One of the main characters in Joyce's Finnegan's Wake is Mr. Persse O'Reilly, alias Humphrey Chimden Earwicker, alias Mr. Porter and comprehensively — from a name derived from his initials — Here Comes Everybody. He is, in embodiment, a character microcosm of humanity. Song, Joyce used thematically because the song in the mind of all and yet never on the lips is a subconscious expression of a state of mind; by tone we distinguish just as a child knows friend from foe. "O'Reilly's Daughter" is man at his asexual worst.
Banks of the Roses
The runaway was the old Irish word for our present "layabout." If a man decided against slaving his guts out for someone in his hometown he ran to the big city in search of something better.
Bould Thady Quill
On Peter Sellers record about Balham, Gateway to the South, everybody, it seems, is called Quill. Great idiots they are and it would seem that Mr. Sellers had the unfortunate experience of meeting somebody of that patronym. The "Original Thady Quill" as he was called in his hometown of Cork, Ireland, was the real village idiot, but some wag decided to paint him conversely. So we have a real fourteen carat nut behaving like Horatio.
Little Beggar Man
The 'Oul Lamas Fair in Ballycastle 0' is the tune used here for the "Little Beggar Man." Nobody has much sympathy for a poor man if he be strapping and big. So if you want to steal be a bit like Lautrec, for begging is stealing your own dignity from yourself.
A popular Irish song not popular with the Irish in the tradition of Johnny Patterson, one time a clown with Batty's Irish Circus. Not much harm in it really.
This version I sing is by Dominic Belian who tells me that the only Spaniard ever to set foot on Ireland was a picture of King Phillip.
I'm A Rambler
Irish version of American Moonshine song made popular by Delia Murphy.
Cobh Harbour, County Cork, is traditionally regarded as the Holy Ground. This beautiful and robust love song was taken over lately by that marauding cultural band of music savages the pop folk groups and rendered positively obscene in sound. I try to give it here as I first heard it.
The Irish Rover
If your country doesn't have a Navy, abuse it. Much safer to denigrate what you don't possess. Typical Irish humor about shortcomings.
She Moved Through the Fair
Attributed to Padraic Colum but much older. One of the really great songs of Ireland.
A nineteenth century ballad on the life, death and resurrection of a Dublin hod-carrier. On this song, Dominic Behan tells me, James Joyce based his somewhat inexplicable novel, "Finnegan's Wake". Death and resurrection is a theme fascinating to Irish writers, possibly because of the political structure of the country. With her revolution per decade, Ireland was beaten but seldom defeated.
Green Grows the Laurel
A children's street song sung by children from streets all over the British Isles.
Brennan on the Moor
The Raparees were men dispossessed by order of King John before and after Magna Carta, a deed granting freedom and permanance of tenure to the Norman barons of Ireland, but reducing the native Irish to serfdom. They — the Raparees — were the forerunners of Dick Turpin, Ned Kelly and such like, though Brennan had also a strong political motive in view when robbing the rich. He was raking back what was his own by heritage. Turpin took a share of what should have been his by mere right.
A stage Irish slander on the emigrant Irish labourer. I only include it here because it has some historic significance.
The super optimist. A man with an unbounded faith in the future, his middle name should have been serendipity. He is also another aspect of the man Finnegan or Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker.
Wild Colonial Boy
Australia's cultural heritage springs directly from the lessons handed down by the first settlers. Contrary to popular belief the men governed by the notorious Captain Bligh in the settlement of Van Diemen's Land were not transported murderers and thieves. A big proportion of the sentenced men were people who had stolen a loaf of bread, a chicken; one man got twenty-eight years for stealing a broom. When I see the Australian trying to shake off what he thinks is an unsavory past, I feel a sense of pity for the mentality of people who refuse to acknowledge the greatness of their fore-runners apart from the hundreds of magnificent political intellectuals like John Mitchell who were transported to get them away from rebellion in Ireland Ned Kelly was anything but a rogue. He was a man fighting against the most oppressive conditions known outside England. His fight against the petty British officialdom of Australia is one to be remembered everywhere with pride. Whether :he song does him justice or not I don't know: after all I can only sing what people have written.
Notes By STEVE BENBOW
Steve Benbow, veteran of hundreds of radio and television programmes, is known as "The Gov'ner" of the British Folk Club scene. Steve did not learn to play guitar until he was posted to Egypt while doing his service in the Army, in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps to be exact. Dog training, horse doctoring and camel nursing is a fine way to develop a sense of the comic and ludicrous and Steve has this sense off to a fine art.
Apart from his animal nursing and guitar playing Steve was also called upon to act as interpreter having the ability to converse freely in Arabic, Greek, French, Italian and Mauritian Creole.
After his release from the army Steve took up farm work and traveled the length and breadth of England picking up songs everywhere he went. Eventually having built up a large collection of songs and developing his guitar technique to perfection he returned to London where he immediately became the most popular entertainer on the Folk Club scene and was soon able to ease himself into a fully professional life as a folksinger.
Steve has appeared on almost every television station in Britain having held down his own series on many of them, and the BBC would not be the BBC if Steve did not appear at least once a week on radio or television.
Currently Steve has a weekly radio series in London and a weekly television series in New-castle, is preparing the format for a further TV series in the Fall and still managing to make appearances at Folk Clubs, Colleges and Universities up and down the country.