Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society, Volume 1, Issue 6, Page 7

Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society, Volume 1, Issue 6, Page 7
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Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society
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1011humble disciple of the Gaelic revival, must be recognised as one of its p eeursorsa trumpet blowing herald who preceded the entrance of the chieftain.And now in our review of Anglo-Irish song writers, let us for a moment turn backto the most famous of them_Thomas Moore. ONeill Russell, whose essay suggestedthis dissertation, was the steadfast champion of Moore, and was largely responsiblefor the inauguration of the movement which resulted, in the erection of a Celticcross above his grave. It is also expected that before long a fitting monument willreplace the clumsy statue adjoining the walls of Trinity College, Dublin. Itshould be remember j that while a student in that institution Moore formed afriendship with the active spirits of the .patriot party, including the illustriousRobert Eminet, whose tragic love story and martyrdom are referred to in the songs,0 breathe not his name, and She is far from the land. It is recorded thatEmniet was passionately fond of music and used to pace the room whilst Mooreplayed the ancient airs of Ireland which were later on to inspire themes for hisgenius. Listening to one beautiful air, The Foxes Sleep, Emmet passionatelyexclaimed, 0 that I was marching to that tune at the head of ten thousand men!The question now arises, from what pages did Moore play the airs whichawakened this martial ardour in the heart of Robert Enimet. Was he playingfrom any book or improvising in his own inimitable style from old airs fa niliarto him from childhood PMr. Grattan Flood, in his history, mentions a few collections from which Mooremight have drawn, and includes among these the publications of Edward Bunting.Hear Moores own acknowledgment as to this matter. In a preface to a volumeof his Melodies he wrote: There can be no doubt that to the zeal and industryof Mr. Bunting his country is indebted for the preservation of her ancient nationalairs. They were the mine from which the workings of my labours as a poet havederived their lustre and value. And in poetic phrase addressing the Harp of hiscountry he wrote:If the pulse of the patriot soldier or loverHas throbbed to our laytis thy glory alone;I was but as the wind passing heedlessly over,And ail the wild sweetness I waked was thine own.Just as Petries wordless airs inspired the Songs of Old Ireland, to which I havealready referred, the first volume of Buntings Ancient Music, published withoutwords in 1796, led to the writing of Moores earlier melodies.On the opening page of that volume we find the air so much admired by RobertEmmet, under the title, Colladh an Tsionnaidh, or The Foxes Sleep. We canscarcely doubt that Moore had the pages of Buntings volume before him on thatoccasion, and it may perhaps have been the young patriot who introduced it to hisnotice.The songs had been collected in Belfast with the encouragement of a learnedSociety numbering among its members many friends of the Emmet family, notablythe MeCrackens and Thomas Russell, librarian of the Society. Being actively interestedin the success of the somewhat expensive publication, ve can hardly doubt but thatone or other of these introduced it to the notice of Thomas Emmet, their associatein political work, who was well-to-do and a likely book buyer. We read in fact thatin 1796 a copy of Buntings Collection was admitted to the prison where ThomasEmmet, Russell, and others were detained as State prisoners. This makes it likelythat a volume came into the hands of the Ennnet family, apd was introduced byRobert to his college friend, Thomas Moore.This first volume of Buntings (Deflection came out without words, but let it benoted that in every case the name of a Gaelic song or air is appended in finely engravedGaelic character. Buntings friends of the Belfast Society were enthusiasts on thesubject of Irish language and literature, and reference to the splendidly preservedoriginals of the Bunting papers shows us that as much trouble was taken to get thewords as the music. These papers are in the keeping of Mrs. C. Milligan Fox, Secretary of the IrishFolk Song Society. I have with her gone carefully through all the documents,and I believe that they contain the Irish words for every air that Bunting published,and for other airs in his note-book MSS. that were never published. An able Irishscholar was employed with Bunting in this work in the person of Patrick Lynch, anative of County Clare, who in the year 1802 made a song collecting expedition toConnaught. The MS. documents include his diary on this journey, with the nameand towniand address of persons from whom he took songs; the words of songs inrough note books, written in Irish but in English character; also re.cOpies in
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Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society, Volume 1, Issue 6

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