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The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 1999-2004 » 2004 (July-September) » Archive through September 27, 2004 » America on Irish Music « Previous Next »

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James McCain (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 141.211.251.28
Posted on Saturday, September 18, 2004 - 03:10 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Hi all,
I am a grad. student at a music school in the U.S. and would like to write an upcoming term paper on some aspect(s) of American role/influence on "traditional" Irish music. I am interested in collecting as many songs that refer to America--either as a prominent topic, as in "By the Hush," or simply as a passing comment, like "Whiskey you're the divil...over hills and mountains and to Americae"--and thought this would be a good place to ask for them. Any titles, recording info, performers you'd like to recommend, would be greatly appreciated. Also, I'd welcome any other info, such as local (US) Irish music festivals, local performers, not-so-local performers, etc., that would very likely be missed in my own research. And of course I would greatly welcome any comments by those in Ireland on any possible American references/influence in "traditional" music (I've read that what is "traditional" and isn't has been under heated debate), or any other comments.
Please keep in mind that by "American influence" I don't mean to convey that America is so great a country that it influences everything or what not, but I meant as far as possible theme-related pieces entering the traditional "canon", or emigre performers, etc. Thanks in advance!

J. M.

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Pádraig
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Username: Pádraig

Post Number: 16
Registered: 09-2004
Posted on Saturday, September 18, 2004 - 06:09 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

In the early part of the 20th century, Tin Pan Alley produced a body of so-called Irish music which was latched onto by the Irish-American community to such an extent that many purely American songs were thought to be Irish in origin. A number of them are still trotted out by the DJ's every March 17th along with talk of leprecauns and me lucky charms. There's "Donegal" which speaks of an Irish lad returning home from a three year sortie into New York planning to marry the colleen (sic) he left behind and "join the harps and shamrocks with the stars of liberty."
Now that I think about it, there are many songs in saloon piano players' repetoires that I'd be hard pressed to say whether they were Irish or American.
Interesting subject, though. I hope you get some more input from others more knowledgeable.

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Dáithí
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Username: Dáithí

Post Number: 14
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Saturday, September 18, 2004 - 07:41 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

A James a chara,

A CD that you may find of interest is "Ireland's Harvest," which can be obtained from www.mapleshaderecords.com. I think that it's an excellent overview, or "tribute to the golden years of music in Irish America, as the liner note reads.

Slan,

Dáithí

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Aingeal
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Username: Aingeal

Post Number: 9
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Sunday, September 19, 2004 - 11:03 am:   Edit Post Print Post

I'm not sure if this will help you or not but there is a book and a cd called " Far from the Shamrock Shore" by Mick Moloney, it tells the story of Irish-American immigration through song. It covers alot of different topics and some songs in the book were sung in Ireland and brought over by the immigrant and others were songs sung by Irish Americans about working conditions in the mines and discrimination. Its atleast interesting and worth a look. Good luck.

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Kay Uí Chinnéide (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 194.46.89.78
Posted on Sunday, September 19, 2004 - 01:13 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

RTE and BBC did a program called "Bringing it all back home", it covered the subject. CDs are available of the songs used in the program.

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Chris Dixon (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 194.247.95.129
Posted on Monday, September 20, 2004 - 05:17 am:   Edit Post Print Post

James, a chara,
David Kincaid has done a lot of work on the music of the Irish in the American Civil War.
His first album on the subject was called The Irish Volunteer. I'm sure a Goolge search on him/it should provide you with lots of useful links which should take you beyond the aspect that he himself has been working on.
Ádh mór ort!
Chris

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Pádraig
Member
Username: Pádraig

Post Number: 17
Registered: 09-2004
Posted on Monday, September 20, 2004 - 11:58 am:   Edit Post Print Post

James,

Aingeal's reference to songs about the hardship of working the mines brought to mind a pre-labor union organization known as the Molly McGuires (sometimes referred to as the "Mollies".) You might find this subject in your research to be a springboard into the music of the era.

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Pádraig
Member
Username: Pádraig

Post Number: 18
Registered: 09-2004
Posted on Monday, September 20, 2004 - 12:05 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

James, a chara
I found the following by surfing Google.


LAMENT FOR THE MOLLY McGUIRES

Curfa
Suckin up the coal dust into your lungs
Underneath the hills where there is no sun
Trying to make a livin on a dollar a day
Dlggin coal in Penn syl van i a

We left old Ireland we left our homes
Across the ocean we had to roam
Five gossoons and a scrawny wife
Trying to make some kind of a life

Curfa

But the Welsh The English the Germans the Dutch
Controlled the mines they didn't leave much
Sign on the mine no Irish need apply
The Mollys started blowing the mines sky high

Curfa

A straw boss stuck an owner disappeared
Many the Welshman lost his ears
Company store burned to the ground
The Molly McGuires are spreading all around

Curfa

Black Jack Keogh looked after his pack
Leaned on the Irish so they wouldn't fight back
Jack and his boys put fear in their souls
The Molly McGuires are controlling the coal

Curfa

But terror ends as it has begun
Jack McFarland he ended the run
He laughed at the Mollys and he brought their fate
After many years he ended the hate

Curfa
Curfa

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James McCain (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 141.211.251.22
Posted on Monday, September 20, 2004 - 10:08 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Hi everyone,
Thanks for all the leads so far...my project is starting to take shape, a little differently than I first expected, but still in the same ballpark. Please feel free to pass on anything else if you feel so inspired; I'm sure it would help inform my work in some way.
Thanks again,
James

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Aingeal
Member
Username: Aingeal

Post Number: 10
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Monday, September 20, 2004 - 10:11 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I can tell you almost anything you need to know about the Mollies, if that's what you are interested in. I live in Schuylill County, PA and I had a realtive who was "involved" in the organization, I'm also a distant relation to the infamous Black Jack. One song you may find useful is

"When the Breaker starts up Full Time"
Our troubles are o'er Mrs. Murphy
For the Dutchman next door tells me straight
That the mines will start up full time on Monday
That's what he tells me at any rate
Sure the boss he says told him this morning
As he was about entering the mine
That the coal is quite scarce around Philly
So the rumor is work full time

Chorus
And it's ah sure if the news be true
Me store bill's the first thing I'll pay
A stuff parlor suit and a lounge I will buy
And an organ for Bridget hooray
Me calico shirt I will throw in the dirt
In me silk one won't I cut a shine
When we get the advance we'll put Seamus in pants
When the breaker starts up full time

I'll ne'er stick me fist in a washtub
The Chinaman he'll have me trade
I'll ne'er pick a coal off the dirt bank
I'll buy everything ready-made
We'll dress up our children like fairies
And build up a house big and fine
And we'll move away from the Hungaries
When the breakers starts up full time

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Aingeal
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Username: Aingeal

Post Number: 11
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Monday, September 20, 2004 - 10:21 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

"Mickey Pick-Slate"

There came to this country a short time ago
A poor Irish widow from County Mayo
She had but one son his age it was eight
And the boss gave him work picking slate.

The first day at the breaker the boys all did stare
For poor little Mickey was the youngest lad there
They asked him his age; said he, I'm just eight
So they nick-named him Mickey Pick-Slate.

One day in the winter with seven below
While poor Mickey was sifting the coal
He tripped on a plank that was carelessly placed
And into the rolls he fell to his fate.

His body so mangled it's sad for to say
The poor little fellow he soon passed away
His mother demented still lingers and waits
For her poor little Mickey Pick-Slate.

Just a little side note for you, my grandfather worked the mines most of his life and he knows this song. So its still floating around out in the mines somewhere.

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Pádraig
Member
Username: Pádraig

Post Number: 19
Registered: 09-2004
Posted on Tuesday, September 21, 2004 - 12:35 am:   Edit Post Print Post

I was born in the Wyoming Valley, Luzerne County, PA. My grandfather on my mother's side went to work as a breaker boy at age 9. I seem also to recall his having been a door tender in the days when they used canaries for early warning of bad air in the shaft. "dead canary; get out quick." This would have been in the late 19th century. I greatly regret having been too busy as a child with my own interests to listen carefully to the stories he had to tell, many of them about the Mollies.

My paternal grandfather never spent a day in the breaker much less underground. He came to America from Co. Mayo in 1876 as a boy of 12, and the story is told that he took one look at the condition of the miners and vowed he would have none of it. He had no formal education, but he taught himself to read and write English and ultimately became private secretary to the Governor of Pennsylvania as well as principal of a local grammar school. All this in the days of "Irish need not apply."

I realize this is rather removed from the thread begun by James, but I find the subject of Irish in America to be fascinating; and I should add, I believe it's vital to efforts to revitalize the language. Language belongs to people, and the more I come to know any people, the more relevant their language becomes.

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Aingeal
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Username: Aingeal

Post Number: 12
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 10:44 am:   Edit Post Print Post

There really is a wealth of Irish-American history here in the coal regions of Central PA. I'm lucky enough to still have my grandfather to tell me stories of the mines, and the way his father and grandfather before him were treated.

Well put about the language.

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Alevans
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Username: Alevans

Post Number: 128
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 11:12 am:   Edit Post Print Post

It seems unlikely that you wouldn't already know this, but since nobody else has mentioned it, I will.

Francis O'Neill, an Irishman who became General Superintendent of the Chicago police department, is credited with rescuing and preserving a great deal of Irish music.

Here's one link:

http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/AMusic/FrancisONeil.html

I'm sure there are plenty more!

--Al Evans

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James
Member
Username: James

Post Number: 27
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 06:09 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Al,

What a fascinating link! I was just in Chicago and absolutely loved the rich and ever-visible Irish connections throughout the city.

I find your link all the more interesting in that we actually managed to toss back a "pint or two" (or three, four....ach, who'se counting anyway?!!?!?) OK...so we drank a bit at Cheif O'Neills pub! I thought the name was an anglicised reference to "The O'Neill" as a term for the chief of the clan but apparently I was terribly wrong....the real story is so much more interesting.

Wonderful post, wondeful link...thanks!

Le Meas,

James

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Aonghus
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Username: Aonghus

Post Number: 172
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 04:28 am:   Edit Post Print Post

And an object lesson in not assuming it's not worth mentioning something "because everybody knows that..."

Togha fir, Al.



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