This ballad begins: 'IN Greenock town, I've heard it said, / A man there lived, who to his trade / A fisher was, a rummy blade, / His freens they cawed him Dunkey, O.'
This ballad tells the story of the fisherman, Dunkey, and his brother, the sailor, who returns from distant shores with a monkey. Neglecting to warn his brother of the monkey's existence, the young sailor travels to Glasgow to visit a sweetheart, leaving the monkey behind in Dunkey's house. The ballad ends with Dunkey and some fellow fisherman hanging the poor monkey. Although humorous in tone, this ballad ends on a rather grisly note - only adding to its appeal amongst audiences! Upon its publication, strains of this ballad would probably have been heard issuing forth from the alehouses and taverns of Greenock and its environs.
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:
1870-1890 shelfmark: L.C.1269(102b)
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