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Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen

DigiTrad:
SKIBBEREEN


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Skibbereen + Irish Soldier Laddie (13)
(origins) Origin: Dear Old Skibbereen (18)


Goose Gander 13 Dec 09 - 09:52 PM
GUEST,pattyClink 13 Dec 09 - 09:48 PM
Goose Gander 13 Dec 09 - 07:32 PM
MartinRyan 13 Dec 09 - 07:17 PM
MartinRyan 13 Dec 09 - 07:13 PM
Goose Gander 13 Dec 09 - 07:04 PM
MartinRyan 13 Dec 09 - 04:46 PM
MartinRyan 13 Dec 09 - 04:35 PM
Goose Gander 13 Dec 09 - 04:30 PM
The Sandman 07 Dec 09 - 04:21 PM
Mysha 07 Dec 09 - 12:40 AM
pattyClink 06 Dec 09 - 09:42 PM
MartinRyan 06 Dec 09 - 07:33 PM
Mysha 06 Dec 09 - 06:58 PM
The Sandman 06 Dec 09 - 06:32 PM
ard mhacha 06 Dec 09 - 04:00 PM
pattyClink 06 Dec 09 - 02:44 PM
Mysha 05 Dec 09 - 10:37 AM
MartinRyan 05 Dec 09 - 08:28 AM
MartinRyan 05 Dec 09 - 08:25 AM
Mysha 05 Dec 09 - 08:03 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Dec 09 - 04:24 AM
MartinRyan 05 Dec 09 - 04:17 AM
Jim Dixon 05 Dec 09 - 12:53 AM
GUEST,pattyClink 04 Dec 09 - 10:33 PM
Mysha 04 Dec 09 - 05:26 PM
MartinRyan 04 Dec 09 - 05:25 PM
Jim Dixon 04 Dec 09 - 04:08 PM
Mysha 04 Dec 09 - 11:38 AM
Jim Dixon 04 Dec 09 - 08:26 AM
Keith A of Hertford 30 Jan 07 - 05:09 AM
Jim Lad 30 Jan 07 - 04:46 AM
Jim Dixon 04 Oct 03 - 04:32 PM
GUEST,sylvia.griffiths@godfreyhirst.com 03 Oct 03 - 12:22 AM
Liam's Brother 27 Feb 01 - 12:23 AM
pattyClink 26 Feb 01 - 09:38 AM
John Moulden 25 Feb 01 - 01:14 PM
Liam's Brother 24 Feb 01 - 10:44 PM
John Moulden 24 Feb 01 - 05:37 PM
Alice 24 Feb 01 - 02:00 PM
Alice 24 Feb 01 - 01:56 PM
Liam's Brother 24 Feb 01 - 10:11 AM
Liam's Brother 24 Feb 01 - 10:08 AM
Big Tim 24 Feb 01 - 04:56 AM
pattyClink 23 Feb 01 - 12:22 PM
MartinRyan 20 Feb 01 - 03:48 PM
Big Tim 20 Feb 01 - 02:05 PM
John Moulden 20 Feb 01 - 01:59 PM
Deskjet 20 Feb 01 - 01:15 PM
Liam's Brother 20 Feb 01 - 12:36 PM
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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: Goose Gander
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 09:52 PM

No problem, pattyClink, glad to oblige. Now, what puzzles my mind is how we got from the 'Wearing of the Green' air - totally unsuited to the tone of the lyrics, in my opinion - to the totally haunted and haunting melody to which Joe Heaney sung this one.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: GUEST,pattyClink
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 09:48 PM

I don't have anything to add to the publishing info, just wanted to say 'wow, thanks, Goose!'. That certainly does look like the root source of the song. And closest thing I've seen to John W.'s version, perhaps the old boy had a well-thumbed copy of the book.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: Goose Gander
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 07:32 PM

Here's an add for The Irish Singer's Own book, circa 1880, just $1.00, but that was in 1880 dollars.

See also . . .

The Irish Singer's Own Book Boston: Thomas B. Noonan & Co. (1880) - $475!

Irish Singer's Own Book : The Wearing of the Green Song-BookThomas B. Noonan & Co (1870) - $425!

Now, that's what I call inflation.

Seriously, though, it looks like the Wearing of the Green Songbook is possibly a reprint, or an edit, of the Irish Singer's Own Songbook. On my copy, the emblem on the spine is not quite the same as that seen on the second book listed above, but I can't quite make out the lettering. Still, it looks like it could be T. B. N. (Thomas B. Noonan, that is).


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: MartinRyan
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 07:17 PM

I see the "Irish Singers own Book" on sale online - with some uncertainty as to the date.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: MartinRyan
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 07:13 PM

Great stuff! There's no mention of Carpenter in Welch's Oxford Concise Companion to Irish Literature - but he does list O'Donoghue, who was librarian in University College Dublin from 1909. The 1912 Poets of Ireland was the second editon of a book originally published in 1892-3. Wonder if Skibbereen was in that edition?

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: Goose Gander
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 07:04 PM

From The Poets of Ireland a biographical and bibliographical dictionary of Irish writers of English verse, ed. D.J. O'Donoghue (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis & Co., 1912) . . .

"CARPENTER, PATRICK.— A native of Skibbereen, Co. Cork, and went to
America many years ago. He wrote various poems for Boston Pilot,
Irish World (New York), in the seventies. He is represented bv a song
called " Old Skibbereen " in " The Irish Singer's Own Book," published
at Boston, Mass."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: MartinRyan
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 04:46 PM

There's a reference to The Wearing of the Green Songbook" HERE
Regards
p.s. the article, ( Balladry in English (in Ireland)) while concise, is interesting, in itself.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: MartinRyan
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 04:35 PM

Goose Gander

Verrrrry interesting. Hopefully someone can turn up a copy of the Songbook and add to the publishing detail.

Regards

p.s. funny how much trouble that "spleen" rhyme has caused!


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Subject: Lyr Add: OLD SKIBBEREEN (Patrick Carpenter)
From: Goose Gander
Date: 13 Dec 09 - 04:30 PM

Here's a text, possibly a source for the song, from the Wearing of the Green Songbook. The title page is missing, but on the front inner cover is signed "Patrick Kenny, Derby, Conn. 1889" . . . but just below that is written, in the same hand, "Mr. Patrick Kenny, Derby Conn. 1904 . . ." (crossed out) and then "1889", again(?). Could be a birth date? Hard to say for certain. Unfortunately, no publishing information remains anywhere on the book, but it looks like something that would have been published late 19th / early 20th century in North America, almost certainly in the Northeast (New York City?).

That's what I have. Anyone else?

OLD SKIBBEREEN

By Patrick Carpenter

Air, - 'The Wearing of the Green'

'O Father, dear, I've often heard you speak of Erin's Isle,
Its scenes how bright and beautiful, how 'rich and rare' they smile;
You say it is a lovely land in which a prince might dwell;
They why did you abandon it, the reason to me tell?'

'My son, I've loved my native land with fervor and with pride
Her peaceful groves, her mountains rude, her valleys green and wide,
And there I've roamed in manhood's prime, and sported when a boy,
My shamrock and shillelagh sure constant boast and joy.

'But lo! a blight came o'er my crops, my sheep and cattle died,
The rack-rent too, alas! was due, I could not have supplied
The landlord drove me from the cot where born I had been,
And that, my boy, 's the reason why I left old Skibbereen.

"O, what a dreadful sight it was that dark November day!
The sheriff and the peelers came to send us all away;
They set the roof a-blazing, with demon smile of spleen,
And when it fell, the crash was heard all over Skibbereen

'Your mother dear, God rest her soul! fell upon the snowy ground;
She fainted in her anguish at the desolation round;
She never rose, but passed away from life's tumultuous scene,
And found a quiet grave of rest in poor old Skibbereen.

'Ah! sadly I recall that year of gloomy Forty-Eight.
I rose in vengeance with 'the boys' to battle against fate.
We were hunted thro' the mountains wild, as thraitors to the Queen,
And that, my boy, 's the reason why I left old Skibbereen.

'You were only two years old, and feeble was your frame;
I would not leave you with my friends, you bore my father's name!
I wrapped you in my 'cathamore' at the dead of night unseen,
We heav'd a sigh and bade good by to poor old Skibbereen.'

O father, father, when the day for vengeance we will call,
When Irishmen o'er field and fen shall rally one and all,
I"ll be the man to lead the van beneath the flag of green,
While loud on high we'll raise the cry, Revenge for Skibbereen!'


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Dec 09 - 04:21 PM

its a song related to the irish famine.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: Mysha
Date: 07 Dec 09 - 12:40 AM

Hi

Martin, most weren't queries as such, as but thanks for addressing them.

Patty, OK. So assuming JWG didn't remarry or anything like that, we can be certain the song existed before 1897 (which also agrees with Martin, even if his fingers didn't (-:).

Of course, I can understand why it could refer to 1848, though I had originally missed the bit above where Skibbereen was associated with the famine. It's just that, 1798 being such a strong association too, I can't see how anyone would insert it in the wrong song by accident. I'd sooner go for a writing date well into the Victorian period that would include the queen by mistake, even if the song was about 1798. Confusingly, that puts us into the time frame of 1848 again. Hm, I wonder if we can time line the versions to see whether either year tends to occur earlier/later.

But Patty, thanks for giving the details of the tape that you mentioned years ago. Hm, we already have a bleak November and a cold December; what's in Green's version?

Martin, thanks for answering the question about Boulavough. If we'd go by that, the songs aren't written for generations afterwards. That might be an exaggeration, but it make you wonder how long afterwards anyone would be willing to write about 1848.

Anyway, with the exception of language analysis, I fear there's not much more we could do with the data we have now.
(Is there a Language Historian in the house?)

Bye
                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: pattyClink
Date: 06 Dec 09 - 09:42 PM

John W. was speaking about that particular song:

He sings the song himself; as far as the controversial words, the text is pretty similar to the above text, no mention of November though. Refers to ninety-eight, and the queen. Uses 'cotamore' and 'life's tumultuous scene'. He finishes by switching to spoken word for the final word "Skibbereen".
Alan Lomax says: "that's an old Irish set piece."
John W. Green: "yeah, indeed. God, my father-in-law could sing that".
Alan Lomax: "It made your--
JWG: "It made your hair stand up. He used to stand on the floor, with a lot of them Irish guys from Ireland around him. "

(Apparently the first generation guys had parties which would involve singing contests to see who could 'sing the other one down')


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: MartinRyan
Date: 06 Dec 09 - 07:33 PM

Let's try a couple of those queries:


OK, it's becoming unlikely that this was an emigrant song about 1898 that made a speedy return across to ocean. Not that that was a popular interpretation, but it would be nice to be albe to rule it out entirely.
"ninety eight" has a very particular resonance in the Irish psyche. It ALWAYS means 1798!



I'm still unable to decide on which one is the error:
- If "traitors to the queen" is erroneous, it could be 1798.
- If "gloomy Ninety-eight" is the error it could be 1848.
I know people are saying "It's about the famine!", but I'm still looking for something more definite.

Queen/Skibbereen is so obvious a rhyme that it has to be intentional. Which implies we're in Victoria's time.
Similarly, Skibbereen is very strongly associated with the famine, for reasons discussed earlier.

But either way: If the song has been known in Ireland longer, why do we not know of any publication?
Dunno. I've never seen it - and neither had John Moulden when he posted earlier. Individuals may well have had it - but we've not seen it in print.


Was this too dangerous a song to publish?
Hardly

(What is the earliest publication for Boulavough
Written around 1898 i.e. the centenary. Originally used a diferent tune to the familiar Youghal Harbour one, BTW

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: Mysha
Date: 06 Dec 09 - 06:58 PM

Hi,

Patty, never feel sorry for adding information to a thread, no matter how long it has been sleeping beautifully. One day someone will come along and be only too glad that you did.

Art, OK, that makes it before 1918? Or are there specifics that move the year one way or another?

Jenny, script is a bit unprecise: The way he said it, was he saying that his father in law was a far better singer, for this kind of song, or that he knew his father in law to sing this specific song?


OK, it's becoming unlikely that this was an emigrant song about 1898 that made a speedy return across to ocean. Not that that was a popular interpretation, but it would be nice to be albe to rule it out entirely.

I'm still unable to decide on which one is the error:
- If "traitors to the queen" is erroneous, it could be 1798.
- If "gloomy Ninety-eight" is the error it could be 1848.
I know people are saying "It's about the famine!", but I'm still looking for something more definite.

But either way: If the song has been known in Ireland longer, why do we not know of any publication? Was this too dangerous a song to publish? (What is the earliest publication for Boulavough, etc.? for that matter, how quick after a defeat would such songs be written?)


Patty, on this tape, does JWG sing words that shed light on the various variation problems we noted in this thread?

Bye,
                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Dec 09 - 06:32 PM

its life to eternal or immortal dream, well thats how its sung round here,I am eight miles from Skibbereen.
Skibbereen was badly flooded two weeks ago,it was flooded two years ago, and no one thought of putting up flood barriers or dredging the river, but they [the council] spent 16,thousand euros,on painting lines in the car park[it cost so much because they had to get the line painters from Tipperary,or some other feeble excuse].
its great to see the council and government have their priorities sorted,its much more important to paint lines in a car park then put up flood barriers.
they got rid of the British, and have replaced them with equally incompetent idiots,and cute hoorism.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: ard mhacha
Date: 06 Dec 09 - 04:00 PM

My late father who served in the Connaught Rangers during World War 1 told me he was given the words by a fellow soldier from Dublin, it was his favourite song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: pattyClink
Date: 06 Dec 09 - 02:44 PM

Sorry to resurrect this thread again, tried to post yesterday but cookie unset and post got blocked.

Just wanted to add a date to the assemblage of facts being pieced together. I've got Lomax on tape recording John W Green singing the song, then JWG saying 'God you should have heard my father-in-law (Roddy) sing that! It would make your hair stand up'.   Roddy died in 1897.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: Mysha
Date: 05 Dec 09 - 10:37 AM

Hi Martin,

Oh, I'm making the same assumption about the land of origin. I tend to believe what the song is telling us, approximately up to the Second World War. The song says it's by an Irishman abroad, so I expect it is. I'd say it was more likely from the second circle than from the actual emigrants, though: e.g. from such a son, or from Irish abroad with emigrant acquaintances. It could be from elsewhere, you mention Australia, but then only if it is old enough to have passed to both Ireland and America by something like 1920? It would be quite a coincidence, though, if Skibbereen just happened to be one of the last songs Dean picked up around the Great Lakes before his book was published, so it's most likely from some time before the book, in America.

It kind of fits, though that you should ask about Australia, as I've just run into this page, http://folkstream.com/reviews/waters/waters.html, where Harry Dicks claims it Skibbereen came down from his grandfather, who had been transported to Australia in 1825. Mind, he doesn't say his grandfather brought it with him, but he does judge it from at least two generations before his, in Australia.

Bye,
                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: MartinRyan
Date: 05 Dec 09 - 08:28 AM

BTW

Do we have any details on the Australian references?

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: MartinRyan
Date: 05 Dec 09 - 08:25 AM

I agree, mysha. My problem, I suppose, is that my instinct is telling me that the song may have originated in America and moved back to Ireland rather than the other way round. Which makes the "Malchasene" harder to explain.

I'm not really sure why I suspect American origins. Perhaps it just seems odd to me that there is no trace of it in the 19C. literature (books and broadsheets) on this side of the pond, as far as I know. This is why I would really love to know something about Dean's sources (fascinating book, BTW).

As of now, my best guess is that the song was written in America by a recently arrived Irishman!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: Mysha
Date: 05 Dec 09 - 08:03 AM

Hi,

My point regarding "Malchasene" is that there are so may different versions of that sentence, with none of them fitting really well. That usually seems to indicate a strange, unknown word that tends to get lost as the song travels. A word that sounds like "Malchasene" would definitely fit that pattern. Just what Irish word would be (mis)represented thus?

Bye,
                                                                  Mysha


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Dec 09 - 04:24 AM

To put this song in context, this is part of a talk we attended during the 150th Famine commemoration, given by a ballad-scholar friend.
The events described came from a report in the Skibbereen area.
Jim Carroll

Even though it is extremely relevant to our theme of emigration , we cannot now delve too deeply into the whole area of the Great Famine which was brought about by a system of landlordism and rack-renting which forced the Irish plot-holder to depend on the potato. However, before leaving the area, I would ask you to bear in mind that this was a totally artificial famine brought about by economic considerations. Ireland in 1847 was not short of food, for only the potato was affected. The coffin ships which ferried the starving refugees from the potato famine to England and America went alongside ships carrying enough meat and cereals out of the country to have fed the population adequately. But the small farmers and peasants who reared the meat and grew the grain did so to pay their rent, and many thousands of them starved to death rather than lose their miserable cabins and plots of ground. Horrific obscene as this was, we in the 1990's have no reason to feel morally superior as we in the European union and North America hoard beef, grain and butter mountains while much of the world still starves.
But let me sum up the whole aura of despair at the time by quoting you a piece from the 'Cork Examiner' of March 19th, 1847, reporting on a court case in which a man had been charged with stealing food. In his defence he said that he was driven to it by what had happened to his wife. The Court was told:
The starving woman lay in her hovel next to her dead three year old son, waiting for her husband to return from begging food. When night fell and his failure to return led her to imagine him dead in a ditch, she lay there in the faint fire's dying embers, caressing with her eyes her dead son's face and tiny fists. with death searching her, and now with her own fists clenched, she made one last effort to stay alive. Crawling as far away from her son's face as she could, as if to preserve his personality, or at least her memory of it, she came to his bare feet and proceeded to eat them.
When her husband returned and saw what had happened, he buried the child, went out, and was caught trying to steal food. At his trial, the magistrate from his immediate district intervened on his behalf, citing the wife's act as a circumstance deserving special consideration. The baby's body was exhumed, the flesh of both its feet and legs were found to have been gnawed to the bone, and the husband released and allowed to return to his wife.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: MartinRyan
Date: 05 Dec 09 - 04:17 AM

Jim

OK, OK! I knew of both books (wasn't there a link to a scanned copy of Flying Cloud in a thread lately?) Didn't realise there was any mention of Skibbereen!

At first sight, it seems strange to amend the text using later versions - but Bob Waltz knows his business, of course. I'll have a look at the online versions of the texts.

Incidentally, the other point supporting '48 (Fenians) rather than '98 (United Irishmen) is the reference to the Queen.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 05 Dec 09 - 12:53 AM

I Googled for "Malchasene" and discovered something called The Minnesota Heritage Songbook, compiled and edited by Robert B. Waltz. (Waltz is also the editor of The Traditional Ballad Index.)

This book (which you can download free of charge) contains SKIBBEREEN. Waltz used Dean's text, but made 4 changes, all documented with footnotes:

1. "Demon yell of spleen" changed to "demon yellow spleen" based on Patrick Galvin's "Irish Songs of Resistance."

2. "Malchasene" changed to "mortal dream" based on "Soodlum's Irish Ballad Book."

3. "Ninety-eight" changed to "forty-eight" on the ground that it makes more sense.

4. "Kosamane" change to "cotamore" based on Soodlum's.

Also, he changed "fin" to "fen."

Waltz also gives a bit of information about Michael Cassius Dean: "Dean was a sailor on the Great Lakes, and in 1922, he gathered together the songs he had learned on the Lakes and had them published." The resulting book, "Flying Cloud" was a major source for "The Minnesota Heritage Songbook."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: GUEST,pattyClink
Date: 04 Dec 09 - 10:33 PM

I never heard of "Malchasene". Our relatives used to sing "passed away from life's tumultuous scene", and "it's well do I remember", and 'cursed English spleen'. And 'lead the van(vanguard)' rather than 'band'. And 'cotamore'.

Can't help you on the '98 thing, not familiar with that verse. Wasn't there a Young Ireland rising planned for 1848 which was aborted when the leaders were rounded up and persecuted?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: Mysha
Date: 04 Dec 09 - 05:26 PM

Hi,

OK; I didn't know if this actually was how it was spelt in English. But the concept makes sense.

Now, let's see what we have left:
- "It is well do I remember" - "How well do I remember"?
- "demon yell of Spleen" - "demon yellow spleen": demon cowardly heart? Not sure about that one. Anyone?
- "from life to Malchasene" - Do we know of such a word for the afterlife? Like the spleen, I'm not sure what the right words would be, here.
- "Ninety-eight." - "Forty-eight."? I just can't see how this would fit. Was there a crisis in Ireland in 1x97? 1797 is ruled out, as he would have been "traitor to the king" then. The Nine Year War doesn't seem to fit the description either. But on the other hand, wasn't the 1848 local and quite a distance from Skibbereen?
- And last: Is there such a word as "kosamane"? Or do we assume it's "cota mor" - great coat, as mentioned above? Although, I guess you'd need such a word to get from the one to the other.

Not yet all clear, then.
Bye,
                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: MartinRyan
Date: 04 Dec 09 - 05:25 PM

Jim

A fascinating find. I've always felt the song probably had American origins and was then brought to Ireland - but knew of no evidence for it.

The phrase passed away from life to Malchasene is puzzling, mind you. If it's a corruption of something else - where WAS that something? Do we know anything abou the book? Author's sources, manuscript etc. etc. I'd better go and check the link!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 04 Dec 09 - 04:08 PM

I suspect it should be "field and fen". If you search Google Books for "field and fen" you get over 600 hits in public-domain books.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear Old Skibbereen
From: Mysha
Date: 04 Dec 09 - 11:38 AM

Hi,

It does show why the mother fell to the ground TOO: before she fainted, the roof had come crashing down.

Also, the bearing MY father's name feels more genuine. Though having the name of a known traitor would indeed have been a problem, had that been the case the father's friends could have raised the child under their name. (The explanation that the father wants the son to carry on fighting in his name is a bit post fact, isn't it?) But here we see a father who feels he would forsake his kin if he were to leave his father's namesake behind, and therefore he is unable to leave his son with others.
Which also explains the bit about the friends of the young child; they turn out to be his father's friends.

And we get rid of the loving "with energy and pride", as we get a whole stanza in its place, the natural reaction of the father being to first confirm that he does speak so well of his country, and reminisce about that time, and only after that start recounting what came to pass.


Apart from the reference to '98, rather than '48, this version seems to make much more sense than the other ones. One thing: What does "fin" mean in the construct "field and fin"?


Oh, and the book can be accessed from http://www.archive.org/details/flyingcloudonehu00deanrich, though the text scan appears to be less than perfect.

Bye,
                                                                Mysha


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Subject: Lyr Add: SKIBBEREEN
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 04 Dec 09 - 08:26 AM

The current entry at The Traditional Ballad Index for SKIBBEREEN says "Earliest Date: 1925 (Hayward-Ulster)." However, the following book is a bit older, and, as the title implies, the song is older still. Note that it refers to "the days of gloomy Ninety-eight" instead of '48, which seems rather strange.

From Flying Cloud: And One Hundred and Fifty Other Old Time Songs and Ballads of Outdoor Men, Sailors, Lumber Jacks, Soldiers, Men of the Great Lakes, Railroadmen, Miners, etc. by Michael Cassius Dean (Virginia, Minn.: The Quickprint, 1922), page 22:


SKIBBEREEN

Father, dear, I often hear you speak of Erin's Isle.
It seems so bright and beautiful, so rich and rare the soil.
You say it is a bounteous land wherein a prince might dwell.
Then why did you abandon it? The reason to me tell.

My son, I loved my native land with favor and with pride:
Her peaceful groves, her mountains rude, her valleys green and wide.
It was there I lived in manhood's prime and sported when a boy.
The Shamrock and Shillalah was my constant boast and joy.

But lo! a blight came o'er my crops. My sheep and cattle died.
The rent ran due; the taxes, too, I ne'er could have supplied.
The landlord turned me from the cot where born had I been,
And that, my boy, is the reason why I left old Skibbereen.

It is well do I remember that dark November day,
When the landlord and the sheriff came to drive us all away.
They set the roof a-blazing with a demon yell of Spleen,
And when it fell the crash was heard all over Skibbereen.

Your mother, too, God rest her soul, fell on the snowy ground
And fainted in her anguish at the desolation around.
She ne'er recovered, but passed away from life to Malchasene,
And found a grave of quiet rest in poor old Skibbereen.

Then sadly I recall the days of gloomy Ninety-eight.
I rose in vengeance with the boys to battle again' fate.
We were hunted through the mountains as traitors to the queen,
And that, my boy, is the reason why I left old Skibbereen.

You then, my son, was scare three years old and feeble was your frame.
I would not leave you with my friends. You bore my Father's name.
I wrapped you in my kosamane, at dead of night unseen.
I hove a sigh and bade good-bye to poor old Skibbereen.

Then, father, father! when the day for vengeance they will call,
When Irishmen o'er field and fin will rally one and all,
I will be the man to lead the band beneath the flag so green,
While loud on high we will raise the cry, "Revenge for Skibbereen!"


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 30 Jan 07 - 05:09 AM

Someone got in with that first Jim Lad.
Posted 15th Feb 01


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Jim Lad
Date: 30 Jan 07 - 04:46 AM

My father also sang this one.
Third Verse:

Oh well do I remember that cold December day
The Landlord and the Sheriff came to drive us all away
They set the roof on fire with their cursed English spleen
And that's another reason why I left Ould Skibereen.

Many's the time he lined us up against the wall to sing that one.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 04 Oct 03 - 04:32 PM

Sylvia: If you go to the page in Digitrad where the words to Skibbereen are shown, and then click on CLICK TO PLAY near the bottom of the screen, you will hear a midi file of Skibbereen (assuming your computer is equipped to play midi files).

Some music programs are able to convert midi files to sheet music, but you will have to get someone else to explain how this is done.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: GUEST,sylvia.griffiths@godfreyhirst.com
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 12:22 AM

Hi Martin

My Fiancee is trying to find the Sheet music for Skibbereen on the Net and isn't having much success. Have you any suggestions please. He plays the Mandolin and does have some music but one section of it isn't right so he is looking for some authentication.

Kind regards

Sylvia

PS. His name is Les Williams and his Email address is noelann@bigpond.net.au


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 27 Feb 01 - 12:23 AM

This may seem self-serving but there was some discussion above about there being more than one melody for the song. I said that I had recently recorded an exceptional Irish-American song, "Scovill's Rolling Mill," using the "Skibbereen" melody my greatgrandfather sang. That recording was released by Folk-Legacy over the weekend and "Scovill's Rolling Mill" is one of the sound clips we selected for the Folk-Legacy website. If you go to Folk Legacy and click on the song titles beneath "Irish in America," you should be able to hear it.

Thank you, pattyClink.

All the best,
Dan Milner


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: pattyClink
Date: 26 Feb 01 - 09:38 AM

Hi Dan, send a note with an address to mdeq@jam.rr.com and I'll try to get a tape cut. march will be VERY busy month but we'll get something moving.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: John Moulden
Date: 25 Feb 01 - 01:14 PM

Perhaps I exaggerated the importance of the absent index - but it is a classic definition of a "bad book."

However, I would urge anyone seeking real information about Irish emigration to read Kerby Miller, or Terry Coleman or even Hermann Melville (Redburn) rather than relying on Wright's introduction.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 24 Feb 01 - 10:44 PM

Thanks, Alice.

John, it was in Irish Emigrant Ballads and Songs that I first came across songs about T. F. Meagher's Irish Brigade and other Irish-American songs from the U.S. Civil War. Not only did it open my mind to that and other areas of 19th Century Irish-American history but I've learned a number of songs directly from the book. Of course, the lack of an index is a real nuisence (though I think my missing the Hughes' "Skibbereen" this morning had more to do with a hangover than a missing index) and there are very few tunes (even when they exist) but there is a great deal to recommended the book. For example, I don't think Wright was terribly selective in picking songs so one gets a cross-section of what was going around at the time. Also, some of these songs are on the rare side and exist only in far-flug places; the book is, at the least, very convenient in that regard. It's hardly complete but Wright did a lot of traveling to put the specimens together. We can go to the on-line Bodleian Library today but there are still plenty of other collections that are only in-person.

Beyond that, I find it interesting that Robert L. Wright was not an "Irish specialist" but an "Emigrant specialist." He put together collections of Danish and Swedish emigrant songs as well (possibly others, I don't know). I've seen the Danish book and I found it very interesting to look over the issues mentioned in the Danish songs vis-a-vis those in Irish songs, the use of language, etc.

All the best,
Dan Milner


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: John Moulden
Date: 24 Feb 01 - 05:37 PM

It is indeed in Wright as Dan says above - but I'm not so conviced of the worth of this book - its lack of index condemns it immediately. However, in his first section, Wright give two vesrsions, the one from Hughes and one of Edith Fowke's collection "Traditional Songs and Singers of Ontario" Hughes' is still the first report.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Alice
Date: 24 Feb 01 - 02:00 PM

I thought I had fixed my errors of saying the "third volume" in my first typing of the previous message, but I see it is still there at the beginning of the post - this mentioning of Skibbereen in Hughes letter is at the beginning of the Fourth Volume of Irish Country Songs, not the third.

Alice


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Subject: Lyr Add: MY BLUE EYED MOUNTAIN QUEEN
From: Alice
Date: 24 Feb 01 - 01:56 PM

I was about to type in quotes from Herbert Hughes 1915 preface to Vol II of Irish Country Songs, which contains Skibbereen, but I see John Moulden already did. Hughes begins with, "In this volume all the tunes are traditional, with the possible exception of 'The Cork Leg,'"... and then that questionable statement, "and the words of most are to be found on broadsheets." He doesn't say the words of all, but the words of most. On the sheet music itself, the title Skibbereen has below it in parentheses (A BALLAD OF THE FAMINE), which is obvious from the lyrics, and Traditional for the tune, and County Tyrone as the origin.

There is a bit more about Skibbereen in the preface to his third volume of Irish Country Songs, in a long letter to Edward F. Tilyou. He begins by writing about dedicating Volume IV to Tilyou, because his friend Tilyou, an Irishman living in Coney Island, had invited Hughes, in Chelsea, to go to Kerry in search of music, resulting in the third volume of collected songs. He goes on to write of his earlier work on Songs of Uladh with his friend Joseph Campbell, and his awareness that "the art of ballad-making, if in decline, was far from being dead".

This is a long letter, but eventually he gets to the part I want to add here:
-------
"We are too much inclined to pedantry on this subject of variants, forgetting that what matters most is not that an air is 'correct', but that it is good. I am not at all convinced that there is really such a thing as a correct version of any traditional tune, even if you can point to its earliest appearance in print. In this part of the world, where ballads have been composed apparently without a break for generations, tunes are often borrowed and adapted to fit the words.... You remember 'Skibbereen' - I gave a Tyrone version of it in Volume II of Irish Country Songs - A ballad of eviction with its period written indelibly all over it? Here the same tune is sung, slightly varied, to two other ballads that have no connexion with each other - to 'Galway Bay' and to 'My blue-eyed mountain queen', and I think there are others. The former, very well sung in the traditional manner by a yong man in this neighborhood, begins characteristically -
It's far away I am today from scenes I've roamed a boy, It's long ago the hour I know I first left Illinois, Nor time nor tide nor waters wide can win my heart away; For ever true it flies to you, my dear old Galway Bay..."

Hughes has these lyrics to the same tune as Skibbereen in Vol. IV. I find it interesting that all three songs to the same tune, Skibbereen, Galway Bay, and My Blue Eyed Mountain Queen, are lyrics created from the viewpoint of people who have left Ireland. We can speculate on how common this tune was in America, but I have a fantasy of people on the ships sharing the tune in crossing. That's pure imagination on my part, but a possibility. My great grandfather, Peter Flynn, went first to the plains of Minnesota, where he established a homestead, in 1880. In my great aunt Alice Flynn's memoirs, she writes, "My father went to Minnesota in 1880, crossing the Atlantic on "The City of Limerick". Mother said that he had bid goodbye the night before and that he stole away before daybreak the next morning with many tears because he realized that he probably would never return to Ireland. We left Ireland for America two years later, about the middle of May, 1882 -- my mother, Thomas, Lawrence, Patrick, John, myself Alice, Beezie (Bridget), and James. We went by train from Glenfarne to Belfast. It wasn't long before I became car-sick and fainted. When I came to, the first object that caught my eye was a beautiful ruby ring on the hand of an English soldier who was holding me in his arms. Then I noticed the tears running down my mother's cheeks. Instead of seats there were long benches and the train rocked and rolled. The door opened on the side and there was no conductor. The station agent locked us in, and the agent at the next place unlocked the door.

In Belfast, where we stayed overnight, the hotelkeeper said he would give us the best meal that could be gotten, for it was the last one we would get in dear old Ireland. We took a train to Larne and went up the gang plank from land to the vessel, the "State Of Georgia" of the State Steamship Company. Since we took the most northern Atlantic route, there were days of fog as we neared the banks of Newfoundland. The fog horn blew almost incessantly and the going was slow because of the icebergs. Some icebergs were 150 feet above the water and one had a huge bear perched on it -- so the officer said when he looked at it through the telescope.

One night we struck a submerged iceberg and everyone was up and dressed in quick time. The impact awakened me, too. This delayed us hours in getting off the ship.

After eleven days on the ship, everyone was glad to see the shores of the U.S.A. My father's brother in law, Bernard McGuire, and Larry Cullen met us at the pier and escorted us to Castle Garden. We had no difficulty in getting off the ship for we all had been vaccinated. Others who could not talk English protested and had a hard time for they had to be vaccinated before leaving the vessel."
She goes on to describe the immigrant train trip west, seeing apple trees and the story of Johnny Appleseed, and then meeting their father again - "When he met us at St. Paul we didn't recognize him at first for he wore a full beard since he hadn't shaved since he came to Minnesota in the fall of 1880. We all cried at meeting him... he had asked mother to bring a blackthorn stick, but the one she selected was entirely too dainty for his tastes."

Although my great grandfather was a grown man with teenage children when he went to the plains of America, the Blue Eyed Mountain Queen lyrics remind me of this story of waiting for the ship to bring her across the Atlantic.

I have two performances planned for this coming St. Patrick's Day, and I will sing Skibbereen.

MY BLUE EYED MOUNTAIN QUEEN
(same tune as Skibbereen)

It being in the month of May when fields were fresh and green,
I was forced to leave my native home, my age being scarce eighteen,
And when I parted with my dear, her loving tears were seen;
In troubled mind I left behind my blue-eyed mountain queen.

My father is a fisherman, he's on the raging sea;
My mother she through seven long years sleeps cold beneath the clay.
My sisters and my brothers four I regard them with esteem
But little they know I weep full sore for my blue-eyed mountain queen.

Farewell to Glenbeigh's lofty hills and to those mountain streams
Where sun or moon though in the gloom pours forth its brilliant beams;
Her castle* stands beneath the hill, bound round with laurels green.
But in America's plain I'll spend my days with my blue-eyed mountain queen

God speed the ship across the deep that steers my love to me,
The wind to fly her topsail wide to waft her o'er the sea;
Her steel-made bow has made a vow for to plough the waves with steam,
And in her breast to bear the crest of my blue-eyed mountain queen.

*An old mansion, locally known as Wynne's Folly, now in ruins. The gardens have long disappeared.

From Vol IV of Herbert Hughes Irish Country Songs

Alice


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 24 Feb 01 - 10:11 AM

Hi pattyClink!

A tape would be wonderful! If it's not too much trouble, may I send you a (not terribly) personal message?

All the best,
Dan Milner


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 24 Feb 01 - 10:08 AM

Hi Martin!

The book is Robert L. Wright's "Irish Emigrant Ballads and Songs" and it's one of the very best books in my collection. It is very difficult to get.

Wright was a collector in the sense of Child rather than Lomax. The text he prints comes from Edith Fowke's Ontario collection.

All the best,
Dan


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Big Tim
Date: 24 Feb 01 - 04:56 AM

Don't let's overcomplicate things. Sure "bore you father's name" is simply a rather poetic way of saying "you're my son, and I hope you will contiue the struggle (for Land Reform and independence) when I am too old to do so"


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: pattyClink
Date: 23 Feb 01 - 12:22 PM

I had no idea the origins of this song were so opaque. I thought it was as old and well-known as anything out there.

When I was trying to learn the song, the 'you bore your father's name' never made a lot of sense to me. I always wondered if some nameless woman wrote the words and then early on, songs were sung so much more by men that the dying spouse conveniently became a woman. What if the spouse had been a man who fought the buggers and got killed, and she has to grab his cotamore and the baby and go? Most of the song makes more sense if you transpose this stuff. Just an opinion.

Hi, Dan, we had copies made for the family of some of those songs, and I then transcribed some to text. I'm not sure Skibbereen was the 'full' version i've seen in books, so I don't know if it would be a big help to you (nor is it a 'pretty' rendition recorded) What would help you the most? the AFS #, copy of the transcript, tape?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: MartinRyan
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 03:48 PM

Thanks John. Is there a mention in Wright's "Songs of Irish Emigration"(??) ?

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Big Tim
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 02:05 PM

JM thanks for the info that the 1901 lead is a false one, I had already emended may notes, now will have to reamend. Joseph Campbell? Highly unlikely.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: John Moulden
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 01:59 PM

Martin Ryan, noting my absence from regular contribution to the Mudcat Cafe, e-mailed me to set my mind in motion on this question. I'm going to review what has been said.

Richard Hayward was not very scrupulous about his sources and his book "Ulster Songs and Ballads of the Town and the Country" London (Duckworth) (first edition) 1925 contains no notes and no references - I'd be pretty sure his source was Hughes, father thanthe other way round. The words are very slightly but in no significant way different. Also Hughes' sub-title is "A Ballad of the Famine" and gives the location for his collection of the tune, as Co Tyrone. Hayward sub-titles it "A County Tyrone Ballad of the Famine"

The 1901 "Irish Com-all-ye's" reference - is to Manus O'Conor's "Irish Com-all-yes! (New York) - inspection finds a Skibereen but it is a burlesque and nothing at all to do with this song. The same burlesque is in Wehman's 617 Irish Songs and Ballads (New York, but undated.)

So we are left with 1915 as an earliest date. Hughes' preface, dated February 1915, is interesting. He discusses the songs "... the words of most are to be found on broadsheets."

I've never seen a broadsheet of this song though I'm about to start a three year research project into 19th century Irish printed ballads, so I may yet. At the same time, the words seem a bit self conscious to me - I wonder did one of Hughes friends, like Joseph Campbell, the poet who collaborated with Hughes on "Songs of Uladh" write the words - I have no evidence at all but, as you all know, conjecture fills an evidential vacuum.

I've always associated this song with a famous account of the effects in Skibereen, of the Great Irish Famine: a letter dated 17th December 1846, from Nicholas Cummins JP, to the Duke of Wellington, which was published in the London "Times" on 24th Dec 1846. It's the most harrowing first hand account of any episode of the Great Famine that I have read.

Hughes' Preface continues: "Most ballads are human (if not historical) documents and the story told in "Skibbereen" for example,certainly falls into that category. Curously enough in outline and in one or two details it resembles an actual incident recorded by a friend of mine in Kerry less than forty years ago, though there could be no connection between the two stories."

That makes it sound less rather than more likely that one of Hughes' friends was responsible.

So there you have it: some information, a lot of conjecture and no conclusion.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Deskjet
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 01:15 PM

I may have missed it due to the large number of entries, but I have to mention a version of Skibbereen by the sean-nos singer Sean 'ac Dhonnchadha, in my humble opinion, the best sean-nos singer in recorded history.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Dear old Skibereen
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 12:36 PM

Hi Patty!

Does that Skibbereen recording (sound or text) exist anywhere outside the Library of Congress?

All the best,
Dan Milner


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