I discovered this tune in a book, which said about the Boolavogue: "Composed by PJ McCall, born in Patrick St.,Dublin of a Carlow father and a Wexford mother, who’s set lyrics, relating to the Rebellion of 1798, to an ancient irish air."
This is a lovely tune played as a slow air and would be ruined if played as a mazurka. Have a listen to Noel Hill’s rendition of the tune as an air on his latest CD and you’ll be convinced!
Noel Hill’s Latest CD
See https://thesession.org/recordings/display.php/1656 for details of the CD. The Mountains of Pomeroy is also another great tune which Noel performs as a slow air on the CD.
“Boolavogue” ~ an ‘air’ lacking the swing of a mazurka
As an ‘air’ this would be best placed as 3/4 with the waltzes, as it lacks the swing of the mazurkas…
This was one of the first ever tunes I learned in my infancy… It has a place of fondness…
The tune is usually, in my experience, played as a slow air and as such has the emphasis placed on the first beat of the bar as shown by the first note being a white one (2 beats).
To play it as a mazurka, it would have to be rewritten to place the emphasis on the last beat i.e. making it a 2 beat note.
Mountains of Pomeroy can be played as either a slow air or a march so its not impossible to change the tempo of a tune, it just takes a bit of thinking.
I’d be fairly sure that this tune was only classified as a mazurka due to the fact that there’s no category available for slow airs. Whatever about the possibility of playing it as a mazurka my advice is "please don’t". It’s a lovely air that’s stood the test of time and the associated song relates to a long-distant era in Irish history (1798) where there was no differentiation between protestant, catholic, presbyterian or dissenter as they stood shoulder to shoulder in the cause of liberty, fraternity and equality (or sentiments to that effect - history was never my strongest subject!). I think you’ll agree with me though that it would be a bit incongruous to see couples lurching around the dance floor "shoe the donkey" style to this beautiful melody!
“Boolavogue” ~ unstructured, Boom-Chuck-Chuck, & marching ~
Ditto ~ slow and graceful… I learned this first in the sean nos sense, without strict timing, free and interpretive, as one would sing in that style. However, I’ve also heard it with the Boom-Chuck-Chuck, as a waltz, and also as a march in 4/4 time…
Nice one MBAC ~ now I can sleep at night… ;-)
“Boolavogue” (Boleyvogue) ~ County Wexford / air ~ “Eochaill”
Lyrics ~ P.J. McCall, 1861-1919
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.
Father John Murphy (1753-1798) Centre,
Tomnaboley, Boolavogue, Ferns, County Wexford
“Fr. John Murphy of Boolavogue 1753-1798”
by local historian Nicholas Furlong
Geography Publications, 1991
~ Father John Murphy and Wexford and the United Irishmen Rebellion of 1797-8 ~
"John Murphy was born in the townland of Tincurry, parish of Ferns, county Wexford in 1753. He was ordained as a Jesuit priest in 1779 and went to Seville, Spain and returned to Tincurry in 1785. John Murphy was then posted to Boolavogue as parish curate.
On 14th July 1789, the world changed. The Bastille was stormed - and France erupted town by town, city by city. The revolution bred an army which in ten years became the most powerful and feared war machine in Europe. Nevertheless, it took ten years for Wexford’s passion to ignite.
Father Murphy was captured after the rebellion and executed at Tallow 2nd September 1798. It was a great many years before Wexford began to recover. After a while books began to be published about the upheaval. The memories were as interesting and varied as the ‘98 leaders themselves - their weaknesses and their flaws remembered. One man, however, emerged and remained as beyond reproach in the insurgents’ memory. That man was John Murphy, the curate of Boolavogue."
Many thanks ceolachan for providing the background to this great tune. In fact this period seems to have spawned quite a number of songs and tunes such as the Boys of Wexford and Kelly the boy from Kilanne, two celebrated marches. Marches seem to be poor relations at sessions but we’ve introduced two (A Nation Once Again and Clare Dragoons) a couple of weeks ago and so far they’ve been very well received - our inspiration by the way is Clare’s Turloughgmore Céilí Band who used the first one during their performance at the 2005 All Ireland in Letterkenny.
“Boolavogue” ~ played as a 3/4 march
There’s another guise for it…
“Boolavogue” ~ a take on a C whistle ~ Tony Hinnigan
4.) Whistle in C by Chris Abel ~ (movie: "The Patriot Game") Boulavogue
A slightly Different version
I know this from a concert band work and from some whistle playing you can find on the web. Feel free to ignore the chords. They are only a quick shot at harmony.
D|"G"G>F G2 Bd|"C"g>f eg- ge|"G"de "Em"B2 AG|"Am"A>G E3 "D"F|
"G"G>F G2 Bd|"C"g>f eg-ge|"G"de B2 AG|"D"A>G"G"G3d|
"Bm"dBd2ef|"C"g>f eg- ge|"G"deB2AG|"Am"A>GE3"D"D|
"G"G>F G2 Bd|"C"g>f eg- ge|"G"de B2 AG|"D"A>G"G"G3|]
Johnny Keenan Version - The Feekers
To my mind the finest rendering of Boolavogue as a slow air is by Joe Hutton on the small pipes.
T:Youghal Harbour (Eochaill)
S:O’Neill, "Waifs and Strays" (adapted)
S:Francis E. Walsh, San Francisco
FC F2 Ac|d>c c2 d>c|AG F2 GA|GF D2 CD|
FC F2 Ac|d>c c2 d>c|A>G F2 GA|GF F3||
c>G f2 ed|d>c c2 d>c|AG F2 GA|GF D3 C/D/|
FC F2 Ac|f>e d2 fd|c>d A2 FA|G>F F3||
"Although overlooked by both Bunting and Petrie in their great collections, there can be no question of the antiquity of "Youghal Harbour" which by name and strain is still remembered in the south of Ireland. As a song it was printed in Irish, and under its Irish name "Eochaill" in Hardiman’s Irish Minstrelsy, London, 1831…"
Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody - O’Neill p.37
Maidin Domhnaigh, is mé ag dul go hEochaill
Do casadh an óig-bhean orm sa tslí
Bhí a gruaig ar áilleacht ar sileadh thóirste
Is ba bhinne a glór ná na ceolta sídhe
Leagas mo lámh ar a bráid le mórtas
Is d’iarr mé póigín ar stór mo chroí
Sé duirt sí Stad is ná strac mo chlóca
Is gan fios do ghnósa ag bean do thí
P J McCall….
"1861-1919 [Patrick Joseph]; b. Dublin 6 Mar 1861, son of John McCall, ed. St. Joseph’s Monastery, Harold’s Cross, a Catholic University school, Dublin; associated with Fr. Matthew Russell of The Irish Monthly, and edited the Feis Ceoil collections; m. Mary Furlong, sister of Alice Furlong (and purported relation of the poet Thomas Furlong); contrib. to Old Moore’s Almanac as ‘Cavellus’;
best known for “Follow me up to Carlow”, to an air by Fiach MacHugh O’Byrne in 1580, “Kelly the Boy from Killann”, and “Boolavogue” on Father John Murphy, being a version of an earlier version re-written for the 1798 commemoration year; issued Irish Noíníns (Dublin 1894), poems; Songs of Erin (Dublin 1899); Pulse of the Bards (Dublin 1904); also legends, The Fenian Nights’ Entertainments, first appearing in Shamrock; his manuscript Ballad Collection is in the National Library of Ireland."
Boolavogue SLOW AIR
Boolavogue is one of my favourite pieces to play especially because I live quite near Boolavogue in Wexford and is therefore requested quite often. I love playing it as a slow air. Check out my Version here I play it on a C Tin Whistle I find that it gives a sweeter sound for the air https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhJjuI2ZbXM
The late Barney Mckenna from the Dubliners played a great version of this on the banjo