minstrel: celtic music

Patricia Yarrow yarrowp at mscd.edu
Mon Mar 13 08:06:32 PST 2000

Ceili Brigid wrote (to Master Gregory):

<<Hello!  Since you definitely seem like a guru in Celtic music, or at
least a bit more knowledgable that me, perhaps you can help me date
these songs.  I find it hard to date and document a lot of the songs in
the Irish.  This could very well be because I don't have the resourses,
but, the songs:  Jimmy mo mhile stor, Siuil Arun, and The Bonnie
Labouring Boy.  Any help would be seriously appreciated!  Especially
websites where I can print the information out.>>

Only Shule Aroon (also spelled Shule Arun, and also known as I Wish I Was on Yonder Hill) appears in the first source I checked, which is the one I recommend to anyone serious about Irish traditional music:  Sources of Irish Traditional Music c. 1600-1855 by Aloys Fleischmann.  This was one of the melodies borrowed by Thomas Moore in the 1820s.  William Cole states (in Folk Songs of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales):  This fine song of lamentation has been traced to the early eighteenth century.  The verses refer to a lover's enlistment in the "Wild Geese" of the Irish Brigade (1691-1740), who served with the Frnech, hoping somehow through this eventually to drive the English out of Ireland.  The lyrics of the chorus seem to have come from an entirely different kind of song.

The Bonny Labouring Boy appears in both Sam Henry's Song of the People (excellent source for traditional Irish material, with modal classification) and in Peter Kennedy's Folksongs of Britain and Ireland.  The earliest printed version mentioned by Kennedy is 1902 in the Journal of the Folksong Society.  The song is popular in southern England and Northern Ireland.  He mentions that the song appears on broadside ballad sheets but does not specify when.  Sam Henry collected it in 1934.

Afraid I can't help on Jimmy mo mhile stor.  Where did you find it?


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