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Broadside ballad entitled 'Ballyhooly'


This ballad begins: 'There's a dashing sort of boy, who is called his mothes joy, / For his rucetion and elements they charm me; / He takes the chief command in a water-drinking land, / Called the Ballyhooly Blue ribbon Army.' It was published at 192 Overgate Dundee, probably by the Poet's Box.

'Ballyhooly' is a song narrated by a member of an organistion called the Ballyhooly Blue Ribbon, which seems to be a temperance movement. Such movements grew popular in Britain, Ireland and the United States during the nineteenth century. The author of this song seems to be implying, however, that once out of the sight of the commander, the members of the Blue Ribbon enjoy a sly drink. Ballyhooly is a village in County Cork, and the song does seem to be named after a real organisation. It is also referred to in James Joyce's novel 'Ulysses'. The song was probably composed by Robert Martin, also known as 'Ballyhooly Bob' who wrote a number of burlesque tunes for the London theatre in the 1880s and 1890s. He owned a large estate in Co. Galway and was the elder brother of Violet Martin more famous as ?Martin Ross? of the literary cousins ?Somerville & Ross?, who wrote 'Memories of an Irish R.M.' and other stories.
The Dundee Poets? Box was in operation from about 1880 to 1945, though it is possible that some material was printed as early as the 1850s. Most of the time it had premises at various addresses in Overgate. In 1885 the proprietor J.G. Scott (at 182 Overgate) had published a catalogue of 2,000 titles consisting of included humorous recitations, dialogues, temperance songs, medleys, parodies, love songs, Jacobite songs. Another proprietor in the 1880s was William Shepherd, but little is known about him. Poets? Box was particularly busy on market days and feeing days when country folk were in town in large numbers. Macartney specialised in local songs and bothy ballads. Many Irish songs were published by the Poets? Box ? many Irishmen worked seasonally harvesting potatoes and also in the jute mills. In 1906 John Lowden Macartney took over as proprietor of the Poet?s Box, initially working from 181 Overgate and later from no.203 and 207.

It is not clear what the connection between the different Poet?s Boxes were. They almost certainly sold each other?s sheets. It is known that John Sanderson in Edinburgh often wrote to the Leitches in Glasgow for songs and that later his brother Charles obtained copies of songs from the Dundee Poet?s Box. There was also a Poet?s Box in Belfast from 1846 to 1856 at the address of the printer James Moore, and one at Paisley in the early 1850s, owned by William Anderson.

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: 1880-1900   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(104a)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Ballyhooly'
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