Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society, Volume 1, Issue 6, Page 8

Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society, Volume 1, Issue 6, Page 8
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Irish Folk Song Society
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Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society
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12exquisitely clear Gaelic character of all these songs to the number of nearly twohundred. Books of translations of all these songs are also among the papers, butthey are not given in any exact order.Along with these Gaelic documents we find musical ones to match. The smallpocket note books, with the melodies hastily scoredthe Irish names scrawled in untidyEnglish writing; neater copies have the Irish names in Gaelic character. There isno doubt whatever that Bunting and his Belfast friends hoped to publish a largeselection of the original Irish poems. To understand why this was not done afterso much expense and care had been gone to in preparation, we have to turn to therecord of contemporary events. In the interval elapsing between the publication ofBuntings first and second volume, Thomas Moore had won instant recognition byhis arrangement of certain of the melodies to his lyrics written in English. Thismust have suggested to Bunting. and his Belfast friends the advisability of supplyingsong words in English. The first volume included no words; the second has lyricsby Thomas Campbell, Miss Balfour, Dr. Drennan and others. But Moores successwas not the sole cause that led to the Gaelic poetry being set aside. The UnitedIrish insurrection had occurred in 1798, and in it many of Buntings friendssuffered, including Henry Joy McCracken. Russell and the Emmets were in prisonand in exile, but even under such discouraging circumstances interested in helpingon Buntings work. The McCracken family, in spite of their tragic bereavement,gave great attention to the enterprise, and in 180 financed Patrick Lynch on hisjourney to (Jonnacht in the course of which some two hundred airs with words weregarnered. In 1803 a new disaster befell in the shape of Robert Emmets attemptedrising in Dublin. Thomas Russell, who had returned from France, came to theCounty Down in order to stimulate a movement there, but without avail. Hebecame an outlaw with a price on his head, and was for some time in hiding inthe hills near Belfast and round Newtonards. At the risk of his life and liberty,Edward Bunting, most faithful of friends, went to see him in his place of hiding.Another interview took place between the outlaw and Mary McCracken. But therewere others whose friendship was appealed to and who failed the test, amongstthese was Dr. MacDonnell, of Belfast, who had been the organiser of the HarpFestival, and whose financial help was counted on for Buntings publications. In a18moment of weakness, he permitted his name to appear on a list of loyal citizenswho guaranteed a reward for the arrest of above mentioned traitor, namely,Russell. For years he was in consequence no longer on speaking terms with theMeCrackens, and likely not with Bunting. But there was an even more. tragic anddiscreditable occurrence, to account for the disuse of the Gaelic MSS. Bussell,though he escaped in safety from the North, with the help of a Bangor boatmancalled Campbell, was arrested in Dublin, and brought to Downpatrick, tried, sentencedand hanged on a charge of treason. Amongst the witnesses brought forward toidentify the prisoner, and to bear witness to his attempted insurrection, was one PatrickLyn h,. professor of Irish,no other than the scribe of our Gaelic MSS. We canwell understand in the light of these events how his services were dispensed with;the MSS., the fruit of his labours, set aside; and the Irish airs divorced from thesong words, which in this number of our Journal we for the first time publish inunion.In the following century little was done in the way of publishing Irish words tomusic. The most important publication was that of ODalys Poets and Poetry ofMunster, containing the melody and Irish words of many songs. Series I. wasbrought out in the year 1849, and contained several translations by Clarence Mangan.Series II. appeared in the year 1860, with translations by Dr. Sigerson, who, havinglearned Irish in his boyho d on the Donegal border, had taken up the study ofit at Queens College, Cork. Dr. Sigersons translations can be referred to in hisown volume, Bards of the Gad and Gall, which contains besides those contributedto ODalys volume, a whole sequence of lyrical specimens, from the Irish o f ancientdays, down to the end of the eighteenth century. As a translator Dr. Sigerson hasachieved the difficult literary feat of copying, as far as the English language wouldallow him, the metres and style of Irish poetry.Dr. Joyces Volumes of Ancient Music had Irish words to many of the airs,and in that popular Collection, The Songs of Four Nations, were several finesongs in Irish, including Drimin Dubh, Cathaleen ni Houlihaun, and somewith words by Douglas Hyde. Dr. Annie Patterson and Mrs. Needhani are amongstthose who went to the trouble of getting Irish words set to their original music;the former lady being composer of the Rallying Song of the Gaelic League for
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Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society, Volume 1, Issue 6

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