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Origins: Irish Molly / My Irish Molly O

DigiTrad:
MY IRISH MOLLY-O


Related threads:
My Irish Molly-Oh - What's a Cushla? (44)
Lr. Req.: My (other) Irish Molly-o (7)
Lyr Req: My Irish Molly O (6) (closed)


Clairez 01 Feb 02 - 12:24 AM
Malcolm Douglas 01 Feb 02 - 10:48 AM
Fiolar 01 Feb 02 - 10:48 AM
Malcolm Douglas 01 Feb 02 - 10:56 AM
MartinRyan 28 Mar 02 - 06:13 PM
Jim Dixon 01 May 05 - 09:27 PM
Jim Dixon 01 May 05 - 09:40 PM
Malcolm Douglas 02 May 05 - 12:34 AM
MartinRyan 02 May 05 - 07:51 AM
Cluin 04 Feb 07 - 01:16 PM
GUEST,Ian 19 Aug 11 - 04:05 PM
josepp 19 Aug 11 - 04:29 PM
josepp 19 Aug 11 - 04:46 PM
GUEST,Thomas Fahey 18 Apr 15 - 10:04 AM
MartinRyan 18 Apr 15 - 12:35 PM
Thompson 19 Apr 15 - 03:05 AM
Vic Smith 19 Apr 15 - 05:53 AM
MartinRyan 19 Apr 15 - 06:01 AM
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Subject: Song 'Irish Molly' origins request
From: Clairez
Date: 01 Feb 02 - 12:24 AM

Here is another request for help on the origins of a song. Thanks you in advance for any help you might provide.

Although I sing mainly Irish traditional material, I have been learning a song called Irish Molly, which has a strong "music hall" type of feel to it. I have been trying to research the origins of the song, so that I can fit it into my band's largely traditional repertoire (for a change of pace). In the book where I found the song, it says that it is traditional, arranged by Alfred Moffat and Frank Kidson. Based on MudCat and google searches, both of these people appear to be turn of the century collectors of traditional tunes and songs. I understand that Moffat published a book called Minstrelry of Scotland and Kidson published 2 books, Traditional Tunes, and a volume on songs and dances.

All of that said. How would I go about finding out when this song was actually "arranged" and if it is traditional in origin, why does it sound so vaudvillian? The verse sounds very much like a traditional polka, with a few non traditional notes, but the b part (chorus) does not sound traditional at all. I find myself greatly intrigued by this song - it really crosses the line between it's tune origins and music hall material. Also, if Moffat is Scottish and Kidson is English, what exactly is the origin of this song. Even though it is about "Irish Molly" and I found it in an Irish Ballads book, is it originally Irish?

On a broader note, what type of collectors were Moffat and Kidson? Were they traditionalists that wrote music hall material for fun or money, or were they collectors of traditional tunes that sought to "fix" the tunes by making them "regular" and fitting them to what was then the modern musical style? I know that they collaborated on a few songs and if so, what others did they work on and how much did they change the original material when they "collaborated"?

The song Irish Molley has a 1929 copyright, but I imagine that is simple the date it was copywritten, and that the song orignated on an earlier date.

I am so intrigued by all of this. If there is anyone out there (Malcolm???) with thoughts on this, I would really appreciate your input.

Thanks very much,

Claire

Round the House www.geocities.com/rthfiddler


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Subject: RE: Song 'Irish Molly' origins request
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 01 Feb 02 - 10:48 AM

Frank Kidson of Leeds (1855- 1926) was a serious collector who did not interfere with the material he found, though he was of course subject to the normal reservations of the time where it came to what they used to call "coarse" material.  Besides several books on traditional song and dance, he published studies of The Beggars Opera, the Leeds Pottery, British music publishers, and so on.  Much of his MS collection is now in the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, but recently Paul and Liz Davenport unearthed a number of his notebooks amongst material bequeathed by Anne Gilchrist to the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at Cecil Sharp House in London.

Alfred Moffat, born in Edinburgh (1866-1950) was not really a collector, but a compiler and arranger.  He collaborated with his friend Kidson on A Garland of English Folk Songs and The Minstrelsy of England, and also published anthologies of Scottish and Irish songs arranged for voice and piano, collections of nursery rhymes, and so on.

There are two completely different songs called Irish Molly (and variations thereon).  The traditional one has been found in England, Scotland, Ireland, the USA and Canada; Martin Ryan posted a text which apparently derived from an American songbook of the early 19th century here:  Irish Molly-O;  it was set to the tune later used for The Sash My Father Wore, it seems.  Probably not possible to establish its exact origins; it looks like a song made in England or perhaps Scotland on an "Irish" topic rather than an Irish song per se, but I don't think there's any definitive answer.  It was certainly popular in the early-to-mid 19th century, and there are quite a few broadside copies at  Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads,  together with other songs naming Irish Molly as tune.  Here is one:

Irish Molly, O!  Printed between 1819 and 1844 by J. Pitts, Printer, Toy and Marble Warehouse, 6, Great St. Andrew Street, Seven Dials [London].

The other song,  MY IRISH MOLLY-O  is an American "stage Irish" comic vaudeville piece, popularised in recent years by De Dannan and, subsequently, taken up by many others.  It may perhaps have been a parody of the older song, but I haven't heard that earlier one and can't really comment.


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Subject: RE: Song 'Irish Molly' origins request
From: Fiolar
Date: 01 Feb 02 - 10:48 AM

I am not sure if "My Irish Molly" is what you are looking for. That particular number as far as I can ascertain was composed by William Jerome and Jean Schwartz and sung in the show "Sergeant Blue" in 1905 by Blanche Ring (1877 - 1961). Don't know if that helps in any way.


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Subject: RE: Song 'Irish Molly' origins request
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 01 Feb 02 - 10:56 AM

I should have mentioned that you can see sheet music (1905) of Jerome and Schwarz's My Irish Molly O at The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music:

My Irish Molly O


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Subject: RE: Song 'Irish Molly' origins request
From: MartinRyan
Date: 28 Mar 02 - 06:13 PM

Malcolm

Just to confirm - the "musichall" My Irish Molly-o bears no resemblance to the earlier one.

Regards


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Subject: Lyr Add: IRISH MOLLY, O (from Bodleian)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 01 May 05 - 09:27 PM

From Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, Harding B 17(140b):

IRISH MOLLY, O.

As I walked out one morning all in the month of May,
I met a pretty Irish girl, and thus to her did say:
"I put my hand into my pocket, as it happened so,
And pulled out a guinea to treat my Molly, O!"

CHORUS: She is young. She is beautiful. She is the fairest one I know.
The primrose of Ireland before my guinea go,
And the only one that entices me is my Irish Molly, O!

I said, "My pretty fair maid, will you go along with me?
I will show you the straightway across the country."
"My parents would be angry if they should come to know.
They will lay all the blame to my Scotch laddie, O."

When Molly's own father he came for to know
That she'd been courted by a Scotch laddie, O,
He sent for young McDonald and these words to him did say:
"If you will court my daughter Mary, I will send her far away."

Since Molly has deceived me all by her father's ways,
Through some lone woods and valleys, it's there I'll spend my days.
Like some poor forlorn pilgrim I will wander to and fro.
It's all for the sake of my Irish Molly, O!

There is a rose in Ireland. I thought she would be mine.
For to come to my funeral I hope she will incline.
My body shall be ready by the dawning of the day.
It is all for the sake of my bonny Irish maid.

When that I'm buried, there is one thing more I crave:
To lay a marble tombstone at the head of my grave,
And on this marble tombstone a prayer shall be said,
That young McDonald lies here for his bonny Irish maid.

Come all you pretty fair maids. A warning take by me,
And never build a nest at the top of any tree,
For the green leaves will wither, and the root it will decay,
And the beauty of a fair maid will soon fade away.

[The Bodleian has about 15 copies of broadsides with the title IRISH MOLLY or IRISH MOLLY O. I haven't compared them all.]


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Subject: Lyr Add: MY IRISH MOLLY O (Jerome, Schwartz, 1902)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 01 May 05 - 09:40 PM

From The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music:

MY IRISH MOLLY O
Words, William Jerome. Music, Jean Schwartz. 1902
"As sung by Miss Blanche Ring of the Frank Daniels Comic Opera Co.
in Chas. B. Dillingham's Production of the Musical Farce 'Sergeant Brue' "

Molly dear, and did you hear the news that's going round?
Down in the corner of my heart a loving place you've found,
And ev'ry time I gaze into your Irish eyes of blue,
They seem to whisper, "Darling boy, my love is all for you."

CHORUS: Molly, my Irish Molly, my sweet acushla dear,
I'm fairly off my trolley, my Irish Molly, when you are near.
Spring time, you know, is ring time. Come, dear, don't be so slow.
Change your name. G'wan, be game, begorra, and I'll do the same,
My Irish Molly, O!

Molly dear, and did you hear? I furnished up a flat:
Three little cosy rooms and bath with "Welcome" on the mat;
Ten dollars down and two a week, I'll soon be out of debt.
It's all complete except they haven't brought the cradle yet.

[G'wan = go on.]
[This is very similar to the unattributed MY IRISH MOLLY-O in the Digital Tradition, but the DT has an extra verse that isn't in the sheet music.]


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Molly
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 02 May 05 - 12:34 AM

The DT set of the vaudeville song looks as if it was transcribed by ear (and with mistakes: "go out with game"?!), perhaps from the old De Danann record (The Star Spangled Molly, 1981) mentioned earlier. They didn't provide a proper attribution, but implied that they'd learned it off a Flanagan Brothers '78, which would have made a good 20 years after the song was written. The extra verse could have been added at any time.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Molly
From: MartinRyan
Date: 02 May 05 - 07:51 AM

Malcolm

An interesting set, that. The connection to the Hat/Sash My Father Wore is less than usual - but there. I think I've seen sheet music from the US dated about 1810 or so. An article by Mick Maloney?
Not so much a song as a pin-pong ball!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Molly
From: Cluin
Date: 04 Feb 07 - 01:16 PM

My band is doing this one now. I brought it in and the boys liked it and want to include it in our St. Paddy's Day sets, so now I'm figuring out how to do it best.

Listening to the choruses by De Danann, I thought at first they were singing "Change your name; go on the game..."

But isn't "on the game" a euphemism for prostituion?

I like "Go on, be game" better, I think.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Molly / My Irish Molly O
From: GUEST,Ian
Date: 19 Aug 11 - 04:05 PM

Tommy Sands does a great version of the more traditional of the songs. It is also to the tune of The Hat/Sash my Father Wore.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Molly / My Irish Molly O
From: josepp
Date: 19 Aug 11 - 04:29 PM

Jerome Schwartz also co-wrote one of my favorite turn of the century pieces called "Bedelia" in 1903, I believe, which contains a reference to Molly-O.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Molly / My Irish Molly O
From: josepp
Date: 19 Aug 11 - 04:46 PM

Actually, Bedelia was written by William Jerome and Jean Schwartz. I went and looked at the sheet music because something was bothering me. Although I would have been correct to have termed them Jerome-Schwartz.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Molly / My Irish Molly O
From: GUEST,Thomas Fahey
Date: 18 Apr 15 - 10:04 AM

Growing up in Ireland (in the 70's), I always knew the song listed above as the Schartz and Jerome 1902 version. It was commonly sung and on the radio. I never understood why a song addressed to "Molly", a girl's name in Ireland, sometimes had the line "My Darling boy my love is all for you". It seemed odd but I never thought about it much. Now I have encountered a book just published by an academic saying the term "Molly" was used in England in the 19th century by homosexuals to refer to a male sexual partners/lovers (The Cunning House; Richard Margaraf-Turley; Sandstone press; 2015; isbn 978-1-910124-10-9).

Does anyone have any insight - was this a song with a hidden meaning going under the cultural radar in 19th and 20th century Ireland ?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Molly / My Irish Molly O
From: MartinRyan
Date: 18 Apr 15 - 12:35 PM

Straining at gnuts(sic)? The later song, with the line you quote, is surely too recent for the reference to be intended - and there's no sign of it in the earlier one. Apart from that, the former is distinctly American in tone and unlikely to carry that link.

The simpler interpretation (always the best starting point!) is that he imagines HER eyes conveying that message to HIM.

Incidentally: fans of the author Patrick O'Brian's wonderful Aubrey/Maturin tales of the Napoleonic Wars at sea will recognise the "molly" reference.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Molly / My Irish Molly O
From: Thompson
Date: 19 Apr 15 - 03:05 AM

…but …but …if it's Molly's eyes that are whispering "Darling boy, my love is all for you", surely Molly could be a girl?

Nice funny thought that it could be a coded gay reference, though - just pointing out that the grammar doesn't make it necessarily so.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Molly / My Irish Molly O
From: Vic Smith
Date: 19 Apr 15 - 05:53 AM

I've been singing this song for decades learned, I seem to remember from the Topic LP compilation of Flanaghan Brothers 78s. As far as I remember ( I no longer have the LP) I learned the words directly from the record but I have an extra last verse to what was given above by Jim Dixon on 01 May 05 - 09:40 PM which goes:-
Molly dear, oh! have you heard ahat all the neighbours say,
About those hundred sovereigns you have safely stowed away?
They say that's why I love you, dear, but Molly, that's a shame.
If you had only ninety-nine, I'd love you just the same.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Irish Molly / My Irish Molly O
From: MartinRyan
Date: 19 Apr 15 - 06:01 AM

Yes - that's a very standard verse, these days.

Regards


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