Irish (Canada & USA) Song Books, Erin-go-Bragh & Faugh-A- Ballagh -c1873


Cat No.:   CA0095:

When we were first offered this "old song book" we were uncertain if it would be suitable for our publications. We finally decided to ask Mary Yeatman Robinson, the book's current custodian, to loan it to us because we could not find any trace of it on any of our normal references for old and rare books.

When it arrived and we'd had time to look at it a little harder it became clear that; first it was two separate song books bound together in one home made cover, and that there was no trace of either of them in any of our normal reference sources. (There are plenty of song books using the same names but none with these collections.) That, together with their rather advanced state of dilapidation, decided us that what was needed was a rescue mission, not just the normal "copy to make it more available."

The titles of both books seem to be anglicised "translations" of well known Irish catch phrases or, more properly, battle cries. There's some dispute about the exact source of Erin-go-Bragh but the majority opinion has it as "Ireland Forever." This phrase has been unofficially adopted in North America to represent everything traditional to Ireland and there is even a flag or banner in green and gold which carries the phrase. "Faugh-a-Ballagh" is the anglicised version of the phrase "Clear the Way" which has long been the war cry of battling Irishmen but has become closely associated with the Royal Irish Fusiliers. We suspect it is this connection which may have originated these books as the Royal Irish Fusiliers spent a lot of time fighting for the British cause in North America many of their rank choosing to stay on when their term of service had ended. Many of the songs in this latter book are clearly the songs of a fighting group and there are a couple of direct references to the military group.

Only one of the two books still has a title page left and showed it had been published in New York in 1873. We think that the other book came from the same publishing house and is about the same age. Both books are full of anglicized versions of traditional Irish ballads, although the Faugh-a-Ballagh also includes "side splitting stories and anecdotes."

Between them these two books contain over 100 ballads and stories, even allowing for the two or three that were already missing. A few credit an author and fewer still identify the music or "air" to which the verse is to be sung. We constructed a new index on the CD and have included these references where they are available. We'll publish these indexes on our web site as well and can fill in more details if anyone recognizes a title and knows the air to which it should be sung.

We have made the titles searchable (but not the text.) If you are proud of your Irish heritage, or just enjoy traditional Irish songs, this is a collection which came close to disappearing forever.

No. of CDs is:  1 ;   Format is:  PDF ;   Searchable?:  NO;

FastFind:  No;  ISBN No.:   1-897338-32-5;