Locating the Gothic
Tower Theatre, Irish World Music Academy, University of Limerick.
Wednesday 22nd of October, 2014.

This concert was presented as part of the festival ‘Locating the Gothic’ which took place in Limerick in October 2014. The concert was organised by Michael Fortune with the support of Limerick City of Culture and took place in the Tower Theatre, Irish World Music Academy, University of Limerick.

For “Locating the Gothic”, five of the original eight singers from the 2013 concert series performed songs of the supernatural, lost love, violence, death and despair. The singers include Luke Cheevers (Dublin), Niamh Parsons (Dublin), John Tunney (Clare), Tim Lyons (Galway) andAileen Lambert (Wexford).

Lunchtime Concert Programme

1:    Twa Corbies (Tim Lyons, Child 26)
2:    Jimmy Whalen (Aileen Lambert, Child 78)
3:    Barbara Allen  (Luke Cheevers, Child 84)
4:    Death of Queen Jane (Niamh Parsons, Child 170)
5:    Tamlin (John Tunney, Child 39)
6:    The Banks of the Sweet Vildee (Aileen Lambert, Child 243)
7:    Dowie Dens of Yarrow (Tim Lyons, Child 214)
8:    Two Sisters (Niamh Parsons Child 10)
9:    The Jews Daughter (Luke Cheevers, Child 155)

1. Tim Lyons - The Twa Corbies (The Three Ravens) - Child No. 26
I often heard this song, ‘The Three Ravens’, in various folk song clubs in England in the 1960’s. Child prints it in Volume One of his collection and includes a second version and also various fragments. The version I sing is number 26 and is from a recording of Ray Fisher, known as ‘The Twa Corbies’.

2. Aileen Lambert - Jimmy Whalen (The Unquiet Grave) - Child No. 78
My first trip to Newfoundland in 2007 brought me into direct contact with the rich resource which is traditional unaccompanied singing in Newfoundland. I learned this song from the singing of Tommy Nemec. Numerous versions have been collected in Newfoundland, many collected by song collector Kenneth Peacock and feature in the Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA). It is sung to at least five different airs.
The song is a variant of ‘The Unquiet Grave’ which was already featured in this project, performed by Rosie Stewart. A lover mourns at the grave site - in this case a river - preventing the deceased from finding peace.

3. Luke Cheevers - Barbara Allen – Child No.  84
This very sad and powerful song is probably the most recorded ballad in the whole traditional canon. It goes back to a very long way indeed. Samuel Pepys in his diary dated 2nd January 1666 said that to hear Mrs Knipps sing her little scotch song Barbara Allen gave him “perfect pleasure”. And our man Sam wasn’t a man that was easily pleased.
Our song tells the tale of a girl who feels she has been slighted by her lover and refuses to kiss him on his death bed. Her jealousy proves unfounded and she dies of remourse. I got this version from the singing of the great Tom Lenihan from County Clare.

4. Niamh Parsons  - Death of Queen Jane – Child No. 170
Child says this song is a Threnedy which is a song written or sung as a memorial to a dead person. The term originates from the Greek word threnoidia, from threnos ("wailing"). It is not certain that this song is associated with the broadside, The Lamentation of Queen Jane, licensed in 1560. The song is among Pepys’s Penny Merriments Vo iii. The Queen Jane in this song is widely believed to be Queen Jane wife of Henry VIII - Jane Seymour gave birth to Prince Edward on October 12th 1537 but she died 12 days later on 24th October. An original melody was composed for this song by Irish guitarist and singer Dáithí Sproule, and first recorded by The Bothy Band on After Hours (1979). Sproule later recorded it on Trian 2 (1995), with Liz Carroll and Billy McComiskey. This version has been recorded by Loreena McKennitt, Maria Doyle Kennedy and Jon Boden among others. Lyrics note: Michael O’Domhnaill sang – ‘They could no longer there’ which I don’t sing – apart from that I sing Michael O’Domhnaill’s version.

5. John Tunney - Tamlin – Child No. 39
Dating from at least the mid 16th century, this Scottish border ballad combines a range of other-worldly elements. The young hero of the title, having been captured by the elfin queen and forced to live in the kingdom of the elves, fearing that he will be used to pay the tithe owing to hell, makes his escape on Halloween freed by his true love’s courage. My father sang two versions. The long one (57 verses and 29 minutes) that he collected in America and this shorter one that he learned in 1965 from his good friend, the wonderful English folk singer A.L. Lloyd.

6. Aileen Lambert - The Banks of the Sweet Vildee (James Harris/The Daemon Lover) - Child No. 243
This song is more commonly known under titles such as ‘The Daemon Lover’, ‘The House Carpenter’ or ‘James Harris’. As a punishment for her inconstancy, the devil (i.e. the demon lover) returns from sea to entice a young woman from her husband (i.e. the house carpenter), in the form of her former lover.
This variant is from the singing of Frank Browne, Co. Roscommon. Franks version omitted two verses which are commonly sung, and I have incorporated them here: the woman asks “what hills are those” to be told they are the hills of heaven “which you and I will never know” and the hills of hell “where you and I must go”. In the 17th century this ballad was printed by several broadside publishers, entitled ‘A Warning for Married Women’.

7. Tim Lyons - The Dowie Dens of Yarrow (The Braes of Yarrow) - Child No. 214 
First published in ‘Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border’ in 1803. I heard this great ballad sung by Ewan McColl at his ‘Singers’ Club’ in London in the sixties. It was a very popular item for many singers ‘across the water’, but McColl really did it justice. Child prints eight versions in Volume Four.

8. Niamh Parsons  - Two Sisters - Child No. 10
This is a murder ballad that recounts the tale of a girl drowned by her sister. At least 22 English variants exist under several names, including Minnorie, Binnorie and The Dreadful Wind and Rain, The Bows of London, The Cruel Sister, Rolling a-Rolling, The Wind and Rain, The Swan Swims Bonnie, The Old Lord by the Northern Sea, Bowie, Bowerie, The Little Drownded Girl, Lay the Bent to the Bonny Broom, Old Man from the North Countree and The Youngest Daughter. The earliest known date is 1656 from a Broadside. I learnt this version, along with my sister, from Clannad’s Dúlamán album of 1976.

9. Luke Cheevers  - The Jews Daughter - (Little Sir Hugh) Child 155
This ballad has a long ancestry and is jknown in many European countries. It relates to and incident which is supposed to have occurred in Lincoln during the 13th Century in which a little boy named Hugh was said to have been tortured and crucified by some Jews. The date of this alleged murder was August 27th 1255. A man named Koppin and 18 other Jews were supposed to have confessed to the crime and all executed. I got my version of the song from “Rercy’s Reliques” Published 1857.

Songnotes provided by the singers.

Video Documentation of Concert
Recorded and Produced by Michael Fortune.

Locating the Gothic

Tower Theatre, Irish World Music Academy, University of Limerick.

Wednesday 22nd of October, 2014.

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