Old Dublin Songs Contents

View of Dublin from Phoenix Park, c. 1753

Old Dublin songs, edited by Hugh Shields
Dublin: FMSI, 1988

View the whole book here in pdf format * for your personal use: still in copyright (10 MB: right-click to save)
*new pdf made 4 February 2013, correcting previous one which had a line missing on page 11)
ODS cover full spread in colour (1 MB)
Map of central Dublin 1756 (616 K) from John Roque’s map of Dublin, 1756
Map of Dublin, Post Office Directory, 1833 (226 K)

Pdf of Introduction (472 K}

THE SONGS (click on the titles to get jpeg images of the pages)

‘The Weavers’ Lamentation’, early 1720s?
The Kilruddery Hunt’, 1744
‘A New Love Song’, later eighteenth century
‘Skewball’,  1752
‘A Combat between an Ale-Wife and a Sea Crab’, c. 1750?
‘The Tryal and Condemnation of the Sea Crab’, do.
‘The Dublin Privateer’, late eighteenth century
‘The Dublin Baker’, do.
‘The Dublin Tragedy, or, the Unfortunate Merchant’s Daughter’, c. 1780
‘Miss King of Dublin’, late eighteenth century
‘The Country Recruit’s Description of the Military’, do.
‘A New Song on the Police Guards’, do.
‘The May Bush’, do.
‘The Humours of Donnybrook Fair’, 1830s?
‘Hannah Healy, the Pride of Howth’, c. 1 840
‘The Phenix of Fingal’, do.
‘Catherine Skelly, for the Drowning of her Child’, c. 1850
‘Willy O’, do.
‘The Seducer Outwitted’, do.
‘Sally and Johnny’, c. 1854
‘Tied my Toes to the Bed’, c. 1870
‘The Dublin Jack of All Trades’, 1860s
‘The True-Lovers’ Trip to the Strawberry Beds’, c. 1854
‘The New Tramway’, 1872
‘The Herring’, date unknown


References, abbreviations, illustrations

Dublin, like any big city, means different things to different people, and these songs could not possibly be labelled as a single ‘Dublin’ genre. But one thing they have in common is that they are mostly about people’s lives: what they were like or how they might have been. Sometimes they celebrate the crowd-attracting activities of the city, its environs, its municipal improvements. More often they enter the personal universe of certain of its citizens, real or imagined, and tell a story about them.

In these songs of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries different traditions have flowed together—English, Gaelic, European—and vulgarity consorts with elegance, frivolity with personal grief. This is how the songs appear jumbled together in the old surviving chapbook and ballad collections from which many of them are taken. Music is added where possible. But some are still sung today and have been recorded from their traditional singers. Many early references to traditional singing are given in their original text, and these, with illustrations and notes, provide a context for the songs

(Digital images of the individual pages of the book may be viewed at
ITMA’s digital library)