Bay of Biscay O (The)

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BAY OF BISCAY O, THE. Irish, Air (4/4 time, "Quick and spirited"). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. The Bay of Biscay is an area of the Atlantic west of France and north of Spain, famous for its storms. "Bay of Biscay O" was a song by Andrew Cherry (1762-1812), a playwright and actor on the London stage who was the son of a Dublin printer and bookseller. It begins:

Loud roars the dreadful thunder,
The rain a deluge show'rs;
The clouds are rent asunder
By lightning's vivid pow'rs;
The night was drear and dark;
Our poor devoted bark
Till next day, there she lay,
In the Bay of Biscay, O!

In a 1906 letter to Alfred Percival Graves in 1906 (printed in "A Few Gossipy Notes" in the Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society, London, O'Neill, evidently stung by some criticism of his Music of Ireland (1903) wrote:

You will remember the title of our work is "The Music of Ireland," not "The Ancient Music of Ireland," as some people seem to take for granted. I see no good reason whey everything should be condemned or discredited except that which is known to be ancient. The music of No. 328 ("The Bay of Biscay, O") may not be Irish, yet the song was in general circulation in West Cork at least. Not their merit alone, but a desire to make a large collection, influenced the decision of some airs which now may appear of doubtful origin. I'm afraid the perfect book has not yet been written.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 329, p. 57.

Recorded sources:




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