Mudcat Café message #3216797 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #16707   Message #3216797
Posted By: GUEST,Lighter
01-Sep-11 - 09:11 PM
Thread Name: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
I've reread this entire thread, and Jack's interpretation - including his controversial substitution of "Kilmeny" for "Kilkenny" - has the virtue of being the most coherent explanation of what the English part of the song is about.

If Peter O'Toole could have misheard "Kilmeny" as "Kilkenny," so equally could his 1946 source - and similarly all the way back to the printer of "The Young Sick Lover." The argument for "Kilmeny" rather than "Kilkenny" has the virtue of consistency, though in traditional texts that may not mean much.

If I understand it correctly, the weight of the evidence is that Sean O'Riada rewrote the original melody in the early '60s, but "rewrote" could mean almost anything. With no other likely candidates available, he presumably "rewrote" the tune O'Toole knew and which he taught to Dominic Behan. Given the lyrics, it isn't surprising that "O'Riada's" tune bears some resemblance to a familiar version of "Waly Waly."

It would be a kind of reverse snobbery to deny O'Riada's rewrite - if that's what it is - the status of a "traditional tune." We don't know how many brilliant folk melodies were improved over the centuries by outstanding, if anonymous, musicians. My guess is that it may have happened frequently.

What seems to be unexplained is the relationship of the English to the Irish lyrics on the broadside. Of course, that's a separate question entirely.

At any rate, singers remain free to dream up any interpretation that suits them to flesh out the lyrics in either language. That's what singers do. Jack's version, however, is more clearly rooted in probability than are the others - which is not the same as saying that it matches in every detail what the original author was thinking. We'll probably never know that.