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The Age of Revolution in the Irish Song Tradition


By: Terry Moylan

Publication Date: October 2001


The Age of Revolution in the Irish Song Tradition is a definitive gathering of songs, poems and tunes composed between the 1776 American Revolution and Napoleon’s exile and death in 1821 and beyond, dramatically conveying how the seismic events of those years inspired literary and musical effort across succeeding generations in Ireland.

The material is drawn from tradition and from print and manuscript collections. These include contemporary sources – the various editions of Paddy’s Resource, Watty Cox’s Irish Magazine and Madden’s Literary Remains – and archival collections of songs and music. Many traditional songs have been notated directly from the singers themselves, and represent an important addition to the literature of bardic nationalism.

The work breaks down as follows: songs (text and tune) 157; poems (text only) 27; tunes (music only) 25. This includes 15 pieces in the Irish language, 14 from loyalist sources and 10 written by members of the United Irishmen including Wolfe Tone, Henry Joy McCracken, Jemmy Hope and Robert Emmet. All come with notes listing source and musical associations as well as historical and political background. Appropriate music accompanies the words attached to each tune, and the whole is liberally illustrated with over a hundred period engravings.

‘A pleasure to read in its beautifully illustrated magazine format. Packed with wonderful engravings and period paintings, historical notes, music and anecdote this book is a magnificent read not just for a singer, but for anybody wanting to get to know this key period effortlessly and with pleasure.’Sunday Tribune

‘Scanning the pages of The Age of Revolution, I am once again forcibly reminded of the beauty and power of traditional song, its capacity to present a world to us in vivid, panoramic detail. Here are workers, peasants, soldiers, rebels, rapparees, engaged in memorable actions: poetry which ranges from the acerbic social commentary of ‘The Wheels of the World’ to the transcendental pathos of ‘The Green Linnet’. Terry Moylan has provided us with a cornucopia of linguistic and musical splendours.’Ciaran Carson

‘The stirring melodrama of the ballads forms an ornately blurred folk memory of a brutal period.’ Irish Times


TERRY MOYLAN is a set-dance teacher and piper at Dublin’s Brooks Academy. He is editor of Johnny O’Leary of Sliabh Luachra: Dance Music from the Cork-Kerry Border (1994) and The Age of Revolution in the Irish Song Tradition 1776-1815.

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Weight 1 kg
Dimensions 210 × 295 mm
Publication Date

October 2001


Paperback, 176pp