P. J. McCall

1861-1919 [Patrick Joseph McCall; Mac Cathmaioll; pseud. ”Cavellus”]; b. Dublin, 6 March 1861, son of John McCall, a publican and grocer and folklorist from Hackettstown, Co. Carlow; ed. CBs and St. Joseph’s Monastery, Harold’s Cross, a Catholic University school, Dublin; spent childhood summer at Rathangan, Co. Wexford, home of his mother and an aunt Ellen Newport who provide many of the songs he collected; edited the Feis Ceoil collections and became associated with Fr. Matthew Russell, ed. of The Irish Monthly, also publ. in Shamrock and Old Moore’s Almanac; m. Mary Furlong, sister of Alice Furlong (and said to be relation of the Wexford poet Thomas Furlong); freq. contrib. to Old Moore’s Almanac as “Cavellus” and took over the editorship from his father in 1902;

best known for the historical ballads “Boolavogue” on Fr. Murphy in 1798 (set to the air of “Eochaill” [Youghal]), and “Follow me up to Carlow” (set to the traditional air created by Fiach MacHugh O’Byrne in 1580); also “Kelly the Boy from Killane [Killann]” - all put to music by Arthur Warren Darley using traditional Irish airs; issued Songs of Erin (Dublin 1899); elected to Dublin City Corporation in 1902, defeating James Connolly, and retain the office of Councillor for three terms thereafter; issued Pulse of the Bards (Dublin 1904); his prose legends The Fenian Nights’ Entertainments first appearing in Shamrock; his manuscript Ballad Collection is in the National Library of Ireland; his “Féilire of Adamnan”, “The Dark Maid of the Valley” and “Oró Mhór, a Mhóirín” were included in Eleanor Hull’s Poembook of the Gael (1912). PI DBIV DIW DIL FDA OCIL

Note: Many of the P. J. McCall’s works can be found at Internet Archive [online] - both books and individual songs incl. “Father Murphy from Boolavogue”, sung by Mary Carton [on] Mickey and Mary Carton and Their Orchestra [21 March 1950] (Decca 12282) - play here. [02.04.2022 & 07.04.2023].

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  • In the Shadow of St. Patrick’s: Notes and Reminiscences (Dublin: Sealy, Bryers & Walker 1894), iv, 48pp. [see details].
  • The Fenian Nights’ Entertainments (Dublin: T. G. O’Donoghue 1897).
See also McCall, ‘In the Shadow of Christ Church [Pt. III]’, in Dublin Historical Record, 2:3 (March 1940), pp.112-16 [Journal of the Old Dublin Society] - incls. refs. to Major Sirr; John Ogilby; Dr. Dopping, et al.; appended to which Additional Notes ... kindly forwarded by Rev. Myles V. Ronan, correcting six points, incl. Brother Michael Clery, or ‘Father Michael Clery’
  • Irish Noíníns [Daisies] (Dublin: Sealy & Bryers 1894), 129pp. [available at Internet Archive - online; 07.04.2023]
  • Songs of Erinn (London: Simpkin, Marshall 1899) [available at Internet Archive - online; incls. “Ned of the Hill (Éamonn an Chnoic)”].
  • Pulse of the Bards / Cuisle na h-Éigse (Dublin: M. H. Gill 1904), 160pp. [see details].
  • Songs and Ballads (London: Simpkin, Marshall & Co.; Dublin: M.H. Gill; O’Donoghue MDCCCXCIX [1899]),158pp. [see details]
  • Irish Fireside Songs (Dublin: M. H. Gill 1911), 155pp. [see details]

Bibliographical details
In the Shadow of St Patrick’s: Notes and Reminiscences (Sealy, Bryers & Walker, Mid. Abbey St. [1894]), vi, 48pp. - a paper read before the Irish National Literary Society, 27 April 1894 [Carraig Chapbooks No. 3] (Dublin: Sealy, Bryers & Walker, 1894) - on Mangan, Father Meehan, O’Connell, Emmet, Major Sirr, Zozimus [Michael Moran], &c., &c.; 6d. [See Ryan, op. cit. infra, p.130n.].

Songs and Ballads (London: Simpkin, Marshall & Co.; Dublin: M.H. Gill; O’Donoghue MDCCCXCIX [1899]),158pp. [notices from p.150; ded. to My Very Dead Friend Francis A. Fahy]; and Do. [rep. MH Gill 1904); incls. The Girl He Left Behind Him - A Brigade Ballad.]

Pulse of the Bards/Cuisle na h-Eigse (Dublin: M. H. Gill 1904), rep. in Irish Folklore and Mythology in the Nineteenth Century, ed. A. Gilbert [Irish history and culture, 6 vols] (Tokyo: Edition Synapse; London: Ganesha Pub. 2003- ), Vol. 5, being P. J. McCall, Pulse of the Bards (Cuisle na h-éigse).

Irish Fireside Songs (Dublin: M. H. Gill 1911), 155pp. [+endpapers 172pp.] - ded. ‘to Alice Furlong’ [available at Internet Archive - online; 07.04.2023].

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See Liam Gaul, Glory O! Glory O! - A Life of P. J. McCall (THP Ireland 2011), 224pp.

W. P. Ryan, The Irish Literary Revival, Its History, Pioneers and Possibilities [1894] (NY: Lemma Publishing Corp. 1970), gives this account: P. J. McCall, Catholic University man, intimate knowledge of Old Dublin, of Wexford and Wicklow [see his contributions to Dublin Historical Record], command over metres and versification almost equal to [43] Mangan’s; his mind stored with the drollest of old songs of the people, with their idioms, superstitions, and fancies ... it is no exaggeration to say that his sketches called Fenian Nights’ Entertainments, contributed in after years to the Shamrock, are amongst the happiest illustrations afford in our days of how the Irish peasant at his best can tell a story. He lives in a house in Old Dublin that teems with strange memories, and there has every-day opportunities of studying Celts both quaint and queer. No phase, flash, idiosyncrasy, or idiom escapes his observant Celtic nature [44].

Austin Clarke, Penny in the Clouds (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul 1968), Chap 2: ‘[W]e [Clarke and F. R. Higgins] made our way [...] to the public house in Patrick St., owned by P. J. McCall, who had written ‘Follow Me Up to Carlow’ and other rousing ballads [ed. best known for the song ‘Boulavogue’, from Irish Fireside Songs, 1911]. The literary pair broach literary topics, but are stone-walled by their interlocutor behind the bar. ‘After a while, he happened to remark that the Boss was at home in Clontarf with a bad cold. We realised that we were talking to the barman. / Hastily, we left that public-house.’ (Q.p.) Note that Clarke attributes the original of Yeats’s “Down by the Sally Gardens” to McCall - as infra.

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Justin McCarthy, gen. ed., Irish Literature (Washington: Catholic Univ. of America 1904), / speaks of his as being descended from ‘old Tyrone family driven out at plantation’; gives extract from Fenian Nights’ Entertainments, being a series of Ossianic legends told at a Wexford fireside, 1st Series, Shamrock Lib., Vol. 2 (1897). See also Colm MacLochlainn, Anglo-Irish Song-writers (1950). selects “Fionn Maccumhail and the Princess”, from Fenian Nights’ Entertainment [‘Wance upon a time, when things was a great’le betther in Ireland than they are at present, when a rale king ruled over the counhtry wid four others undher him to look afther the craps an’ other industries, there lived a young chief called Fan MaCool’ ‘win he was on the shaughraun ... ‘“I’m Fan MaCool,”, sez the other, as impident as a cok sparra, “have you anything to say agen me?”, for his name wasn’t up, at that time, like afther’, Fionn MacCumhail [and note Hiberno-English glossary, ftn. - as infra]; ‘Old Pedhar Carthy from Clonmore’ [‘never the equal of Old Pedhar would you crack again / Never such another would delight another would delight your eye’ ... The Ryans and the Briens and their factions were afraid of him / For Pedhar’s [fighting] keppeen could command a ready score’]; ‘Light of the World’ [“Love, will you come with me into the tomb?”, spake from his coffin the dead young man / ”Yea, I will go with you” ... said the girl, with a loving sighing ..’]; ‘Herself and Myself’ [by turns, ‘Says Herself to Myself: “We’re as good as the best of them” / Says Myself to Herself: “Sure we’re better than gold” /.. ”We’re as young s the rest of them” [...] “Troth, we’ll never grow old”. [Note: this last poem is used by Sean O’Casey in ‘Nannie’s Night Out’, acc. Robert Hogan, ed., Dictionary of Irish Literature, 1979)].

Biog. note [as above]. An Anglo-Hibernian Glossary gives raumash [rameis]/nonsense; coatamore/coat; foosther/diversion; waum-asin/[?]; traumauns/eldertrees; deeshy/small; brushna/furze; faysh/festival; moryah/forsooth; geersha/girl; geoghagh/begger; ollaves/judges; lushmores/foxgloves; leanaun/fairy guardian; creepie/three-legged; bocagh/beggar; crooshenin and colloguin; acvochal; cruistin/throwing; clochaun/stone; also salachs/untidy people, tinkers.

John Cooke, ed., The Dublin Book of Irish Verse (Dublin: Hodges Figgis 1909), gives “The Bonny Light Horseman, a Jacobite Ballad” [‘A poor lonely maiden, I am now going over / To Shemus, in Flanders, to look for my lover: / Oh. Mary, my pity! [?hows] shall I discover / My bonnie light horseman, away in the war ... My bonnie light horseman is slain in the war!’]; also “The Bouchaleen Bawn: A Spinning Duet”.

Robert Hogan, ed., Dictionary of Irish Literature (1979) quotes a comic extract of 9 prose lines from Fenian Nights on the creation of Ireland’s Eye to illustrate a spirit opposite to Yeats.

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 2, 105-06, reprints the poem “Boulavogue”; founder member of Irish National Literary Society (London).; ‘Boulavogue’ first printed in Irish Weekly Independent (18 June 1898) as ‘Father Murphy of the County Wexford’, a contrib. to 1798 centenary; shown by Zimmerman (Songs of Rebellion) to be based on ’98 songs “Come all You Warriors [...]”, “Some Treat of David”, and “Fr. Murphy, or the Wexford Men of ’98”; set to the tune of another called “Father Murphy”, and now sung to “Youghal Harbour”, and known as “Boulavogue” since 1922, when a variant text appeared in P. Walsh’s Songs of the Gael, 4th ser. (1922). See also FDA3, 495: Deane notes that the substance of this text is produced in Austin Clarke, ‘Early Memories of F. R. Higgins’, in Dublin Magazine (Summer 1967), pp.68-73.]

Terry Moylan, The Age of Revolution in the Irish Song Tradition, 1776-1815 (Dublin: Lilliput Press 2000), rep. ‘‘The Boy from Killann’’ [as sic] and ‘‘Boolavogue’’.

Belfast Central Public Library holds Irish Fireside Songs; Irish Noinins; Pulse of the Bards; Songs of Erinn (1899).

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Boolavogue”: ‘At Boolavogue the sun was setting / O’er the bright May meadows of Shelmalier, / A rebel set the heather blazing / And brought the neighbours from far and near [… &c.].’ The famous ballad, based on the first victory of Fr Murphy and his United Irish followers against British yoemenry in the ’98 Rebellion on 26 May 1798, was first published as “Fr Murphy and the County Wexford” in the Irish Independent (18 June 1898.) It is sung to the air of “Eochaill” [Gl. Youghal]. The defeat of Fr Murphy’s contingent at Vinegar Hill resulted in his hanging and the burning of his body.

Ancient Irish Battle Chant  

Lugh, son of the Dagda (the good god) was a chief of those gods of Light and Life, whose adversaries were the Fir Bolg, the Fir Domnann, the Galioinand their gods, the Fomorians.

ELDEST of Plains art thou, Plain of the Triune Mist!
Wave-leafing, foam-flow’ring rivers around thee flow!
Throngs of great heroes, their ringlets by dawn be-kissed.
Over thy meadows of gold under greenness go—
The Warrior Gods of Lugh!

Salient and straight their tall bodies like pine trees be:
Eyes, ocean-skimmers, sky-wingers, blueorbed all!
Teeth that out-glitter the foam from the western sea:
  Thin ruddy lips of the Quicken Tree's burning ball —
The Warrior Gods of Lugh! [13]

Shield to each one his huge disc of Findrinna white —
  Sea horse entwined and out-twisted its boss adorns!
Sword to each one his swift falchion blue-beamy-bright —
  Wondrous its hilt of deer-branchy red-metal horns —
The Warrior Gods of Lugh!

Woven they halt in strong pliant-knit battle rows:
Fair in their midst the good son of The Dagda stands!
Horns wind for conflict! With lips breathing flame he goes,
Kissing and kindling their swords into flashing brands —
The Warrior Gods of Lugh!

Foemen they scatter bewhirled like ghostless chaff:
  Captives they bind under bonds of nine-knotted thongs!
Sweetness o'er bitterness rises their feast's light laugh,
  Rippling its gladness from hearts that are wells of songs—
The Warrior Gods of Lugh!

Matchless in war each is champion, coequal, good!
Peerless in peace each is poet, to curse, to bless! [14]
Lore singer, love lilter, minstrel beneath green wood!
  Winner in turn of the final hard game of chess —
The Warrior Gods of Lugh!

Eldest of Plains art thou, Plain of the Triune Mist—
  Wave-leafing, foam-flov/'ring rivers around thee flow!
Throngs of great heroes, their ringlets by dawn be-kissed,
  Over thy meadows of gold under greenness go—
The Warrior Gods of Lugh!

—from Irish Fireside Songs (Dublin: MH Gill 1914), pp.13-15; available at Internet Archive - online [07.04.2023].

[Notice the use of finndrina or finndrinny - meaning a white alloy of silver and tin [[fionn drína] - beloved by Yeats (Wanderings of Oisin) .. and Joyce (Finnegans Wake) - a conjunction pointed out by Roger McHugh.

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Boolavogue” [or, “Fr Murphy and the County Wexford”]  

At Boolavogue, as the sun was setting
O’er the bright May meadows of Shelmalier,
A rebel hand set the heather blazing
And brought the neighbours from far and near.
Then Father Murphy, from old Kilcormack,
Spurred up the rocks with a warning cry;
“Arm! Arm!” he cried, “for I’ve come to lead you,
For Ireland’s freedom we fight or die.”

He led us on ’gainst the coming soldiers,
And the cowardly Yeomen we put to flight;
’Twas at the Harrow the boys of Wexford
Showed Bookey’s Regiment how men could fight
Look out for hirelings, King George of England,
Search ev’ry kingdom where breathes a slave,
For Father Murphy of the County Wexford
Sweeps o’er the land like a mighty wave.

We took Camolin and Enniscorthy,
And Wexford storming drove out our foes;
’Twas at Sliabh Coillte our pikes were reeking
With the crimson stream of the beaten Yeos.
At Tubberneering and Ballyellis
Full many a Hessian lay in his gore;
Ah, Father Murphy, had aid come over
The green flag floated from shore to shore!

At Vinegar Hill, o’er the pleasant Slaney,
Our heroes vainly stood back to back,
And the Yeos at Tullow took Father Murphy
And burned his body upon the rack.
God grant you glory, brave Father Murphy
And open heaven to all your men;
The cause that called you may call tomorrow
In another fight for the Green again.

Note: The text is a revision of an original version, re-written for the 1798 Commemoration year; See also “Boolavogue’ under Father John Murphy - as supra.

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Follow me Up to Carlow
Lift, MacChair Oge, your face,
Brooding o’er the old disgrace,
That black Fitzwilliam stormed your place
And drove you to the fern!
Grey said victory was sure -
Soon the Firebrand he’d secure;
Until he met at Glenmalure
Feagh MacHugh O’Byrne!
See the swords of Glen Imayle
Flashing o’er the English Pale!
See all the children of the Gael
Beneath O’Byrne’s banners!
Rooster of a fighting stock,
Would you let a Saxon cock
Crow out upon an Irish rock?
Fly up and teach him manners!
Curse and swear, Lord Kildare!
Feagh will do what Feagh will dare;
Now, Fitzwilliam, have a care
Fallen is your star, low!
Up with halbert, out with sword,
On we go; for by the Lord!
Feagh MacHugh has given the word:
Follow me up to Carlow!
From Tassagart to Glonmore
Flows a stream of Saxon gore!
Orb, great is Rory Oge O’More
At sending loons to Hades!
White is sick and Lane is fled!
Now for black Fitzwilliam’s head -
We’ll send it over dripping red
To ’Liza and her ladies!
See note on the James Joyce connection - infra.

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Irish Fireside Songs (1911), p.39-40 [as Kelly of Killann] - online.

Kelly, the Boy from Killane” [orig. “Kelly of Killann, a ’98 Song”]

“What's the news? what’s the news?
O, my bold Shelmalier
With your long barrelled guns of the sea?
Say, what wind from the sun brings a messenger here,
  With the hymn of the dawn for the free?”
“Goodly news! Goodly news, do I bring, youth of Forth
  Goodly news shall you hear, Bargy man
For the Boys march at morn from the South to the North,
  Led by Kelly, the Boy from Killann!” 

 “Tell me who is that giant with the gold curling
hair -
  He who rides at the head of your band?
Seven feet is his height, with some inches to
  And he looks like a king in command!”
Ah, my lads, that’s the Pride of the Bold
   ’Mongst greatest of heroes a Man!
Fling your beavers aloft and give three
  ringing cheers
  For John Kelly the boy from Killann!”

Enniscorthy’s in flames and old Wexford is
  And tomorrow the Barrow we will cross!
On a hill o’er the town we have planted a
  That will batter the gateway to Ross!
All the Forth men and Bargy men will march
o’er the heath,
  With brave Harvey to lead in the van;
But the foremost of all in that grim gap of
Will be Kelly the boy from Killann!

  But the gold sun of freedom grew darkened
   at Ross
  And it set by the Slaney’s red waves;
And poor Wexford stripped naked, hung
  high on a cross,
  And her heart pierced by traitors and slaves
Glory O! glory O! to her brave sons who
  For the cause of long down trodden man!
Glory O! to Mount Leinster’s own darling
  and pride
  Dauntless Kelly, the Boy from Killann.

Note variations in modern versions - as here - at Wikipedia, &c. —e.g., South for sun; knaves for slaves; boys for lads.

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Literary Soc
.: P. J.McCall was a member of the group in Dublin which founded the [National] Literary Society there, meeting first in John O’Leary’s rooms on Mountjoy Square, and later formally at the Rotunda. Douglas Hyde’s diary records that Hyde spent the evening on which was founded the Gaelic League in July 1893 writing up an account in McCall’s rooms in Dublin, after drinks with others connected with the event. [See Douglas Hyde, q.v.]

James Joyce: The song ”Follow Me Up to Carlow” is given in a letter written by Jacques Marcanton on behalf of James Joyce to James Maurice Craig (9 Sept. 1938) having been received from Lord Carlow. (See Letters of James Joyce, Vol. III, 1966, pp.428-29.) Notes identify the sources of the song as McCall’s Songs of Erinn (1899) and Irish Fireside Songs (1911). The traditional air was first played by Fiach MacHugh O’Byrne marching to attack Carlow after his victory over the forces of the English Deputy Lord Grey de Wilton, at Glenmalure in 1580. Also noticed are MacCahir Oge, viz., Brian MacCahir Cavanagh whom Sir William Fitzwilliam had driven out of his possessions; the Firebrand - viz., Fiach MacHugh O’Byrne; Lord Kildare, viz., Henry, 12th Earl of Kildare, aka Henry na Tuagh or Henry of the Battleaxes; Glen Imaal, in West Wicklow, was a source of many fighting Irishmen in 1580 and 1798; other refs. are to Rory Ogue O’More; Nicholas White, Master of the Rolls, a rebel-hunter; Ralph Lane, also active against the rebels. (See Letters, III, p.428-29; footnotes.)

Sally Gardens: P. J. McCall claims he heard an ‘Old country love song’ called “Down by the Sally Gardens” in 1875; the first stanza transcribed resembles Yeats’s to the point of plagiarism, with additional words such as ‘own true love’, and just as the leaves’, &c. (Quoted in Colin Meir, Ballads and Songs of W. B. Yeats: The Anglo-Irish Heritage in Subject and Style, London: Macmillan 1974; rep. 1983, pp.16-17; cited in Daniel Albright, ed., Poems of W. B. Yeats, 1992, notes, p.424; see also A. N. Jeffares, A New Commentary, Macmillan 1984, p.13-14.)

See The Irish Book Lover, Vol. XXXI, No. 6 (Nov. 1951), “Notes and Queries” (p.133).

Yeats and “The Sally Gardens”: In his note on Yeats and “The Sally Gardens”, P. S. O’H. does not seem to be aware of the fact that some lines of the original folk song were published by the late P. J. McCall. They will be found in Feis Ceoil Collection of Irish Airs Hitherto Unpublished, edited by Arthur Darley and P. J. McCall. Vol. I. Published by the Feis Ceoil Association, 37 Molesworth Street, Dublin, 1914. In his note on page 43, P. J. McCall states that the song is well known in South, Leinster and gives the first stanza:

Down by the sally gardens my own true love and I did meet,
She passed the sally gardens a-tripping with her snow-white feet,
She bid me take life easy, just as the leaves fall from each tree,
But I being young and foolish with my true love would not agree.

It is interesting to compare this with the adaptation by Yeats:

Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.

An inferior version of this folk song will be found in a collection of Victorian Street Songs, published some years. Unfortunately, I have not this book to hand.

(A[ustin] C[larke].)

Note: The borrowings may well be reciprocal since McCall uses the adjective finndrinny in his “Ancient Irish Battle Chant” [supra] - as Yeats does in Wanderings of Usheen [Oisin] (1888) [BS March 2023]

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