This ballad begins: 'Of praists we can offer a charmin' variety / Far renowned for lernin' and piety, / Still I'd advance ye, widout impropriety, / Father O'Flynn as the flower of them all.' This sheet was published by the Poet's Box of Dundee and would have cost a penny to buy.
Father O'Flynn's name has a definite Irish origin and the lyrics of the song refer to areas in and the ideals of Ireland. Certainly there was a growing community of Irish immigrants living in the area of Lochee, Dundee, as the Jute mills continued to expand providing a source of employment. It is not clear from this sheet though whether the lyrics were written in Dundee or if they were copied directly from an existing Irish tune.
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.
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