“Early Classic Ballads
In The Irish Song Tradition”
Jerry O’Reilly
An Góilín Traditional Singers Club
National Library of Ireland
26th November 2014
Francis James Child
Francis James Child - 1825 - 1895, was the son of a Boston sail
maker. Child's family was poor and he attended Boston
Grammar School and the English High School, Boston's public
schools. It was only through the generosity of Epes Sargent
Dixwell, the principal of the Boston Latin School, who
recognized Child's genius, that Child was able to enter
Harvard. In 1851 he was named the Boylston Professor of
Rhetoric and Oratory - and held the position for 25 years.
Throughout his tenure at Harvard he collected ballad books in
many languages and corresponded with scholars throughout
the world in several languages.
All of the songs today are included in Child's seminal five
volume collection entitled The English and Scottish
Popular Ballads which was published in Cambridge
Massachusetts between the years (1882-1898) and
which is considered by many as the "canon" of folk
Scholarly works refer to "Child Ballads" by number. For
instance, Child 2 = The Elfin Knight, Child 12 = Lord
Randal, etc.
The collection consists of exhaustive research on 305
Unlike earlier scholars, Child's research focused primarily
on manuscripts of ballads rather than printed versions.
Child also investigated and collected songs and stories in
other languages that were related to the English and
Scottish ballads. Child's research was international in
scope, covering thirty-seven languages.
Tom Munnelly
Tom Munnelly
Born Dublin 1944 - died Miltown Malbay 2007
Singer and amateur collector whilst living in Dublin in
the 1960’s.
Became a professional folklore collector for a pilot
project with Dept. of Education 1971. together with
Sean Corcoran, Micheál Ó Domhnaill.
Project subsequently taken over by Dept. of Folklore
UCD – Tom as sole collector of English language song.
Moved to Miltown Malbay County Clare 1978.
Chair of the Willie Clancy Summer School 1984-1991.
Founding Chair of the ITMA (Irish Traditional Music
Lectured extensively at home and abroad.
Collected in excess of 17,000 pieces of folklore.
`Early Ballads in Ireland` – presents 21 ballads
recorded between 1968 and 1985
Awarded Honourary PHD NUIG 2007
A book of his presentations and lectures entitled
“The singing will never be done” was published in
August 2014
Dr. Hugh Shields
Dr. Hugh Shields
Born Belfast 1929 – died Dublin 2008
Senior lecturer in French Trinity College Dublin.
He became an authority on Irish traditional song and
had an International reputation as a ballad scholar.
Tom Munnelly said of him “By far the greatest, most
erudite scholar in this country in the field of
traditional song in English”.
Collected extensively with particular emphasis on the
Northern counties.
Published - `Narrative Singing in Ireland`:Lays,
Ballads, Come-All-Yes and Other Songs, in 1993 and
`Tunes of the Munster Pipers` Vol.1 in 1998.
(Vol.2 pub 2013)
Collaborated with Tom Munnelly in the publication of
`Early Ballads in Ireland`.
Collected from Eddie Butcher from Coleraine starting
in 1953 up to Eddie’s death in1980.
Published recordings of Eddie Butcher in `Shamrock,
Rose, and Thistle`.
Hugh Shields and Tom Munnelly, 1979.
Nora Cleary and Tom Munnelly
Fair Margaret and Sweet William
John Ban Byrne and Hugh
Shields in Malinbeg in 1981
Little Sir Hugh
Cecilia Costello
Cecilia Costello (nee Kelly) was born in White
Lion Yard, 8 Dean Place, Pershore Street behind
the Bull Ring in Birmingham on October 24th
She was the youngest of 10 children,
5 boys and 5 girls.
Her mother (Margaret Kelly - nee Higgins) was
from Galway and her father Edward Costello was
from Roscommon. They came over from Ireland
to escape starvation, along with others by the
Lord Randal
The Baffled Knight

There Was a Lord Who Lived in This Town”