Little Mary Cullinan

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X:1 T:Little Mary Cullinan M:C L:1/8 R:Air S:O'Neill - Music of Ireland (1903), No. 277 Q:"With spirit" Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:D f/e|d>BAF A2 A>B|d2 ed/e/ feef|dBAF A2 AB|d2 {f}ed/e/ fd d|| g|fefg a2 gf|ebba be e/f/e/|dBAF A2 AB|df ed/e/ fd d||



LITTLE MARY CULLINAN (Máirin Ni Cuileannan, Máirin Ni Chullenain). AKA - "Little Celia/Sheila Connellan," AKA and see "Bhíosa lá I bport láirge," "Captain MacGreal of Connemara," "Dainty Besom Maker (The)," "Fare You Well Killeavy," "Forgive the Muse that Slumbered," "Gimblet (The)," "I'd Mourn the Hopes that Leave Me," "Irish Lilt (8)," "Johnny's Grey Breeks (2)," "Killeavy," "Magee's," "Old Lea Rigg (The)," "Little Sheila Connellan," "Maureen from Giberland," "Phelim O'Neill (2)," "Port Láirge," "Rose Tree (The)," "Rose Tree in Full Bearing (The)." Irish, Air (4/4 time, "with spirit"). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. The air is well known as the melody for a variety of folk songs from England, Scotland and Ireland, although the name "Little Mary Cullenan" was an early title, from a song set to the air by Munster poet Seán Ó Tuama/John O'Tuomy (1708-1775).

The following sketch of O'Tuomy is from "Worthies of Thomond" a column written by Robert Herbert, City Librarian, for the Limmerick Leader which began on July 10, 1943, and carried on for several years.

JOHN O'TUOMY, publican and Gaelic poet was born at Croom in the year 1706. He married young and opened a public house, first in Croom and later in Mungret Street, Limerick, but his success in the wine trade was not a financial one. He kept open house for all the bards of the district, was known as John O'Tuomy the Gay, and exercised a powerful influence on the national spirit of the country. But he lost his business and had to take to labouring for a livelihood. Perhaps the sign over his door had something to do with this:

Should one of the stock of the noble Gael,
A brother bard who is fond of good cheer,
Be short of the price of a tankard of ale,
He is welcome to O'Tuama, a thousand times here.

O'Tuomy has been described as inn-keeper, water bailiff, butter broker, schoolmaster and "herder of hens." He gained the last title from his work for Mrs. Quade of Adare where he was frequently sent to mind the hens, a woman's job. He paid Mrs. Quade back for the demeaning jobs she gave him in his poem, which was so well translated by Clarence Mangan:

O, I pray the Lord, whose powerful word set the elements first in motion
And formed from nought the race of man,
With Heaven and earth and ocean.
To lift my spirit above this world with all its clangour and battle
And give me a speedy release from you, O Dame of the slender wattle.

O'Tuomy and his friend, Andrew McGrath, "the merry peddler," had many a wordy battle. In one of these O'Tuomy wrote to Andrew in the well known five-lined verse, with the third and fourth lines short, now known as a limerick. McGrath replied in the same metre. It is probable that this was the origin of the term "limerick" for such verses. O'Tuomy wrote:

I sell the best brandy and sherry
To make my good customers merry;
But at times their finances,
Run short as it chances.
And then I feel very sad, very.

And McGrath replied:

O'Tuomy, you boast yourself handy
At selling good ale and bright brandy
But the fact is your liquor
Makes everyone sicker,
I tell you that, I, your friend Andy.

O'Tuomy's poems are mostly illustrative of his own condition and habits of life and they show that he must have received a more than average education. He died in Limerick City on 31st August, 1775, and his corpse was borne to his ancestral place at Croom by "a numerous assemblage of the bards of Munster and others of his friends."

John O'Daly, a contemporary poet, read the following elegy over his grave:

O woe, O sorrow, waking heart wrung sighs,
Our guide, our prop, our stay,
In Croom, beneath an unhewen flag stone lies,
While the stranger treads his clay.
'Tis seventeen hundred years – the account is true –
And seventy-five this day.
Since Christ, His death, that we by death lost you,
O'Tuomy, once the Gay.

See note for "Rose Tree (The)" for more.


Additional notes



Printed sources : - O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 277, p. 48.






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