Monday, March 26, 2018

A Canadian classic, reborn: The Kelligrews Soiree




You may talk of Clara Nolan's Ball or anything you choose,
But it couldn't hold a snuffbox to the spree in Kelligrews;
If you want your eyeballs straightened just come out next week with me,
You'll have to wear your glasses at the Kelligrews Soiree. 






There was birch rine, tar twine, cherry wine and turpentine,
Jowls and cavalances, ginger beer and tea;
Pig's feet, cat's meat, dumplings boiled up in a sheet,
Dandelion and crackie's teeth at the Kelligrews Soiree. 






Oh, I borrowed Cluney's beaver as I squared my yards to sail,
And a swallow tail from Hogan that was foxy on the tail;
Billy Cuddahie's old working pants and Patsy Nolan's shoes,
And an old white vest from Fogarty to sport at Kelligrews. 






There was Dan Milley, Joe Lilly, Tantan and Mrs. Tilley,
Dancing like a little filly, 'twould raise your heart to see;
Jim Brine, Din Ryan, Flipper Smith and Caroline,
I tell you, boys, we had a time at the Kelligrews Soiree. 





 
Oh, when I arrived at Betsy Snook's that night at half past eight,
The place was blocked with carriages stood waiting at the gate;
With Cluney's funnel upon my pate, the first words Betsy said,
"Here comes the local preacher with the pulpit on his head". 






There was Bill Mews, Dan Hughes, Wilson, Taft and Teddy Roose,
While Bryant, he sat in the blues and looking hard at me;
Jim Fling, Tom King, Johnson, champion of the ring,
And all the boxers I could bring to the Kelligrews Soiree. 





"The Saratoga Lancers first," Miss Betsy kindly said,
I danced with Nancy Cronin and her Granny on the Head;
And Hogan danced with Betsy, well you should have seen his shoes,
As he lashed the muskets from the rack that night at Kelligrews. 






There was boiled guineas, cold guineas, bullock's heads and piccaninnies,
Everything to catch the pennies you'd break your sides to see;
Boiled duff, cold duff, apple jam was in a cuff,
I tell you, boys, we had enough at the Kelligrews Soiree. 






Crooked Flavin struck the fiddler and a hand I then took in,
You should see George Cluney's beaver and it flattened to the rim;*
And Hogan's coat was like a vest, the tails were gone you see,
Says I, "The Devil haul ye and your Kelligrews Soiree". 






There was birch rine, tar twine, cherry wine and turpentine,
Jowls and cavalances, ginger beer and tea;
Pig's feet, cat's meat, dumplings boiled up in a sheet,
Dandelion and crackie's teeth at the Kelligrews Soiree. 






There was birch rine, tar twine, cherry wine and turpentine,
Jowls and cavalances, ginger beer and tea;
Pig's feet, cat's meat, dumplings boiled up in a sheet,
Dandelion and crackie's teeth at the Kelligrews Soiree. 


Johnny Burke [1851-1930]






BLOGGER'S BLUH. I haven't really sung this since Canada's Centennial in 1967, when every known (or unknown) Canadian folk song was dredged up, dusted off, sung, then reburied in 1968. I was surprised this actually had an author, as I thought it would be listed under "Anon" or "Arthur Unknown". We dutifully sang it in - what, Grade 8? - under the direction of Miss Maven (and through my internet connections I fairly recently found a PICTURE of Miss Maven, in a group photo with the rest of my Grade 8 teachers, meaning she really did exist. Unless I'm mistaken, she's the lady in teal in the front row, sitting beside Ruby Shaw, wearing ruby red.)





The song is from Newfoundland, of course, but I see similarities to various Irish or Scottish folk songs, such as the Fluter's Ball (which similarly rhymes off lists of waggish people and their merry goings-on). I'm also reminded of that perennial charmer, I'se the B'y ("codfish in the spring of the year, fried in maggoty butter"), not to mention The Squid Jiggin' Grounds, which I think I already covered in another post.

I don't know what half of this means. Birch rine? Did people eat birch bark at this party, or what? Tar twine just seems like desperation to me. Cherry wine mixed with turpentine is plausible, in Newfoundland at least. Cavalances, now - I think I have to look that one up, if it exists.

calavance n

calavance n also callivance, cavalance OED ~ obs (1620-1880); DAE (1682-); DJE sb (1634-1794). Type of small bean used esp for soup (Dolichos barbadensis, D. sinensis).

1895 J A Folklore viii, 38 Callivances: a species of white bean ... in contrast with the broad English bean. [c1904] 1927 DOYLE (ed) 67 "The Kelligrews Soiree": There was birch rhine, tar twine, / Cherry wine and turpentine; / Jowls and cavalances. P 245-61 ~ small bean.





Crackie's teeth? 

Cracky n

cracky n also cracky dog, krackie EDD ~ sb1 1 'wren,' 2 'little person or thing' D; DC crackie Nfld (1895-). A small, noisy mongrel dog; freq in phr saucy as a cracky.

1858 [LOWELL] ii, 293 A 'cracky,' in Newfoundland, is a little dog. [1894 BURKE] 83 He can bite off horse shoe nails and twist crackeys by the tails. 1895 J A Folklore viii, 38 ~ a little dog. 1917 Christmas Echo 14 There was nothing particular about him any more than any other dog. He was larger than an ordinary crackie, but not so large as a sporting dog. 1937 DEVINE 15 Crackie—A small dog. A lap dog, lively, frisking and barking. 1966 FARIS 97 People today only keep small 'krakies,' and have killed or sold most of the part-Husky sled dogs which once abounded. C 66-8 'Saucy as a cracky.' This is applied to a person who usually has a saucy tongue or a person who will answer back.







































Now, the source of all this, in case you're interested, is an excruciatingly detailed dictionary of Newfoundland English, the kind you can easily get swamped in within two seconds of opening the page.

http://www.heritage.nf.ca/dictionary/a-z-index.php


Have a go.



Post-post: I was certain that Kelligrews Soiree was so obscure that there would be no YouTube versions of it. Instead I was inundated with every kind of version, including some which did not include the all-important words. I finally settled on Burl Ives, who as far as I am concerned could sing anything, enunciated like cut glass, and even managed a fairly presentable Newfie accent. 

For more information, go on YouTube and enter the title. Pick whichever one you want.

*Not the same George Clooney. The "beaver" is, I think, a reference to a hat, not a living animal.


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