Elizabeth (Bess) Cronin, ‘The Queen of Irish Song’ as Séamus Ennis called her, was probably the best-known Irish female traditional singer of her time. Collectors came from far and near to hear and record her singing. Séamus Ennis collected her songs for the Irish Folklore Commission in the mid-1940s, and again, with Brian George, for the BBC in the early 1950s. American collectors also recorded her: Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress in 1951, Jean Ritchie and George Pickow in 1952, and Diane Hamilton in 1956. Over eighty of her songs are captured on tape, but only a few of these have ever been available to the public.
This book, first published in 2000, for the first time offered the complete Bess Cronin collection (in Irish and English) with the texts of all her songs and a detailed analysis of every one, a biographical essay and a description of the historical background behind the song-collecting. As with the first edition, accompanying this new edition is a two-CD set of original and remastered recordings, from public and private collections, illustrating the wide range of her repertoire, which included child ballads, songs in Irish and English, children’s songs, and many more, including several popular favourites. This revised and expanded edition includes newly discovered songs and a new appendix of background material.
The author, a grandson of Bess Cronin, has brought to this publication a unique range of qualifications: access to Bess Cronin’s own autograph song-lists; transcriptions of her songs made by his father Donncha Ó Cróinín and his uncle Seán Ua Cróinín, by Seamus Ennis and by other collectors; it also includes photographic material not previously seen.
This personal, family material is combined with unique access to the RTÉ, BBC, IFC, and privately recorded American material to offer a comprehensive account of an extraordinary singer and her distinctive singing style.
Includes Two CDs
Dáibhí Ó Cróinín lectured in history for nearly forty years at NUI Galway until his retirement in 2019. He is currently preparing a book on the lost songs collected in the Aran Islands in 1857, which he rediscovered.
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