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Origins: rathlin bog / Rattlin' Bog / Rattling Bog

DigiTrad:
GREEN GRASS GREW ALL AROUND
THE RATTLIN' BOG


Related threads:
'Hole in the Ground' question (17)
Lyr Req: Bog Down in the Valley / Rattlin Bog (28)
Lyr Req: ...the green grass grew all around (15)
Lyr/Chords Req: The Rattlin' Bog (12)
is Rattlin Bog Irish? (52)


GUEST,saehh 20 Mar 03 - 08:26 PM
BanjoRay 20 Mar 03 - 08:40 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 20 Mar 03 - 08:42 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 20 Mar 03 - 08:43 PM
Eire-IN 20 Mar 03 - 08:59 PM
Blackcatter 20 Mar 03 - 11:57 PM
Malcolm Douglas 21 Mar 03 - 12:45 AM
Nigel Parsons 21 Mar 03 - 05:45 AM
Nigel Parsons 21 Mar 03 - 06:27 AM
Nigel Parsons 21 Mar 03 - 06:39 AM
IanC 21 Mar 03 - 07:20 AM
CapriUni 21 Mar 03 - 12:34 PM
Blackcatter 21 Mar 03 - 08:32 PM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Mar 03 - 08:43 PM
CapriUni 22 Mar 03 - 01:46 AM
Nigel Parsons 22 Mar 03 - 11:32 AM
BUTTERFLY 22 Mar 03 - 06:13 PM
greg stephens 22 Mar 03 - 06:22 PM
Nigel Parsons 03 Oct 03 - 08:34 PM
Celtaddict 04 Oct 03 - 08:30 AM
GUEST,Susan Potts 11 Jul 08 - 05:49 AM
GUEST,BUTTERFLY 10 Aug 09 - 03:46 PM
Jack Campin 10 Aug 09 - 05:15 PM
Phil Edwards 10 Aug 09 - 05:16 PM
Paul Burke 11 Aug 09 - 02:02 AM
GUEST 03 Oct 10 - 08:05 PM
Steve Gardham 04 Oct 10 - 10:35 AM
Mr Red 07 Jul 14 - 05:59 PM
Banjo-Flower 07 Jul 14 - 06:50 PM
Jack Campin 07 Jul 14 - 06:57 PM
Mr Red 08 Jul 14 - 03:22 AM
Mr Red 08 Jul 14 - 03:27 AM
Geoff the Duck 08 Jul 14 - 03:53 AM
GUEST,Eliza 08 Jul 14 - 04:17 AM
GUEST,Eliza 08 Jul 14 - 04:25 AM
Jack Campin 08 Jul 14 - 07:02 AM
GUEST,leeneia 08 Jul 14 - 10:25 AM
Mrrzy 08 Jul 14 - 12:50 PM
GUEST,Mysha (on board) 08 Jul 14 - 01:56 PM
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Subject: Origins: rathlin bog
From: GUEST,saehh
Date: 20 Mar 03 - 08:26 PM

Hello,
So a lot of us know the song Rathlin Bog.
However, could anyone tell me if there really is a Rathlin Bog.


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: BanjoRay
Date: 20 Mar 03 - 08:40 PM

I always thought it was Rattlin' Bog, with rattling being a very favorable Irish adjective. There doesn't seem to be a Rathlin in Ireland, or at least Multimap can't find one.
Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 20 Mar 03 - 08:42 PM

Do you mean "Rattlin' Bog"?

Rattlin' Bog
Rattlin' Bog Irish?


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 20 Mar 03 - 08:43 PM

Raithlin Island is in Northern Ireland.


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: Eire-IN
Date: 20 Mar 03 - 08:59 PM

Yes, I researched and had also found information on the island, but no reference to a bog on the island. However, it may be a given that there is one.

So what does the Irish adjective rattlin' mean?

I know that when the song is sung it sounds like and is probably written as Rattlin' Bog, but I thought that the island being Raithlin that the lyrics were just a slur


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: Blackcatter
Date: 20 Mar 03 - 11:57 PM

I've always wondered about songs like this. Are there really and meanings or traditions behind it? Or - is t just a nonsense song?

I mean, come on - didn't someone write it down from a tradition that goes back hundred or even thousands of years? Guys like me who love singing this type of song have probably singing these songs since the English had even heard of Ireland.


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 21 Mar 03 - 12:45 AM

Rattling Bog is a localised Irish form of a song that's known in one form or another in a lot of countries across Europe. The family is often called The Tree in the Wood or The Everlasting Circle, and is sung to a good few different tunes and in a good few different languages, but the basic content and the circular form doesn't seem to vary all that much. As we know it now, it doesn't mean a great deal, but essentially the same content also turns up in Asia (for example), where it has been used in Zen parables and the like. That doesn't mean that it's ever had any particularly deep meaning in Europe, but the human fascination with such things certainly goes back a long way.

"Rattling" in Ireland means exactly the same as it means everywhere else, so far as I know. "Rathlin" or "Raithlin" seems to be a misunderstanding, but not all that uncommon among people who have learnt this form of the song since it was popularised by the Clanceys and so on, without ever seeing it written down. The familiar tune is known in Ireland as a polka, in Scotland as a strathspey (John MacAlpin[e]) and in England as a North-West morris dance.


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 21 Mar 03 - 05:45 AM

Also a Traditional Welsh song "Y Pren ar y Bryn" (The Tree on the Hill).
I may transcribe after checking availability elsewhere.
Nigel


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Subject: ADD: Y Pren ar y Bryn
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 21 Mar 03 - 06:27 AM

Y PREN AR Y BRYN (the tree on the hill)
^^ (Traditional)

1, Ar y bryn 'roedd pren, O bren braf !
Y pren ar y bryn, a'r bryn ar y ddaear, a'r ddaear ar ddim.
Ffeind a braf oedd y bryn lle tyfodd y pren

2, Ar y pren ddaeth cainc, O gainc braf !
Y gainc ar y pren, yr pren ar y bryn, y bryn ar y ddaear, a'r ddaear ar ddim.
Ffeind a braf oedd y bryn lle tyfodd y pren.

3, Ar y gainc daeth nyth, O nyth braf !
Y nyth ar y gainc, y gainc ar y pren, y pren ar y bryn,
Y bryn ar y ddaear, etc.        

4, O'r nyth daeth wy, O wy braf !
Yr wy o'r nyth, y nyth ar y gainc,
Y gainc ar y pren, y pren ar y bryn, Y bryn ar y ddaear, etc.,

5, O'r wy daeth cyw, O gyw braf !
Y cyw o'r wy, yr wy o'r nyth,
Y nyth ar y gainc, y gainc ar y pren, y pren ar y bryn,
Y bryn ar y ddaear, etc.,
        
6, Ar y cyw daeth plu, O blu braf !
Y plu o'r cyw, y cyw o'r wy,
Y wy o'r nyth, y nyth ar y gainc,
Y gainc ar y pren, y pren ar y bryn
Y bryn ar y ddaear, etc.,        

7, O'r plu daeth gwely, O wely braf !
Y gwely o'r plu, y plu o'r cyw,
Y cyw o'r wy, yr wy o'r nyth, y nyth o'r gainc,
Y gainc o'r pren, y pren ar y bryn,
Y bryn ar y ddaear, a'r ddaear ar ddim.
Ffeind a braf oedd y bryn lle tyfodd y pren.

Notes: copied from "Welsh Folk Songs part 1" J Lloyd Williams and L.D.Jones (Llew Tegid)
The notes therein mention "Sung to Mr John Morris by Mr Richard Humphreys, Allt Goch, Festiniog... The idea has probably been borrowed from English sources but the air appears to be Welsh" (Welsh Folk Society Journal 1, p 41)

NP


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 21 Mar 03 - 06:39 AM

From the same source as above, English translation done by 'Llew Tegid': (first and last verse and first lines of intervening!)

1, What a grand old tree, Oh fine tree.
The tree on the hill, the hill in the valley,
The valley by the sea.
Fine and fair was the hill where the old tree grew.

2, From the tree came a bough, Oh fine bough !

3, On the bough came a nest, Oh fine nest !

4, From the nest came an egg, Oh fine egg !

5, From the egg came a bird, Oh fine bird !

6, On the bird came feathers, Oh fone feathers !

7, From the feathers came a bed, Oh fine bed !
The bed from the feathers, the feathers on the bird,
The bird from the egg, The egg from the nest,
The nest on the bough, The bough on the tree,
The tree on the hill, the hill in the valley,
And the valley by the sea.
Fine and fair was the hill where the old tree grew.

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: IanC
Date: 21 Mar 03 - 07:20 AM

BTW

Just what's Irish about the use of the word "Rattling"in this context? It's the same as the use of the word in English Boys' Comics from the C19th on "A Rattling Good Yarn".

As Cyril Poacher says:

It's a rare bark, and a rattling bark,
In a bog down in yon valley-o.

:-)


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: CapriUni
Date: 21 Mar 03 - 12:34 PM

Nigel Wrote: (translated from Welsh)

7, From the feathers came a bed, Oh fine bed !

A version of Rattlin' Bog that I learned in highschool, for our May Day celebration, went on from there:

8) and on that bed there was a maid

9) and with that maid there was a man,

10) and from that man there came a babe (I, personally, switch "maid" and "man" for obvious reasons)

11) and from the babe there grew a man

12) and on that man there was an arm

13) and on that arm there was a hand

14) and in that hand there was a seed,

15) and from the seed there grew a tree (a rare tree, a rattlin' tree!)

So it really does go into an "Everlasting Circle" -- and is nearly everlasting to sing; depending on how fast I go, I time the song out at 15-20 minutes to sing all the verses... I play the song through my head when I'm stuck waiting somewhere.


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: Blackcatter
Date: 21 Mar 03 - 08:32 PM

CapriUni,

I've added an additional verse past the "gleam in the eye of the bug"

(i)And in that gleam there was the Sun
The rare Sun, the Rattlin' Sun (/i)

To me it brings it back to the source of life for that tree.


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Mar 03 - 08:43 PM

"Rattling" in this context means "fine". Nothing to do with Rathlin Island. (I'd be very surprised if that has a bog anyway.)

Incidentally the tune is the one generally used for the Dance "The Siege of Ennis"


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: CapriUni
Date: 22 Mar 03 - 01:46 AM

From Blackcatter: I've added an additional verse past the "gleam in the eye of the bug"

I don't know a version with that line in't... But I like it, and I like your extention.

Where does it fit in?


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 22 Mar 03 - 11:32 AM

With regards the above "Y Pren ar y Bryn" I am not ABC or MIDI competent, but if someone would like to complete the above by adding the tune, I will happily e-mail the three pages of music/words (in stave notation, Key of C, sop & alto, with piano accomp. Sop & Alto music also given in sol-fa)
If so, please PM me. If not, I will try to attack the basic ABC instructions in the not too distant future.

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: BUTTERFLY
Date: 22 Mar 03 - 06:13 PM

I would be fairly sure that Rattling Bog has nothing to do with Rathlin Island off the north coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Apparently there must have been some bogs on the island many years ago (ie pre 20th century) but they have long been cut away for fuel. Some of the small lakes on the island may have resulted from peat cutting.

Rathlin was known many hundreds of years ago (ie BC) to one of the Ancient Roman Historians (?Pliny, I think) possibly because there was an axe factory on the island (there is another at Tievebulliagh Mountain near Cushendall in North-east Antrim, not too many miles away). Such axe factories (using local flint, I believe, though I am no expert on this) were very rare, and presumably axes were in great demand all over Europe, for tools and weapons, etc. One old name for Rathlin is Raghery. A peninsula in Lough Neagh in North Armagh, also Northern Ireland, though now known as Raughlan, is marked on some oldish maps (ie 19th century) as "Rathlin Island". Not far away is Coney Island which some claim gave its name to Coney Island in New York, though I believe Coney Island in Co. Down, and Coney Island in Co. Sligo have also claimed this derivation.

"Rattling" can be a term of approval, as in "rattling good yarn", but possibly (and this is just my speculation) in this context it might mean "quaking" or "shaking". A wet peat bog, such as one might find in a valley bottom, tends to quake or shake up and down if you stand still and jump up and down (be careful you don't sink into the water!).

This is also speculation, but I wonder if the well known Yorkshire song "On Ilkley Moor Bat 'hat" (spelling may not be correct) could be regarded as a similar sort of cycle song. Anyway, just enjoy the songs and don't worry too much about the meanings, and don't take any of the speculations above about the meaning of "Rattling", etc, as gospel.


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 Mar 03 - 06:22 PM

Nothing to do with this thread, but I had a very nice lunch once with the archaologists at the dig at the Rathlin stone axe factory. Didn't see any bogs though. Robert the Bruce(or so the locals say) hung out on Rathlin a lot when things werent going well with his campaigns against the English.


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 08:34 PM

Refresh (current interest)

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: Celtaddict
Date: 04 Oct 03 - 08:30 AM

Here in Connecticut we sing what we refer to as the "James Joyce version" that involves
from the feather there was a bed
in the bed there was a man
on the man there was a woman
in the woman there was a child
on the child there was an arm
on the arm there was a hand
in the hand there was a seed
in the seed there was a tree
I have always liked the full circle effect, the wonderful potentiality of the feather containing the bed and the seed containing the tree, and the fact that the woman is on top.


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: GUEST,Susan Potts
Date: 11 Jul 08 - 05:49 AM

Am interested to know if the Welsh form (Y Pren ar y Bryn) can be traced back to at least the 1500s: I suspect this kind of song goes back for ever but in Wales there was a cut off in the 1760s & it's hard to leap back over that. I want to find out if local composer Thomas Tomkins, b 1572 in S Davids, Pembrokeshire, would or could have known/ heard it. I'd be v glad to have any evidence of its existence then, therefore.

V interesting to hear it's not only in this part of the world but across Asia etc, too: its being so widespread adds to view that it's been around a long time ...

I can Sibelius the music & send it as an attachment to an email address but have never dealt with this form of thread before; perhaps I'm in the same boat as Nigel P.

Susan Potts


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: GUEST,BUTTERFLY
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 03:46 PM

RARE BOG, THE RATTLIN' BOG, THE BOG DOWN IN THE VALLEY-O


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: Jack Campin
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 05:15 PM

The tune was known in the early 19th century in Scotland as "March to the Battlefield".

Is the *tune* known from an older source from anywhere else? It doesn't sound like a very old one.


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 05:16 PM

The "full circle" version is in the Wicker Man - do we know if it predated the film?

Looking back at Nigel's version, my Welsh isn't good enough to read through the whole thing, but I did notice that

"a'r bryn ar y ddaear, a'r ddaear ar ddim"
translates literally not as
"the hill in the valley, the valley by the sea"
but as
"the hill on the world, the world on nothing"
which is pleasantly blunt. (But then, the Welsh R. Blunt.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: Paul Burke
Date: 11 Aug 09 - 02:02 AM

Heresy! Four elephants, a turtle, then nothing!


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Oct 10 - 08:05 PM

ok Rathlin is a place in Ireland...
It's an Island off of the north coast of ireland.

And rattlin' isn't an irish slang adjective... :P


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Oct 10 - 10:35 AM

And you can also look at the several variants on garlands and broadsides under various titles. One at least available online is a later one printed by Pearson of Manchester, Bodleian, Firth, c26 (260)
titled 'Where the green leaves grows all around. But I have a version c1800 titled 'The Tree on the Hill' from a garland. It's pretty obvious they all come from oral tradition and as someone has already pointed out the song is known in various parts of Europe and must be at least 3 centuries old.


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Subject: Origins: Rattling Bog?
From: Mr Red
Date: 07 Jul 14 - 05:59 PM

We picked some grass that looked like a miniature lantern. It was said to be Rattle Grass.

Is this the reason the bog was a rattling bog?

Just a thought.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Rattling Bog?
From: Banjo-Flower
Date: 07 Jul 14 - 06:50 PM

BG Did you smoke it

Gerry


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Subject: RE: Origins: Rattling Bog?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 07 Jul 14 - 06:57 PM

I once went on a botanizing walk in Transylvania with a local expert who pointed to a meadow dominated by what looked like the same stuff - he said (via an interpreter from Hungarian) that it was locally known as "useless plant" or "cursed plant", and the meadow we were looking at was traditionally believed to have been accursed with it after a bishop was murdered there a few centuries before.

When does the tune for "The Rattling Bog" date from? It was known in Scotland as "March to the Battlefield" in the 1830s.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Rattling Bog?
From: Mr Red
Date: 08 Jul 14 - 03:22 AM

Wiki on Rattlin' Bog says "popular Irish song" which just means it was sung there IMHO. Origin still unknown.
Song Meanings .com are even less helpful.
The most edifying reference I can see is (guess where) here on the 'Cat.
Rathlin' Bog so I will add my 6 pen'th.


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog
From: Mr Red
Date: 08 Jul 14 - 03:27 AM

Mudcat thread with more normal spelling where I posit the concept of a grass known (in the UK at least) as "Rattle Grass" and it would appear to thrive in damp conditions. And is pretty gregarious - see
Rattle Grass Whaddayareckon?


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog / Rattlin' Bog / Rattling Bog
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 08 Jul 14 - 03:53 AM

If your grass is this one Briza maxima - Greater quaking grass - the growing conditions quoted for it are "well drained soil", so very unlikely to be found anywhere near a bog.

There are Quaking Bogs, where water is covered by a thick mat of mosses and other plants and the whole surface moves up and down if you walk on it. I have even seen small trees waving about as the medium they are growing in moves. That said a quaking bog would not be "rattling".

I have always assumed the same usage as having a "rattling good time" (Dictionary definition number 2. That said - not sure what is really good about a bog?

Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog / Rattlin' Bog / Rattling Bog
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 08 Jul 14 - 04:17 AM

Wasn't a song similar to this sung in that weird film The Wicker Man? I seem to remember a circle of boys swinging their arms in an odd way and dancing self-consciously in a ring.


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog / Rattlin' Bog / Rattling Bog
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 08 Jul 14 - 04:25 AM

Yes! In answer to my own question (I've just looked it up!) it's called The Maypole Song and was written for the film by Paul Giovanni. It's on Youtube, and the lyrics are very similar to the Rattling Bog type of song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog / Rattlin' Bog / Rattling Bog
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Jul 14 - 07:02 AM

I suspect "rattle grass" is usually Rhinanthus minor.

It's a weird plant and I doubt it can have had many positive associations in traditional culture. So I doubt it relates to the song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog / Rattlin' Bog / Rattling Bog
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 08 Jul 14 - 10:25 AM

I agree with you, Jack.

This thread has got me to thinking about words which end in 'ing' and have little real meaning. Instead, they are used in traditional ways to express either approval or disapproval. Examples:

a brand *spanking-new automobile
a *bouncing baby boy (who might be too little even to raise his head)
a *corking great festival

or

a *bleeding great rhinoceros head a-mounted on a board!
a huge, *hulking, ugly yacht

and of course, the working man's all-purpose adjective, f*cking.
=========
To me, the interesting thing about 'The Rattling Bog' is that it's a song for teaching. We sing it with children, and we are not only having fun and passing the time, we are teaching them language and order (from big to small) and memory skills.

Those are probably the reasons why the song is widespread and has lasted so long.


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog / Rattlin' Bog / Rattling Bog
From: Mrrzy
Date: 08 Jul 14 - 12:50 PM

THis is fascinating - Iknow several versions of the Tree in the hole and the hole in the ground and the green grass growing all around all around and the green grass growing all around... and NONE of them are circular! They all go from big to tiny but not to the seed to regrow the tree! Wow!


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Subject: RE: Origins: rathlin bog / Rattlin' Bog / Rattling Bog
From: GUEST,Mysha (on board)
Date: 08 Jul 14 - 01:56 PM

Hi,

I always took this to be "rattling", like a single bean, pea, screw, whatever, rattles in its container. So, a single/lone bog, containing a single/lone tree, etc.

Bye
                                                                Mysha


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