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Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla

DigiTrad:
CRUEL MOTHER
THE CRUEL MOTHER
THE CRUEL MOTHER (4)
THE CRUEL MOTHER 2
WELLA, WELLA


Related threads:
Lyr/Chords Add: Weela Wallia (12)
Lyr Req: Weela Wallia: 'stuck the penknife in his. (15)
Tune Req: Cruel Mother - John Renbourn Group (1)
(origins) Penguin: The Cruel Mother (Child #20) (18)
Lyr Req: The Sun Shines Fair on Carlisle Wall (12)
Icelandic 'Cruel Mother' story (10)
Lyr Req: The Cruel Mother (from Paul Clayton) (3)
William Williamson's "Cruel Mother" (5)
Lyr Req: Cruel Mother variant: Fine Flowers in... (27)
Chord Req: The rose and the lindsey (4)
Child #20 - what is Lindsay? (26)
(origins) Origins: Weila weila waila (7)
The Cruel Mother (6)
Lyr Req: Cruel Mother (#20, Hedy West) (17)
Lyr Req: Cruel Mother (from Dave & Toni Arthur) (5)
Cruel Mother (Redpath) (3)
Lyr Req: Fine Flowers in the Valley / Cruel Mother (7)
Lyr Req: The Rose and the Lindsey-O (27)
cruel mother - with 'penknife three foot long' (4) (closed)


jim 06 Oct 98 - 04:00 PM
mmario 06 Oct 98 - 04:12 PM
Bob Schwarer 06 Oct 98 - 04:33 PM
Ralph Butts 06 Oct 98 - 06:12 PM
MMario 07 Oct 98 - 10:18 AM
rosebrook 07 Oct 98 - 10:23 AM
Jim 07 Oct 98 - 10:38 AM
Barry Finn 07 Oct 98 - 03:50 PM
Roberto Sopero 07 Oct 98 - 05:48 PM
JB3 10 Oct 98 - 04:21 PM
Martin Ryan. 10 Oct 98 - 06:26 PM
Barry Finn 10 Oct 98 - 10:52 PM
skw@ 12 Oct 98 - 03:16 AM
Joe Offer 13 Oct 98 - 03:27 AM
Steve Parkes 10 Mar 04 - 04:16 AM
Snuffy 10 Mar 04 - 04:24 AM
GUEST,guest mick 10 Mar 04 - 07:18 AM
Steve Parkes 10 Mar 04 - 10:32 AM
GUEST,MMario 10 Mar 04 - 10:38 AM
MartinRyan 10 Mar 04 - 01:45 PM
Snuffy 11 Mar 04 - 08:28 AM
Steve Parkes 12 Mar 04 - 05:04 AM
weerover 12 Mar 04 - 05:44 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 12 Mar 04 - 05:58 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 12 Mar 04 - 06:01 AM
AKS 12 Mar 04 - 06:47 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 12 Mar 04 - 07:14 AM
GUEST,Paul Burke 12 Mar 04 - 07:35 AM
Fergie 12 Mar 04 - 08:18 AM
weerover 12 Mar 04 - 03:30 PM
MartinRyan 12 Mar 04 - 03:37 PM
Mary Humphreys 12 Mar 04 - 03:44 PM
GUEST 03 Jun 08 - 04:42 PM
Steve Gardham 03 Jun 08 - 04:56 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Jun 08 - 03:28 AM
HuwG 04 Jun 08 - 11:17 AM
GUEST,O Faolain 22 Feb 09 - 09:25 PM
Malcolm Douglas 22 Feb 09 - 10:21 PM
MartinRyan 23 Feb 09 - 03:02 AM
Richard Mellish 23 Feb 09 - 04:02 PM
Richard Mellish 23 Feb 09 - 04:14 PM
MartinRyan 23 Feb 09 - 04:35 PM
JP2 24 Feb 09 - 11:03 AM
goatfell 24 Feb 09 - 11:14 AM
Mrrzy 24 Feb 09 - 11:23 AM
MGM∑Lion 06 Sep 09 - 12:48 AM
Steve Gardham 06 Sep 09 - 10:05 AM
MGM∑Lion 06 Sep 09 - 11:21 AM
MGM∑Lion 06 Sep 09 - 12:49 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Sep 09 - 05:47 PM
MGM∑Lion 06 Sep 09 - 09:36 PM
MGM∑Lion 06 Sep 09 - 10:22 PM
MGM∑Lion 06 Sep 09 - 11:24 PM
jeddy 07 Sep 09 - 01:04 AM
Steve Gardham 07 Sep 09 - 01:02 PM
Les in Chorlton 07 Sep 09 - 02:30 PM
MGM∑Lion 07 Sep 09 - 02:41 PM
Azizi 07 Sep 09 - 09:38 PM
Azizi 07 Sep 09 - 10:07 PM
Azizi 07 Sep 09 - 10:17 PM
Azizi 07 Sep 09 - 10:27 PM
jeddy 07 Sep 09 - 11:32 PM
GUEST,billy 14 Oct 09 - 11:22 PM
Steve Gardham 20 Oct 09 - 02:07 PM
Steve Gardham 21 Oct 09 - 07:06 PM
GUEST 12 May 10 - 02:29 AM
GUEST,Mao_li_Osa 18 May 10 - 11:59 AM
Tannywheeler 18 May 10 - 12:18 PM
Steve Gardham 18 May 10 - 02:21 PM
GUEST,Sandy 07 Sep 10 - 10:55 PM
GUEST,digger 05 Feb 11 - 07:36 AM
GUEST,Christine 02 Mar 11 - 08:45 PM
GUEST,Grishka 03 Mar 11 - 06:19 AM
GUEST,Desi C 03 Mar 11 - 01:59 PM
Clontarf83 03 Mar 11 - 02:30 PM
GUEST,Desi C 04 Mar 11 - 02:16 PM
GUEST,Richard Harold's Cross 05 Jun 12 - 01:40 PM
GUEST 18 Dec 12 - 07:22 PM
Fergie 18 Dec 12 - 07:36 PM
GUEST 11 Feb 13 - 06:30 PM
GUEST,JTT 15 Aug 17 - 08:19 AM
Steve Gardham 15 Aug 17 - 01:52 PM
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Subject: Wela Wolla
From: jim
Date: 06 Oct 98 - 04:00 PM

Song is about a witch who kills a baby by stabbing in head with alone knife. She is hung moral of story don't stick knives in babies heads


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Subject: RE: Wela Wolla
From: mmario
Date: 06 Oct 98 - 04:12 PM

yes! I am looking for this as well


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Subject: RE: Wela Wolla
From: Bob Schwarer
Date: 06 Oct 98 - 04:33 PM

Weela Wallia is a Clancy Brothers(& Tommy Makem) song. There is an old thread on it but I can't find it.

Bob S.


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Subject: Lyr Add: WEELA WALLIA (Clancy Brothers)
From: Ralph Butts
Date: 06 Oct 98 - 06:12 PM

Here 'tis. "Baby" is pronounced "Babby" by the Clancys.

.....Tiger

Weela Wallia - Clancy Brothers

There was an old woman who lived in the wood,
Weela weela wallia;
There was an old woman who lived in the wood,
Down by the river Sallia.

She had a baby six months old,
Weela weela wallia;
She had a baby six months old,
Down by the river Sallia.

She had a penknife three foot long,
Weela weela wallia;
She had a penknife three foot long,
Down by the river Sallia.

She stuck the knife in the baby's head,
Weela weela wallia;
The more she stabbed it, the more it bled,
Down by the river Sallia.

Three big knocks came a-knocking at the door,
Weela weela wallia;
Two policeman and a man,
Down by the river Sallia.

"Are you the woman what killed the child?"
Weela weela wallia;
"Are you the woman what killed the child
Down by the river Sallia?"

"I am the woman what killed the child."
Weela weela wallia;
"I am the woman what killed the child
Down by the river Sallia."

The rope got chucked and she got hung,
Weela weela wallia;
The rope got chucked and she got hung,
Down by the river Sallia.

The moral of this story is,
Weela weela wallia;
Don't stick knives in baby's heads
Down by the river Sallia.


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Subject: RE: Wela Wolla
From: MMario
Date: 07 Oct 98 - 10:18 AM

Thank You!


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Subject: RE: Wela Wolla
From: rosebrook
Date: 07 Oct 98 - 10:23 AM

And although the content is extremely morose, this is one of my band's favorite celtic songs to sing - it's so 'musically' upbeat! We did however refrain from bringing this one out last week-end when we played at a picnic for foster parents and their families...

Rose


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Subject: RE: Wela Wolla
From: Jim
Date: 07 Oct 98 - 10:38 AM

Thanks all for the song Wela walla


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Subject: RE: Wela Wolla
From: Barry Finn
Date: 07 Oct 98 - 03:50 PM

Try jumping rope to this, that's what I'm told it was used for in the Liberties (sp?) Dublin, 1/2 a century ago. Barry


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Subject: RE: Wela Wolla
From: Roberto Sopero
Date: 07 Oct 98 - 05:48 PM

there's another verse, which would go 2nd from the end in the above lyrics:

"That was the end of the woman in the woods,
Weela Weela wallia
And that was the end of her bahy too
Down by the river Sallia"


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Subject: RE: Wela Wolla
From: JB3
Date: 10 Oct 98 - 04:21 PM

This is the lightest of the Cruel Mother songs/ballads. I have heard it sung in Ireland where there were intentional juxtapositions of the words: She had a pen-knife six months old, she had a babby three feet long, she stuck the babby in the pen-knife's head, etc., which makes it more comedic.


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Subject: RE: Wela Wolla
From: Martin Ryan.
Date: 10 Oct 98 - 06:26 PM

Barry

The "Liberties" were once areas just outside the city walls of Dublin - now, of couirse, regarded as the heart of the city. I went to school there, as it happens.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Wela Wolla
From: Barry Finn
Date: 10 Oct 98 - 10:52 PM

Hi Martin, funny timing someone asked about this song last Tue. at a singing session, so Shay launched into it saying as a kid it was sung while jumping rope, then getting to the last chorus he started swinging his arms around to the music showing how it kept the rope in time. Barry


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Subject: Lyr Add: OLD MOTHER LEE^^
From: skw@
Date: 12 Oct 98 - 03:16 AM

The Dubliners' version of 'Weila Waile' is slightly different from the Clancys'. After the 'three loud knocks' it goes on:

There were two policemen and a man

They took her away and they put her in the jail

They put the rope around her neck

They pulled the rope and she got hung

Now that was the end of the woman in the wood
And that was the end of her bawbee too

At some point the song jumped across the Irish Sea. The Spinners did a version called 'Old Mother Lee' about which they said:

[1974:] The girls of Kirkdale, Liverpool, whose brothers at Major Street school gave this to [Spinner] Tony Davis, had certainly not heard of Professor Child. However, their skipping is unmistakeably based on the ['Cruel Mother] ballad substituting the grim realities of 'forty police', 'the magistrate' and capital punishment for the ghostly children and the 'fires of hell' of the older form of the story. (Notes 'The Spinners at the London Palladium')

There was an old woman called old Mother Lee
Old Mother Lee, old Mother Lee
There was an old woman called old Mother Lee
Down by the walnut tree

She had a baby in her arms

She had a penknife long and sharp

She stabbed te baby through the heart

The next-door neighbours saw the blood

They rang up for the forty police

The forty police came running (skipping) out

They took her to the magistrate

The magistrate said she must die

They hung her to the walnut tree
And that was the end of old Mother Lee

Their tune is a very simple but energetic one, entirely consistent with being used for skipping by children and for nothing else. - Susanne


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Subject: Tune Add: WEELA WALLIA
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Oct 98 - 03:27 AM

Here's the tune:

MIDI file: WEELAW~1.MID

Timebase: 192

Name: Weela Wallia
Text: By traditional
Copyright: from the Irish Songbook (Clancy Brothers)
Key: D
TimeSig: 2/2 24 8
Start
0000 1 69 110 0094 0 69 000 0002 1 69 110 0094 0 69 000 0002 1 69 110 0094 0 69 000 0002 1 66 110 0160 0 66 000 0032 1 66 110 0094 0 66 000 0002 1 66 110 0094 0 66 000 0002 1 69 110 0160 0 69 000 0032 1 69 110 0160 0 69 000 0032 1 66 110 0094 0 66 000 0002 1 66 110 0094 0 66 000 0002 1 66 110 0336 0 66 000 0048 1 62 110 0160 0 62 000 0032 1 66 110 0160 0 66 000 0032 1 69 110 0160 0 69 000 0032 1 69 110 0160 0 69 000 0032 1 71 110 0336 0 71 000 0048 1 69 110 0256 0 69 000 0032 1 69 110 0094 0 69 000 0002 1 69 110 0094 0 69 000 0002 1 69 110 0094 0 69 000 0002 1 64 110 0160 0 64 000 0032 1 64 110 0094 0 64 000 0002 1 64 110 0094 0 64 000 0002 1 69 110 0160 0 69 000 0032 1 69 110 0160 0 69 000 0032 1 64 110 0094 0 64 000 0002 1 64 110 0094 0 64 000 0002 1 64 110 0336 0 64 000 0048 1 69 110 0160 0 69 000 0032 1 69 110 0142 0 69 000 0002 1 71 110 0046 0 71 000 0002 1 69 110 0160 0 69 000 0032 1 66 110 0160 0 66 000 0032 1 64 110 0336 0 64 000 0048 1 62 110 0256 0 62 000
End

This program is worth the effort of learning it.

To download the March 10 MIDItext 98 software and get instructions on how to use it click here

ABC format:

X:1
T:Weela Wallia
M:2/2
Q:1/4=120
K:D
AAAF2FFA|-AA2FFF3|-FD2F2A2A|-AB4A3|AAAE2EEA|
-AA2EEE3|-EA2A3/2B/2A2F|-FE4D5/2||


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Subject: Or howver you spell it ...
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 10 Mar 04 - 04:16 AM

I've seen this described (years ago) as a street song / children's song. It certainly sounds like some of the kids' songs I remember (girls seemed to be particularly fond of gruesome ones for skipping to). It sounds as though it's based on an actual event: can anyone enlighten me?

Steve


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia
From: Snuffy
Date: 10 Mar 04 - 04:24 AM

It's a version of Child Ballad No 20 The Cruel Mother. Start with this thread, then follow the links you'll find there. It'll keep you busy all day.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: GUEST,guest mick
Date: 10 Mar 04 - 07:18 AM

River Salia ,does it exist anywhere or does it mean "salty river"?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 10 Mar 04 - 10:32 AM

Snuffy, it sounds too close to some of the others to relate to a recent (19/20th century) event, doesn't it? I was thinking of things like Dr Buck Ruxton (words way down in the left-hand corner; tune Red Sails in the Sunset), which is still in living memory.

mick: dunno! Google only adds to the confusion; it seems to be a Spanish word, but doesn't translate into English (I'd guess it means something like "followers" or "supporters", fom the context and the sound of it). I imagine it's a nonsense word, as I haven't turned up a River Salia/Sallia. (Except it was Latin for R Sella, in Spain.)

More erudition required than we have at the moment!

Steve


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: GUEST,MMario
Date: 10 Mar 04 - 10:38 AM

I always thought it was derived from "sallow" meaning "willow" - and a generic description - not so much the river named "sallia" but down by the river where the willows grow.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: MartinRyan
Date: 10 Mar 04 - 01:45 PM

Dunno about erudition but I can give you a plausible derivation:

..down by the river-side, la (weak syllable to improve scansion)
... down by the river sigh-la   (elision of the d - very Irish!)
... down by the River SŠile    (sŠile is an Irish Gaelic for the sea)

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Snuffy
Date: 11 Mar 04 - 08:28 AM

I don't think it's a Buck Ruxton or Lizzie Borden type real-life thing, but the updating process is fascinating.

BTW, I always thought the river was the "Sawyer"

WassaiL! V


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 12 Mar 04 - 05:04 AM

Well, it went down well at Bedford FMC last night. I introduced it as a story of a single parent unable to cope, child abuse, Social Services failing to act in time, and the brutal and unsympathetic justice of the Law. And "two policemen and a social worker" got a laugh!

Martin: good suggestions. I'm sure I remember it sung as "river side-y" years back, but that may be down to what my missus calls my dog-like qualities (Deaf Old Git).

Steve


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: weerover
Date: 12 Mar 04 - 05:44 AM

I remember having the "two policeman and a man" line explained to me by someone (my imperfect memory thinks possibly Dominic Behan) as indicating that the policemen would have been recognisable as such by their uniforms and the "man" would have been Special Branch.

wr.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 12 Mar 04 - 05:58 AM


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 12 Mar 04 - 06:01 AM

Oops! Sorry about that.

The "man" would be a plain clothes job - detective.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: AKS
Date: 12 Mar 04 - 06:47 AM

Well, Ronnie Drew (of the Dubliners) sings it "...two policemen and a special branch man..." on one of their recordings of WW...

AKS


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 12 Mar 04 - 07:14 AM

He certainly does - but children were singing the song long before even Ronnie did!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 12 Mar 04 - 07:35 AM


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Fergie
Date: 12 Mar 04 - 08:18 AM

Circa. 1956/7 I sang this song for my grandfather when he came to visit my father, I sang the version that I had learned from my siblings and from the street skipping, (I was reared in a small suburban housing-estate in northside Dublin) my grandfather said that he also learned it from the skipping.
It was mostly girls who would skip they would use a shortrope, two would swing the rope and a third would run in and skip, they had all sorts of songs and rhymes to keep time. If there was less than three girls then a young boy might be pressed into turning one end of the rope and to help sing out the rythyms.
My grandfather said that he had learned the proper words and he then proceed to teach me the variant of the song that he learned. This is how I remember it.

River SŠile

There was an old woman who lived in the woods
we la, we la, wall la,
and that old woman she wasn't very good
Down by the river SŠile

She had a baby three months old
w
and that little babby was very bold
D

She had a penknife long and sharp
w
She stuck the dagger in the babby's heart
D

She stuck the penknife in the baby's head
w
The more she struck the more it bled
D

She buried the baby in the wood
W
The neighbours they all saw the blood
d

Three hard knocks came knocking on the door
w
And the woman fell down in a faint on the floor
d

T'was two police men and a man
w
and another ouside waiting in the van
d

"Are you the woman that killed the child?"
w
She said "I am" and they went wild
d

They took her away and they put her in the jail
w
Loudly she did bawl and loudly she did wail
d

They put a rope around her neck
w
And dragger her up onto the deck
d

The rope was pulled and she got hung
w
Round and round her body swung
d

Now that was the end of the woman in the woods
w
And that was the end of the babby too
d

The moral of the story is
w
Don't stick a penknive in a babby's head
d

My grand father had me sing the first line, then he would reply in answer with the second line. He said that was how he learned it when he was a child, he was born in the heart of Dublin city in about 1890. He died in 1974 (Ar dheis Dť go raibh a ainm).
You seldom see street skipping in Dublin anymore, and you hear precious little of "the haunting childrens rhymes, that once were part of Dublin in the rare ould times"
Fergus


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: weerover
Date: 12 Mar 04 - 03:30 PM

I think the point of the explanation I previously referred to was that Dominic Behan reckoned Ronnie Drew was deviating from the original, as a SB man wouldn't necessarily have been recognised as such.

wr.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: MartinRyan
Date: 12 Mar 04 - 03:37 PM

...by children...

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Mary Humphreys
Date: 12 Mar 04 - 03:44 PM

A good friend of mine, Terry Whelan from Manchester used to sing a version of this that his two sons had picked up in the school playground - perhaps in the 1970s. I may have some imperfections of memory - sorry Terry!

There was a lady dressed in green
Fare a lair a lido
There was a lady dressed in green
Down by the greenwood side-o.

She had a baby 3 months old

She had a penknife long and sharp

She stuck it in the baby's heart

She went to the well to wash it off

There came a rat-tat at the door

In came three bobbies rushing in      ( bobbies = policemen)

'Are you the woman as killed her child?'

Then off to prison you must go

And that was the end of Mrs Green

Mary Humphreys


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 04:42 PM

who knows the origins, maybe its something to do with oppression. Maybe the woman is Ireland, or the people are the english or the church. or maybe its a story about purpural psychosis, a real and devastating disease....
the lar


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 04:56 PM

Try www.yorkshirefolksong.net and click on the song 'The Lady of York'
Read the Provenance section. Here is a much reduced version of 'The Cruel Mother' collected from gipsy children in the late nineteenth century. The more recent Irish/Liverpool burlesque may have evolved from such a version. To suggest that any version of The Cruel Mother, even the 16th century version, is based upon any real event is pretty ludicrous.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 03:28 AM

This was a favourite among Irish Traveller children
We recorded a wonderful version from one child who sang the verse about the arrest of the mother as
"Two dead-knockers came knocking at the door", and one London version has;
"The took her in the Black Maria (old term for police waggon)
And tied her up with old barbed-wire".

Don't you just love 'em!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: HuwG
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 11:17 AM

Nothing to do with origins, but at a session I recently attended, there was a long catalogue of songs involving the killing of faithless girlfriends (Delia's Gone, For the Love of a Portugee, etc). Someone asked, "Can we have a song where the bird doesn't die?" From somewhere on the floor came, "There was an old woman and she lived in the woods, weile, weile, waile..."

Not quite what was requested, but it brought the house down.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: GUEST,O Faolain
Date: 22 Feb 09 - 09:25 PM

My father told me years ago that the song was based on a grandmother whose family had died during the Famine and when it was just her and the baby left rather than watch it die of starvation she killed the baby.I cant find a true timeline on the song and was wondering if anyone heard anything similar or it was an old wives(Fathers) tale.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 22 Feb 09 - 10:21 PM

You can be pretty sure that's 'folklore about folklore'; an 'old wives tale' -or father's- if you prefer. People like to be able to explain things so that they make more sense to them or to others, and it's very common to find songs developing 'back-stories', often linking them to particular times, places or individuals. It can give a personal resonance -an enhanced sense of cultural ownership if you like- but that can also lead to a degree of protectiveness when two mutually contradictory stories clash. 'Are you calling my old Grandmother a liar?' You know the sort of thing.

Although this playground version of the centuries-old 'Cruel Mother' story may have Irish roots, it's found all over Britain as well, and it's pretty unlikely that we will ever know where or when it was made into the 'Woman in the Wood' / 'Old Mother Lee' form. You'll find other localized 'explanations' in some of the other discussions here of this song and its many relatives; see the list of links at the top of the page.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: MartinRyan
Date: 23 Feb 09 - 03:02 AM

Just noticed HuwG's post:

Nothing to do with origins, but at a session I recently attended, there was a long catalogue of songs involving the killing of faithless girlfriends (Delia's Gone, For the Love of a Portugee, etc)


Where was the Portugee (along with the woman) slain? I'll drop HuwG a PM.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 23 Feb 09 - 04:02 PM

Martin asked "Where was the Portugee (along with the woman) slain?"

This sounds like The Maid of Camden Town / The Maid of Cabra West.

A FAIRLY recent song, but old enough to have one version set in London, one in Dublin, and nothing obvious to say which came first.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 23 Feb 09 - 04:14 PM

PS -- only after posting that and shutting down the 'pooter did I realise that I was perpetuating the thread drift, and it would have been better as a PM.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: MartinRyan
Date: 23 Feb 09 - 04:35 PM

Richard

I was just fishing! I know of the two songs and was curious to see if it was the Camden Town version - which I've never known "in the wild", so to speak.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: JP2
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 11:03 AM

Has anyone come across the version as sung by Wrigley Head Morris Men having stolen and probably mis-learnt, the song from Chris ? at Newtown,Powys, Folk Festival about 20 years ago.
The verses are sung normally but instead of the weelia/wallia chorus it uses the following chorus to a different tune:-


Down by the Walnut tree.
Down by the Sea,where the Walnuts grow,I left my love and dare not go.
Down by the Sea,where the Walnuts,grow,I left my love and dare not
go.

And I wish I could do the dots for you but I can't so there, it doesn't mean I not a good person!
JP2


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: goatfell
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 11:14 AM

there's a song from Scotland called the cruel mother and from England called old mother lee and then this one from Ireland, all three are basically the same song


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Mrrzy
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 11:23 AM

That walnut tree one sounds like the Raffi kids' song about Down By THe Bay. Same song? Thread creep, OK, but still, same song?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: MGM∑Lion
Date: 06 Sep 09 - 12:48 AM

I learned an "Old Mother Lee" version very similar to the Spinners one above, dated 1970s and apparently learned at school by Tony Davis's sister, in September 1958 from an 11 year old boy called Derek Hastings at Peckham Manor School in S London where I taught.

I published my version in Notes & Queries [Oxford University Press] for March 1966, under title "Murder With A Penknife, a children's song", in which I related it to Child #14, "Babylon; or The Banks Of Fordie", as, my informant, instead of singing 'forty police' as in the Spinners' version, distinctly sang 'the Fordie police'; and because 'The Cruel Mother' and 'Babylon' are the two Child ballads in which a penknife, as distinct from any other sort of implement, is persistently specified as the murder weapon. Any good library will have a set of N&Q in which my arguments, which on rereading I still stand by, can be found fully expounded.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Sep 09 - 10:05 AM

M
Sorry but there are enough versions of WEla Wela and in-between versions to directly relate this to Child 20 and NO OTHER ballad. And there are many Child ballads and others in which a pen knife is specified.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: MGM∑Lion
Date: 06 Sep 09 - 11:21 AM

I made the point about other ballads with penknives in a few versions, giving examples (Twa Brothers, Young Hunting); but counted the number of versions in Child of Cruel Mother [12 of 15] and of Babylon [all 6 of 6; with the penknife mentioned not once but repeatedly in all 6] in which a penknife is the murder weapon - no other ballad in the canon could compare with this frequency.

I also got my informant boy to confirm that he had sung "Fordie" & not some other word. His own suggestion was that it meant police in Ford cars: but when I pointed out that the police came running, not driving, up; & that the Met drove Wolsesleys not Fords in those days, he agreed it was so & could offer no further explanation for the name; which, however, he insisted was the right word that he and his mates always sang.

All this is anticipated and dealt with in my article; which I think you would do well, Steve, to read [I repeat, Notes & Queries {OUP}, March 1966, pp 103-104; an easily accessible, by no means obscure, journal] before attacking my conclusions - or, rather, suggestions.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: MGM∑Lion
Date: 06 Sep 09 - 12:49 PM

If, indeed, anyone has difficulty getting hold of my N&Q article but would like to read it [which I reiterate it would be more seemly and scholarly to do before denouncing its speculations as Steve Gardham does above], then let me have a postal address by PM or email - mgm@keme[dot]co[dot]uk - and I will gladly send you a photocopy. If, having read it, you think it all bollocks, that will be your privilege. But to denounce it as such WITHOUT having read it, as Steve did, I repeat I must regard as both unmannerly and unscholarly.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Sep 09 - 05:47 PM

Okay, M, I seem to have come across this somewhere before. You're right, I should not condemn a theory without having read it thoroughly, therefore I take up your challenge, but if the gist of the article is based on one word 'Fordie' and the inclusion of the commonplace pen-knife when there are multiple links with 20 and a proven evolution from one to the other, then I will be very skeptical.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: MGM∑Lion
Date: 06 Sep 09 - 09:36 PM

Thanks, Steve; so as suggested above, please email or PM me your postal address & I shall send you copy of the article. Michael


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: MGM∑Lion
Date: 06 Sep 09 - 10:22 PM

In fact, Steve ? I would point out also that my article dates from as long ago as 1966 & relates to a song I learned in 1958; so well predates your 'proven evolution' in the form of the Opies' mention in Lore&Language [which I acknowledge in it as having appeared between my collection & publication], the Clancys WelaWallia, The Spinners OldMotherLee, &c ?

Indeed, I think I might reasonably claim mine as the pioneering piece on the link [your 'proven evolution'] between this particular children's song & Child 20. Can you point to an earlier publication suggesting this link?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: MGM∑Lion
Date: 06 Sep 09 - 11:24 PM

... in fact it even predated Bronson!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: jeddy
Date: 07 Sep 09 - 01:04 AM

thanks for this thread M, i have been wanting to download it for ages but never knew how it was spelt.
i have it now, god i love itunes, even if they have nicked the folk section.

take care all

jade x x x


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Sep 09 - 01:02 PM

Michael,
Off the top of my head I think one of the linking versions appeared in the Society Journals in the 30s but I will check this out thoroughly as soon as I get time.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 07 Sep 09 - 02:30 PM

Don't lots of pairs of songs fit this genre?

Green & Yellow / Henry my son

L in C


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: MGM∑Lion
Date: 07 Sep 09 - 02:41 PM

Thanks Steve, v interested in your possible Society Journal 1930s link, would like to know more about it. & there is of course Ruth Seeger's 1940 US children's variant,= All alone & I love you-all Down by the greenwood sidey-o = which I think made its way into Bronson; but that's a somewhat different strain from the WelaWalia/MotherLee series which we are concerned with here.

Still await your address to send you my NQ note which you have undertaken to read b4 denouncing me again [as I expect you will; but still think you shd read me 1st!].

Traditional greetings Michael


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Azizi
Date: 07 Sep 09 - 09:38 PM

Hello, Michael, I've sent you my email address as I am interested in reading more about this song.

As a bit of a digression, I'm curious if you and others think that the children's taunts about killing their teachers may have their bases in these "cruel mother" songs. For instance, these lines in
Fergie 12 Mar 04 - 08:18 AM's post:

The rope was pulled and she got hung
we la, we la, wall la,
and that old woman she wasn't very good
Round and round her body swung
down by the river SŠile

-snip-

remind me of this contemporary American rhyme:

Joy To The World
Joy to the world
our teacher's dead.
We barbecued her head.
What happened to her body?
We flushed it down the potty
And around and around it goes.
And around and around it goes.
And round and round and round it goes.
-Sara P.)Anglo-American),recited at Catholic middle school, Dayton, Ohio (mid to late 1990s); collected by Azizi Powell,September, 2005

**
And yes, I know that there are probably lots of songs that have lines about something going "round and round". I'm wondering about any possible connection between these "killing the teacher, principal" type rhymes and these United Kingdom "cruel mother" rhymes. For what it's worth, in my research to date, I haven't found any examples of these violent teacher taunts among African American children [from predominately or all Black schools]. And I'm curious if one reason for this could be the difference in cultural traditions that came from the UK and not only differences in cultural traditions between the two populations (European-American and African Americana) in the USA.

**

Also, a lot of versions of American handclap rhyme "Down By The Bank of the Hanky Panky" have as their first line "Down by the riverside hanky panky". I thought that the singers might have gotten the word "riverside" from the African American spiritual [Gonna lay down my sword and shield". Now I'm wondering if that word "riverside" in that widely known rhyme-which is played as a competitive handclap by childen, teens,and young adults-may have come from that "River Saile".

See this comment from MartinRyan 10 Mar 04 - 01:45 PM

"Dunno about erudition but I can give you a plausible derivation:

..down by the river-side, la (weak syllable to improve scansion)"...

-snip-

Of course,I realize that we'll never know, but I just wanted to through that into the mix. See this post I wrote for more on the origin of that rhyme: thread.cfm?threadid=94034#1815711
Origins: Down by the Banks of the Hanky Panky


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Azizi
Date: 07 Sep 09 - 10:07 PM

I was interested in this comment that Fergie made in her post of 12 Mar 04 - 08:18 AM:


"My grand father had me sing the first line, then he would reply in answer with the second line. He said that was how he learned it when he was a child, he was born in the heart of Dublin city in about 1890. He died in 1974 (Ar dheis Dť go raibh a ainm)."

-snip-

My question is this: Is this the same as the "call & response" pattern? If not, what is that pattern called? And is this (or was this) a common singing pattern in UK folk songs?

-snip-

Also, Fergie wrote "You seldom see street skipping in Dublin anymore, and you hear precious little of "the haunting childrens rhymes, that once were part of Dublin in the rare ould times"."

-snip-

For what it's worth, I concur with the observation that girls don't do "street skipping" (in the USA it's called "jumping rope") much anymore at least in the African American neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and surrounding communities. And when they do group junp rope, the girls turning the ropes on either end and the other girls waiting for their turn to jump seldom chant any rhymes. [I mention "girls" because mostly this is a girl activity]. Girls may count the number of jumps the girl in the middle successfully does, and I've heard girls sing the "Leave the kettle boiling/leave no spaces" rhyme that a teacher taught them. But that's it when it comes to chanting jump rope rhymes.

I think part of the blame for this is having electric dryers means not having any clotheslines that could be "borrowed" for the purpose of jumping rope. Also, it's easier to do handclapping cheers because you don't need anything but your hands or footstomping cheers (dance style cheerleader cheers)because you don't need anything but your feet and your hands.

But even at schools (like the one where I substitute teach) which supply jump ropes for recess, the girls don't chant while they jump rope. As a matter of fact, they don't do handclaps or foot stomping cheers during recess either. I think that girls only chant rhymes and do handclap and foot stomping routines in the comfort of their own setting with a small select group of friends because they're concerned about other people "talking about them" (insulting them).

And that's such a shame.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Azizi
Date: 07 Sep 09 - 10:17 PM

Two corrections-just to show you that I do recognize the errors of my ways:

The African American spiritual I was referring to is [Gonna lay down my sword and shiled] "Down By The Riverside".

Also, "through"="throw" in this sentence: "I just wanted to throw that into the mix".


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Azizi
Date: 07 Sep 09 - 10:27 PM

Okay. Yes. I made another error. I meant "shield" but wrote something else.

I apologize.

I shall now return to being a lurker after saying one more thing: Even though I've never heard this song, I really like the "sound" of the line "Weela Weela Walia".


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: jeddy
Date: 07 Sep 09 - 11:32 PM

AZZI,
if you type the title into itunes it takes you to different versions. cracking song!!!! we has it on tape years ago and the tape snapped and i haven't been able to find it since.

it is such a shame that kids don't chant or sing mush trad. stuff these days, but then how many parents bring their kids up to respect the old ways? i don't come from a folkie background so i was never taught either, it seems such a shame to lose these things.

take care all

jade x x x


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: GUEST,billy
Date: 14 Oct 09 - 11:22 PM

my mom and grandparents grew up on this song. the its not baby at all. its dont stick knives in bobbys head. its not a baby its a little boy she had. iv been going around singing the song all day. i love it 2 :P


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 02:07 PM

billy,
Sorry but Liverpool 'babby'=baby came before the 'bobby' version. It might be a little boy in your version, but in hundreds of other versions it's a 'baby' or even several babies, and FWIW I love it too in all its manifestations.

In the 1960s Tony Davis (Spinners?) published a few verses of a version in Spin magazine vol 3 No 2. It is very close to the version Michael wrote about earlier in the thread. I gather from the article Tony's version came from Cheshire (Michael's from London) Both 'Old Mother Lee'. I have been PMing Michael and his very interesting version has a tune quite close to that of 'For he's a jolly good fellow'.

Query. Does anyone know if Tony published his tune? Does anyone know of other versions that follow this pattern...

There was an old woman called old Mother Lee
Old Mother Lee, Old Mother Lee
There was an old woman called old Mother Lee
Down by the walnut tree....
or use a variant of this tune? We're obviously not talking about the 'Weile Weile Wolye' variants/pattern here.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Oct 09 - 07:06 PM

Sorry I've just reread the whole thread and Tony's LIVERPOOL version is given in full. Does anyone know if it's on a Spinners LP?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: GUEST
Date: 12 May 10 - 02:29 AM

I always wondered if the lyrics
"weila weila waila"
Originally derive from the Irish word
"abhaile"
Which means home/homeward
Often pronounced "a wella" or "ah wal yeh"

Just an Idea.

B Delaney
Dublin
Ireland


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: GUEST,Mao_li_Osa
Date: 18 May 10 - 11:59 AM

Fascinating thread! Thanks to all for contributing.

By way of digression, I learned this song as a transplanted Irish child five or so decades ago. Years later, I taught it to my own children, who took to it with glee. When they sang it for their pals in the schoolyard, the teachers immediately banned the singing of it and sent a stiff message home about teaching "inappropriate" songs to my kids...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Tannywheeler
Date: 18 May 10 - 12:18 PM

Yeah, well, Guest Mao, what do teachers know, anyway? Stick to YOUR guns. Teach 'em trad songs. Keep 'em singing. Tw


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 May 10 - 02:21 PM

Mao,
I'm helping to run a seminar for music leaders and teachers in York in July. One of the songs we'll be recommending to teachers is this one, in all its forms.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: GUEST,Sandy
Date: 07 Sep 10 - 10:55 PM

@O'Faolain I've heard the same story about the grandmother and the famine. I think it was Ronnie Drew I heard tell it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: GUEST,digger
Date: 05 Feb 11 - 07:36 AM

Not so much on the origins but connected. In December 2010 was hiking in Hapao, Hungduan province, deep into the Mountains in the northern Philippines. An amazing and beautiful region but very remote (and about 11,000 miles from "The Liberties") so you can imagine that I nearly fell out of me shoes when I heard some of the native children there singing this song - with a lot of the words having a decidedly inner-city Dublin accent. It turns out a Dublin chap has got himself married to one of the local girls and they visit here every couple of years. I remember the song from way back when but it came as a real shock to hear sang so faithfully in such exotic surroundings.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: GUEST,Christine
Date: 02 Mar 11 - 08:45 PM

I heard this song in Dun Laoghaire from some children themselves not jump img roped . It is a shame that kids don't chant when jumping rope. Bit I. Dud see some little girls doing so in Windhoek Namibia.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 03 Mar 11 - 06:19 AM

I am a bit disappointed to see no one complaining about Joe's ABC code of 12½ years ago, which obviously was produced from the MIDI by software, misplacing the bar lines. Are black dots a case for a strong detergent?

The same tune with corrected bar lines:

X:1
T:Weela Wallia
M:2/2
Q:1/4=120
K:D
A|"D" A AF2F FA2|A2F F F4|D2F2A2A2|"G" B4 "D" A3\
w:There was an old wo-man who lived in the wood, Wee-la wee-la wall-ia;
A|"A" A AE2E EA2|A2E EE4|"D/F#" A2A3/2 B/2A2F2|"A7" E4 "D" D3|]
w:There was an old wo-man who lived in the wood, Down by the ri-ver Sall-ia.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 03 Mar 11 - 01:59 PM

You can find full lyrics, chords and video on the Martin Dardis site www.unitedirelandtripod.ie or just put Martin Dardis site in search


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Clontarf83
Date: 03 Mar 11 - 02:30 PM

First time I heard it was on a Radio Eireann show called "The School Around the Corner" hosted by Paddy Crosby. The show consisted of getting little kids (usually inner city)up for a brief interview and then they do a song or a "pome". A kid came up with this ballad and had the audience in stitches.

The format often asked the kid to tell of a "funny incidence" and one kid came up with this (I heard about this indirectly, so I hope its not a wind up)

Kid: "There wuz a horse and it fell down a hole, and they had to shoot it"
Paddy: "and where did they shoot it?"
Kid: "In the hole"


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 04 Mar 11 - 02:16 PM

True we don't see kids skipping any more, guess they're all too stoned or obese!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: GUEST,Richard Harold's Cross
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 01:40 PM

Interesting comment on the abhaile (homewards) as an explanation for weela weela awaala. One other item that would suggest this version as distinctly Irish is my understanding of the river Saile as being the Irish for the Willow river, saile meaning willow tree, as in The Sally Gap in the mountains above Dublin (rather than the dirty river as suggested at the start with its shorter vowel and harsh ending, although it too is possible) . Always called, by true Dubliners, as Sally's Gap (maybe she owned the unfortunate horse) it is the Willow tree gap. Although for a long time as a kid I heard it and sang it as the river sai'ed in the Dublin accent for side, where single vowel words tend to have the vowel lenghtened and pronounced twice; words like wo'ords, or "come hee'ar", for come here or "whe'ar" for where but I think Saile is the correct word since as kids we would have heard it long before we read the words.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Dec 12 - 07:22 PM

My Mam always sung it 'She stuck the knife in the loaf of bread'.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Fergie
Date: 18 Dec 12 - 07:36 PM

GUEST

I think you mother was trying to protect you from reality.

Fergus


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Feb 13 - 06:30 PM

Yes I was and and still am a member of Wrigley Head. WE learnt the same from John Price of Earlsdone Morris.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 15 Aug 17 - 08:19 AM

Answering a long-ago question (13 years old), the Poddle, which flows through Kimmage and down to join the Liffey at the centre of Dublin (though the central part is long since culverted) was known as "abhann salach" or "dirty river" (probably because of mills and tanneries along it), and is thought to be the origin of the song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Weela Weela Walia /Wela Wolla
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Aug 17 - 01:52 PM

Further to Michael's offer (Sept 7th, 09, 02.41 pm) to send me his article relating a version of this song to Babylon (Child 14), he did indeed send me the article and this is by way of a belated thankyou. However my previous comments still stand.

Now sadly Michael is no longer with us, if anyone requires a copy I'd be happy to supply it.


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