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Broadside ballad entitled 'Mary Neil'


Verse 1 begins: 'I am a bold undaunted youth my name is John M'Cann, / I am a native of Donegal, was bred near sweet Strabane'. This sheet was published by James Lindsay of 11 King Street, Glasgow (1860-90).

The theme of this sheet is the triumph of love over adversity - highlighted by the heiress Mary Neil eloping with John McCann. This was technically abduction, as she was the property of her father, and so McCann was imprisoned. They try again and escape to Quebec, where Mary is almost drowned. Eventually, Mary's father relents and invites John back to be lord of the manor. This story, set in Ireland and on a romantic theme, would probably have appealed to the immigrant Irish population who had settled in Glasgow.

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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Probable period of publication: 1860-1890   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.178.A.2(063)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Mary Neil'
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