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Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen

DigiTrad:
SKIBBEREEN


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Skibbereen + Irish Soldier Laddie (13)
(origins) Origin: Dear Old Skibbereen (18)


menzze 13 Feb 01 - 03:07 AM
MartinRyan 13 Feb 01 - 03:13 AM
Fiolar 13 Feb 01 - 09:36 AM
Big Tim 13 Feb 01 - 09:57 AM
Amergin 13 Feb 01 - 12:37 PM
Stewart 13 Feb 01 - 01:36 PM
Joe Offer 13 Feb 01 - 02:12 PM
MartinRyan 13 Feb 01 - 04:41 PM
Big Tim 13 Feb 01 - 04:54 PM
menzze 13 Feb 01 - 05:53 PM
Big Tim 14 Feb 01 - 01:32 PM
Big Tim 14 Feb 01 - 02:32 PM
Joe Offer 14 Feb 01 - 02:55 PM
Kim C 14 Feb 01 - 04:15 PM
Joe Offer 14 Feb 01 - 04:39 PM
Kim C 14 Feb 01 - 05:20 PM
MartinRyan 14 Feb 01 - 06:23 PM
MartinRyan 14 Feb 01 - 06:32 PM
Joe Offer 14 Feb 01 - 10:22 PM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 15 Feb 01 - 03:56 AM
Big Tim 15 Feb 01 - 04:15 AM
Liam's Brother 15 Feb 01 - 09:44 AM
Kim C 15 Feb 01 - 09:52 AM
paddymac 15 Feb 01 - 10:14 AM
MartinRyan 15 Feb 01 - 10:15 AM
MartinRyan 15 Feb 01 - 10:24 AM
GMT 15 Feb 01 - 10:46 AM
GMT 15 Feb 01 - 10:58 AM
Big Tim 15 Feb 01 - 12:34 PM
Big Tim 15 Feb 01 - 02:04 PM
Liam's Brother 15 Feb 01 - 02:19 PM
Kim C 15 Feb 01 - 03:17 PM
Big Tim 15 Feb 01 - 05:13 PM
Wolfgang 20 Feb 01 - 05:55 AM
MartinRyan 20 Feb 01 - 06:59 AM
MartinRyan 20 Feb 01 - 07:27 AM
pattyClink 20 Feb 01 - 09:34 AM
Liam's Brother 20 Feb 01 - 12:36 PM
Deskjet 20 Feb 01 - 01:15 PM
John Moulden 20 Feb 01 - 01:59 PM
Big Tim 20 Feb 01 - 02:05 PM
MartinRyan 20 Feb 01 - 03:48 PM
pattyClink 23 Feb 01 - 12:22 PM
Big Tim 24 Feb 01 - 04:56 AM
Liam's Brother 24 Feb 01 - 10:08 AM
Liam's Brother 24 Feb 01 - 10:11 AM
Alice 24 Feb 01 - 01:56 PM
Alice 24 Feb 01 - 02:00 PM
John Moulden 24 Feb 01 - 05:37 PM
Liam's Brother 24 Feb 01 - 10:44 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: DEAR OLD SKIBBEREEN^^^
From: menzze
Date: 13 Feb 01 - 03:07 AM

I was looking in the database for this song but couldn't find it but mentioned as air for another song. I was taught this song by two old ladies who ran a museum in Skibbereen in 1980. I dropped into them by chance but spent one of the most impressing afternoons of my life with them. They told me the father of one of them was together with de Valera in the beginning of the century.

I used to sing this song alone and unaccompanied during our gigs and the audience loved it.

I think it should be in the database, so here it is:


Dear Ol' Skibbereen

Oh father dear and I often hear you speak of Erin's isle
Her lofty scenes her valleys green her mountains rude and wild
And they say it is a lovely land wherein a prince might dwell
Then why did you abandon it oh the reason to me tell

O son I loved my native land with energy and pride
'til the blight came over all me corn an' me sheep an' cattle died
The rents and taxes where to pay and I could not them redeem
And that's the cruel reason why I left ol' Skibbereen

Your mother two, may god rest her soul, lay on the snowy ground
She fainted in her anguish a' sang the desolation round
She never rose but passed away from live to immortal dreams
And found a quiet resting place in the abbey near Skibbereen

And you were only two years old and feeble was your frame
But I could not leave you with your friends for you bore your father's name
So I wrapped you in my coat d'amour at the dead of the night unseen
An I heaved a sigh and I said good-bye to dear ol' Skibereen

Oh father dear and the day is near when in answer to the call
Each Irish man and woman will rally one and all
And I'll be the man to lead the van beneath the flag o' green
And loud and high we'll raise our cry Revenge for Skibbereen


I am sure there are some orthographical mistakes in it. You must forgive me, I was taught this 21 years ago from mouth to mouth and it was a bit of a problem for a German folkie to write it all correct. Hope you appreciate it

have a good time

menzze ^^^
Line Breaks <br> added.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: MartinRyan
Date: 13 Feb 01 - 03:13 AM

menzze

Well done! ....but it is in the database, alright. Search under skiBBereen i.e. two B's.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Fiolar
Date: 13 Feb 01 - 09:36 AM

To Menzze. Yes good effort. You probably have seen the database by now. The word "cota mor" is simply Irish for "great-coat" or "over-coat" and listening to it, it would be easy to take it as "coat d'amour" which if my French is correct would mean "coat of love" and probably would have a different meaning or even a differnt use. :-)The Dubliners version is probably one of the best and truest available although the recent one on the Chieftains album is reasonable although cut short a bit because of political correctness.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Big Tim
Date: 13 Feb 01 - 09:57 AM

Anyone know the origins of this song, date, composer, etc. The earlist reference I have found is in a 1915 song book of Herbert Hughes.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Amergin
Date: 13 Feb 01 - 12:37 PM

Hmmm, I have never heard this song being actually sung....I have heard it recited and have recited it myself....but never sung...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Stewart
Date: 13 Feb 01 - 01:36 PM

"Skibbereen" is on p. 136 of Dan Milner & Paul Kaplan's "Songs of England, Ireland & Scotland - A Bonnie Bunch of Roses". Source: from P. Galvin, "Irish Songs of Resistance". Recording: Joe Heaney, "Joe and the Gabe", Green Linnet SIF 1018.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Feb 01 - 02:12 PM

It's nice that you brought up this song, menzze. I hadn't taken the time to study it. Here's the entry from the Traditional Ballad Index, which gives some pretty good background information. Oh, and the lyrics are here (click) in the Digital Tradition.
-Joe Offer-

Skibbereen

DESCRIPTION: A boy asks his father why he left Skibbereen when he is always speaking of it. The father lists reasons: First came the blight. Then the landlord took the land. Then he joined the 1848 rebellion, and had to flee. The boy promises revenge
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1062
KEYWORDS: Ireland rebellion hardtimes landlord exile
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
1847/8 - Greatest of several Irish potato famines
1848 - Irish rebellion
FOUND IN: Ireland Australia
REFERENCES (3 citations):
PGalvin, p. 46, "Skibbereen" (1 text, 1 tune)
Meredith/Covell/Brown, p. 163, "Skibbereen" (1 text, 1 tune)
DT, SKIBREEN*

Notes: The 1848 rebellion was the result of many factors. One was hunger -- the potato blight drove food prices beyond the reach of common people; in the end, millions died and many more went to America. For details, see the notes to "Over There (I - The Praties They Grow Small)."
Another was land hunger; the preceding decades had forced many Irish smallholders off their lands while allowing the rich (usually English) to enlarge their holdings. By the time of the blight, most Irish were working holdings of five acres or less; there simply wasn't enough land for the population.
Finally, revolution was in the air; almost all of Europe (except England) was in turmoil.
Unfortunately for the rebels, the very factors that caused the revolt meant that it had no strength and could gain no foreign help. And England, with a stable government at home and all her enemies distracted, could deal with the rebellion at its leisure. - RBW
File: PGa046

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

The Ballad Index Copyright 2000 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: MartinRyan
Date: 13 Feb 01 - 04:41 PM

Joe

I'm puzzled by the "Earliest Date: 1062" line. Is it a typo? I don't recall seeing the song in 19C song books, but imagine it was reasonably soon after mid-century. No sign of a ballad sheet version at the Bodley.

Regards

p.s. the history looks to be condensed from Galvin. Don't recognise the other reference.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Big Tim
Date: 13 Feb 01 - 04:54 PM

Amergin, this is a very famous Irish song, it's on many albums. Check Bridie Gallagher (1962) and Joe Heaney "The Road From Connemara" (just released) plus "Alias" actually the great Ron Kavana (1998).


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: menzze
Date: 13 Feb 01 - 05:53 PM

Amergin,I never heard this song sung either but by this old lady.

It may sound too sentimental for some of you, but sometimes when I did it on stage with OAKTREE('twas the name of my band, we did folk-music from Ireland, Scottland and Bretagne)I had tears in my eyes and in my voice because it touched me so much.

Thanks for all the backing information given here.A lot of it I had already known others such as "cota mor" were really new and welcome.

Hey you people, I think I really like this place here!!! Should have known it years before.

menzze


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Big Tim
Date: 14 Feb 01 - 01:32 PM

I forgot to say that the song is sung to two different tunes. The ones used by Joe Heaney and Bridie Gallagher referred to above are completely different. The Gallagher one is the most widely used. We will be discussing the song this Sunday at the meeting of the Glasgow Irish Singers (in Glasgow)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Big Tim
Date: 14 Feb 01 - 02:32 PM

Arg, me again. The song is just called Skibbereen, "place of small boats". I've seen it linked to O'Donovan Rossa (1831-1915)from nearby Rosscarbery and whose father starved to death to allow his five kids to survive, after eating the family donkey. Any more on this link or other origins of the song? That'me finished !


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Feb 01 - 02:55 PM

Hi, Martin - I e-mailed your question to the people at the Traditional Ballad Index.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Kim C
Date: 14 Feb 01 - 04:15 PM

I was watching some program on PBS not too long ago and heard Sinead O'Connor singing this. It stopped me dead in my tracks.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Feb 01 - 04:39 PM

Yeah, Kim, Sinead can do a terrific job of traditional songs when she puts her mind to it. Maybe the show you saw was "Long Journey Home: Irish In America" - Click here for a sound clip of Sinead's recording.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Kim C
Date: 14 Feb 01 - 05:20 PM

cor! That's it. I am a PBS junkie and the shows seem to all run together. Elvis Costello's work on that is really good too. Maybe I should just go ahead and buy the album!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: MartinRyan
Date: 14 Feb 01 - 06:23 PM

Tim

O'Donovan Rossa is in the right place and right time - and is well known. I've seen any evidence that he had any connection. I'll see what I can find out. Anywhere I've looked so far just gives "anonymous" - and that includes several books that are well-tuned to the tradition and the sources.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: MartinRyan
Date: 14 Feb 01 - 06:32 PM

Ha! Make that "I've never seen..."

Regards

Good night!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Feb 01 - 10:22 PM

Hi, Martin - I got a reply from Bob Waltz of the Traditional Ballad Index. Here's what he says.
-Joe Offer-

Joe: Hi, Bob - somebody at the Mudcat Cafe pointed out a possible error on your information on "Skibbereen." You show the "earliest date" as 1062, and he's sure it's not that. Got any idea what that date is?

Oh, it's obvious. I know my typos. :-) It's 1962.

Now we both know the song is older than that. But that date (Galvin's
publication) is as early as I can verify it, as Galvin gives no source.

The very fact that it shows up in Australia pretty well proves that
it's older. :-)

Thanks for catching that.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 03:56 AM

Thanks, Joe

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Big Tim
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 04:15 AM

Thanks for origins comments. See above for 1915 publ by Herbert Hughes. Steve Roud (Guildford, London)has checked his collection for me and this is also his earliest ref, he has 112,000 titles in his index! He is referred to on the Joe Heaney CD.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 09:44 AM

This is one of the songs my father sang. He learned it from his grandfather, Patrick McKee of Ennis,Co. Clare. I never did write down my father's words; first, because this was a song that seemed everywhere when I was younger and, second, I've never heard much textual variation. Although my father was born in 1901 and got it from his grandfather, that still does not necessarily place the song before the 1915 date given above. I'll keep my eyes and ears open. This is interesting.

All the best,
Dan Milner


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Kim C
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 09:52 AM

Dan, condsidering the workings of oral tradition, I would venture to guess that even his grandfather got it from someone else before him. Of course that's just a guess - but we know that many of the songs Cecil Sharp collected around that same time go back 2-300 years. If Skibbereen has to do with the trials of the 1840s, it very well could be that old. But I repeat, that's just a guess. :)

Cheers ----- Kim


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: paddymac
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 10:14 AM

Big Tim - do you know the titles of the airs to which this song is sung? You mention that there are versions using two different melodies, but the only one I've heard is the one the Dubliners used. Liam Neeson, in his role os "Michael Collins" in the film of the same name, did a single verse of the song in a "party piece" setting. I mention it because he aslo used the same melody as the Dubs. Seems like I recall Sinead also using that melody.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: MartinRyan
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 10:15 AM

1901 - "Irish come-all-ye's" publ. New York lists it.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: MartinRyan
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 10:24 AM

I've also seen, somewhere, the title listed with "Irish Molly-O " given as the air. I imagine that's the OTHER irish molly i.e. slow version of the Sash.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: GMT
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 10:46 AM

The first Soodlum book has another verse.

Oh, well do I remember the bleak December day
The Landlord and the sheriff came to drive us all away
They set my roof on fire with cursed English spleen
And that's another reason that I left old Skibbereen.

There are a few differences in the words in other places but I thought you might like the extra verse if it's
not already in DT (I forgot to look first !!!)

Cheers Gary


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: GMT
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 10:58 AM

Ok so it's there but it's November and the spleens yellow !
I'll look first next time G
Gary


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Big Tim
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 12:34 PM

Paddymac, sorry I don't have the names of the two different airs. A Mayo woman sang the "minority" air here live a few weeks ago (Glasgow) and called it the "Mayo" tune, Joe Heany, from Connemara, also used it, so possibly from the west of Ireland. Yea Sinead O'Connor is a fine singer of trad songs, the girl (to me) has soul. She has also added Margaret Barry's version of Factory Girl to her stage act.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Big Tim
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 02:04 PM

Martin, thanks for NY 1901 reference, that's great. Didn't notice it previously as my damn computer keeps going offline and I have to read and type at breakneck pace! Will have to get it fixed.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 02:19 PM

Hi Kim! The nature of folk song is that just about everybody gets the song from someone (or someplace) else (sometimes even the original author, after all, every son has a father). I doubt my great grandfather was an exception vis-a-vis "Skibbereen."

The phrase "a blight came on the land, and the sheep and cattle died" coupled with "well I do remember the year of forty-eight," should establish that the song, almost surely, speaks of The Great Famine of 1847-1853 and the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848. On a (perhaps unnecessarily) personal note, my great grandfather was probably born about that time (circa 1850) because my father was the youngest of 5 children and was born in 1901.

Martin Ryan's advice above that "Skibbereen" is listed in a book from 1901 is very helpful. (Thanks, Martin!) As I said earlier, I'm going to keep an eye open as I look through 19th century American songsters to see what is the earliest date I can find. Some New York concert saloon songsters, for example, are rather obscure in that only a few copies have survived, maybe it'll pop up in one of them.

Regarding the melody, I've never heard "Skibbereen" sung to more than one melody. I knew Joe Heaney fairly well 20-25 years ago and I recall my greatgrandfather's melody was very similar to Joe's. The forthcoming Folk-Legacy CD, "Irish in America: A Musical Record of the Irish People in the United States 1780 - 1980" includes a simply incredible song entitled "Scovill's Rolling Mill." The melody I used when I recorded it was my greatgrandfather's "Skibbereen."

All the best,
Dan Milner


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Kim C
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 03:17 PM

I think this is going to be one of those "we don't know exactly how old this is but we're doing it anyway" songs! ;)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Big Tim
Date: 15 Feb 01 - 05:13 PM

Possibly Kim C, let's wait and see, I never thought I'd learn who wrote Shan Van Vocht, and, Wearing of the Green, but I did.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Wolfgang
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 05:55 AM

James N. Healy, in Ballads from the pubs of Ireland, writes that Herbert Hughes (mentioned above by Big Tim) says in his 1915 book that it has been collected in Co. Tyrone. This means the song must have travelled quite a bit before 1915 if one assumes that it has been written in or near to Skibbereen (Co. Cork).

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: MartinRyan
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 06:59 AM

Wolfgang.

Yes, I've seen that reference to Tyrone. Bill Meek mentions it somewhere also. I still think it more likely that it was originally written in America and come back to Ireland late 19C.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: MartinRyan
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 07:27 AM

The Tyrone reference seems to be to "Ulster Songs and ballads of town and country" by Richard Hayward. I know there was an edition in 1925 but I'm not sure if that was the original. John Moulden will probably know!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: pattyClink
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 09:34 AM

Lomax made recordings of Skibbereen in Michigan in 1938-39. Those singing the song said it went back at least one generation because their immigrant fathers and grandfathers sang it. One would sing it so movingly 'it would make your hair stand up'. It was a very powerful way to convey their history, national pride, and a scoop of bitterness as well, to the next generation.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 12:36 PM

Hi Patty!

Does that Skibbereen recording (sound or text) exist anywhere outside the Library of Congress?

All the best,
Dan Milner


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Deskjet
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 01:15 PM

I may have missed it due to the large number of entries, but I have to mention a version of Skibbereen by the sean-nos singer Sean 'ac Dhonnchadha, in my humble opinion, the best sean-nos singer in recorded history.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: John Moulden
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 01:59 PM

Martin Ryan, noting my absence from regular contribution to the Mudcat Cafe, e-mailed me to set my mind in motion on this question. I'm going to review what has been said.

Richard Hayward was not very scrupulous about his sources and his book "Ulster Songs and Ballads of the Town and the Country" London (Duckworth) (first edition) 1925 contains no notes and no references - I'd be pretty sure his source was Hughes, father thanthe other way round. The words are very slightly but in no significant way different. Also Hughes' sub-title is "A Ballad of the Famine" and gives the location for his collection of the tune, as Co Tyrone. Hayward sub-titles it "A County Tyrone Ballad of the Famine"

The 1901 "Irish Com-all-ye's" reference - is to Manus O'Conor's "Irish Com-all-yes! (New York) - inspection finds a Skibereen but it is a burlesque and nothing at all to do with this song. The same burlesque is in Wehman's 617 Irish Songs and Ballads (New York, but undated.)

So we are left with 1915 as an earliest date. Hughes' preface, dated February 1915, is interesting. He discusses the songs "... the words of most are to be found on broadsheets."

I've never seen a broadsheet of this song though I'm about to start a three year research project into 19th century Irish printed ballads, so I may yet. At the same time, the words seem a bit self conscious to me - I wonder did one of Hughes friends, like Joseph Campbell, the poet who collaborated with Hughes on "Songs of Uladh" write the words - I have no evidence at all but, as you all know, conjecture fills an evidential vacuum.

I've always associated this song with a famous account of the effects in Skibereen, of the Great Irish Famine: a letter dated 17th December 1846, from Nicholas Cummins JP, to the Duke of Wellington, which was published in the London "Times" on 24th Dec 1846. It's the most harrowing first hand account of any episode of the Great Famine that I have read.

Hughes' Preface continues: "Most ballads are human (if not historical) documents and the story told in "Skibbereen" for example,certainly falls into that category. Curously enough in outline and in one or two details it resembles an actual incident recorded by a friend of mine in Kerry less than forty years ago, though there could be no connection between the two stories."

That makes it sound less rather than more likely that one of Hughes' friends was responsible.

So there you have it: some information, a lot of conjecture and no conclusion.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Big Tim
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 02:05 PM

JM thanks for the info that the 1901 lead is a false one, I had already emended may notes, now will have to reamend. Joseph Campbell? Highly unlikely.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: MartinRyan
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 03:48 PM

Thanks John. Is there a mention in Wright's "Songs of Irish Emigration"(??) ?

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: pattyClink
Date: 23 Feb 01 - 12:22 PM

I had no idea the origins of this song were so opaque. I thought it was as old and well-known as anything out there.

When I was trying to learn the song, the 'you bore your father's name' never made a lot of sense to me. I always wondered if some nameless woman wrote the words and then early on, songs were sung so much more by men that the dying spouse conveniently became a woman. What if the spouse had been a man who fought the buggers and got killed, and she has to grab his cotamore and the baby and go? Most of the song makes more sense if you transpose this stuff. Just an opinion.

Hi, Dan, we had copies made for the family of some of those songs, and I then transcribed some to text. I'm not sure Skibbereen was the 'full' version i've seen in books, so I don't know if it would be a big help to you (nor is it a 'pretty' rendition recorded) What would help you the most? the AFS #, copy of the transcript, tape?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Big Tim
Date: 24 Feb 01 - 04:56 AM

Don't let's overcomplicate things. Sure "bore you father's name" is simply a rather poetic way of saying "you're my son, and I hope you will contiue the struggle (for Land Reform and independence) when I am too old to do so"


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 24 Feb 01 - 10:08 AM

Hi Martin!

The book is Robert L. Wright's "Irish Emigrant Ballads and Songs" and it's one of the very best books in my collection. It is very difficult to get.

Wright was a collector in the sense of Child rather than Lomax. The text he prints comes from Edith Fowke's Ontario collection.

All the best,
Dan


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 24 Feb 01 - 10:11 AM

Hi pattyClink!

A tape would be wonderful! If it's not too much trouble, may I send you a (not terribly) personal message?

All the best,
Dan Milner


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Subject: Lyr Add: MY BLUE EYED MOUNTAIN QUEEN
From: Alice
Date: 24 Feb 01 - 01:56 PM

I was about to type in quotes from Herbert Hughes 1915 preface to Vol II of Irish Country Songs, which contains Skibbereen, but I see John Moulden already did. Hughes begins with, "In this volume all the tunes are traditional, with the possible exception of 'The Cork Leg,'"... and then that questionable statement, "and the words of most are to be found on broadsheets." He doesn't say the words of all, but the words of most. On the sheet music itself, the title Skibbereen has below it in parentheses (A BALLAD OF THE FAMINE), which is obvious from the lyrics, and Traditional for the tune, and County Tyrone as the origin.

There is a bit more about Skibbereen in the preface to his third volume of Irish Country Songs, in a long letter to Edward F. Tilyou. He begins by writing about dedicating Volume IV to Tilyou, because his friend Tilyou, an Irishman living in Coney Island, had invited Hughes, in Chelsea, to go to Kerry in search of music, resulting in the third volume of collected songs. He goes on to write of his earlier work on Songs of Uladh with his friend Joseph Campbell, and his awareness that "the art of ballad-making, if in decline, was far from being dead".

This is a long letter, but eventually he gets to the part I want to add here:
-------
"We are too much inclined to pedantry on this subject of variants, forgetting that what matters most is not that an air is 'correct', but that it is good. I am not at all convinced that there is really such a thing as a correct version of any traditional tune, even if you can point to its earliest appearance in print. In this part of the world, where ballads have been composed apparently without a break for generations, tunes are often borrowed and adapted to fit the words.... You remember 'Skibbereen' - I gave a Tyrone version of it in Volume II of Irish Country Songs - A ballad of eviction with its period written indelibly all over it? Here the same tune is sung, slightly varied, to two other ballads that have no connexion with each other - to 'Galway Bay' and to 'My blue-eyed mountain queen', and I think there are others. The former, very well sung in the traditional manner by a yong man in this neighborhood, begins characteristically -
It's far away I am today from scenes I've roamed a boy, It's long ago the hour I know I first left Illinois, Nor time nor tide nor waters wide can win my heart away; For ever true it flies to you, my dear old Galway Bay..."

Hughes has these lyrics to the same tune as Skibbereen in Vol. IV. I find it interesting that all three songs to the same tune, Skibbereen, Galway Bay, and My Blue Eyed Mountain Queen, are lyrics created from the viewpoint of people who have left Ireland. We can speculate on how common this tune was in America, but I have a fantasy of people on the ships sharing the tune in crossing. That's pure imagination on my part, but a possibility. My great grandfather, Peter Flynn, went first to the plains of Minnesota, where he established a homestead, in 1880. In my great aunt Alice Flynn's memoirs, she writes, "My father went to Minnesota in 1880, crossing the Atlantic on "The City of Limerick". Mother said that he had bid goodbye the night before and that he stole away before daybreak the next morning with many tears because he realized that he probably would never return to Ireland. We left Ireland for America two years later, about the middle of May, 1882 -- my mother, Thomas, Lawrence, Patrick, John, myself Alice, Beezie (Bridget), and James. We went by train from Glenfarne to Belfast. It wasn't long before I became car-sick and fainted. When I came to, the first object that caught my eye was a beautiful ruby ring on the hand of an English soldier who was holding me in his arms. Then I noticed the tears running down my mother's cheeks. Instead of seats there were long benches and the train rocked and rolled. The door opened on the side and there was no conductor. The station agent locked us in, and the agent at the next place unlocked the door.

In Belfast, where we stayed overnight, the hotelkeeper said he would give us the best meal that could be gotten, for it was the last one we would get in dear old Ireland. We took a train to Larne and went up the gang plank from land to the vessel, the "State Of Georgia" of the State Steamship Company. Since we took the most northern Atlantic route, there were days of fog as we neared the banks of Newfoundland. The fog horn blew almost incessantly and the going was slow because of the icebergs. Some icebergs were 150 feet above the water and one had a huge bear perched on it -- so the officer said when he looked at it through the telescope.

One night we struck a submerged iceberg and everyone was up and dressed in quick time. The impact awakened me, too. This delayed us hours in getting off the ship.

After eleven days on the ship, everyone was glad to see the shores of the U.S.A. My father's brother in law, Bernard McGuire, and Larry Cullen met us at the pier and escorted us to Castle Garden. We had no difficulty in getting off the ship for we all had been vaccinated. Others who could not talk English protested and had a hard time for they had to be vaccinated before leaving the vessel."
She goes on to describe the immigrant train trip west, seeing apple trees and the story of Johnny Appleseed, and then meeting their father again - "When he met us at St. Paul we didn't recognize him at first for he wore a full beard since he hadn't shaved since he came to Minnesota in the fall of 1880. We all cried at meeting him... he had asked mother to bring a blackthorn stick, but the one she selected was entirely too dainty for his tastes."

Although my great grandfather was a grown man with teenage children when he went to the plains of America, the Blue Eyed Mountain Queen lyrics remind me of this story of waiting for the ship to bring her across the Atlantic.

I have two performances planned for this coming St. Patrick's Day, and I will sing Skibbereen.

MY BLUE EYED MOUNTAIN QUEEN
(same tune as Skibbereen)

It being in the month of May when fields were fresh and green,
I was forced to leave my native home, my age being scarce eighteen,
And when I parted with my dear, her loving tears were seen;
In troubled mind I left behind my blue-eyed mountain queen.

My father is a fisherman, he's on the raging sea;
My mother she through seven long years sleeps cold beneath the clay.
My sisters and my brothers four I regard them with esteem
But little they know I weep full sore for my blue-eyed mountain queen.

Farewell to Glenbeigh's lofty hills and to those mountain streams
Where sun or moon though in the gloom pours forth its brilliant beams;
Her castle* stands beneath the hill, bound round with laurels green.
But in America's plain I'll spend my days with my blue-eyed mountain queen

God speed the ship across the deep that steers my love to me,
The wind to fly her topsail wide to waft her o'er the sea;
Her steel-made bow has made a vow for to plough the waves with steam,
And in her breast to bear the crest of my blue-eyed mountain queen.

*An old mansion, locally known as Wynne's Folly, now in ruins. The gardens have long disappeared.

From Vol IV of Herbert Hughes Irish Country Songs

Alice


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Alice
Date: 24 Feb 01 - 02:00 PM

I thought I had fixed my errors of saying the "third volume" in my first typing of the previous message, but I see it is still there at the beginning of the post - this mentioning of Skibbereen in Hughes letter is at the beginning of the Fourth Volume of Irish Country Songs, not the third.

Alice


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: John Moulden
Date: 24 Feb 01 - 05:37 PM

It is indeed in Wright as Dan says above - but I'm not so conviced of the worth of this book - its lack of index condemns it immediately. However, in his first section, Wright give two vesrsions, the one from Hughes and one of Edith Fowke's collection "Traditional Songs and Singers of Ontario" Hughes' is still the first report.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 24 Feb 01 - 10:44 PM

Thanks, Alice.

John, it was in Irish Emigrant Ballads and Songs that I first came across songs about T. F. Meagher's Irish Brigade and other Irish-American songs from the U.S. Civil War. Not only did it open my mind to that and other areas of 19th Century Irish-American history but I've learned a number of songs directly from the book. Of course, the lack of an index is a real nuisence (though I think my missing the Hughes' "Skibbereen" this morning had more to do with a hangover than a missing index) and there are very few tunes (even when they exist) but there is a great deal to recommended the book. For example, I don't think Wright was terribly selective in picking songs so one gets a cross-section of what was going around at the time. Also, some of these songs are on the rare side and exist only in far-flug places; the book is, at the least, very convenient in that regard. It's hardly complete but Wright did a lot of traveling to put the specimens together. We can go to the on-line Bodleian Library today but there are still plenty of other collections that are only in-person.

Beyond that, I find it interesting that Robert L. Wright was not an "Irish specialist" but an "Emigrant specialist." He put together collections of Danish and Swedish emigrant songs as well (possibly others, I don't know). I've seen the Danish book and I found it very interesting to look over the issues mentioned in the Danish songs vis-a-vis those in Irish songs, the use of language, etc.

All the best,
Dan Milner


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