Mudcat Café message #758714 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #16707   Message #758714
Posted By: GUEST
02-Aug-02 - 09:58 AM
Thread Name: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
Subject: RE: Help: Origins of Carrickfergus
And ""na bailtí m&#ra" should read "na bailtí móra" I must have forgotten to type 243 after &# (using the type of code that seems least likely to be corrupted)

In the second part of the 19th century [The Petrie Collection of Ancient Music of Ireland, 2 vols, Dublin University Press 1855-82], George Petrie wrote (as has been summarised in a previous message)

"Of the words now sung to this air in the Munster counties, Mr [PW] Joyce has also given me a copy, as taken down by himself; but it presents such an incongruous piece of patchwork, half Irish, half English, collected, apparently, from recollections of various songs, that of the Irish portion a single stanza is as much as I can venture to select from it. This stanza, as Mr Curry acquaints me, belongs to the old Irish song which has given name to the melody, and which, though now rendered worthless by corruptions, was one of no ordinary interest and merit."

(I think that means he thought the original was of especial interest) Here is the "single stanza" (with old spelling) and Petrie's translation of it:

'Bí bean óg uasal,
Seal dá luadh liom,
'S do chuir sí suas dhamh,
Céd fáraoir gér;
Is tá ghábhar le stuaire
A m-bailtibh muara,
'S gur dhein sí cuag dhíom,
Ar lár an t-saoghail.
Dá bh-faghainn-si a cenn rúd
Fé lia 'san teampull, 'S go mbeinn arís seal
Ar m'ádhbhar féin,
Do shiúbhalfainn gleannta
'Gus beanna reamhar choc
Go bh-faghainn mo shean-shearc
Arís dhom' réir.

There was a young gentlewoman
And I, once talked of;
But she rejected me
To my sharp grief;
And then I took up with
A city dasher,
Who made a jackdaw of me
Before the world.
But could I get her head
Beneath the gravestone,
And that I once more
Were my own free self,
I would traverse valleys
And rough-topped mountains
To seek again more favour
From my old true love.

Petrie didn't have a high opinion of the English-language verses:

"Amongst the doggrel English verses sung to this air, as taken down by Mr. Joyce, there is a stanza which I am tempted to quote as an amusing example of the characteristic expression for tender sentiment, mixed with discordant levity and incongruity of thought, which are so often found in the ordinary Irish peasant love-songs, composed in the English language. Such incongruity, however, should, at least to some extent, be ascribed to the corruptions incident to verses having only a decaying traditional existence amongst a class of people still almost illiterate.

'Kilkenny town it is well supported,
Where marble stones are as black as ink;
With gold and silver I will support you, -
I'll sing no more till I get some drink!
I'm always drinking, and seldom sober;
I'm constant roving from town to town:
Oh, when I'm dead, and my days are over,
Come, Molly storeen, and lay me down.'

"It seems sufficiently apparent that the above stanza was not composed in one of those intervals of sobriety which the writer confesses to have been with him of rather rare occurrence."

What would Petrie make of the present popularity of those verses and of the "peasants" who sing them nowadays?!

Next step … can we unearth a manuscript from Mr Joyce?