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liarities of middle-class life in suburban Dublin. Traditional anthropological research into urban social groups is provided in chapters eight to ten where the values and behaviors of teenage girls in Cork, homeless men in Galway, and travelling people in Galway are explored. Finally, the two chapters provide historic ethnographic accounts that address the evolution of urban places and the nature of urbanization in an industrial town. Ireland is a European nation and one outcome of reading Irish Urban Cultures should be a greater appreciation of the similarities between the Irish and European urban experience. The editors argue that we need to highlight Ireland’s European commonalities instead of its differences. Furthermore, they contend that, owing to the smaller scale and size of its cities, Ireland could be a test case for implementing urban revitalization strategies. Irish Urban Cultures provides us with a more contemporary and sophisticated understanding of the dynamics of Irish urban life. —David O. Rafter Narrative Singing in Ireland: Lays, Come-All-Yes and Other Songs, by Hugh Shields, pp. 256, Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 1993, $39.50. Some of the most energetic folksong collecting activity of this century has gone on in Ireland, but despite this—and despite such extensive resources as the Irish Traditional Music Archive and the Folk Music Archives at University College Dublin— there has long been a dearth of published material on traditional Irish song. The most accessible overviews of the subject consist of a brief chapter in Breandán Breathnach’s Folk Music and Dances in Ireland (1971), a slightly longer introductory section in Sean O’Boyle’s The Irish Song Tradition, and a detailed chapter on seann ós singing in Tomás Ó Canainn’s Traditional Music in Ireland (1978). The bulk of commentary on the tradition, however, is found in scholarly journals or in such popular Irish “cultural” magazines as Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann’s Treoir. Thus, the publication of a book-length study of any aspect of the tradition is an event worthy not only of attention but of celebration. Hugh Sheilds has been a prolific contributor to Irish folksong scholarship, having already published numerous journal articles, several monographs, and a book on the tradition of the Butcher family of County Antrim—Shamrock, Rose, and Thistle —essentially a song collection with extensive notes and an introductory section. Shields consistently demonstrates sound scholarship and cogent thinking, and has established himself as a leading authority on traditional Irish song. It is, thus, no surprise that the first substantial book on the subject should be his. In the opening chapters of Narrative Singing in Ireland, Shields presents a history of the Irish narrative song tradition, delineating its genres, from the archaic, heroic lays—preserved in manuscript and, until recently, in oral tradition—to the BOOK REVIEWS 178 “old” ballads of the Child canon—imported from the English and Scottish oral tradition ), to the more recent “come-all-yes”—originally imported through the English broadside industry, but sufficiently popular in Ireland to later be generated by native presses, as well. He also discusses the presence of narrative in lyric songs in Irish, a genre in which the story is implied rather than stated, although in traditional performance it is frequently communicated by the singer in the form of a spoken preface and, whether articulated or not, generally assumed by the audience. Finally, Shields devotes a chapter to the music of narrative song—which practically speaking , means all traditional Irish song—a detailed essay that is reminiscent of Bertrand Bronson’s treatment of ballad melodies in the scope and quality of its analysis. Shields carefully examines the interconnections of the various strands of the singing tradition—pointing out, for example, the possible influences of the Irish lyric tradition on imported ballads or on lyric songs in English. He deals with such knotty issues as the interrelationship between literate and oral culture and the question of continental influence on Irish song forms, offering fresh perspectives on these subjects. Yet, he is careful to define the bounds of current knowledge and, refreshingly, to present speculation as theory rather than fact. In Narrative Singing in Ireland’s concluding chapters, Shields demonstrates an even greater willingness to tackle...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1550-5162
Print ISSN
0013-2683
Pages
pp. 178-180
Launched on MUSE
2017-08-31
Open Access
No
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