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Origins: Tim Finnegan's / Finigan's Wake

DigiTrad:
FINNEGAN'S OTHER WAKE
FINNEGAN'S WAKE


Related threads:
Tune Req: Finnegans Wake (7)
Lyr Add: Milligan's Wake (13)
Finnegan's Wake (progressive folk group) (1)


Leprechaun 28 Feb 98 - 04:10 PM
Alice 28 Feb 98 - 06:21 PM
Bruce O. 01 Mar 98 - 11:17 AM
Alice 01 Mar 98 - 05:31 PM
leprechaun 01 Mar 98 - 07:10 PM
Alice 01 Mar 98 - 08:12 PM
Phideaux 02 Mar 98 - 08:06 AM
Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca 02 Mar 98 - 07:55 PM
leprechaun 06 Mar 98 - 12:53 AM
Bruce O. 06 Mar 98 - 12:09 PM
Jon W. 06 Mar 98 - 12:55 PM
Bruce O. 06 Mar 98 - 03:00 PM
O'Boyle 07 Mar 98 - 02:53 AM
leprechaun 07 Mar 98 - 01:05 PM
08 Mar 98 - 07:56 AM
O'Boyle 10 Mar 98 - 02:41 AM
O'Boyle 10 Mar 98 - 03:03 AM
Casey 11 Mar 98 - 10:50 PM
GUEST,Tim Pat Hately 23 Apr 01 - 09:17 PM
GUEST,Tim Pat Hately 23 Apr 01 - 09:21 PM
Blackcatter 23 Apr 01 - 09:37 PM
paddymac 23 Apr 01 - 09:51 PM
Margo 24 Apr 01 - 12:37 AM
Jim Dixon 26 Mar 04 - 12:07 AM
GUEST,david.playfair@shaw.ca 23 Dec 04 - 11:19 PM
GUEST,Woody Muller 19 May 13 - 12:28 AM
Joe Offer 30 Nov 20 - 11:20 AM
GUEST,FJ Cochlainn 14 Feb 22 - 01:55 PM
GUEST,HardcoreUFOs 01 Jun 23 - 10:58 PM
BenTraverse 24 Aug 23 - 07:05 PM
Robert B. Waltz 24 Aug 23 - 08:49 PM
Lighter 24 Aug 23 - 10:12 PM
BenTraverse 24 Aug 23 - 11:37 PM
Joe Offer 25 Aug 23 - 02:30 AM
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Subject: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: Leprechaun
Date: 28 Feb 98 - 04:10 PM

I just looked up a thread from early December having to do with Katy Avourneen. Having encountered the word in "Finnegan's Wake," (the song)I had injected a question about the meaning of "avourneen," and several people informed me that it means "darling" or "little darling." To me, this sheds light on the battle (shillelagh law was all engaged and a row and a ruction soon began) which seemed to start because Patty McGee took offense to Biddy O'Brien's comment, "Tim avourneen, why did you die?"

Does this suggest to anybody else that Biddy O'Brien and Tim might have had some sort of adulterous relationship?


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: Alice
Date: 28 Feb 98 - 06:21 PM

And are you by any chance looking for evidence for a grand jury???....


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: Bruce O.
Date: 01 Mar 98 - 11:17 AM

'Mavourneen' = ma muirin, my sweetheart


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: Alice
Date: 01 Mar 98 - 05:31 PM

Leprechaun, all kidding aside, "mavourneen" is a term of endearment that is used pretty generally, like some people say "darlin'" to just about everyone they talk to. It doesn't mean what you suggest... or maybe you were just kidding.


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: leprechaun
Date: 01 Mar 98 - 07:10 PM

Then it's still a mystery why Paddy McGee took offense at Biddy O'Brien's comment, and why Biddy O'Brien gave Maggie O'Conner a belt in the chops. I know I'm reading between the lines, but I just want to know why. Is there some nuance in that song that I'm missing?


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: Alice
Date: 01 Mar 98 - 08:12 PM

You have to remember they were all getting drunk, the row and the ruction had to be instigated for some reason, and that was as good as any.


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: Phideaux
Date: 02 Mar 98 - 08:06 AM

Hey, it's a wake. Let's have some fun.

Bob S.


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
Date: 02 Mar 98 - 07:55 PM

Is the slow or the fast version of this song the more popular in Ireland?


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: leprechaun
Date: 06 Mar 98 - 12:53 AM

Alice - as far as the Grand Jury goes, I don't think this case will ever get indicted. It's what we call a "jump ball" or "mutual combat." Since Tim's not really dead, we can't even charge anybody with Abuse of a Corpse.


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: Bruce O.
Date: 06 Mar 98 - 12:09 PM

As I pointed out an an earlier thread, "Finnegan's Wake" was written by John F. Poole sometime before 1864, so I have grave doubts we can get any direct testimony on the subject. (Laws at Q17 doesn't note author.)


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: Jon W.
Date: 06 Mar 98 - 12:55 PM

The sequence of events as shown in the DT version:

(the friends gather at the wake, have lunch)

Biddy O'Brien began to bawl
"Such a nice clean corpse, did you ever see?
"O Tim, mavourneen, why did you die?"
Arragh, hold your gob said Paddy McGhee!

cho:

Then Maggie O'Connor took up the job
"O Biddy," says she, "You're wrong, I'm sure"
Biddy she gave her a belt in the gob
And left her sprawlin' on the floor.
And then the war did soon engage
'Twas woman to woman and man to man,
Shillelagh law was all the rage
And a row and a ruction soon began.

So Biddy O'Brien begins to lament the death, Paddy McGhee tells her to shut up (why? because she's ruining the party by being so morose??), then Maggie O'Connor tells Biddy that she's wrong (about what???) which starts the fight. There seems to be something missing here!!

Bruce, does the John F. Poole text contain anything more? If so, can you post it?


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: Bruce O.
Date: 06 Mar 98 - 03:00 PM

Jon W. I don't have a copy, I only noted heading, tune and 1st line. I really goofed up, I see that I changed to a different songbook in the middle of my page of notes. The songbook is "The Blarney Comic Songbook', Glasgow, Cameron & Ferguson, n.d. p. 76, with tune direction for "Tim Finigan's Wake" given as "The French Musician".


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: O'Boyle
Date: 07 Mar 98 - 02:53 AM

Hey, perhaps Tim Finnegan represents the Irish rebel rebublican voice, Biddy O'Brien is the sympathetic irish citizen, and Miss McGee represents the less politically inclined irish voice. To quote Dominic Behan about the song: "Take away the possesive quality of the noun by simply removing the apostrophe and you have a great war cry to all the sons of Finn McCool, 'Finnegans, Wake!'".

Or maybe it's just that it's a good song to encourage audience participation. I would like to hear some examples of things shouted out in some other parts of the world. For example, after "his head felt heavy which made him shake" crowds here in California shake their bodies and heads. After they wrap him up in clean white, "No sheet!" is shouted. After his widow calls for lunch, everybody shouts for lunch. When Biddy stars to cry, the crowd wails and then when she says, "such a lovely corpse did you ever see?" some people will shout, "biggest stiff she's seen in weeks." In the next verse, after "it was woman to woman, and man to man," folks shout out, "sounds like a party at my place." And finally, "when a bucket of whiskey flew at him," the singer is pummelled with napkins from the more raucous crowds. I'd like to know if this is regional, and if so, what else do they shout out. Maybe I just need to hang out at better pubs.

Slainte

Rick


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: leprechaun
Date: 07 Mar 98 - 01:05 PM

Crowds? Crowds of people all familiar with Finnegan's wake? That makes me sad. In my little town of Eugene, Oregon there are only three places you can hear Irish music. My car stereo, mt brother's car stereo, (another Mudcatter) and the Knight's of Columbus Hall, but then only on St. Patrick's Day. I doubt if we could find three people in this town altogether at the same time who knew the words to Finnegan's Wake well enough to participate. Rick - I'll trade you pubs any day.


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From:
Date: 08 Mar 98 - 07:56 AM

How about "welt the floor, your trotters shake"? That would be I guess to bang your feet on the floor as in dancing.


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: O'Boyle
Date: 10 Mar 98 - 02:41 AM

Leprchaun, when the world gives you lemons.... Eugene sounds like a place in dire need of an Irish Bar or at least an Irish folksinger. You can do Irish songs about logging or beavers or something. May I suggest "look at the coffin" and "Kelly, the Boy from Killane". Maybe you can convince them that Thomas Clark was Lewis' partner.

Slainte

Rick


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: O'Boyle
Date: 10 Mar 98 - 03:03 AM

Oops, I didn't mean "Look at the Coffin" I meant "I once loved a lass". Wow, talk about you Freudian slips...

Rick


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: Casey
Date: 11 Mar 98 - 10:50 PM

Eugene actually has a real nice Irish Bar. The Roadhouse Pub has Guiness on tap. The well whiskey is Powers. Black Bush,Jameson 12 year old, Tullemore Dew and several other choices provide us with adequate libation. The juke box even has some Clancy Brothers, Chieftons and a fair selection of "American" Irish tunes. What we are sadly lacking is anyone besides leprechaun and myself who knows the words to all these great , fun songs.

Slainte

Casey


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: GUEST,Tim Pat Hately
Date: 23 Apr 01 - 09:17 PM

For Jaysus' sake, someone put the bloody words to the song on this site.

Tim


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Subject: Lyr Req/Finnegans Wake
From: GUEST,Tim Pat Hately
Date: 23 Apr 01 - 09:21 PM

For Jaysus' sake, someone put the bloody words to the song (Finnegans Wake) on this site.

Tim


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: Blackcatter
Date: 23 Apr 01 - 09:37 PM

Casey - sound like you and your brother need to be the Irish Music Missionaries for Eugene!

Somewhat of an envious situation, I think.

I live in Orlando and there's little in the way of Irish Music here - Even on St. Pat's the Irish pubs don't play Irish music. I usually hit one or two open mikes a week and spread the word.

And Tin F. is one of my definate crowd pleasers.

pax yall


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: paddymac
Date: 23 Apr 01 - 09:51 PM

After she goes sliding across the floor, we holler "Safe" with an umpire's spread arms. And, after the "woman to woman and man to man line", we stop playing, while our female fiddler slyly injects "kinky". If it's alte when we do it, and the "drunken crew" are there in force, it can get pretty rowdy & bawdy.


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: Margo
Date: 24 Apr 01 - 12:37 AM

Well now!! Here in Portland we have a few more variations, but mostly from the band "Shanghaied on the Wilamette".

When Tim falls and breaks his skull there's a "rimshot" on the bodhran. When Biddy gives her a belt in the gob and leaves her sprawlin' on the floor, the mandola player (Gordy) quietly interjects "that's where she belongs". When a noggin of whiskey flies at him, Gordy blows a "siren whistle" (what are those things called, anyway?) so it sounds like a cartoon. Then when the liquor scatters over Tim, he says "what a waste of good liquor". Gordy's interjections are understated so they're really funny.

Here in Portland (Oregon) Shanghaied played at the Elephant and Castle. The Elephant and Castle is an old established place that has never had music and is now hoping to have music on a regular basis. So if you're in Portland, check it out! Especially on St.Paddy's day!

Margo


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Subject: Lyr Add: TIM FINIGAN'S WAKE
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 26 Mar 04 - 12:07 AM

From an undated songsheet at The Library of Congress American Memory Collection :

TIM FINIGAN'S WAKE

AIR: THE FRENCH MUSICIAN

Tim Finigan lived in Walker street,
A gentleman Irishman--mighty odd--
He'd a beautiful brogue, so rich and sweet,
And to rise in the world he carried the hod;
But you see he'd a sort of a tipling way:
With a love for the liquor poor Tim was born,
And to help him through his work each day,
He'd a drop of the creatur' every morn'.

CHORUS: Whack, hurah, blood and 'ounds, ye sowl ye
Welt the flure, ye're trotters shake,
Isn't it the truth I've tould ye,
Lots of fun at Finigan's wake.

One morning Tim was rather full,
His head felt heavy, which made him shake,
He fell from the ladder and broke his skull;
So they carried him home his corpse to wake:
They rolled him up in a nice clean sheet,
And laid him out upon the bed,
With fourteen candles round his feet,
And a couple of dozen around his head.

His friends assembled at his wake,
Missus Finigan called out for the lunch:
First they laid in tay and cake,
Then pipes and tobabky and whiskey punch.
Miss Biddy O'Brien began to cry:
Such a purty corps did ever you see:
Arrah! Tim avourneen, an' why did ye die?
-- Och, none of your gab, sez Judy Magee.

Then Peggy O'Connor took up the job,
-- Arrah, Biddy, says she, ye're wrong I'm shure.
But Judy then gave her a belt on the gob.
I left her sprawling on the flure.
Each side in the war did soon engage:
'Twas woman to woman and man to man;
Shillelah law was all the rage,
An' a bloody ruction soon began.

Mickey Mulvaney raised his head,
When a gallon of whiskey flew at him
It missed him--and hopping on the bed,
The liquor scattered over Tim!
Bedad! he revives! see how he raises!
An' Timothy jumping from the bed,
Cries, while he lathered around like blazus:
--Bad luck till yer souls d'ye think I'm dead!

H. DE MARSAN, Successor to J. ANDREWS, Publisher, dealer in
songs and Toy-Books, Paper Dolls &c., 38 Chatham Street, N. Y


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: GUEST,david.playfair@shaw.ca
Date: 23 Dec 04 - 11:19 PM

Dear Finnegan scholars,
Of course Leprechaun is right. Biddy was Tim's lover on the side, and her grief made her more possessive of his memory than was proper in the presence of the legitimate widow.
Even for drunken people, the transition from mourning to fighting which we hear in the usual version of the song is far too abrupt. Even alcoholic violence must have some logic.
There is a verse missing! It would describe how the quarrel developed prior to the fight. I'd wager that we'd find it in John Poole's original manuscript - perhaps a music historian could tell us where that is?
Dan Bryant, who popularized the song, would have been obliged to drop the risky verse at performances, as a concession to the sexual prudery of the 19th century.
James Joyce must have heard an uncut version, for the theme of his book is the recurrent death of the hero who has transgressed conventional sexual morality but has too much life force to stay dead.
Leprechaun, you have not only mapped out a missing link but you have provided a vital clue for James Joyce scholars. You deserve priority for this. I would be honored if you would e-mail me with more of your thoughts on this.
With best regards,
David Playfair.


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: GUEST,Woody Muller
Date: 19 May 13 - 12:28 AM

I see no need for positing a missing verse. Peggy simply picks up where Judy leaves off by taking issue with Biddy's assertion that the corpse was an especially purty one.


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Subject: Origins: Tim Finnegan's / Finigan's Wake
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Nov 20 - 11:20 AM

Here are the Digital Tradition lyrics for this song. I can't figure out where our lyrics come from.

FINNEGAN'S WAKE (from DT)

Tim Finnegan lived in Walkin' Street
A gentleman, Irish, mighty odd;
He had a brogue both rich and sweet
And to rise in the world he carried a hod.
Now Tim had a sort of the tipplin' way
With a love of the whiskey he was born
And to help him on with his work each day
He'd a "drop of the cray-thur" every morn.

cho Whack fol the darn O, dance to your partner
Whirl the floor, your trotters shake;
Wasn't it the truth I told you
Lots of fun at Finnegan's wake!

One mornin' Tim was feelin' full
His head was heavy which made him shake;
He fell from the ladder and broke his skull
And they carried him home his corpse to wake.
They rolled him up in a nice clean sheet
And laid him out upon the bed,
A gallon of whiskey at his feet
And a barrel of porter at his head.

cho:

His friends assembled at the wake
And Mrs. Finnegan called for lunch,
First they brought in tay and cake
Then pipes, tobacco and whiskey punch.
Biddy O'Brien began to bawl
"Such a nice clean corpse, did you ever see?
"O Tim, mavourneen, why did you die?"
Arragh, hold your gob said Paddy McGhee!

cho:

Then Maggie O'Connor took up the job
"O Biddy," says she, "You're wrong, I'm sure"
Biddy she gave her a belt in the gob
And left her sprawlin' on the floor.
And then the war did soon engage
'Twas woman to woman and man to man,
Shillelagh law was all the rage
And a row and a ruction soon began.

cho:

Then Mickey Maloney ducked his head
When a noggin of whiskey flew at him,
It missed, and falling on the bed
The liquor scattered over Tim!
The corpse revives! See how he raises!
Timothy rising from the bed,
Says,"Whirl your whiskey around like blazes
Thanum an Dhul! Do you thunk I'm dead?"

cho:
Recorded by Clancys
DT #528
Laws Q17
@death @Irish @drink
filename[ FINNWAKE
TUNE FILE: FINNWAKE
CLICK TO PLAY
RG

Popup Midi Player





And here is the Traditional Ballad Index entry:

Finnegan's Wake [Laws Q17]

DESCRIPTION: Tim Finnegan, never entirely sober, falls from a ladder and cracks his head. Taken home unconscious, his wife holds a wake that soon gets out of control. Splashed with whiskey, Tim awakens and resents being thought dead
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: before 1861 (broadside, LOCSinging sb40523b)
KEYWORDS: injury drink fight party
FOUND IN: US(MW,Ro) Canada(Mar,New,Ontf) Ireland
REFERENCES (15 citations):
Laws Q17, "Tim Finnegan's Wake" [Laws Q17]
Eddy-BalladsAndSongsFromOhio 146, "Tim Finnegan's Wake" (1 fragment, 1 tune)
Gardner/Chickering-BalladsAndSongsOfSouthernMichigan 169, "Finnigan's Wake" (1 text)
Hubbard-BalladsAndSongsFromUtah, #167, "Tim Finnegan's Wake" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton-SongsAndBalladsFromNovaScotia 86, "Tim Finnigan's Wake" (1 text, 1 tune)
Vikár/Panagapka-SongsNorthWoodsSungByOJAbbott 65, "Finnigan's Wake" (1 text, 1 tune)
O'Conor-OldTimeSongsAndBalladOfIreland, p. 136, "Tim Finigan's Wake" (1 text)
OLochlainn-IrishStreetBallads 91, "Finnegan's Wake" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hodgart-FaberBookOfBallads, p. 219, "Finnegan's Wake" (1 text)
Wolf-AmericanSongSheets, #2335, p. 157, "Tim Finigan's Wake" (3 references)
Gilbert-LostChords, p. 120, "Finnegan's Wake" (1 partial text)
Behan-IrelandSings, #30, "Finnegan's Wake" (1 text, 1 tune, modified)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 232, "Finnegan's Wake" (1 text)
DT 528, FINNWAKE*
ADDITIONAL: Frank Harte _Songs of Dublin_, second edition, Ossian, 1993, pp. 28-29, "Finnegan's Wake" (1 text, 1 tune)

Roud #1009
RECORDINGS:
The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, "Finnigan's Wake" (on IRClancyMakem01)
Warde Ford, "Finnegan's Wake" [incomplete] (AFS 4212 A3, 1939; in AMMEM/Cowell)
Jack Swain, "Finnigan's Wake I" (on NFMLeach); "Finnegan's Wake (Version 1)" (on MUNFLA/Leach)
John Terrell, "Tim Finnegan's Wake" (Berliner 1869, 1898)

BROADSIDES:
Bodleian, Firth b.25(254), "Finnigan's Wake," W.S. Fortey (London), 1858-1885; also Harding B 11(3620), Harding B 11(3619), Firth c.26(209), Harding B 11(1207), "Finnigan's Wake"
LOCSinging, sb40523b, "Tim Finigan's wake," H. De Marsan (New York), 1859-1860

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The Irish Wake" [Laws Q18]
cf. "The Bullockies' Ball" (theme)
cf. "Doherty's Wake" (subject)
cf. "Finnegan's Wake" [Laws Q17]
cf. "The Fine Ould Irish Gentleman" (theme of a man who seems dead until the wake)
SAME TUNE:
The French Musician (per broadside LOCSinging sb40523b)
Rafferty's Party (Wolf-AmericanSongSheets p. 131)
NOTES [103 words]: William H. A. Williams, 'Twas Only an Irishman's Dream, University of Illinois Press, 1996, p. 74, proposes that the popular song "The Fine Ould Irish Gentlemen," popularized and possibly written by John Brougham, is the precursor of this song. Given that the "Gentleman" appeared in 1845 (Williams, p. 72), this is barely possible, but we would have to allow the possibility that the dependence is the other way. - RBW
Broadside LOCSinging sb40523b: H. De Marsan dating per Studying Nineteenth-Century Popular Song by Paul Charosh in American Music, Winter 1997, Vol 15.4, Table 1, available at FindArticles site. - BS
Last updated in version 5.2
File: LQ17

Go to the Ballad Search form
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Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2023 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: GUEST,FJ Cochlainn
Date: 14 Feb 22 - 01:55 PM

Wow- What a treat to stumble on this thread from '98. Believe it or not, I did not yet exist when Leprechaun first bravely proposed Tim and Biddy O'Brien's affair. It was not until a year later I made my worldly debut.
I agree they were fooling around; Biddy got loose-lipped from the liquor and revealed her attachment, then a brawl ensued. I would also like to see an original manuscript, perhaps we aren't just conspiracy-minded.
Hope all of you are well 23 years down the road.

Best,
F.J.


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Subject: RE: Biddy O'Brien and Tim Finnegan?
From: GUEST,HardcoreUFOs
Date: 01 Jun 23 - 10:58 PM

Wow, thanks everyone for this discussion on this incessantly compelling song. What an incredibly brilliant piece of writing which captures a whole novel-esque story in a few short verses. No wonder it captivated James Joyce. This song continues to bring a smile to my face every time I think of it.

I think the reading of Biddy O’Brien being a mistress is spot on and makes everything make a lot more sense. I don’t think it conspiratorial at all - I think it’s the missing link.


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Subject: Origins: Tim Finnegan's / Finigan's Wake
From: BenTraverse
Date: 24 Aug 23 - 07:05 PM

Hi, friends! I've been researching Finnegan's Wake for an upcoming recording and was very surprised to not find a dedicated origins thread on the song here.

After reading some other threads related to the song and digging around good ole google, here's what I've come up with for the song:

---

Tim Finnegan's Wake is, despite it's relatively constant popularity since it's first extant publishing in 1864, a ballad with less than a concrete history. The earliest known publishing was by John J. Daly in New York, titled “Finigan's Wake" (without an apostrophe on the title page, but one is included on the next page). No author is credited, but John Durnal is given as the arranger. Curiously, while the sheet music itself lists 1864 as the publishing year, the cover page, as well as Johns Hopkins University, say 1854. Brendan Ward argues in his article Finnegan's Wake - Origins that 1864 is the more likely date, as Durnal's published works both in the Hathi Trust Digital Library and the Library of Congress all fall between 1863-67.

A second publication from 1864, this time by William A. Pond & Co, also in New York, says that the song was popularized by Dan Bryant, born Dan O'Niell, of the Bryant's Minstrels, a popular black face minstrel group that primarily performed in New York City. With two publications in ‘64, no author, and one saying it was already popularized, it would strongly suggest that neither of these are the original publication.

One person who is often credited with authorship is John F. Poole, a Dublin native born in either 1833 or ‘35 that immigrated to the US at 12 years old. It wouldn't be until 1863 that he would break out into the scene as a prolific song and comedic skit writer. His most popular work (confidently credited to him) is the protest song “No Irish Need Apply". It wouldn't be until 1867 that this song, this time titled “Tim Finigan's Wake", would be published attributing Poole as the author. The sheet music instructs the words to be set to the air “The French Musician", but no music is provided. It's unknown if this air is the melody we associate with the song today. He allegedly wrote the lyrics for Tony Pastor, an extremely successful impresario and performer, oft called “The Father of Vaudeville." Poole, coincidentally enough, also died after falling from a ladder. It seems unlikely that Poole actually wrote the song. It was missing in the 1864 edition of Tony Pastor's Complete Budget of Comic Songs, which was edited by Poole. It was, however, included in the 1867 edition of Tony Pastor's Book of 600 Comic Songs.

It is also possible that “Finnegan's Wake" is a re-write of an older song. Dublin-born actor and writer John Brougham's “A Fine Ould Irish Gintleman" includes a verse about a man being revived through the power of whiskey. This song was, in turn, a parody of the older “The Fine Old English Gentleman", a very successful song from 1835 written by Henry Russell. Several parodies of this song existed, typically replacing “English" with various groups and demographics. Parodying this song was popular enough that even Charles Dickens gave it a stab with his “The Fine Old English Gentleman, New Version". All of these songs have their roots in the 17th century ballad, "The Queen's Old Courtier".

The ballad retained cultural relevance through the 20th century thanks to recordings by Irish music legends The Dubliners and The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. More recently, the song found success in the repertoire of the Boston-based Irish punk band Dropkick Murphys. Elsewhere in popular culture, it provided the inspiration for Irish novelist and poet James Joyce's final work, Finnegans Wake (intentionally without the apostrophe, implying a plurality of Finnegan and his experience, present in everybody's life). Released in 1939, it maintains a reputation for being one of the most difficult pieces of fiction in the Western canon. Joyce uses Finnegan and whiskey, also called “the water of life," as a metaphor for the universal cycle of life, with whiskey being both the cause of death and resurrection.

Summary of Hiberno-English and Irish phrases-
  • brogue (an Irish or Scots accent)
  • hod (a tool for carrying bricks, also slang for a tankard)
  • tippler (drunkard)
  • craythur (Poitín, anglicized as poteen and also referred to as mountian dew, is a traditional Irish distilled spirit made with cereals, grain, whey, sugar beet, molasses and potatoes)
  • Whack fol the dah (a lilted phrase, with lilting being a traditional Irish form of mouth music similar to scat singing)
  • trotters (feet)
  • full (drunk)
  • mavourneen (my darling)
  • hould your gob (shut up)
  • belt in the gob (punch in the mouth)
  • shillelagh law (a brawl)
  • ruction (a fight)
  • bedad (a shocked expression)
  • Thanam 'on dhoul (anglicized spelling of the Irish “D'anam 'on diabhal," or, “your soul to the devil")


---

One big question is what is this air "The French Musician"? You could imagine just googling the title won't get you very far. Would also love to hear anyone else's thoughts on what I've written or if anyone has anything to add!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tim Finnegan's / Finigan's Wake
From: Robert B. Waltz
Date: 24 Aug 23 - 08:49 PM

BenTraverse wrote, since it's first extant publishing in 1864.

I can't give you a precise earlier date, but this is almost certainly too late. There's a broadside at the Library of Congress singing web site, their #sb40523b, which was published by de Marsan. According to Paul Charosh in American Music, Winter 1997, Vol 15.4, Table 1, the de Marsan broadsides in this sequence were published 1859-1860.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tim Finnegan's / Finigan's Wake
From: Lighter
Date: 24 Aug 23 - 10:12 PM

Great summary.

I've tried to find a text or tune called "The French Musician" for at least twenty years. No luck.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tim Finnegan's / Finigan's Wake
From: BenTraverse
Date: 24 Aug 23 - 11:37 PM

Robert, ah! that's why I posted this here! thanks for bringing this to my attention.

If this thread ends up getting long and a future reader wants the tl;dr, my writeup will be updated with any new info here.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tim Finnegan's / Finigan's Wake
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Aug 23 - 02:30 AM

Hi, Ben - I combined your thread with the existing origins thread I think it's better for threads to be comprehensive, even if they do get a bit long.
Joe Offer, Mudcat Music Editor


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