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Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrew's Soiree

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KELLIGREWS SOIREE


Related threads:
Kelligrew's Soiree (12)
Lyr Req: Killegrew's Soiree? / Kelligrew's Soiree (23)
Lyr Req: Killegrew Soiree? (Burl Ives version) (13)


DonD 30 May 03 - 05:36 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 30 May 03 - 06:03 PM
CarolC 30 May 03 - 06:06 PM
CarolC 30 May 03 - 06:28 PM
GUEST,CarolC 31 May 03 - 01:13 AM
Alice 31 May 03 - 10:33 AM
Alice 31 May 03 - 10:35 AM
GUEST,SimonArk 07 Mar 08 - 12:25 PM
GUEST 07 Mar 08 - 02:06 PM
GUEST,Tiny Tim 10 Apr 08 - 12:42 PM
Willie-O 10 Apr 08 - 03:50 PM
GUEST,meself 10 Apr 08 - 05:44 PM
Charley Noble 10 Apr 08 - 06:36 PM
meself 10 Apr 08 - 10:08 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 11 Apr 08 - 07:56 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 11 Apr 08 - 08:05 AM
Bob the Postman 12 Apr 08 - 08:26 AM
Bob the Postman 12 Apr 08 - 08:36 AM
meself 12 Apr 08 - 09:27 AM
GEST 12 Apr 08 - 02:18 PM
GEST 12 Apr 08 - 02:29 PM
GUEST 12 Apr 08 - 02:47 PM
GUEST,meself 12 Apr 08 - 02:59 PM
GEST 12 Apr 08 - 04:26 PM
Artful Codger 13 Apr 08 - 01:01 AM
GUEST,Michelle in BC 15 Feb 09 - 09:00 PM
Charley Noble 15 Feb 09 - 09:31 PM
Willie-O 15 Feb 09 - 11:01 PM
GEST 19 Feb 09 - 08:59 PM
Artful Codger 20 Feb 09 - 07:27 AM
GUEST,Guest, DaveM 04 Mar 09 - 05:10 AM
GUEST,Guest, DaveM 04 Mar 09 - 05:12 AM
meself 04 Mar 09 - 07:57 AM
GUEST,Guest, DaveM 04 Mar 09 - 09:32 AM
Artful Codger 04 Mar 09 - 09:44 AM
meself 04 Mar 09 - 01:06 PM
Artful Codger 04 Mar 09 - 03:43 PM
meself 04 Mar 09 - 07:43 PM
Artful Codger 05 Mar 09 - 06:08 AM
meself 05 Mar 09 - 10:56 AM
Artful Codger 05 Mar 09 - 03:34 PM
meself 05 Mar 09 - 11:35 PM
Artful Codger 06 Mar 09 - 02:17 AM
GUEST,Guest, DaveM 06 Mar 09 - 03:44 AM
Bob the Postman 06 Mar 09 - 07:47 AM
meself 06 Mar 09 - 08:58 AM
meself 06 Mar 09 - 09:11 AM
john f weldon 06 Mar 09 - 09:18 AM
GUEST,Guest, DaveM 19 Mar 09 - 03:00 PM
meself 19 Mar 09 - 03:04 PM
GUEST,Henry C 09 Nov 09 - 12:01 AM
meself 09 Nov 09 - 01:00 AM
GUEST 01 May 11 - 10:24 PM
GUEST 01 May 11 - 10:48 PM
michaelr 02 May 11 - 02:01 AM
Charley Noble 02 May 11 - 07:22 AM
Artful Codger 02 May 11 - 11:58 AM
GUEST,crackie's teeth 28 Aug 11 - 06:59 PM
meself 28 Aug 11 - 07:46 PM
ollaimh 29 Aug 11 - 02:18 PM
GUEST,Capt. Craig 11 Jul 13 - 12:37 PM
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Subject: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: DonD
Date: 30 May 03 - 05:36 PM

Re-learning this song for a sing-around next month, I've run into several questions about the meaning of various terms. I'm planning to contribute this and 'Johnny McEldoo' and any other songs that have similar menus, and I will apreciate suggestions.

But about KS:
   Clara Nolan's Ball - I always heard it as Clarence Olan's Ball, but if it really is from a popular music hall song of that era (1910?) does any one have a source for the original words and melody?

   hold a snuffbox to - is there any other usage known of this 'can't compare' idiom?

   eyeball(s) straightened out - what's that supposed to convey, and why?

    have to wear your glasses - why?

   birch rind - is there such a 'delicacy'? Is it a nosh, or a beverage? I've always thought it was birch wine, like birch beer;

    tar twine - I gather this is cord that has been treated with tar for waterproofing, but why is it on a menu? Is there some kind of licorice stick, maybe, that looks like tarred twine that might apply, or is it actually 'tart wine', fittingly between birch wine and cherry wine?

   turpentine -- I presume is just for comic effect.

   dumplings boiled in a sheet - did anyone ever hear of boiling dumplings in a sheet? I had heard it as 'dumplings by the dinner sheet' and presuming that a large serving platter might have been called a dinner sheet (cf cookie sheet) that seemed more sensible;

   crackies' teeth - I figured that crackies are chickens and their nonexistent teeth are comical, too;

   Bryant sat in the blues ... - after references to three US presidents (Wilson, Taft and Teddy Roos) is that W.J. Bryant and his blues might have been because of his electoral defeat (plus the useful internal rhyme) but why was he looking hard at me?

   lashed old muskets from the rack - is this a known figure of speech for wild dancing, or was the soiree held in the town's militia hall where the weapons might have been against the walls? But it was apparently held at Betsy Snook's; why would she have a rack of old muskets?

   and her Grannie on the Head - what the Hell is that? Did she have hair tied up in a grannie knot? Is the Head a geographical allusion?

   Bullocks' heads and picaninnies - I guess the first is a meat dish, but what were picaninnies? Any thoughts on that one?

   aple jam was in the cuff - what's a cuff that you'd serve apple jam in?

Real information from Newfie centenarians, as well as educated guesses or wild surmises from outsiders will be welcome. BTW, although this has been reprinted in various anthologies, is there an original Burke manuscript or published sheet music that verifies these lyrics or are all versions merely transcriptions from the singing, recorded or live, by performers?

Thanks.

Don


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 30 May 03 - 06:03 PM

This is a great song from Newfoundland but it is comedy and any literal translation may be in vain. My mother used to recite the Irish Jubilee, on which ,I believe that it is based, and it made about as much sense as Kelligrews Soiree.
                   Sandy


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: CarolC
Date: 30 May 03 - 06:06 PM

Crackies are mixed breed dogs. I'll check with my hubbie, Jack the Sailor (Newfoundland born and raised), for some of the others.


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: CarolC
Date: 30 May 03 - 06:28 PM

Its Clara Nolan's ball. The lyrics were collected years ago by the John C Doyle company. They've not changed to my knowledge in many years. As Sandy implies most of the items listed are just there as jokes. Crackies are little mongrels which were ubiquitous in Newfoundland until recently. A cuff is a mitten or a tall tale. I think picaninnies was a term for African pygmys. There are Newfoundland puddings which are boiled in cotton bags. One could make a huge one in a sheet.

The old muskets were probably just there for the imagery.

Eyeballs straightened... comic effect.

Hope this helps,

Jack the Sailor.


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: GUEST,CarolC
Date: 31 May 03 - 01:13 AM

Here's a site that might be useful for you:

Dictionary of Newfoundland English Online


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: Alice
Date: 31 May 03 - 10:33 AM

picaninny, or pickaninny (disparaging) origin= US and West Indies, from pequeño, meaning small. definition = African American child.


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: Alice
Date: 31 May 03 - 10:35 AM

Should have added to origin, niño (child). Pequeño niño, small child.


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: GUEST,SimonArk
Date: 07 Mar 08 - 12:25 PM

Ok, Bullock's Heads and Piccaninnies.

It's the Newfoundland corruption of piccalilies, which is a relish, which you'd serve with a cold meat, like a cow's head. Really, it's NOT anything to do with the racial slur, most modern singers of the song just sing piccalilies which sounds the same anyhow.

Other notes, the beaver in the song is a top hat lined with beaver fur, assume you'd got it. Crackle's teeth.. yeah, it's a chicken teeth joke.


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Mar 08 - 02:06 PM

I would take a 'cuff' in this instance to indicate a crusty pastry holding the apple jam.

'eyeballs straightened/have to wear your glasses': you're going to see such extremely bizarre sights, it will effect your vision

Bryant was 'looking hard at me' because I owed him money, or once stole his sweetheart, or he just doesn't fancy the cut of my jib.

lashed old muskets from the rack: the old muskets probably had been for hunting once, and are still kept in the old rack, or have been put over the fireplace as decoration


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: GUEST,Tiny Tim
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 12:42 PM

I think the boxers and US politicians should be replaced with Canadian sports figures and Canadian politicians. I'm working on it.


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: Willie-O
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 03:50 PM

Julst a little late...
(I danced with Nancy Cronan) and her Grannie on the Head - what the Hell is that?

Duh...it's a dance figure.   Context is all.

There is some some good common sense shown in the song...the singer knows its going to be a wild party, wants to cut a dashing figure but doesn't want to wreck his own good clothes, so he borrows a whole outfit.


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 05:44 PM

A 'dashing figure' - in 'Billy Cuddahy's old working pants and Patsy Nolan's shoes'?


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: Charley Noble
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 06:36 PM

Don-

Well, there may also be some irony involved.

My notes for the origin of this song are as follows:

Written by Johnny Burke © 1920
This is a popular Newfoundland folk closely based on an older New York Irish song called "The Irish Jubilee", which documents a similar party and lists the guests and bill of fare.

Borrowing Hogan's "swallow-tail" coat was certainly an attempt to cut a dashing figure. Pity it lost its tails.

I'd just sing the song rather than trying to preface it with a hour of carefully prepared remarks.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: meself
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 10:08 PM

'Borrowing Hogan's "swallow-tail" coat was certainly an attempt to cut a dashing figure.'

I highly doubt it - given that the swallow-tail in question was to be worn in conjunction with the aforementioned 'old working-pants' and a woman's shoes ... the 'old white coat from Fogarty' sounds a little dubious as well ...

Any chance those names with American political connotations were lifted right out of 'The Irish Jubilee'? (No disrespect meant to the great Johnny Burke!).


Grumpily,
meself


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 11 Apr 08 - 07:56 AM

Uh, not a woman's shoes (piquant notion!) ... "Patsy" Nolan would surely be Patrick Nolan, nicknamed Patsy as many Irish Patricks were, and a mercy they didn't call him Paddy.

Origin too, I imagine, of the common term "I was a patsy". E.g., citation from Mr. Lee Harvey Oswald, quoting many others before him.

Also, "have to wear your glasses" always connoted to me that you'd have to see really sharp at the Soiree, that is, keep your wits about you.

If I'd been there I'd have wanted goggles sure ... to keep the flying whiskey out o' me eyes.

Begorra.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 11 Apr 08 - 08:05 AM

Oh yes, and "couldn't hold a snuffbox" is a riff off the more recognizable "couldn't hold a candle to" ... means "couldn't compare."

Etymology cited by ESC, http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/20/messages/1208.html from Brewer's Phrase and Fable is: "He is not fit to hold the candle to him." He is very inferior. The allusion is to link-boys who held candles in theatres and other places of night amusement.

" ... These linkboys were considered very inferior beings, so to say that Tom couldn't 'hold a candle to ' Harry meant that Tom was very much inferior to Harry." From the "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988).

There, I bet that's six times more than you ever wanted to know about that. Bob


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 12 Apr 08 - 08:26 AM

I'm surprised that the information in this thread is so incomplete atp, as I once heard on CBC radio a fairly comprehensive exposition. The few details I remember are: that Flipper Smith and Caroline were two well-known local characters; that one or the other of them was feeble-minded; and that the "old working pants" were borrowed from an undertaker.
GEST's site contains a little more information, most of it derived from a dictionary of Newfoundland English, possibly the same source cited above by CarolC.
Johnny Burke makes another reference to crackies in a culinary context in his version of the song which he calls "Trinity Cake", which confection is said to contain "whiskers of crackies".


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 12 Apr 08 - 08:36 AM

Oh yeah, plus also, in his notes to the songs in this book, Neil Rosenberg states that Burke rewrote the song for publication in the States during the lead-up to the 1912 presidential election, hence the references to the American politicians.
With respect to the "Bryant he sat in the blues" line, I've always assumed that the "blues" were a section of bleachers, the cheap seats furthest from the action, the image being derived from the seating arrangements at a prize fight.


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: meself
Date: 12 Apr 08 - 09:27 AM

"I'm surprised that the information in this thread is so incomplete atp, as I once heard on CBC radio a fairly comprehensive exposition."

Well, then! Why didn't you weigh in back in May '03 and enlighten us? I bet you were having the time of your life sitting back there in the blues watching us all make fools of ourselves! I've a good mind to set Crooked Flavin on yuh!


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: GEST
Date: 12 Apr 08 - 02:18 PM

DonD wrote: "(I danced with Nancy Cronan) and her Grannie on the Head - what the Hell is that?"

I always thought it referred to where Grannie lived - on the "Head", which is a jut of land protruding from the main part of land. For example, I live in a small village called North Head. I'm on the Head, eh? My friend lives half way down the island on another "Head" called Ingalls.

I may be far afield on this, but Willie-O's reply: "Duh...it's a dance figure. Context is all," doesn't sound like something Johnny Burke would toss in as context.

I have before me an original copy of Songs of Newfoundland printed and distributed compliments of The Bennett Brewing Co., LTD, St John's, Newfoundland, in which Bennett acknowledges the words to the songs came from The Gerald S. Doyle Song Book. In it, the word Head is definitely capitalized and printed in quotation marks (as I have it on my own site), perhaps to emphasize its proper intended meaning, as opposed to the local preacher coming "with the pulpit on his head" without capitalization or quotation marks printed just two stanzas before.

See: http://www.wtv-zone.com/phyrst/audio/nfld/01/kelligrews.htm

GEST Songs of Newfoundland and Labrador:
http://www.wtv-zone.com/phyrst/audio/nfld/


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: GEST
Date: 12 Apr 08 - 02:29 PM

However.... The Dictionary of Newfoundland English says:

Head - the innermost part of a bay, harbour or inlet; the land joining the inmost part of a bay. :-)


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Apr 08 - 02:47 PM

But - is 'the Head' a KNOWN part of a dance figure, as I took Willie-O's sarcastic 'Duh' to imply? If so, it would make a little more sense, in the 'context' of an account of dancing ...

Any dancers out there?


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 12 Apr 08 - 02:59 PM

(Dat last was meself).


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: GEST
Date: 12 Apr 08 - 04:26 PM

I just found another twist to Kelligrew's Soiree with the term Tar Twine. In the Dictionary of Newfoundland English the song is frequently cited for usage of a defined word. For example, in the definition of Turpentine Burke's work is cited with the term Tar Wine. Since the Dictionary is part of Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador with access to the oldest and most historically accurate of available records, I do believe that's right. I also think oral tradition has taken the term Tar Wine to Tart Wine and finally to the written anthologies where the term has somehow become Tar Twine, a term which really makes little sense in this context. Burke, on the other hand, comedian that he was, may have actually written it as Tar Twine just so future generations like us could scratch our heads over what he meant. :-)


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: Artful Codger
Date: 13 Apr 08 - 01:01 AM

Check the "Kelligrew's Soiree" entry at Wikipedia for some additional explanations.


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: GUEST,Michelle in BC
Date: 15 Feb 09 - 09:00 PM

I've enjoyed reading all the posts and have heard many renditions of this song, always wondering just WHAT the words meant. After reading the above posts I looked up the words to "Irish Jubilee" and after reading the song and especially the chorus:
THERE WAS PIGS-HEAD AND GOLDFISH, MOCKING BIRDS AND OSTRICHES
    C - G -       D7          G -          D7
    ICE CREAM AND COLD CREAM, VASELINE AND SANDWICHES

I agree that Burke was writing a lot of it for fun, which is why it's so popular with children (including my 3 year old daughter).

From a "British" Columbian! Can't wait to visit NFL one day, and hopefully I'll "have a time"!


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: Charley Noble
Date: 15 Feb 09 - 09:31 PM

It's a great song!

Cheerily,
Charles Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: Willie-O
Date: 15 Feb 09 - 11:01 PM

GEST, I could have been a bit clearer. In fact, I'm not sure now what I meant about context. But I definitely read somewhere, in reference to the song, that "the Head" was a dance. And I took the bold step of inferring that Grannie was a grannie. And I don't think the geographic definition of "Head" makes any sense within the context of the song (cause context is all).

So,,,,Grand Mananer are ya? One of my absolute favourite places. Can we be friends? Cause I want to come visit.

W-O


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: GEST
Date: 19 Feb 09 - 08:59 PM

You can come visit, Willie-O. I couldn't stop you if I wanted to. In summer there are eight ferries a day and they all go to the Head. ~grin~


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: Artful Codger
Date: 20 Feb 09 - 07:27 AM

IMO, the geographical explanation of "on the Head" makes less sense than something dance-related. Why mention where she lived? To distinguish which of her two grannies he meant? Or does it mean they went outside to the shore or pier to dance?

It's curious usage to dance "on" a dance figure, but that could be a local idiom. Or "on the Head" could mean in lead position, or at some prominent spot in the room. Somehow, not knowing for sure adds to the fun--one can imagine him and granny breakdancing amid the tar twine (maybe that's how he flattened Cluney's beaver)...


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: GUEST,Guest, DaveM
Date: 04 Mar 09 - 05:10 AM

What fun, finding a discussion of a song I learned from the Burl Ives version back in the early 60s! We're going to try singing it at our Eng. Dept. student club here in Stockholm, so I got interested in what the phrases actually mean.

A couple of ideas, not all necessarily probable:

1. I like the thought of 'birch rhine', a wine parody of 'birch beer' (or maybe it existed, like dandelion wine?), and 'tart wine'. Line 1 seems to be all about drinks, and the whole verse about foodstuffs, so I don't see how 'birch rind' would fit. (A parodic element comes last, like 'turpentine'.)

2. Could 'crackies teeth' be a kind of seed? It's got to be something to eat (although there is 'turpentine').

3. (William Jennings) Bryant never won a presidential election, so I suspect that 'in the blues' means 'was down in the dumps' (recorded in the OED as early as 1741); those two lines are about politicians, not boxing (the next two lines). There's also an off-hand chance that it's a reference to being 'true-blue' (the Cross of Gold speech, being uncompromising).

4. The Saratoga Lancers, like most such dances, had head couples, so maybe Granny was the head lady, as some of you have been hinting?

5. Muskets from the rack: I think of a long rack at waist height, as in an armory, perpendicular, rather than over a mantlepiece.

6. The devil haul ye: the is surely a reduced form of , rather than the full-vowel /ji:/ of the old nominative form ("Abandon all hope, ye who enter here").

And nearly a century later, it's still fun!


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: GUEST,Guest, DaveM
Date: 04 Mar 09 - 05:12 AM

Whoops! Used an HTML-like symbol for point 6. I was writing about "ye".


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: meself
Date: 04 Mar 09 - 07:57 AM

"5. Muskets from the rack: I think of a long rack at waist height, as in an armory, perpendicular, rather than over a mantlepiece."

Although the soiree was in a private home ("Betsy Snooks" - which really should have an apostrophe!), so a rack over the mantelpiece, or at least mounted higher up on a wall, seems more likely than the armory-style arrangement you propose. However, the type of rack you are thinking of may have been customary in Nfld at the time; does anyone here know?

"6. The devil haul ye: the is surely a reduced form of , rather than the full-vowel /ji:/ of the old nominative form ("Abandon all hope, ye who enter here")."

There is no contention that I'm aware of regarding "ye" in this phrase. If I understand your grammatical/phonetical terminology correctly - and I'm not sure I do (my shortcoming, not yours!) - okay, I'll be honest, I have no idea what the business of the "reduced form" and "the old nominative form" is all about - "ye" here is simply an archaic form of "you" that persisted in some Irish, Newfoundland, and other dialects well into modern times (as in, "Come all ye bold internet surfers").


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: GUEST,Guest, DaveM
Date: 04 Mar 09 - 09:32 AM

Thanks for the info about Betsy Snook(s): it makes sense that a well-to-do person would have a bigger ballroom than an inn, even if her name and actions don't sound terribly upper-class.

As for the "you/ye" bit, I was too hasty. You're probably right that this is an older form lingering on, but it's not that simple, either. In older English people used "ye" as the plural subject (as in your example, or in "Come all ye moonshine drinkers") and "you" as the plural object ("Let me tell you...," "I saw you yesterday"). BUT, as the OED points out, by 1500, people got them confused, so that "ye" could turn up instead of "you", and vice versa; they cite such an example from Dickens, so I stand corrected, it could have been "ye" (rhyming with "me"). It could also have been a way of indicating "ya" (as in "See ya!" or "So long, it's been good to know ya!"). Depends on how you accent "the devil haul ye".


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: Artful Codger
Date: 04 Mar 09 - 09:44 AM

By "reduced", DaveM just means you'd say "yih", "yah" or "yuh", rather than a Biblical-type "ye" with a long E or a formal "you" with a long U.


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: meself
Date: 04 Mar 09 - 01:06 PM

"Betsy Snook(s)"

I believe that in the phrase "I arrived at Betsy Snooks", "Snooks" would be properly rendered "Snooks'" (note apostrophe) - in other words, her name is Snooks, and it's her house. How do I know her name is "Snooks" rather than "Snook"? - come to think of it, I don't; it's just an assumption I've always made ...

And on the same basis, I take it that the "ye" is "yee" rather than "yuh", etc. I haven't often heard the song sung outside the family, but it seems to me that on the few recordings I have heard, it's always been pronounced "yee". And it does rhyme with "soiree" that way. Depending on how you pronounce "soiree" of course ...

(Thanks, gents, for the linguistic & etymological info.).


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: Artful Codger
Date: 04 Mar 09 - 03:43 PM

And I haven't heard it that way. Note that it falls on an unaccented syllable (unlike the final syllable of soiree), and no other verse contains any internal rhyme on the final line. Pronouncing a long E there pulls punch from both the curse and the final word. I think Burke spelled it "ye" (the only time he does) precisely to indicate an intensification of dialect on the curse, and to put a bit more stress on "haul" by reducing the following "you". If he were trying to represent dialect through a characteristic use of "ye", he would have used it throughout, since the whole song is related in his own vernacular.

Even if you do most often hear "yee", it could simply be because most folks have learned the lyrics from a printed source, and not given the matter due consideration. I also hear folks sing the nautical "bow" as "bo", for the same reason.


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: meself
Date: 04 Mar 09 - 07:43 PM

Hmmm, so if they had "given the matter due consideration" they would have arrived at the same conclusion as you? I've been giving the matter some consideration, and have not reached that conclusion - although you may be right; I don't know ... But I don't see how the "yee" pronunciation weakens the "punch" of the curse; my feeling is just the opposite; I think it may depend on how you have become accustomed to hearing it (or "reading" it).

I agree that the curse is uttered in an "intensification of dialect" (in the heat of passion), but we disagree on the implications of that intensification of dialect. I think the speaker is falling into an older speech pattern that underlies his more characteristic speech, as it were, or using a local expression in which the older "ye" has been retained.

The most compelling argument for the "yee" pronunciation, to my mind, is that of euphony: the short vowel sounds at the end of "yuh" and beginning of "and" running together seem to me uncharacteristic of Burke's "clipped" diction. Granted, "yee-and" doesn't roll off the tongue as neatly as "birch rind, tar twine, cherry wine and turpentine", but neither does it have the weak, slurring quality of "yuh-and". It is possible, of course, that Burke in performance paused between those words, perhaps even put in a stop-time, which would not be inconsistent with a music-hall/vaudevillian style, which I imagine was something of Burke's own.

I wonder if some authority on Newfoundland dialect might weigh in ...


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: Artful Codger
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 06:08 AM

Well, I don't slur "ye and"; I use a slight clip characteristic of Irish and Scottish-influenced dialects--like the French "h" in "haut". This clip and the reduction also help to stress the "and", as Burke must've intended (it falls on the highest, most accented syllable in the line).

Since this matter has been blown out of proprortion, let me add other considerations: When you sing "you" unaccented in songs, particularly those in "working class" language, do you always use a long U, or do you tend to reduce it? If so, why should you treat "ye" differently?

Singing "yih" or "yuh" in place of written unaccented "you" or "ye" is prevalent in Irish and Irish-influenced dialects generally. What evidence is there of unstressed "yee" in Newfie Irish-influenced dialect--in 1920?

Anyway, the real test is whether it sounds naturally dialect or contrived when you sing it. Even though I'm a pretty good mimic, I play down dialect, since it always sounds falser to folks when they know it's not your native accent.


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: meself
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 10:56 AM

Not sure it's been "blown out of proportion" - I just find these sorts of questions interesting to pursue. I'm not absolutely certain I'm right - but I'm not certain you're right either ...

As to the way I pronounce "you" in song, I pronounce it as I pronounce it in speech: it varies with the context, both linguistic and social. In other words, with where "you" falls in a phrase, and with whether I'm being pointedly precise in my enunciation in order to be understood by a non-native-English speaker or to impress my betters. 'If so, why should you treat "ye" differently?' It seems to me that Burke was self-consciously employing a local idiomatic expression that used the "yee" pronunciation. But, says you, 'What evidence is there of unstressed "yee" in Newfie Irish-influenced dialect--in 1920?' Having no scholarly background in the field, I cannot produce evidence off the top of my head - but I would be surprised if this pronunciation could not be found in Nfld in the 1920s - however, as to whether it occurred specifically in Irish-Nfld speech, or whether Burke would have used it or been familiar with it, I have no evidence but the song itself, which rather leads us round in a circle ...

'Singing "yih" or "yuh" in place of written unaccented "you" or "ye" is prevalent in Irish and Irish-influenced dialects generally.'

I'll start listening for this. I think it might be a little hard to determine, though, whether the singer of "yih" or "yuh" is "thinking" "ye" or "you" ...

"Anyway, the real test is whether it sounds naturally dialect or contrived when you sing it."

I think Burke intended that phrase to sound slightly contrived - in a natural way. In other words, it was the type of phrase that people might toss around somewhat playfully; perhaps the more sophisticated (of Burke's ilk) might use it to invoke the spirit of the less-sophisticated.

"I play down dialect, since it always sounds falser ... "

Of course, there have been some heated debates on the matter of singing and dialect here in the past ... but I'm with you on that. Howver, there are instances in which a dialect phrase or accent is included in a lyric in a self-conscious way, where the writer fully intends an exaggerated pronunciation (e.g., I was just listening to the Fureys' "Oro, Oro", in which the speaker/singer pointedly mimics his father's way of saying, "Take it aisy ... ").

I'm going to nose around a bit and see if I can come up with anything relevant. (Btw, my time at the moment is a little more flexible than usual, which is why I'm going on at such length. If you're more pressed for time, don't let yourself get bogged down here; you've given me plenty of food for thought!)


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: Artful Codger
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 03:34 PM

[meself:] I think it might be a little hard to determine, though, whether the singer of "yih" or "yuh" is "thinking" "ye" or "you" ...

...except when singers provide the texts in their liner notes.

I think Burke wanted the song to sound rustic and comic, rather than contrived--note that all dialect is conveyed solely through word choice, not altered spellings like "in'" for -ing.


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: meself
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 11:35 PM

And that last point, it seems to me, supports the idea of a "yee" pronunciation - since Burke nowhere else uses an "altered spelling", why would he here? "Ye" for "yee" is not an altered spelling; "ye" for "yih", etc., would be ...

I haven't been able to find much else on-line, other than several mediocre performances on youtube - in which the singers do say "yee", but as you pointed out earlier, that doesn't necessarily mean anything. Tried to e-mail Jim Payne, but the mail bounced back ...


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: Artful Codger
Date: 06 Mar 09 - 02:17 AM

No, because "ye" is not an altered spelling, it's the standard spelling of a legitimate pronoun. In most places, the informal/dialect "ye" is pronounced differently from the formal/Biblical "ye", particularly when unstressed; compare "ye gods" and "ye damn fool". Similarly, when we read "me" as dialect for "my", we intuitively reduce the vowel, even though as a direct object, "me" bears a long E, stressed or unstressed.

So why use "ye" instead of "you", when both reduce to "y(schwa)"? Because "ye" looks more rustic and idiomatic in print, it occurs in quoted speech, and the schwa tends to be pronounced a bit higher.


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: GUEST,Guest, DaveM
Date: 06 Mar 09 - 03:44 AM

I'm with the Artful Codger on this one. It's often a way of indicating in writing an unstressed, slightly higher sound. But the (liberating?) truth seems to be that "you" (and "ye") could be pronounced in a great variety of ways in northern English, Scots English, and thus a variety of forms made their way to Newfoundland. Both stressed and unstressed form will vary. And then there's the artist's own ideas, and his interest in comic effect, dialect imitation, etc. So go with what's comfortable.

I also was thinking a bit about "cat's meat". In 1920, the first Dr. Dolittle book came out (in England, admittedly), and Matthew, the cat's meat's man, is a prominent character in these novels. So I think I'd interpret "cat's meat" literally ('food for a cat') and place it in the same category with "turpentine", a rhyming joke. But maybe that was too obvious?


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 06 Mar 09 - 07:47 AM

'How do I know her name is "Snooks" rather than "Snook"?' asks meself of himself at 04 Mar 09 - 01:06 PM. Betsy is presumably a relation of Granny and Georgie Snooks who resided perhaps at Long Beach or Canaille, according to the song "Great Big Sea".


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: meself
Date: 06 Mar 09 - 08:58 AM

AC: 'No, because "ye" is not an altered spelling, it's the standard spelling of a legitimate pronoun. In most places, the informal/dialect "ye" is pronounced differently from the formal/Biblical "ye", particularly when unstressed; compare "ye gods" and "ye damn fool".'

Okay, I take your point there. However, re: "Similarly, when we read "me" as dialect for "my", we intuitively reduce the vowel, even though as a direct object, "me" bears a long E, stressed or unstressed" - can I take it from this - and from the time of day you're writing - that you live in the UK, where perhaps you hear this dialect use of "me" more often than most do in North America? I don't believe North Americans in general - certainly not Canadians (among whom I count myself) - do make that intuitive reduction to which you refer, unless they happen to be quite familiar for some reason with the specific dialect being represented. Similarly, for that matter, Canadians would have to make a conscious effort to read the "ye" in "ye damn fool" as "y(schwa)" rather than as "yee", unless, again, they happened to have knowledge of the dialect in question. All of which is beside the point, of course, having nothing to do with how Burke would have understood the matter.

Although I'm still not convinced, I will concede that there is much more to your argument than I originally would have allowed. If I find out anything more, one way or the other, I'll pass it along here ...

DaveM (the one who started all this!) - Good point re: "ye" - but it would be interesting to know what Burke had in mind ...

"Cat's meat" as food for the cat makes perfect sense; the question of course is whether or not that meaning was familiar to Burke and company ...


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: meself
Date: 06 Mar 09 - 09:11 AM

Okay, much as it pains me to say it, this excerpt from the Dictionary of Newfoundland English would seem to support AC's position:


the devil haul you: a mild imprecation.
   [c1904] 1960 BURKE (ed White) 23 "Kelligrews Soiree": Oh! says I, the devil haul ye / And your Kelligrews Soiree. P 138-72 A familiar expression is the devil haul ya, This is said when they want to say, 'it's too bad about you.'


The reference is to:

1960 BURKE] (ed White) = John Burke, Burke's Ballads, compiled by John White [St John's, 1960]. Augmented edition in Songs of John Burke, Collected by John White, ed William J. Kirwin (St John's: Cuff Publications, 1982)


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: john f weldon
Date: 06 Mar 09 - 09:18 AM

Birch Rind, the inner bark, placed over roasts to keep the juice in, and if it absorbed enough, you could eat that too. (The way we sometimes use bacon strips these days.)


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: GUEST,Guest, DaveM
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 03:00 PM

Well, I like the idea about birch rind absorbing juice (here in Sweden they ground pine bark into hard bread during "hunger years" back in the 1860s, so why not). But the thing that is puzzling about it is that most parodic jokes begin by establishing the pattern, then adding a ridiculous item like 'turpentine' (at least, it's not my favorite beverage) at the end, so I'd like a list of 'wines'. Of course, 'tar twine' also breaks that, if that too isn't a twist on something now forgotten.

Meanwhile, there's the aspect of getting the song to live on. If there's time at tonight's shindig, I'll try it out on our unsuspecting students; we've got a band coming in that have never heard of it, so I'll see if they can be taught, and I can remember the words fast enough. Wish me luck.


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: meself
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 03:04 PM

Good luck - oh, and keep an eye on Crooked Flavin ...


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: GUEST,Henry C
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 12:01 AM

the Head is the Toilet (Nautical Term) "on the Head " means on the toilet and therefore not watching the young lady.


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: meself
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 01:00 AM

Imaginative - but "on the head" meaning a certain part of the dance makes more sense to me.


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: GUEST
Date: 01 May 11 - 10:24 PM

Crackie is a small Newfoundland dog. Can't imagine their teeth as a party treat!


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: GUEST
Date: 01 May 11 - 10:48 PM

When I last worked in 1965 for a year 'all around the circle' on the 'Rock' it was long past the 'ard times' before 1949 confederation but many grand fellows I worked in woods with were in their 60's and remembered well. I visited most out-ports and got used to pretty basic (but good) food, sometimes living on nothing but 'fish and brewis' (the correct spelling) and pork fat biscuits for weeks. Thus I can relate to most of the foods in the song (except teeth of a small Newfie dog called a Crackie and turpentine?). The language is good English as spoken several hundred years ago. English has constantly morphed in Britain as in Germany and other countries but remained frozen in time in Newfoundland. The British engineers could not understand the locals but I could. Think of Shakespearean English. I learned all the local songs and shipped home 100 pounds of dry 'sot cod' I paid 15 cents a pound for right off the 'flakes'. I have so many fond memories of the 'Rock' and the 'Newfie Bullet', which I had lived for months on. John www.ul705.com/homepage


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: michaelr
Date: 02 May 11 - 02:01 AM

It occurs to me to wonder whether any of us would actually sing this song, or others like it ("The Night before Larry was Stretched" comes to mind) that are so specific to a place, time or dialect as to be unlikely to be comprehended by today's audiences.

I can't imagine myself trying to put this song across. Can you?


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: Charley Noble
Date: 02 May 11 - 07:22 AM

I'm not sure but I certainly found it fascinating to listen to in my younger day, primarily because of its rich work play and its energy.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree
From: Artful Codger
Date: 02 May 11 - 11:58 AM

The essence of the song came across to me even as a child completely unfamiliar with the regional terms. If people really care what everything means, at least now there's Google and Mudcat. So, yes, I would (and do) actually sing this song now; "modern audiences" can appreciate it just as much as in decades past--if this sort of music appeals to them at all. Great tune, fun words, lots of local color; what's not to like? Admittedly, not all such songs age as well.


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrew's Soiree
From: GUEST,crackie's teeth
Date: 28 Aug 11 - 06:59 PM

Have always been curious about this, among other things, in this most charming song). Though everyone knows about the crackie dogs, their teeth as a party treat is too far out for me. Could it be a very hard candy dangerous to teeth? Especially in the 'ard times' when there was a lot of tooth decay from lack of tooth brushes, paste and Crosby's sweet molasses was eaten abundantly. Or a very hard biscuit? (But I can't imagine anyone eating brewis right out of the bag.) Takes a Newf of venerable age to answer that. The charming old gents I worked with all around the circle in early 1960s are most regrettably long gone now. As to 'Nancy Cronan and her granny on the head' these old cocks were mariners and 'head' to them was a toilet (or outhouse version of such). That fits the rest of the ridiculous picture. It was a great pleasure working on the Rock with them and they gave (main-lander) me their Crosby's song books and I sang them all (mostly in simple jig-time) and can still sing Kelligrews from memory today at the drop of a hat. - John - www.ul705.com/homepage - disneyvilla@hotmail.com


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrew's Soiree
From: meself
Date: 28 Aug 11 - 07:46 PM

I perform this song frequently and have done so all my performing life - never occurred to me, that I might not be 'putting it across' ....

_________________________________

I'm not sure when why anyone would insist that the 'head' here is the toilet, when a thoroughly plausible explanation of 'the head' as a part of the dance has been offered above. Makes far more sense, even in a song full of nonsense.


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrew's Soiree
From: ollaimh
Date: 29 Aug 11 - 02:18 PM

my grandmother made a hard candy she called crackie's teeth(which does mean chicken's teeth), they were triangular like some animal teeth.

i alwys thought it was birch wine, which was a local name for birch beer, and tar twine i recall being another candy. a hard toffee made from i don't know what but probably mollassas.

the cuff for apple jam was a pastry stuffed with apple jam.

can't hold a snuff box was still used when i was a kid for can't compare to, or no where near as good as.

and dumplin's boiled in a sheet again a recall ole grand ma making dumplings on top of a big pot of stew and good they were, but to keep them from soaking into the stew she used a sheet, probably linen so it wouldn't affect the stew, but it could have been some kind of gauze--i haven't met anyone who boils dumplin's on top of stew for years--real good on a cold winter evening.

basically a kind of steamed bread , not unlike the chinese steamed buns. local cooking used the few ingreduents they had to best effect. if you had butter for them they were great hot, or you soaked them into the stew if the stew was rather wattery. this streached the food a long way. when i was a kid most housed ad a big pot of stew simmering away all day, to use up all the left overs. usually fish and potatoes were the basis. "spuds and brews", sometimes cabbage turnipe and onions, and even occasionally beef or mutton--before the nova scotia mutton industry was wiped out by frozen imports.

in the old days fish and mutton(in slaughtering season) were almost free, especially for poor families with lots of kids. if you went down to the warf with a bucket when the fish boats came in, the fishermen would fill your bucket for free--if you were a local and had a family, and were poor. they'd give you the fish they couldn't get top dollar for from the buyers but it was good food nonethe less.

they say the coastal people in nova scotia and new foundland did better in the depression than most because they had fish, fish and more fish


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Subject: RE: Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrew's Soiree
From: GUEST,Capt. Craig
Date: 11 Jul 13 - 12:37 PM

I can't believe that this thread has gone on for over 10 years and no one from Kelligrews straightened this lot out about "The Head!" There is a flat piece of land in Kelligrews that juts out into Conception bay and would you believe it's called Cronin's Head and would you believe that parties and picnics were held there? It's not too far from Betsy Snook's old place either. Now,this is irony, The Head is a sewage treatment plant today!


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