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Occasionally poetical images are to be attributed to the same cause. Thus a chimney-sweeper of Nenagh - I think, Brian Tierney by name—whose practice it was to make songs upon the various houses, the chimneys of which he swept, celebrates the bounty of a family residing at Uskean in the following manner :
• The thread of hope
Becomes a rope,
Of Uskean's shades."
Fifthly. It has been my purpose to give, in the least offensive manner, a specimen of an Irish slang song, which will be found in “ De Groves of de Pool.” The most popular song of this class is, perhaps, “De Night before Larry was stretched ;” but as there is much that is objectionable in it, as well as in “ Lord Altham's Bull," I have considered that a single illustration will be sufficient to satisfy the curiosity of the English reader, who, it is probable would not readily enter into the fun of such compositions.
Sixthly, to exemplify the Irish jocular style, I have selected Lysaght's view of “ Dublin after the Union ;” also the controversy between the towns of Kinsale and Mallow; and the song upon the Court of Conscience in Cork. The national fondness for rhyme, and for the display of mastery over it, is illustrated by the songs entitled “Cork's Goodhumoured Faces,” « The Doneraile Litany," and “ The Carrigaline Goalers defeated.”
But while I have endeavoured thus to place characteristic samples of Irish song before the English reader, I trust that I have not been insensible to the strong feeling and fine bursts of poetry occasionally to be found in the minstrelsy of my country. Of the bad taste with which true poetry is often associated with indifferent prose-of the manner in which gold and lead are sometimes amalgamated, I have not avoided giving a specimen in the song entitled “ The Court of Cahirass.” However, that some unexceptionable lyric poetry exists will, I think, be conceded by the readers of “ Sweet Avondu," " Gougane Barra,” and “ The River Lee by Moonlight.”
It would scarcely escape the reader's notice, even if I had failed to point it out, that so many of the songs in the present collection are of southern origin. But Munster, it has been remarked, “ produces annually a
far greater crop of poets and potatoes than the rest of Ireland.” And Cork is said to afford the Muses “the Parnassian hill, and the Tempean vale; while, for founts of Helicon and Castaly, there flow streams of mountain dew, rarely adulterated by the cooler waters of earth or sky."
As an Editor of the Songs of Ireland which it has been my amusement for many years to collect, I trust the reader will not consider my observations very trifling, or, what is far worse, very tedious; although I cannot help fearing that I have sometimes subjected myself to both these grave charges. It only remains for me to explain, that it was the wish of my publisher that I should make not merely a collection of songs which had been popular, but of Irish songs which should be popular; and I hope that, in my execution of the task, I may not have disappointed him.
T. C. C.
Rosamond's Bower, FULHAM,
28th February, 1839.
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