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The story of Boolavogue / Fr. Murphy

Related thread:
Chord Req: Boolavogue -- The High Kings (22)

paddymac 26 May 01 - 02:09 AM
Roger in Sheffield 26 May 01 - 05:29 AM
GUEST,mumhnach 26 May 01 - 09:42 AM
Big Tim 26 May 01 - 02:35 PM
Big Tim 26 May 01 - 02:53 PM
Big Tim 26 May 01 - 03:00 PM
paddymac 27 May 01 - 09:07 AM
Cruiser 10 Aug 03 - 07:53 PM
Bob Bolton 11 Aug 03 - 12:00 AM
Big Tim 11 Aug 03 - 03:33 AM
VIN 11 Aug 03 - 06:13 AM
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Subject: The story of Boolavogue / Fr. Murphy
From: paddymac
Date: 26 May 01 - 02:09 AM

"Boolavogue," and the very similar "Father Murphy," seem to be the most frequently requested "sad ballads" in our experience. That might be because the lyrics and the airs both have a powerful emotive attraction. I was browsing my history notes earlier and found the "story" related by the songs. Ah, the embellishments of the artistic processes.

26 May 1798 Father John Murphy met with the men of his parish and urged them to turn in their weapons, despite the tales of horrendous atrocities committed by the Yeos around the country. Later that night he joined his parishoners in a walking tour of the area known as the Harrow. After visiting a home rumoured to be a target for the Yeomen's Camolin Cavalry, Murphy and the men came across a Yeo patrol led by Lieutenant Bookey. The Yeo's opened fire and Murphy's men dove for cover. Bookey and one of his cavalrymen galloped toward the house Murphy and his men had just left, and set it afire. They turned to rejoin their cavalry unit, and found they had been driven off by Murphy's men. Bookey's trooper was shot dead and Murphy's pikemen swarmed Bookey and hacked him to death. (Golway, 2000 @ 82) The incident was one of the first actions in the Wexford rising of 1798. (O'Bradaigh, 1997 @ 50) Murphy and his followers fought the British despite the local Catholic Bishop's declaration to excommunicate all catholics who participated in the rebellion.

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Subject: RE: The story of Boolavogue / Fr. Murphy
From: Roger in Sheffield
Date: 26 May 01 - 05:29 AM

call me stupid (thanks) but I never realised there were words though I have played the tune. So I just had a look at the DT and there are a couple of songs mentioning Boolavogue. Then I tried goggle and there are lots of links there. Then it gets slightly more confusing (for me)as here Eochaill is given as the name of the tune, though I am learning that many tunes have many different names for the same tune.

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Subject: RE: The story of Boolavogue / Fr. Murphy
From: GUEST,mumhnach
Date: 26 May 01 - 09:42 AM

Roger in Sheffield, Its very common for folk airs to have several different versions of the lyrics and often to have lyrics that commemorate different events. After all the words always came first and were the reason why the song or ballad was written. Its interesting to note that the tune best known in Ireland as 'Boolavogue' is used in Australia for 'Moreton Bay', a song about the convict settlement that later became the city of Brisbane. The words of 'Moreton Bay'(sometimes 'The Convict's Lament') are said to have been written by one Frank MacNamara('Frank the Poet') an Irish convict who it is said, was related to Donnchadh Rua Mac Conmara, a well-known Gaelic poet of the Eighteenth century.

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Subject: RE: The story of Boolavogue / Fr. Murphy
From: Big Tim
Date: 26 May 01 - 02:35 PM

For the full story of Fr Murphy consult, "Fr. John Murphy of Boolavogue, 1753-1798" by Nicholas Furlong. Geograpgy Publications, Kennington Road, Dublin 6W, 1991, ISBN 0 906602 181. The hamlet of Boolavogue and The Harrow (where the Bookey "incident" took place) are just a few miles SE of Fearns, Co Wexford. The Father Murphy Centre was opened in 1998, by President Mary McAleeese. He is buried in an unknown grave in Tullow, Co Carlow, though there is a memorial stone to him there. The area around about is marked "Father Murphy's Last Journey", I followed the trail recently.

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Subject: RE: The story of Boolavogue / Fr. Murphy
From: Big Tim
Date: 26 May 01 - 02:53 PM

Maybe I should have added that the lyrics were written in 1898 by Patrick Joseph McCall (1861-1919)and originally sung to a different tune which wasn't very successful. In the early 20s the song was set to the air of "Youghal Harbour". It was popularised through the singing of Art Sinnot of Fearns, picked up by national radio and became the hit that it is today, possibly the most loved of all the rebel songs. I can do no better than quote Wexford ballad singer Paddy Berry, " Its sound alerts Wexford men and women all over the world to the fact that they belong to one of Ireland's most historic counties, that they inherit a great tradition and that they are priveleged and proud to sing a ballad that holds the essence of Wexford in its stirring words".

PS Enjoyed the match live at Hampden today !!!!!

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Subject: RE: The story of Boolavogue / Fr. Murphy
From: Big Tim
Date: 26 May 01 - 03:00 PM

More! Re the title of the song, it was originally published as "Father Murphy of the County Wexford" in the Irish Weekly Independent of June 18 1898. This has evolved into either "Boolavogue" or "Father Murphy" but both are of course wrong. McCall also wrote "Kelly the Boy from Killanne" and "Follow me uo to Carlow", making him, to my mind, second only to Thomas Davis in the Irish patriotic song stakes.

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Subject: RE: The story of Boolavogue / Fr. Murphy
From: paddymac
Date: 27 May 01 - 09:07 AM

What a treasure the 'cat is. Thanks to all for expanding the information base.

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Subject: RE: The story of Boolavogue / Fr. Murphy
From: Cruiser
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 07:53 PM

In "Lonesome Dove, The Series" Episode 9, 'Ballad of A Gunfighter' Michael Martin Murphy (MMM) sang this tune. I saw this program in 1994 and remembered the beautiful 3/4 time melody and some of the lyrics sung during the bank robbery by the "O'Malley Gang". I had not heard this song again until a member posted it on the "Lonesome Dove" Yahoo Group. I wondered if this was a MMM original composition for the TV show or if he borrowed from a traditional Irish ballad.

Last night, Hallmark aired the episode and I was able to videotape it. MMM sang a verse or two of the traditional lyrics near the beginning of the show. All I could understand was "Then Father Murphy from old Kilcormack". I did a search for Father Murphy on this forum and found the song in the DT, a great MIDI at 'The Contemplators' site, and this thread.

Once again The Mudcat Cafe solved another long search for an old traditional melody that has been reused after theme, melodic, and lyrical variations for a recent program.


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Subject: RE: The story of Boolavogue / Fr. Murphy
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 12:00 AM

G'day, It might be worthwhile expanding on GUEST,mumhnach's remark, of 26 May 01 - 09:42 AM about the application of the same tune to "Frank the Poet's" words that became the song Moreton Bay as well as Big Tim's, of 26 May 01 - 02:53 PM about Boolavogue being given this tune in the (19)20s.

Mayhew, in his book on "The London Poor" notes that most of the ballad-hawkers on the streets of London, in 1850, were Irish (very many of them driven from Ireland by the Great Hunger). They bought broadsheets of ballads from jobbing printers and "sang" their wares to sell the sheets. Mayhew says the most common tune used, at that time, was Youghal Harbour - so many of the purchasers of broadsheets would have had that tune firmly in their minds ... for a great range of old ballads.

In the late 1940s/early 1950s, when Australian poet /musicologist /sometime collector John Manifold decided to publish some modern "broadsheets" (The Bandicoot Ballads) with artist (and, latterly incredibly prolific collector /publisher /cataloguer) Ron Edwards ... one of these was his conscious "reconstruction" of Frank's poem "A Lament for Captain Logan" - as Moreton Bay. Manifold combined a numer of fragments he heard from friends and family with an edited version of the known poem by Frank and concluded that the fragments of tune appeared to come from Youghal Harbour ... so he set the result to this tune, which has since remained very popular in the folk revival.

It was not until something like 20 years later that a field-collected version of the whole song was found - by Hugh Anderson, a thousand miles south in Victoria - collecting from an old agricultural worker Simon McDonald. Simon's word, whilst clearly drawing on Frank's, are very different in style, wording and content from Manifold's well-known version ... and his tune, while it can be seen to relate to Youghal Harbour, is very different from the Paddy Galvin Boolavogue tune Manifold used, note-for-note.

I think this vindicates Manifold's guess ... and indicates that the Australian song Moreton Bay picked up this tune independently from (and earlier than!) the attachment to McCall's word. There's nothing special about this conclusion - apart from a reassurance that we haven't been simply 'ripping off an Irish tune because it became popularly attached to an Irish 'Rebel Song' in the 20th century.

Incidentally, it's my impression that the closest relative I have heard to Simon McDonald's tune is a song I heard Vin Garbutt sing some decades back: On the Road to Youghal ... a rather more sprightly tale of the same part of the world. I hoped Vin might be able to give me more background ... but, alas, not so far!


Bob Bolton

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Subject: RE: The story of Boolavogue / Fr. Murphy
From: Big Tim
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 03:33 AM

An outline history of McCall's ballad, words and tune(s), is given in a small pamphlet "Boolavogue 1798-1998" published in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, in May 1998. I got a copy when I visited the Father Murphy Centre in Boolavogue itself: tho this was 3 years ago, they probably still have copies. I couldn't find a website but their phone number is(054)66898. Or write to them: The Father Murphy Centre, Boolavogue, near Ferns, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

Look out also for the recording of the song by the Irish Tenors. Ronan Tynan, of the Tenors, says in his book, "Halfway Home" (2002) that "Boolavogue" always get the biggest audience reaction.

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Subject: RE: The story of Boolavogue / Fr. Murphy
From: VIN
Date: 11 Aug 03 - 06:13 AM

First time i heard (and learnt to play on whistle) the tune 'Boolavogue' was from a Dubliners LP (which i still have - on the Hallmark label i think) brilliantly played on banjo by Barney McKenna with whistle in the background. Only learnt later that it was actully a song aswell.

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