If All the Young Ladies

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IF ALL THE YOUNG LADIES. AKA - "Ma m-Bideann na Og-Mna," "If all the young maidens." Irish, Air (3/4 time). A Major (O'Neill/1850): A Dorian (O'Neill/1913). Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. O'Neill (1913) identifies this as a "Luibin" air, a song sung by young women at quiltings and spinnings which involves extemporaneous verses and a regular chorus, in which each girl makes up a line and everyone chimes in with the chorus. "The name Luinigs, or Luinnochs, by which they are known, signifies cheerful chorus music." In Irish Folk Music (1913), O'Neill clarifies that Loobeen is the Irish term, according to Bunting, and that Luinig or Luinniochs is a Highland Scots term signifying cheerful chorus music. He prints an example:

If all the young maidens were blackbirds and thrushes, (x2)
How soon the young men would get sticks and wet bushes,
Fal the daw, fal the day, fal the didy o-dee.

George Petrie's "If All the Young Maidens Were Blackbirds and Thrushes" is a song with a similar theme, set in minor mode. Indeed variants of the song are widespread and can be found throughout Ireland and Britain, and on the Continent. See also 'carding songs'.

Source for notated version: "...picked up in our boyhood days near Bantry" (County Cork) [O'Neill].

Printed sources: O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 101, p. 18. O'Neill (Irish Folk Music: A Fascinating Hobby), 1913, p. 119.

Recorded sources:




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