Boyle Traditional Singers' Circle - Ciorcal Ámhránaíochta Traidisiúnta Mhainistir na Búille

3rd Saturday of every month. Next session: 18th May 2019.

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Fáilte - Welcome
to the Boyle Singers' circle - Ciorcal Amhránaíochta Mhainistir na Búille

Traditional unaccompanied singing, in English and Irish.

Dodd’s Crescent Bar (back room), The Crescent, Boyle, Co. Roscommon, Ireland.
The third Saturday of every month, all year around, 9.30pm onwards.

All singers and listeners welcome.

18 December 2010

We've had to cancel December's session due to the snow that's been falling since Friday morning all over Leitrim and Roscommon ... and the North West in general. Nollaig shona agus Athbhliain faoi mhaise.

November 2010

A select group tried out some new songs and recitations around the fire in Dodds. Very enjoyable. More anon, when this writer gets the time!

Tony sang (not all at the same time) the Greenmore Hare, the King’s Shilling, The Bantry Girl’s lament and:
The cocks are crowing, daylight is appearing
It's drawing nigh to the break of day
Arise my darling, out of your slumbers
Arise my darling, and come away.

And he included the verse which has caused much discussion on the Mudcat Café:

If the Killy Boyne, it were mine in the chorus
And the green fields, they were mine, and wide
If my pen were made of the temper-ed steel, sure
My true love's praises I could never write.

Mudcat: What's a killy boyne? You’ll have to check out Mudcat Café yourself to find out what the theories and opinions were.

Frank had The Lowlands of Holland, a song from the 1770s. Again, from Mudcat: “... in some versions Holland may have been New Holland, the former name for Australia, which has perhaps been confused with the Dutch East Indies. This may explain the strange description of Holland in the third verse or the "sugar cane" mentioned in other versions.”
Frank also sang a local song composed 60 years ago, telling about a dispute between two neighbours over a goat. James Dillon was minister at the time; Clement Attlee was Prime Minister in England. Jim Dillon, you did it, you scoundrel... You won’t find that one on Mudcat.

Breege started off with Once I had a fair young sweetheart ... “Go and leave me, I don't mind.”
She also sang her own song about the emigration of her uncle who had no future labouring for McDermottroe in Roscommon at the time. She made a great job of Banks of the Lee and Staunton’s Brae too.

George’s new song: I dropped in to the barbers shop, badly needing a shave... and had him swapping hats with a “toff”, then drinks and finally wives – Exchange is no robbery, so I don’t care.

Recitations on the night included Yeats’ Wild Swans at Coole from Martin and Frances’s Nancy Lee and the flea. Martin: Some are fast, more are slow: his own poem, inspired by Céilithe and the set dance gang.
Frances was “battered and scarred” and George was too, according to The sick note, written by Pat Cooksey in 1969. Its original title was Paddy and the Barrel, which he tells us (on Mudcat, of course) was based on Gerard Hoffnung's address to the Oxford Union, and this in turn had its origin in a more simple story dating back to the English music halls in the 1920s.
Here Paddy is, halfway through his sorry tale:

Now when those building bricks fell from the barrel to the floor,
I then outweighed the barrel so I started down once more,
I held on tightly to the rope as I flew to the ground
And I landed on those building bricks that were scattered all around.

Safe home now. See you for the Christmas session.

16 October 2010 - Sing early, sing often!

Sing early, sing often!

Autumn resolution for the Boyle Singers - we'll be starting at the earlier time of 9.00 (no, really we will), with a view to kicking off the singing at 9.30pm, from next month onwards.

This week we had a visit from a Japanese girl from Tokyo, Sayaka, who's doing a thesis on sean nós singing and seems to be visiting all the singing circles and festivals in Ireland, (it's a hard oul' station), gathering information and talking to people. She's a lovely singer herself, too.

Jim Bainbridge, Brian and Eileen were welcomed back and were in good voice, as was Eugene – doing a mighty job in his debut as Fear a' Tí. We’re making a small change to our usual format, and the convention is now, a round or two of songs, the sambos and then a free-for-all, or as they say in polite circles: “open to the floor”.

Frank and Frances Brennan were noted by their absence – but you can catch Frank at the singing festival in Knockcroghery next weekend, where he’s to appear as a special guest.

An aside here: Cnoc an Chrocaire / Knockcroghery was originally called An Creagán (Creggan, stony hill). There was a gallows erected on the hill to hang the Ó Ceallaighs, defeated by Sir Charles Coote in the 17th century. They had resisted Coote’s siege of their stronghold, Galey or Gayley Castle, on the shores of Lough Ree. They were hanged on the hill at Creggan and the deed was remember in the change of name, Cnoc an Chrocaire or hangman’s hill, anglicized to Knockcroghery.

No direct link, but one popular theme for the evening was soldiering and enlisting – or rather, against soldiering and enlisting. Tony for one gave us the King’s shilling (also sung by the Battlefield Band, Karan Casey, Jean Redpath, and others):

Oh my love has left me wi' bairnies twa
And that's the last o' him I ever saw
He's joined the army and he marched awa'
He took the shillin'
He took the shillin' and he marched awa'
Come laddies come, hear the cannons roar Tak' the King's shilling an' we're off tae war

Nora had No traitors came from Boyle and Eileen had Siúl a Rúin.

And the other main theme, wives and their mistreatment (Jim Bainbridge, let him be named!) was answered by Helen’s Himself, but he persisted with Three wives in The Fountain – the Fountain being a pub in England. No lyrics recorded for that but elicited this response from Clíona:
My parents they abandoned me and on them I do frown
For they wed me to an auld grey man for the sake of his money and ground

Francie did give Jim a lift home anyway.

Eugene threw in a few unsuitable songs from his repertoire (which is large) and also gave another tale of the marital state with the Brown and the Yellow Ale:
He asked me if the woman by my side was my daughter
Oh, the brown and the yellow ale
And when I said she's my wife his manner didn't alter
Oh, love of my heart.

Breege sang of Josie McDermott and of Staunton’s Brae and Brian sang Zozimus’s Finding of Moses.
On Egypt's banks, contagious to the Nile
The auld Pharaoh's daughter, she went to bathe in style
She took her dip and she came unto the land
And to dry her royal pelt she ran along the strand

[... Moses found, brought home to the Da, who wants to know who’s responsible]:

Ah then," says the Pharaoh, "I'll search every nook
From the Phoenix Park down to Donnybrook
And when I catch a hoult of the b**st*rds father
I’ll kick him from the Nile down to the Dodder."

And we had Bogies bonnie belle, Isle of Malachy and I wish my love was red red rose from the girl with the new glasses.

Discover Boyle day, Sunday 3rd October 2010

As part of the Discover Boyle day on Sunday 3rd October, the Boyle singers ran an extra singing session, which took place on Sunday afternoon, 4-6pm, in Dodd's Crescent bar.

There was an excellent turn-out of the regulars and some new faces too. Several people dropped in, on their way home from the Sligo traditional singers' weekend in Rosses Point, to add their songs to the afternoon. We hope we'll get to see (and hear) them again at our regular sessions, on the 3rd Saturday of the month, every month.

18 September 2010.

Late night, many songs.

Unexpected and unusual soft spot for a banker - in Eugene's song:

...It pierced her through the very heart,

To think that young banker and her should part...

Young banker he had such a handsome face,
And all around his hat he wore a band of lace,
Beside such an handsome head of hair,
For my young banker I will go there.

From the singing of the Wilsons

21 August 2010

Some notes from the evening, more to follow:

Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann was taking place in Cavan town this weekend and this meant one of our number arrived a little late and another left a little early as various members of the singers' group travelled over to take part. Hughie was prompted to sing about the famous Cavan GAA footballer, John Joe O'Reilly (1919 – 1952) from Killeshandra.

Others sang about Cuckoos, Johnny Morrissey and more.

Helen sang about a soldier returning from World War I, damaged and not able to cope with the memory of the horrors witnessed.

Brian made a grand job of I met Frank Halpin's gander couring Nancy Hogan's goose.

17 July 2010 : Who are you, my pretty fair maid

39 songs by my reckoning. Back later with a little more info.

Back again - but isn't the summer flying in!

Well, Cyril McDermott from Ballyroddy, Elphin was back for a visit, and sang the Bantry Girl's Lament and Frankie Simon's song about the Windmill in Elphin. Cyril was one of those who worked towards restoring the windmill there. A regular visitor from Elphin, Paddy gave us Red-Haired Mary and the Rose of Allendale. George was accused of being a crazy-mixed up kid when he sang "I am my own Grand Pa".

We welcomed Jim Bainbridge and his wife, Francie, to the club. He kicked off with a 1920s song which goes: "It’s really high time that something was done to alter the way that the country is run...". (Well, we all second that.) Actually, it's a song about the duty on whisky, which was increased in England, on 19 April, 1920, so the price went up from ten and a tanner to 12 and a tanner a bottle.

Eugene traced our own country's woes back further - still linked to politics tho':
You brave young sons of Erin's Isle, I hope you will attend awhile
'Tis the wrongs of dear old Ireland I am going to relate
'Twas black and cursed was the day
When our parliament was taken away
And all of our griefs and sufferings commences from that day...

Breege's song about the drowning on Lough Arrow in 1874 held our attention and Helen's own love song, beside Lough Key (scraps of the verse: "we loved the first with such a thirst" ..."beside Lough Cé" ... "on Easter Day she passed my way".

A taster of more of the songs:
Raglan Road ,
Hot Asphalt,

Bold Grenadier:
As I was a walking one morning in May,
I spied a young couple, so fond they did stray,
One was a young maid so sweet and so fair,
And the other was a soldier and a bold Grenadier...

And then the surprise ending:
They kissed so sweet and comforting – last line... and she pushed him in.
Ahah! - never heard that bit before.
More maidens' revenge followed with Martinmas Time.

Moving along: My love came to Dublin; To plough and sow, reap and mow; Johnny Morissey and the Russian Sailor; Ceaití and the Sean duine dóite (not in the same song); 'Twas duly that it came to pass, I met ma bonnie fisher lass; Green grow the rushes, Oh; Annie; The Summer time is blooming; Who are you my pretty fair maid?

If you think you have a song or recitation to contribute to our store, or you'd just like to come and listen - see you next session - August (canyoubelieveit) 21, 2010 in Dodd's.

19th June 2010 sang high and the other sang low...

Some great songs and rhymes at the Boyle Singers' Circle on June 19th, 2010.

There was a smell of sulphur in the air for Frances’ rendition of Peg Kelly's black cat and Martin (from Mayo) brought back holy memories with a recitation about Knock aiport (... money’s expensive shtuff, and we don’t have enuff, to sink in a bog in Mayo...).

Before all that, Gerry O’Beirne’s Isle of Malachi was done justice by Clare (to the tune of Seán Ó Duibhir a’ Ghleanna):
Search where no ships are sailing
No sound of hearts breaking
Or down in deepest Africa
No one will find him there

But down the sands of evening
In days of my love leaving
You will hear the dance rise all around
The Isle of Malachy

Derval sang The Raggle Taggle Gypsy sang high and the other sang low... and that was Seosamh maybe, with a wonderful, gentle version of Raglan Road.

Disasters of the Great War and other effin wars too, were in both Robert’s and Eugene’s songs. Robert sang a song which came to him from America about the firemen in the Twin Towers and another song about Francis Ledwidge, the Blackbird of Slane. Ledwidge, a soldier with the Royal Inniskillen Fusiliers, wrote Lament for Thomas MacDonagh (He shall not hear the bittern cry ...) and was himself killed in July 1917, near Ypres in Belgium, in a shell explosion.

Eugene gave us The Old Man's Tale (Ian Campbell, trad. tune, 'Nicky Tams')
At the turning of the century I was a boy of five
Me father went to fight the Boers and never came back alive.
Me mother was left to bring us up, no charity she'd seek,
So she washed and scrubbed and scrapped along on seven and six a week.

Do liostáil Clíona le sáirsint, ag nascadh téamaí , cogadh agus Co. Mhaigh Eo, in ómós do mhuintir Mhaigh Eo a bhí i láthair.

Staying with Francis Ledwidge’s generation, and in recognition of Bloomsday during the week, Tony’s song had Joycean connections. Love’s old sweet song is not only the song Molly and Blazes Boylan were to be rehearsing together, on that famous Dublin day in June, but it was also one of the songs James Joyce sang at the Feis Ceoil in 1904, when he won the bronze medal and John McCormack the gold. Clare followed with Yeats’ Stolen Child.

There was nifty guitar playing from several of those present, Helen, Willie and a visitor who dropped in after the Tommy Tiernan gig next door. Another of the visitors from the TT show, Michael, delivered the Apprentice song (When I was a young apprentice and less than compos mentis...), a great one that Eugene has also been known to sing, and Lost Little Children which he heard on Tim O’Brien’s The Crossing.

As usual, there were lots more, (Frank’s Plains of Waterloo, Breege’s You learned men, who take the pen and her lovely harmonies, Helen’s On Easter Day you passed my way and her great guitar work, to name but a few) too numerous etc., etc.

Derval sang Hush, hush. We didn’t get her on film, but here’s a taste of the Corries performing that same song:

And after that, they sang on into the night ... once more ...

15 May 2010 ... a slate off that Willie Yeats, sez she

I wish my love was a red red rose set the night off to a great start.

Jerry continued it with,
First I was a waiting man that lived at home at ease,
And now I am a mariner that ploughs the angry seas.
Seamus Ennis collected On board the Kangaroo from Elizabeth Cronin in Macroom and it's been popular with singers since.

The "young maid about 17, I listed in the Navy, all for to serve the King" was inspired by the Kangaroo ship. And maybe also, Waltzing Matilda, sung later on?

The Rocks of Bawn, the Boston Burglar, Old Man River, the Bantry Girl's Lament (with lovely harmonies from Breege) and Eastersnow (lovely melody from B.) all got an airing. Noreen accompanied herself on guitar and sang Ian Tyson's Four strong winds, (Neil Young was known to sing that one) and Helen sang John O'Dreams.

Eugene had royalty on his mind, and gave a rousing rendition of Sez She (by Mr. P. French) - "Me loyal subjects" sez she
Here's my best respect, sez she
And I'm proud this day, sez she
Of the elegant way, sez she
That you gave me the hand, sez she
When I come to the land, sez she

Frances said: Of course you’ve heard of the Nancy Lee and Frank went to the Chapel Gate in Cooraclare.

Kilkelly Ireland 2001, composed by Pat Johnson, I believe, and updated to include the sorrowful line: Th’oul volcano’s erupting and I’m in total despair - with feeling, from Joe.

Then on to places you don't need to fly to, Raglan Road (Nora), Coolmore (or at least its Maid, by Clare), Carrickfergus (J/G), Shores of Lough Bran (Breege), An Charraig Bhán (nó a bhruach, C).

I'm missing more songs and a few more recimitations - for lack of time not lack of quality - ah go on then, John Williams on the Titanic, Kissing in the morning early, An poc ar buile, Gardens in Eden, Bobby McGee, McAlpine's Fusiliers, Johnny Morissey, Dirt (recitation), Getting Dressed (recitation) and Willie McBride.

And they didn't stop there, but this writer ran out of beermats for the note-taking.

Go dtí go gcastar ar a chéile arís sinn - beirigí bua.

May 15, 2010

Loadsa notes taken - and sung. Get back to you when I find them. Suffice to say, for the moment, that The Men From Keash were back at the bar.

By the way, the Boyle Singers' Circle moved into Dodds Pub in May 2008, so there's an anniversary to celebrate.

April 17, 2010

Good turn out – plenty of songs.

Richard Thompson wrote two songs for the other night's entertainment (well, maybe not just for the other night): Beeswing sung by Frank Brennan and Farewell, farewell sung by Clare McGuirk. The Boatman of Lough Key, Jim Flynn was remembered in song by Breege and his brother Tom's composition, My native town of Boyle was sung by Nora. Eileen was in great voice on all her songs, particularly The water is wide.

The Raggle-taggle gypsies were done justice by the visitors from Keash at the bar. Breege gave us another of her own compositions, an emigrant song about her uncle. Marion made a great job of Eastersnow [Diseart Nuadhain = Estersnow, Roscommon] and another about a greyhound. Tony went to the Lowlands of Holland, Bantry girl’s lament and more...

Now what did Eugene sing? Answers on a postcard please.

Sean nós cois Life: Weekend of sean nós singing in Dublin

The annual weekend of sean nós singing and dancing workshops, concerts and pub sessions is coming up in Dublin:
Sean-Nós Cois Life : 16-18 Aibreán 2010.

Tá an clár (programme and registration) ar fáil anseo:

Workshops in singing and dancing:
Ceardlanna amhránaíochta:
Séamus Ó Coirbín (Conamara)
Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríghde (Tír Chonaill)

Ceardlann damhsa ar an sean-nós:
Eibhlín Sonaí Choilm Learaí Ní Chonghaile (Conamara)

Aíonna speisialta na féile (Special guests)
Eibhlín Sonaí Choilm Learaí Ní Chonghaile (Conamara)
P. J. Sonaí Choilm Learaí Ó Conghaile (Conamara)
Breanndán Ó Beaglaoich (Corca Dhuibhne)
Maidhc Dainín Ó Sé (Corca Dhuibhne)
Briocán Bairéad (Conamara)
Séamus Ó Coirbín (Conamara)
Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríghde (Tír Chonaill)
Yvonne Ní Loideáin (Conamara)
Muireann Ní Cheannabháin (BÁC)
agus daoine eile nach iad.

20 March 2010 Boyle singers

The spring is definitely here and although the daffodils are a little slow to bloom, St. Patrick's Day was balmy - can you believe that! What happened to the tradition of 'it always rains on (our) parade'?

The singers were in fine fettle after the festivities of the week and kept the songs going well on into the night.

Some of the gang had headed north to the Inish Owen singing weekend and reports came back that they were having a ball. We hope they have some new songs for us from the gathering and that they'll be word and note-perfect by April.

Agus amhráin Chásca:

20th Feb 2010 in Boyle

Some regulars missing in action in February but more visitors arrived to make up the numbers for a very enjoyable night in Dodd's.

We're getting into the Spring season in style now - come along with old songs and new on March 20th, the 3rd Saturday of the month.

Our New Year's resolution is to start at the earlier time of 9.30 - so that we can get all the songs in before the end of the night.

Happy St. Patrick's Day and see you right after that in Dodd's Crescent Bar.

19 Jan 2010 - You brave young sons of Erin's isle ...

You brave young sons of Erin's isle, I hope you will attend a while...

Take a song, any song, the one in the title of this post or any of the other forty five that were heard the other night and get the story. Here's just one about Tipperary (with helpful information from Tim Dennehy's website , a site about the Carden name and most of all Eccentric lives, peculiar notions / by John Michell):

Carden's Wild Domain

Of all the places in this world no matter where I roam,
I love you dear old Erin's Isle my own ancestral home.
Where'er I stray by night or day fond memory draws my brain
To the happy pleasant days I spent around Carden's Wild Domain.


So rise you men of Bearnán and get ready for the fray
And join the noble General McSweeney from Killea.
Led on by those great mountaineers those lands we'll soon regain
And we'll plant our homesteads once again around Carden's Wild Domain.

The story of John Rutter Carden (born 1811) of Barnane Castle, Tipperary, is briefly this:

Carden inherited Barnane Castle which had been neglected. The tenants had ceased paying rent and didn't want to start again. As Carden insisted on collecting rents, tenants tried repeatedly to kill him. Carden became known as "Woodcock" Carden, as he dipped and dived like that bird. Once, he overpowered two would-be assassins, marched them to jail and had them hanged. The castle was remodelled to withstand assaults. Carden had a swivel-mounted cannon among his attack-resisting weapons.

Then, in his forties, "Woodcock" Carden fell in love with a young girl, Eleanor Arbuthnot, 18 years old at the time and an heiress. He believed that she loved him and that only for her family holding her prisoner, would have declared her love. He pursued her to Scotland, abducted her and was tried and convicted of kidnapping. Many songs were composed about him and the song, "Carden's Wild Domain," was very popular in Ireland.

Carden died in 1866.

Eleanor Arbuthnot apparently never married.

Barnane Castle is now in ruins.

Read more about the 'dreadfully persistent lover', John Rutter Carden in Eccentric lives, peculiar notions / by John Michell

Kate McGarrigle RIP

Sad to report that that great singer, Kate McGarrigle, passed away on Monday, 18th January 2010, aged 63.

Here's an article about her from the Canadian Globe and Mail newspaper.

And a video clip:

Singing events in 2010

It's time to start planning out trips to the best Singing events coming up in 2010. The first one that comes to mind is the Inishowen Traditional Singers' Circle weekend in March.

Here's an outline of the details:

“For 21 years is a mighty long time”
Celebrating 21 years of the Inishowen Folk Song and Ballad Seminar
Dates: 19 – 22 March 2010
Clonmany / Ballyliffin, Inishowen, Co. Donegal
Featuring: Jim McFarland, Len Graham, Micil Quinn, Colm O’Donnell, Peta Webb, Máire Ní Chéilleachair and Derek Williamson
The Inishowen Traditional Singers also hold a monthly session, usually the second Friday of the month.

19 December 2009

Last month, wind and rain, this month, sleet and snow. Roll on 2010 and the Boyle singing circle. Happy New Year to you all. Come along and sing a song for us in 2010.

Boyle Singers Circle poster