Folk Music and Dances of Irelandby Breandán Breathnach

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    Folk Music and Dances of Ireland by Breandn BreathnachReview by: Hugh ShieldsIrish Historical Studies, Vol. 18, No. 69 (Mar., 1972), pp. 119-120Published by: Irish Historical Studies Publications LtdStable URL: .Accessed: 18/06/2014 00:45

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    land league. (One wonders, by the way, what Dillon or O'Brien would have said if Balfour had formed a police 'flying squad' to assist bailiffs, in the way that Fianna FAil did.) Fascism everywhere contained some good intentions and many respectable and sincere people, but it is deservedly the unpleasant people, aims and methods that are remem- bered. Perhaps blueshirtism was the same, but it is not self-evident from this book. The illustrations show lots of eminently ordinary men, women and children who happen to be in uniform: were they in an evil move- ment? It is unwise and ungrateful to carp at any attempt to remove any part of Irish history from the realm of myth and polemic, but it is just possible that a scrupulously objective approach may be ill-equipped to deal with a basically emotional question. This is apparent in Mr Manning's examination of the common factors of fascism (chapter 14), so tidy and rational an analysis as to seem superficial in treating so visceral a subject. Fascism is pre-eminently a state of mind; as such, it can scarcely have been better treated than in part 2 of Gilles Perrault's Les parachutistes (Paris, 1962). Mr Manning is well aware that the political philosophies provided by Professor Tierney and Professor Hogan had little relevance to the life of the movement (chapter 13): it is ironic that his excellent account should through its very judiciousness and impartiality leave us wondering what all the fuss over the name 'blue- shirt' is about.


    FOLK MUSIC AND DANCES OF IRELAND. By BreandAn Breathnach. Pp (8], 152. Dublin: Talbot Press. 1971. Bound, 1.5o; paperback, gop.

    THIS pleasant 'introduction to the subject' has a general public in view, but it will necessarily serve also the purposes of scholarship. More fully documented introductions to the subject simply do not exist; moreover, this writer speaks with an authority based on extensive experience and research. BreandAn Breathnach is the moving spirit of an extremely active pipers' society, Na Piobairi Uilleann, the editor of the journal Ceol, and a founder member of the new Folk Music Society of Ireland, and he has for a number of years conducted research in the Department of Education which is mainly directed towards preserving and classifying dance music. It is neither surprising nor regrettable that he introduces folk music mainly by way of instrumental traditions and practice--of which he has an unrivalled knowledge-rather than songs. More space is justifiably given to living traditions (from fiddle to accordion) than to dead ones (harp, warpipes). At the same time, the place of music in social history is treated in many interesting pages; and the scanty data of Irish musical history are presented with a refreshing lack of prejudice that often leads, unhappily but unavoidably, to negative conclusions. Deliberate exclusion of references, if regretted, can hardly be deplored in a work of this scope; it is compensated by the short bibliography and discography and, especially, by the musical appendix of mainly instru- mental items. The full value of this appendix-and of the corresponding

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    tape recording available separately-emerges when one reads the chapters on instrumental practice. Here is undoubtedly the best way to inform a general public of the nature of orally transmitted music, whether the reader's orientation is towards practice or research.

    In the relatively economical treatment which singing traditions receive, a few points may be raised. Because of its interest, I would have liked a clearer exposition of the method by which the music of Laoi na mnd m6ire was reconstructed. I do not accept the term ballad to describe the Fenian lays, overlooking as it does the problems of the origins of the European ballad genre as a whole. And this genre, in another context, would serve to contradict the view that from the relatively small number of Irish song-texts passing into English 'one may deduce a rule that folk songs do not pass from one language to another' (p. 3o, cf. p. 33). A final point, which concerns practice, is that folk singers undoubtedly do use types of vibrato (a fact denied on p. 105) though these admittedly sound different from the vibrato of concert halls.

    Mr Breathnach must be commended for his presentation of a subject too commonly considered fit for the loosest and lewdest kinds of writing. Clarity, economy and excellent illustration bring before us the con- centrated fruits of research which, we may confidently hope, will find ampler expression in future publications.


    ARCHIVIUM HIBERNICUM, no. xxix (1970).

    AFTER a gap of four years this number appears in a new and handsome format. It begins with two documentary collections on annates-first fruits fees levied on papal appointments, in the dioceses of Cork and Ross, 1421-1533. A brief note indicates that they have been taken from the transcript of Rev. M. A. Costello, o.P. It would have been helpful to state that they form part of a series relating to different dioceses, published at intervals from no. ii (1913) onwards, and that their pro- venance is discussed in M. A. Costello, De annatis Hiberniae : i, Ulster (I9og). The documents are valuable sources for the names of clerics and for place-names. They have been fully annotated by Sister M. Angela Bolster.

    'Bishop Wadding's notebook', edited by Professor P. J. Corish, inter alia catalogues the library and records the household equipment of Luke Wadding, the poet-bishop of Ferns (1683-91). His library was extensive- over 6oo volumes in English, Latin and French, with one Irish catechism. The English books included works of Donne, Quarles and George Herbert. The editor has succeeded in identifying most of the titles.

    Fr Cathaldus Giblin has edited documents about a controversial nomination to the see of Ardfert, over which there were wrangles for ten years until the Holy See decided to leave it unfilled. Many years later the same man was appointed and proved to be an acceptable bishop.

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    Article Contentsp. 119p. 120

    Issue Table of ContentsIrish Historical Studies, Vol. 18, No. 69 (Mar., 1972), pp. i-viii, 1-663Contents [pp. v-viii]Front MatterThe Restoration Land Settlement in Ireland: A Structural View [pp. 1-21]William King and the Threats to the Church of Ireland during the Reign of James II [pp. 22-28]Ireland and Anglo-Papal Relations, 1880-85 [pp. 29-60]The Irish Registry of Deeds: A Comparative Study [pp. 61-73]Select DocumentsHerbert Gladstone, Forster, and Ireland, 1881-2 (II) [pp. 74-89]

    BibliographyResearch on Irish History in Irish Universities, 1971-2 [pp. 90-98]

    Thirty-Fourth Annual Report of the Irish Committee of Historical Sciences, 1971 [pp. 99-100]Reviews and Short NoticesReview: untitled [p. 101-101]Review: untitled [pp. 102-103]Review: untitled [pp. 103-104]Review: untitled [pp. 104-105]Review: untitled [p. 105-105]Review: untitled [p. 106-106]Review: untitled [pp. 107-109]Review: untitled [pp. 109-111]Review: untitled [pp. 111-113]Review: untitled [pp. 113-115]Review: untitled [pp. 115-117]Review: untitled [pp. 118-119]Review: untitled [pp. 119-120]Review: untitled [pp. 120-121]Review: untitled [pp. 121-122]Review: untitled [pp. 122-123]Review: untitled [pp. 123-126]Review: untitled [pp. 126-127]Review: untitled [pp. 127-128]Review: untitled [pp. 128-130]Review: untitled [pp. 130-132]Review: untitled [pp. 132-135]Review: untitled [pp. 135-137]Review: untitled [pp. 137-138]Review: untitled [pp. 138-140]

    Back Matter


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