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X:3 T:Ally Croaker M:2/4 L:1/8 B:Thompson's Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 1 (London, 1757) Z:Transcribed and edited by Fynn Titford-Mock, 2007 Z:abc's:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:G D|G2 G>G|GGGG|AGFG|ABcd|BGGG|GGGG| A>GFG|A>Bcc|{Bc}d2 dd|dddd|edcB|A>Bcc| {AB}c2 cc|cccc|dcBA|G>ABB|GGGG|FFFG/F/| EEEF/E/|DD D2|c>ccd|{d}c2 BA|BGcA|TF2G2||

ALLIE CROKER. AKA - "Ally Croaker," "Ally Crocker," "Alley Crocker." AKA and see "Alas my little bag," "Hunters of Kentucky," "O! The Shamrock," "Reel des Bouchons," "Shamrock Cockade." Scottish, Irish, English, American, Canadian; Air, Reel, Country Dance. USA, New England. D Major (most versions): B Flat Major (Haverty): G Major (Thompson). Standard tuning (fiddle). One part (Havety, Thompson): AB (Kerr's, Messer): ABB (Brody): AABB (Miller & Perron, Sloanaker, Sweet). This song, as "Ally Croker," was written and music composed by Lawrence (Larry) Grogan of Johnstown Castle, County Wexford, who was renowned as a "gentleman piper" and composer of Irish airs (Grogan, by the way, was the first performer on the improved version of the Irish pipes called the uilleann or (archaically) Union pipes). It is his most famous composition. Both the air and song date from 1725, according to Crofton Croker, with single sheet editions of the song from c. 1730 and c. 1740 extent. The lyrics describe the vagrancies of a disappointed suitor (Grogan?) of the celebrated beauty Miss Alicia Croker of Ballingard, County Limerick, the sister of Edward Croker, High Sheriff of County Limerick (for more on Larry Grogan and Alicia Croker see T.C. Croker's Popular Songs of Ireland). It quickly found favor and was adopted by ballad singers, inform Flood (1906) and O'Neill (1913), and was soon introduced into the play Love in a Riddle (1729), Sam Foote's comedy The Englishman in Paris (1753, in which the lyrics were slightly revised and the tune called "Ally Croaker," by which spelling it usually appears after this date), and Kane O'Hara's Midas (1760). Here are the first two stanzas, as they appear in The Muses Delight (London, 1756, p. 218[1]):

There lived a Man in Balinocrasy
Who wanted a Wife to make him uneasy.
Long had he sigh'd for dear Ally Croaker,
And thus the gentle Youth bespoke her:
"Will you marry me, dear Ally Croaker,
Will you marry me, dear Ally, Ally Croaker?"

This artless young man, just come from the schoolery,
A novice in love and all its foolery,
Too dull for a wit, too grave for a joaker,
And thus the gentle Youth bespoke her:
"Will you marry me, dear Ally Croaker,
Will you marry me, dear Ally, Ally Croaker?"

The swain loses any chance with his flame when he gambles away his money, and the song ends a cautionary tale.

Country dance versions were printed by London publisher David Rutherford in 1750 in his Choice Collection of 60 of the Most Celebrated Country Dances, John Hinton in his periodical Universal Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure (London, 1754), John Johnson in his 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 7 (London, 1756), and by Charles and Samuel Thomson in their Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 1 (1757).

In 1803 the air was wedded by George Colman to a song entitled "The Unfortunate Miss Bailey" and Thomas Moore used it for his lyric "O! The Shamrock." The English musicologist Chappell claimed the air was English because of its appearance in Love in a Riddle, however, Grattan Flood asserts County Wexford gentleman piper Larry Grogan (1701-1728/29) is the author/composer due to a reference to the tune by Pierce Creagh of County Clare in his 1730 "County of Limerick Buck Hunt (The)." Creagh may have been partisan though, for he and Grogan were great friends (Creagh even named one of his race horses after him-- "Larry Grogan" won at least one purse for its owner).

"Allie Crocker/Croaker" continued to be in vogue throughout the century and was the air set to the song "The Shamrock Cockade," popular in Munster with the Irish Volunteers (1774-1784). It is one of the "lost tunes" from William Vicker's 18th century Northumbrian dance tune manuscript. In America "Ally Croaker" appears in the music manuscript of Henry Livingston, Jr. Livingston purchased the estate of Locust Grove, Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1771 at the age of 23. In 1775 he was a Major in the 3rd New York Regiment, which participated in Montgomery's invasion of Canada in a failed attempt to wrest Québec from British control. An important land-owner in the Hudson Valley, and a member of the powerful Livingston family, Henry was also a surveyor and real estate speculator, an illustrator and map-maker, and a Justice of the Peace for Dutchess County. He was also a poet and musician, and presumably a dancer, as he was elected a Manager for the New York Assembly's dancing season of 1774-1775, along with his 3rd cousin, John Jay, later U.S. Chief Justice of Governor of New York.

See also the Québec variant of the modern version of "Allie Croker", under the title "Reel des Bouchons."

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; p. 21. Campbell (9th Book of New and Favorite Country Dances & Strathspey Reels), 1795; p. 20. Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; p. 8 (appears as "Ally Croaker"). P.M. Haverty (One Hundred Irish Airs vol. 2), 1858; No. 181, p. 82. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 1), c. 1880; No. 9, p. 22. Joseph Lowe (Lowe's Collection of Reels, Strathspeys and Jigs, book 2), 1844–1845; p. 6. Messer (Way Down East), 1948; No. 6. Messer (Anthology of Favorite Fiddle Tunes), 1980; No. 26, p. 26. Miller & Perron (New England Fiddlers Repertoire), 1983; No. 135 (Appears as "Alice Crocker's Reel"). Edward Riley (Riley's Flute Melodies vol. 1), 1814; No. 255, p. 69. Ryan's Mammoth Collection, 1883; p. 27. Sweet (Fifer's Delight), 1964; p. 47. Thompson (Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 1), 1757; No. 79. Charles, Anne & Samuel Thompson (The Hibernian Muse), London, 1787; No. 106, p. 67.

Recorded sources : - Fretless 119, Rodney and Randy Miller- "Castles in the Air."

See also listing at :
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]

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