Digital Tradition Mirror

Granny Wale Notes

Granny Wale Notes
   "Granuaile" is symbolic name for Ireland derived from the
Gaelic spelling of the name of a female Irish pirate of the last
half of the 16th century, Grace O'Malley. D. K. Wilgus in an
article "The Aisling and the Cowboy", <<Western Folklore>>, 44,
pp. 275-6 (1985) quotes a few other spellings of the title and
gives a list of several "Granuaile" songs, but the tune given
here seems to be the only one traceable to the 18th century.

    "Grania Meuel" is cited as the tune for a two verse song in
<<Songs in Jack the Gyant Queller>>, Dublin, 1749, from Henry
Brooke's suppressed Irish ballad opera of 1748. The song there
fits the tune given here. This is the earliest reference to the
tune that I have found.

   The tune "Granuaile" is given in a instrumental setting as
"Granu Weal or Ma Ma Ma" in Edward Bunting's <<The Ancient Music
of Ireland>>, p. 36, 1840. Bunting said, p. viii, that the tune
was obtained from a piper named Macdonnell in 1797, and he
thought, p. 93, that the tune was as old as Gr
herself. Bunting's setting, however, is unsatisfactory as source
for a vocal score. The melody part of Bunting's tune was
reprinted by Francis O'Neill in <<The Music of Ireland>>, no. 546.
O'Neill also gives a different tune "(Graine na Maille) Grace
O'Malley," no. 485. Fortunately there are better sources for the

   A singable set of the tune is "Granuwail" in Hime's <<A New
Selection of the most Admired Original Irish Airs>>. Dublin, c
1800. This is a modal tune. After the treble clef, B is
indicated to be flatted, and it means just that and no more; this
is not a key signature. Bunting's setting has a key signature of
two flats (G minor), but he then puts a natural sign in front of
all of the E's, so Hime's notation is correct, although it is not
a modern key signature. This is not uncommon in early tune
notation. In the two later copies cited below the E's are
flatted, so it corresponds to the key signature, but of course,
the tune is thus changed. The last four measures of Hime's twelve
measure tun

Play: GRNWALE, from Hime's New Selection, c 1800.

   Another copy of our tune here is "Gr inne Mhaol," reprinted
from <<The Dublin Monthly Magazine>>, May, 1842, by Georges-Denis
Zimmermann in <<Songs of Irish Rebellion>>, p. 183, 1967. The
tune there is given as sixteen measures, but the last eight are
simply a repeat of the first eight. This setting differs little
from that published by Haverty. The earliest copy of the tune
I've seen is in the Henry Beck Flute MS, 1786, in the Library of
Congress, but given there as G major instead of G minor.

   Granau Wale/Weal is (Mother) Ireland in a song which I think
is probably American, although set in Dublin and London. "Old
Granau" there complains to several English statesmen about the
hard times the English are giving to her sons in America. The
song mentions events in America from the Boston tea party up to,
but not including, the start of the Revolutionary War. The song
was printed in the very rare <<The Green Mountain Songster>> of
1823, with the first nine v
song collection, <<The New Green Mountain Songster>>, (by
Flanders, Ballard, Brown and Barry) 1939, reprinted 1966. For
this song the title is "Old Granny Wales." A later copy, with
several corruptions, is printed from the Stevens-Douglas
manuscript (c 1841-56) of western New York in <<A Pioneer
Songster>>, (by Harold Thompson and Edith Cutting) p. 85, 1958.
In the latter the song is entitled "Old Grannau Weal." Neither
copy contains a tune direction, nor do any of the editors suggest
one, but the song fits our tune here quite well. I suspect the
song was actually written in America by an Irish American: the
writer does not seen to know the names of any real streets in
Dublin or London, and even after the date of this song Irishmen
were being executed for treason for less provocative acts against
the English. I have decided to add this song on at the end here,
as it is a good American historical ballad that I have not seen


Thanks to Mudcat for the Digital Tradition!

Contents: ? A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Main Page