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Broadside ballad entitled 'Arrah cushla Biddy won?t you take me now?'


Verse 1 begins: 'In the Bridgegate lived one Barney M'Dade, / Arrah cushla Biddy won?t you take me now?' It was published by James Lindsay of 9 King Street, Glasgow. The woodcut illustration at the top is a detailed and revealing town scene which focuses on two women chatting in the foreground.

Woodcut illustrations were often included not only to enhance the perceived value of the sheet but also the text, especially for less literate readers. Here, this busy town scene relates to the conversation and its context in the lyrics. Ballads, by this time printed on broadsides, were still part of the oral tradition, with many of them still being read aloud and memorised. The repetitive aspects of these lyrics all aided this process.

Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.

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Probable date of publication: 1852-1859   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.178.A.2(045)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Arrah cushla Biddy won?t you take me now?'
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