his use of criminal's slang from Behan (or at least partly.) MacColl's rendition is closest.

Sandy, I'd really like to know if you remember Behan singing in any particular accent. Generally when the song text is given, an almost comic/music-hall implication is given in the spelling. Behan spells all in standard English & that leads me to wonder how he sang it. The play's script offers no clues.

In fact, nearly all the singing is done off stage by a prisoner inside a cell. He sings a verse or two -- or a line or two and is interupted. Perhaps by the screw yelling at him (it's supposed to be a silent cell-block but this is little observed.) to shut up or eles _I'll_ give you weep about -- or more often just by the curtain. As a result the play opens and closes on the song.


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 09 Jun 00 - 03:47 AM

I used to know a guy years ago who appended this disrespectful verse:

Now, Dominic Behan, he was standin' peein',
And his brother Brendan was just pretendin',
And his other brother Ryan, he was standin' tryin'
To pee o'er the waters of the Royal Canal!

Steve


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 09 Jun 00 - 02:54 PM

I didn't intend the "alarm clock" reference to be treated quite so literally! Just that it was much more general than in use than for executions.

Regards


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 16 Jun 00 - 07:37 PM

Just found this in Kathleen Behan's (mother of Brendan and Dominic, among others) memoirs:

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


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: bob jr
Date: 16 Jun 00 - 07:49 PM

not that you would care but bob dylan does an excellent version of this song alternatly titled "the banks of the royal canal" on the bootleg basement tapes. he sings it with kinda a midwest accent.


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: GUEST, James Molloy
Date: 07 May 10 - 07:49 AM

I had the pleasure to sing this song at Kathleen Behan's Birthday
in, The Embankment, Tallaght. Ulick O'Connor, Brendan's
Biographer, was among those present.I sing it on Utube 'acapella)
along with several other songs. I'd like it if you would have a
listen and add a comment.
                                  Erin Gho Bragh. May you never be
                                  out of tune.....................


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: Andrez
Date: 08 May 10 - 01:35 AM

Would you be able to post a link to the U-tube clip please Guest James Molloy ?

Cheers,

Andrez


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 08 May 10 - 03:26 AM

James Molloy singing "The Ould Triangle",

good version, too, and I love the hat ...


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: ruairiobroin
Date: 10 May 10 - 03:48 PM

Someone mentioned Kilmainham Jail in this regard. It was Mountjoy Jail that the song is about and Brendan Behan whilst most associated with this song never claimed to have written it. In fact, there is a recording of Brendan on Youtube expressly saying he did not write it. A granduncle of mine who served time with Brendan's father explained the Triangle thus. At the back of the 'Joy (Mountjoy Jail to you and I) runs the Royal Canal on which horses walking on towpaths pulled barges. The apparatus required to facilitate towing the barge parallel to the towpath had to be triangular, and the sound of these triangles jangling to the horses' movements represented the sound of freedom to the lags inside.

The old triangle went jingle jangle,
all along the banks of the Royal Canal

I knew of this explanation from childhood and never thought to question it but when I heard the Dinner Bell and Work Bell explanations I asked the late Brendain O Duill, actor, raconteur and singer and friend and admirer of Brendan Behan, he had exactly the same explanation. Whatever explanation, the song is a jewel and Behan always made sure the royalties when he sang it, went to the author.


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: meself
Date: 10 May 10 - 10:53 PM

The author being ... ?


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 11 May 10 - 02:19 AM

How many times ? repeat after me, BRENDAN BEHAN.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 11 May 10 - 02:47 AM

ruairi, how about a link to the Youtube video where Behan disclaims authorship?

your "triangle " explanation does sound plausible, it always puzzled me why a dinner gong would ring out "all along the banks of the Royal Canal"


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: GUEST
Date: 11 May 10 - 12:24 PM

It's here.
About 6minutes in......
It's a couple of tracks off a CD entitled "Brendan Behan Sings Irish Folksongs and Ballads".

I think you'll find the tramp he was refering to was himself.

Rog


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: GUEST,Rog Peek
Date: 11 May 10 - 12:25 PM

GUEST was me, didn't realise cookie had gone.


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 11 May 10 - 01:55 PM

He's talking about himself.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: Rog Peek
Date: 11 May 10 - 02:01 PM

That's what I said!

Rog


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 11 May 10 - 03:39 PM

Maybe he is talking about himself, maybe he isn't.

It's all surmise and supposition.

Before jumping to premature conclusions, it would be salutary to note this erudite post by Big Tim on an earlier thread about the Ould Triangle

Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle: which gaol ?
From: Big Tim - PM
Date: 05 Jul 08 - 03:08 PM


The song is featured in Behan's play 'The Quare Fellow: a Comedy-Drama', first performed at the Pike Theatre, Dublin, on 19 November 1954. As far as I can trace, the first public performance of the song was given by Behan himself when he sang it on radio in 1952, on 'The Ballad Maker's Saturday Night'. He had been working on The Quare Fellow since around 1945.   

Nowadays, Behan's authorship is seldom questioned, but it is very interesting to note how he introduced the song on radio. "This song was written by a person who will never hear it recorded, because he's not in possession of a gramophone. He's…he's… pretty much of a tramp". Behan was not renowned for his modesty: certainly not to the extent of crediting something successful that he had written to someone else. In addition, his biographer Michael O'Sullivan writes that Behan asked for the radio royalty payment to be made to Dick Shannon, a Dubliner: possibly an old pub or prison acquaintance. O'Sullivan also quotes the show's producer, Micheál Ó hAodha, as stating "he [Behan] never claimed authorship". The 1952 broadcast consisted of only four verses.

The balance of probability is that Dick Shannon originated the song and that Behan later added to it


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: Rog Peek
Date: 11 May 10 - 03:42 PM

Thanks Murray, that's really interesting.

Rog


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: Paul Burke
Date: 11 May 10 - 03:49 PM

This thread has resurfaced at an opportune time; after many years of disuse and dereliction, the Royal Canal reopens reopens next September! Bring your triangles and mice to the celebrations.


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: meself
Date: 11 May 10 - 05:25 PM

Dave Hanson: Did you read the post which preceded mine, and which I was responding to, before you condescended to play the schoolmaster with me? In that post, the implication is clear that Behan is not the author ("Brendan Behan whilst most associated with this song never claimed to have written it", " Behan always made sure the royalties when he sung it , went to the author"), but the poster does not give a name for the supposed real author, hence my question.

Now, repeat after me: I will think before I hit the 'submit' button.


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: ruairiobroin
Date: 12 May 10 - 10:33 AM

I remember hearing that the author Dick Shannon or possibly Dave came from or resided in Chapelizod ,


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: GUEST,Guest, Tw in Tx
Date: 12 May 10 - 11:17 AM

Saw "Quare Fellow" done in Gr. Village (Circle in the Square??) in 1950s(late?).  The Clancys were in it(Tom & Liam &, I think, Paddy).  The song was obviously about life in the prison, & the sound of "next thing" signal: wake up, straighten up cell, go to breakfast, do next task, etc., go to bed.  I was under 19.Years later, back home in Texas with my youngest child in trouble & in jail, hubby & I go to see him there.  Every step into/out of that visit was accompanied by a terrible loud, metallic, mechanical clanking.  All "doors" opened & closed with that sound.  I reflected on the fact that the guards' movements through the halls & cell blocs would be accompanied by that hideous noise 24/7.  It must be a hated sound (I hated it by the second time it happened that visit).  A song made about such a sound would be an attempt to belittle or lessen the power of that awful noise.  I assure you that the triangle sound in the play was in NO WAY musical.


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: GUEST
Date: 12 May 10 - 06:36 PM

The impression I got was that Brendan Behan paid Dick Shannon for the rights to the song after the first night of the production of the play "The Quare Fellow". He actually bought the rights to the song. The only way he could ensure all royalties went to Dick Shannon would be to get Dick to copyright it. Many people have written songs but the eventual owner is he who copyrights it. Is there copyright on "The Aul Triangle? nad if so, to whom.


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 May 10 - 08:12 PM

Many people have written songs but the eventual owner is he who copyrights it.

Legalistic drift: I don't think that is actually true. If it can be proved that a song was written by someone other than "he who copyrights it", that copyright is not valid, and transfers to the actual person who wrote it (or someone to whom they might transfer it).


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: GUEST
Date: 13 May 10 - 08:44 PM

Yes, but how can you prove you wrote a song unless you copyright it?


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 14 May 10 - 03:19 AM

All that copyrighting a song proves is that you've copyrighted it.


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: Andrez
Date: 14 May 10 - 03:24 AM

Hey thanks for posting that link to the James Molloy clip Murray.

I've just spent a very pleasant while after coming home from work (and in the absence of any family ho, ho ho) listening to a whole pile of versions of the "Ould Triangle" via the links on the right hand side of the YouTube page.

Wonderful!!

I must say though that I have always been partial to almost anything by Luke Kelly but thats just a personal thing and in no way takes away from James' sterling version. Its such a grand song!

Cheers,

Andrez


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: GUEST,Tom Neary
Date: 21 Jul 12 - 08:11 PM

As a matter of clarification to the debate of who wrote The Auld Triangle, I can confirm that it was indeed Dicky Shannon who penned the song for Behan. Brendan and Dicky were very close pals, aswell as drinking mates. The song refers to the joy (Mountjoy) jail in Dublin. It was very common in those days for men to get themselves locked up, as it would guarantee bed and board for a few nights. Strange I know, but that's wha poverty does I suppose? I have many stories of their escapades together, including a visit they made to the BBC, in which Brendan promised to record a series of short stories. This was of course dependant on him being paid up front for his services. Sadly he never recorded the stories, but was given a small retainer, so the drink flowed for a while. Brendan always credited Dicky for the song because they were great pals, however, I can verify that Dicky never received a penny in royalties and neither did his family, but Brendan did give Dicky's eldest son Michael (Mickser) Shannon the boat fare to come to England in 1955. A gesture that Mickser has never forgotten. I know this to be true because I am Dicky's grandson, and he would relate his story to keep us entertained as kids. Having read Sullivans book on Behan ican see why they were such good friends. They appear to have had very similar outlooks to life.


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: zozimus
Date: 21 Jul 12 - 08:49 PM

In one of the biographies on Brendan, I can't remember which one off hand, it states that Brendan paid Dicky Shannon for the song on the opening night of the play. What is not clear is did he actually pay him for the copywright or ownership of the song ,and was Dicky happy with such a deal. Also, did Brendan, or Dominic, add additional verses to Dicky's version.


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: meself
Date: 22 Jul 12 - 12:35 AM

Tom Neary - Thanks for the info., and feel free to pass along any more anecdotes that come to mind


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: GUEST,Tom Neary
Date: 24 Jul 12 - 05:46 PM

As I stated in my previous post, Dicky never did receive any form of royalties for his song. But it must be pointed out that he wouldn't have expected any as they were friends, and also he would not have been aware of such things either. As far as I was told by Dicky, Brendan hated the fact that grandad never received either credit or royalties for his song, hence the paying of Dicky's sons boat fare to England in 1955 by Brendan. Dicky's son, my uncle Mickser, my mam Tesso and my uncle Gerard are all that remain of Dicky's 9 kids. I must also point out that grandad was not in fact a tramp, but was a highly articulate man with a very dry sense of humour, which could cut you to the quick without degrading you. He was also a very tough man who had literally fight his way through life in the Liberties. "But such was the way of the world when you ran with rats" as he used to say. Re: the spelling of the song and it's pronunciation...the word Auld should be said with a Dublin accent and would have been pronounced Owld, and not Old or Ould as some have suggested here. The upshot of any debate is that Dicky was poor, but never regretted a single moment of his life. he died in 1975 and is buried In Southern Cemetery, Manchester.


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: meself
Date: 25 Jul 12 - 01:52 AM

Great stuff, Tom; sure, I could listen to you all night ....


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: gnu
Date: 25 Jul 12 - 04:44 AM

Great stuff indeed! Thanks Tom.

Re the copyright questions. Various Mudcat Cafe threads discuss these. You can disprove a copyright by another in various ways according to some of the posts to some of the threads. Good luck in your research.


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Jul 12 - 05:28 AM

"Owld" which Tom OKs - "Ould" which he doesn't ~~~

Taking these to be phonetic renderings of the pronunciation of "Old" which he recommends/doesn't·recommend in the song~~

what is the precise difference, please?

I mean, is not "owt" = N Country for "anything"

pronounced identically to "out = not in?

Just curious

~M~


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Jul 12 - 07:41 AM

The word "old", when a prefix in many songs, has the D sound dropped to make it easier to sing, such as "Ole Joe Clarke or "Ole Dan Tucker. In Dublin, it is pronounced Aul, sounding like Owl, though often extended to two syllables, such as OW-will, or Ow-well. Listen to any Dublin singer singing "Sez my Aul wan to your aul wan, will ye come to the Waxies Dargle."
It then became used as a general prefix, which doesn't necessary mean old, such as the greeting" Howya, me Aul flower", or "go 'way, ye Aul bollix" etc. Spellings differ in attempting to capture the sound, and though it may be spelt Auld or Ould, the d is silent in pronunciation.
The biographer of Brendan Behan who claims Brendan did make some effort to pay Dicky for the song wsa Michael O Sullivan, and this is mentioned way back on this thread.
Keep up the good work, Tom, me aul flower.


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: GUEST,Tom Neary
Date: 26 Jul 12 - 03:16 PM

As a replays the latest post above, you are quite right the D would have been silent when spoken, but the spelling would have still been Auld. But to me the important fact is that you all appear to like the song, which is how it should be. My gran Mary, Dicky's wife was quite miffed that her name wasn't used in the song. But as Dicky told her, he couldn't think of a decent word to rhyme with her name so chose Sall as it rhymed with gal. The screw Humpy was a very real person, and did indeed have a slight hunchback, hence the name. He was by all accounts a bit brutal to some of the inmates, but not to Dicky who was big man in stature and could be very violent when pushed to that extreme. Brendan and Dicky were born from very different worlds, but each found the common ground to create a great friendship. So pronounce the word Auld however you see fit, and continue to enjoy it for what it is..A great song!


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: GUEST,Tom Neary
Date: 26 Jul 12 - 03:18 PM

As a reply to the latest post above, you are quite right the D would have been silent when spoken, but the spelling would have still been Auld. But to me the important fact is that you all appear to like the song, which is how it should be. My gran Mary, Dicky's wife was quite miffed that her name wasn't used in the song. But as Dicky told her, he couldn't think of a decent word to rhyme with her name so chose Sall as it rhymed with gal. The screw Humpy was a very real person, and did indeed have a slight hunchback, hence the name. He was by all accounts a bit brutal to some of the inmates, but not to Dicky who was big man in stature and could be very violent when pushed to that extreme. Brendan and Dicky were born from very different worlds, but each found the common ground to create a great friendship. So pronounce the word Auld however you see fit, and continue to enjoy it for what it is..A great song!


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: Jim McLean
Date: 26 Jul 12 - 04:05 PM

Dominic Behan sang 'the OWL triangle', or so it sounded to my ears, and before I am asked if I knew Dom or not let me say he was my best man at my wedding in 1966, He was an OWL friend.


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: meself
Date: 26 Jul 12 - 04:21 PM

Just wondering Tom - in what way were "Brendan and Dicky ... born from very different worlds"? Wouldn't they both come have come out of a pretty rough-and-tumble background? Don't misunderstand me; I'm not saying I know more about it than you; I'm just a little surprised.

And, yes, a great song!


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: GUEST,Tom Neary
Date: 26 Jul 12 - 06:18 PM

Meself, although they both came from working class backgrounds, Brendans was considerably more comfortable. Dicky would never have been read the classics by his parents. The education Brendan received could never have been enjoyed by Dicky as his family were very poor. Whilst Brendan was serving time for his political views, Dicky was in Scotland working as a coalminer. They just wouldn't have moved in the same circles. Grandad was not exactly a Bohemian, and in fact had no time for such things as he lived in the real world where children had to be fed when possible. Brendan used those same bohemians to gain a few bob for a pint when it suited him. Otherwise he always preferred the company of people who lived on the edge of society. Dicky would tell of some of the other characters who inhabited the streets, that he and Brendan would often encounter. Johnny Forty Coats and Bang Bang spring most readily to mind, because they were very eccentric. Bang Bang would creep up behind people and pretend to shoot them, whilst Forty Coats would as the name suggests, wear loads of coats, even in the height of summer. Basically they were very different people who hit it off because they were also very similar in outlook, if not exactly in background. Their escapades in Liverpool are quite funny, but I would have to get the full story from my mam...Anyway, I hope that partially answers your query.


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: meself
Date: 26 Jul 12 - 09:10 PM

Very much so! Thanks for your full reply - it's all very interesting - and entertaining. I hope you do ask your mam for the rest ... !


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: GUEST,Tom Neary
Date: 27 Jul 12 - 12:19 PM

I've got to admit to being amazed and pleasantly surprised at the many kind responses to Dicky's song. He was a very modest man but would have been proud that something he wrote was being discussed some 60 years later. Mind you he was always making songs up just to entertain us kids, he was like that. I think he was trying to make up to us his grandchildren, what he could never do for his own kids. That said, i suppose that his kids accepted their lives as they were, as it was all they knew, and you never actually miss what you never had. Dicky was and is dearly loved and missed by all those who knew him. As an aside, i remember him telling me that Brendan had one of the sweetest singing voices you ever heard, a real quireboy. But he had the demons in him, that could take over instantly, and for no apparent reasons? For all that, Mickser, Dicky's son remembers him as a kind generous man who to all intents and purposes changed his life. That boat fare was the making of Dicky's son, as he established a fairly successful company in Norfolk. At least one of Dicky's kids made good, so that could be considered fair recompense for the song perhaps?? I know grandad would have considered it so, with the caveat of two Guinnesses on top aswell (LOL)!!!


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: Dennis the Elder
Date: 27 Jul 12 - 01:44 PM

Thanks Tom for your very personal and interesting information about two people, exceptional in their own ways.
I await the next instalment regarding their Liverpool escapades with baited breath,as I am sure many others do. Please tell your mam of our interest!


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: Deskjet
Date: 27 Jul 12 - 01:47 PM

Thanks to all for this thread - There's me _- imagining myself on "Who Want's to be a Millionaire" and I'm down to the final question.... and I'm asked "Who wrote 'The Auld Triangle?'".... I'd have assuredly answered Brendan Behan.......What a let-down that would have been!


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: GUEST,Tom Neary
Date: 29 Jul 12 - 05:56 PM

Further to my last, Dickie's son Mickser was given the fare to England because the authorities were about to try and lock him up in the Artane boys home Not for anything criminal, but because they had decided to put him in care, which is what they did in those days for no other reason than the church dictated it so. But I digress, because I was speaking to my mam today, and she informed me of what the Auld Triangle actually was. It was in fact the sound made by the warning triangle on one of the working boats that used to deliver to the warehouses near the prison, as an alert to the lock keeper of an incoming delivery. They would deliver at six in the morning and six in the evening, so the men would use it as a type of clock. It was the regular method of telling the time inside the Walls of "The Joy". And more importantly, was a direct link with the normality of the outside world. It was also interesting to find out that Dickie and Brendan first met as kids, and remained friends up until Brendans death. Dickie worked as a labourer for Brendans dad, when he was a painter and decorator. So in one way or another they were always together. An example of their friendship, was highlighted when Dickie's daughter Annie drowned in the Liffey. Brendan was at the funeral and sang a lament for her and the family. A small act of friendship, but something grandad never forgot. On a happier note, Brendan turned up at the Rotunda when Dickie's wife Mary gave birth to the twins my aunt Lilly and uncle Dickyboy. Of course the porter flowed very freely as they wet the babies heads (LOL). Mam became quite animated as she pointed out that many of the great Irish writers had been forced out of Dublin, because they had the temerity to write about the place in all it's raw degradation. Brendan was a man the authorities could never have kowed or forced out because Dublin was his city plain and simple, and they knew it! It is probably this factor that explains why it took so long for a statue to be erected in his honour? Perhaps Dublin's elite were ashamed of him and his so called infamy, but the common people were proud of him and his achievements, which to Brendan's mind would have been all that mattered. Hopefully the above has cleared up one or two queries about the song and it's content.


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: GUEST
Date: 31 Jul 12 - 02:09 PM

As promised earlier...Dickie and Brendans escapades in Liverpool in 1958 came about because Brendan had yet another meeting in London with the BBC people. According to both mam and uncle Mickser, Dickie said that Brendan had promised them his latest work, provided they subbed him most of the commission due. When they landed they got waylaid by a toss school near the docks in Liverpool, where Dickie won a decent few bob. Unfortunately for them, the police broke up the school and chased them like something from a keystone cops movie. Dickie said "that Brendan could move very quickly for a little fat fella when he needed to". This event meant they missed the connecting train to London. The pair had obviously worked up a thirst, which resulted in a heavy drinking session that night to recover, after which they dossed down at Lime street until the morning. When they eventually caught the train to London the next day, Brendan was trying to think of decent reasons to explain his lateness. He couldn't, so told the executive the truth about what had happened. The BBC man knowing both Brendan and his reputation accepted it with good grace, and the deal was done. However, rather than give him cash for his pains, he told Brendan that any monies would be paid through a solicitor back in Dublin. This news was greeted with much dismay by Brendan, who started effing and jeffing at this poor man about being dragged all this way for nothing. Brendan told Dickie that the man simply smiled at him across his desk, and explained that it was a new way of paying their writers, but that he would ensure that Brendan was paid something from petty cash to make up for it. Brendan left with a "queer few quid" as Dickie put it, and off they went to Cricklewood for a weekend on the lash. Once they got back to Dublin, Brendan was to visit the solicitor, who would pay him his stipend provided he proved he had been writing what he had promised. This really irked Brendan and he would have murders with the solicitor over his money. I don't know what the solicitors name was, but he was Jewish, and Brendan often referred to him as a "two inches over a jam pot scutty little snake". As for the work in question, i can't confirm if it was ever completed, but believe that it may have been something to do with "The Hostage"? I'm sure there is more to this tale, but if there was, Dickie never elaborated. If i find out any more, i shall let you know...


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: meself
Date: 31 Jul 12 - 09:18 PM

This is great stuff, Tom; keep it coming - please!


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

It may be of some some interest to a few of you, that Brendan was not very close to his immediate family, for what reason i don't know? But the one person he really loved and relied on was his grandmother. It was her that he would run to when things got bad. According to Dickie, she was, and always had been the one solid thing in his life, and the only member of his family to accept him for what he was. He may very well have been a flawed genius to everyone else, but she knew his ilk having lived in those same surroundings he now inhabited. She herself had lived in dire poverty for most of her own life. As a consequence she knew exactly what he was going through, and how to handle him. Brendan's wife on the other hand was not cut from the same cloth, and found his lifestyle to be a terrible strain. He would often invite complete strangers back to his home without telling her, and she would return home to find the place in total uproar. Her response was to have a blazing row and boot everyone one of them out, including Brendan! He would then dissappear for anything up to a week, before coming home again...A not too uncommon event in Dublin life according to my mam.


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: GUEST,Tom Neary
Date: 30 Aug 12 - 04:03 PM

Visited my great aunt Tessie on Monday and she is the only surviving sibling of Dickie. She related a tale of Dickie and Brendan when they were together in New York. Sadly it involved copious amounts of Porter and the law, in that they were both arrested for drunk and disorderly and locked up for the night in one police precincts. The following morning they appeared in court to answer the charges, but they failed to impress the judge who doled out a heavy fine for their troubles. Brendan was so outraged by this miscarriage of justice, that when asked if he had anything to say, he told the judge the tale of St Patrick removing all the Snakes from Ireland. The judge asked what the significance of his tale was to his case... None whatsoever says Brendan, other than all the snakes must have made their way to New York and become Judges!! The judge threatened to have them deported after locking them up for a spell. Dickie said he felt like giving Brendan a dig for almost getting them locked up. He told him It's good to be smart, but not clever to be a smartarse...Anyway they got home in one piece. Unfortunately she could not remember why they were there, but did say that it was sometime in the late 40s or early 50s. Should I find out more I'll let you know.


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Subject: RE: The Ould Triangle
From: Abby Sale
Date: 31 Aug 12 - 12:44 PM

Tom, et al,

Very, very interesting additional info on the song and the people. Thanks for all the detail - makes them come alive.

I agree it's not the world's most important thing but I've just been curious how Brendan himself would have opted to pronounce it for the play. That's why I tried to get a copy or at least have someone listen to, that lost tape from the show. I expected it to have a criminal-speak feeling but the book was standard spelling.

As many Irish, he had easy and plausible access to several accents. He could legitimately speak Street, Prison, "Standard" or "Educated" Irish. The only record I have of him uses a distinctly Irish but what I take to be middle-class Dublin accent. (I don't claim expertise.) In the play, the singer is a prisoner so might use Prison accent. In the book (mine, anyway) the spelling is nearly all standard English. A bit of Poetics (o'er) and droppin' a few final G's.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if Brendon (or his publisher) opted to spell formally for print but sing more comfortably or more in character in the play. (And sing it some other way if he ever made a commercial recording.)

I never heard of Dicky Shannon before but I think I'd much like to have had a pint with him. I _will_ credit him when I sing the song but then I think I may have discredit Brendon, Dominic and Kathleen. Or the people who reported/wrote about them. Who knows?

Is there any written evidence Brendon credited him?

As to copyright, I think I can give something amusing about the US, if not Ireland. As I understand, in the US, copyright goes to the first person to "publish" the piece and the date it was published. Registration makes it easier to claim and find publicly but anyone can register anything. Eventually it's the court that determines who gets the money.


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