Whistling Gypsy - prejudice? To Thread - Forum Home

The Mudcat Café TM
133 messages

Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?

26 Jul 00 - 12:52 AM (#264793)
Subject: Whistling Gypsy
From: paddymac

Something InOBU mentioned about the Roma people in another thread got me thinking about this song. It's a great pub song, really made for singing with good , easy harmonies, and our audiences seem to really enjoy it. But, to be honest, I hadn't really thought of it as disparaging to Gypsies. But, the story line involes the father chasing after his daughter who ran-off with the "Whistling Gypsy", and when he finally finds her/them, she says: "well, Pops, he's not really a Gypsy, but he is 'Lord of these lands all over'". Question: did Pops chase her because she ran off with the proverbial handsome stranger, or did he chase her because she ran off with a Gypsy, who also just happened to be the proverbial handsome stranger?

26 Jul 00 - 09:29 AM (#264925)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Áine

Dear paddymac,

Could you please give us a blue clicky thing to Larry's original comment? I'd like to address your question, but I want to see what inspired it before I do.

Thanks, Áine

26 Jul 00 - 09:37 AM (#264927)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: MMario

I always assumed the father searched after his daughter because she was his daughter and she had run off...; the fact that everything became hunky-dory when he finds out that her lover is rich has always bugged me.

26 Jul 00 - 09:40 AM (#264928)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: paddymac

I'm still "HTML challenged" and haven;'t learned how to do BCTs, but here's a CNP (cut 'n paste)(:>) of Larry's msg. It comes from the "Do you play in a police state?" thread, which is a great discussion. The discussion at this point was about an interview Larry did in re some book which he found sorely lacking in merit.

Subject: RE: Do you play in a Police State? From: InOBU Date: 25-Jul-00 - 06:08 PM

Hi Kat: No he interviewed me after he inadvertantly made a racist remark about Roma (Gypsies). He had a rather racist guest, an author, and offered me an opportunity to debate his guest. His guest turned tail and ran, so I had an hour to my point of view.


26 Jul 00 - 09:43 AM (#264933)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Gary T

I'm no expert on this, but here's my opinion anyway.

Pops would have been upset about his daughter running off with any poor bum of a stranger, Gypsy or no. But by calling the rover a Gypsy, it's automatically to be assumed that he is indeed a poor no-good bum--after all, aren't they all?

Gypsies and beggarmen seem to be considered suspect, the difference being the beggar is being judged by what he does where the Gypsy is being judged for what he is, ethnically. It's not that the song actively disparages Gypsies, but that it repeats and accepts the prevalent prejudice against them.

26 Jul 00 - 09:47 AM (#264937)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: sophocleese

Like MMArio I have always assumed that the father was pissed because she ran away with anybody. The inferior social status of her partner made it even worse but also showed that she really did love the guy as she was willing to put up with hardship in order to be with him. The ending just restates the proprieties, this was a one time deal so we'll let it pass, so that other young women will be less willing to run off with poor young men.

26 Jul 00 - 09:54 AM (#264942)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: sophocleese

So Gary T. If we put our postings together we come up with a romantic song that has a pleasant tune but isn't going to disrupt any social order, or provoke much deep thought over such issues. Unless of course you are at the bottom of the heap, or outside the circle in which case it might bother you to hear it too much.

26 Jul 00 - 09:59 AM (#264946)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)

I first heard it,
"He is no gypsy my father," said she, "but lord of free lands all over."
I always took it to mean, "He isn't a no good bum like you think, dad, but a free spirit, not bound by convention, and that's the way I want to live, thank you very much." Talk about your historical revisionism- but that's the way I think!

26 Jul 00 - 10:10 AM (#264954)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Gary T

Makes sense to me, Sophocleese.

26 Jul 00 - 10:18 AM (#264957)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Áine

Thank you very much for the 'CNP', paddymac.

The version of 'Whistling Gypsy' that I learned was in Irish, and titled 'An Spailpín Fánach'. Now 'spailpín' is the word for an itinerant farm worker in Ireland, whose life was full of hard physical labor, low wages and maltreatment by landowners. Even the word 'spailpíín' came to mean a person of low character, which is also, of course, the common stereotypical image of the Irish Travelers and the Roma.

I don't know which language the song was originally written in, but I find it interesting that the Irish language version does not call the young fella a 'tincéir' (Tinker/Gypsy), but a 'spailpín' (traveling farm worker). So, looking at the song in Irish, it doesn't seem to me that it should be considered particularly prejudiced or 'racist'.

-- Áine

26 Jul 00 - 10:23 AM (#264962)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Downeast Bob

Gypsies may have seemed like no-goodniks to the do-right daddies of young ladies, but I think most of the songs about them come down on the side of the daughters who see them as free, charming, and probably sexy. I think the gypsies of European folklore are kind of like the hoboes of American folkmusic. They don't own squat, but they have the horizon and a way with the ladies.

26 Jul 00 - 12:09 PM (#265024)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: paddymac

Aine - thank you for the very interesting insight to the Irish version of the song. The "itinerant farmworker" here would probably be equated with "migrants" (los migrantes?) which would have about the same pejorative content as "gypsies" seems to have in Europe. There was a time when those low paid, unskilled jobs were filled by hungry "anglos", but in today's world they have largely been replaced or displaced by other groups.

As a kid growing up in the American mid-west, I heard the stories about "a Gypsy" took this, that, or the other thing or person, whatever or whoever happened to turn up missing. But I don't recall any of the kids giving voice to negative views about "Gypsies." Mostly, I recall that we romanticised them as care-free adventurers and wanderers, going where they wanted when they wanted. "Travellers" in a more literal sense of the word. Ah, for the youthful fantasy of freedom without responsibility.

Although there are gypsy groups here, I suspect that the antipathy of the adults of my youth was probably a hand-me-down brought over by previous generations from Europe. It appears to be what is called a "folk-way".

I can also see the bases for the interpretations GaryT and Soph have suggested, and though phrased differently, I think views expressed by Animaterra and Bob are essentially the same.

Do we have any Romas or Roma descendants in the family who might offer a view of the song?

26 Jul 00 - 12:19 PM (#265032)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Áine

Dear paddymac,

InOBU would be a great fella to ask in on this discussion, and I would be very interested in hearing his opinion of the song. Send him a PM, OK?

-- Áine

26 Jul 00 - 12:20 PM (#265033)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: InOBU

Well folks, here comes the last word on the Whitling Gypsy!
In all the earlier versions, it is the HUSBAND who runs after her, and she has left home and baby to run off with one or more Roma. It is part of the orientalist view of Roma as romantic and exotic. However, it is rare that Roma marry outside the Roma community, though among all Roma, Romanichales as well as Vlax Roma, when it happens, it is more likely, as in the song, a woman marring into the tribe. Now, there may be a historical precident for the song, as women had a greater position of power in Roma society, and there were cases where gyzhey did marry Rom. As to the version where it is her father running after her, From James the second to the eighteenth century being Rom carried a sentence from death to transportation, in Scotland Roma men were hanged and the women and children drowned, so a dad would not concider a Rom to be a great catch for his daughter, unless she swam very well while tied to a heavy wieght or could hold her breath underwater for days. Some earlier varrients are Nine Yellow Gypsies, Gypsie Davie, Raggle Taggle Gypsy, the american version Black Jack Davie, the Gypsy Rover and on and on. Any of the early Scotish Ballads about Jamie Faa, are also about Rom, by the by, Faa was the Ray Boro (chieftan) of Scotland's Romanichales, at the time that James ordered them out, under threat of exicution, so a lot of the strange little songs about people being led away to death for no apparent reason in Scotish ballads often concern the genocide agianst Roma.
Das baxtalo hai Sastimos

26 Jul 00 - 12:31 PM (#265043)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy

Well, my ancestors came from Russia, and spoke various German dialects, so there isn't a drop of Roma in these veins. However I perform a variant of this song under the title of Black Jack Davey. Mine borrows heavily from versions collected in Virginia, and one recorded by Woody Guthrie.

I understand that the song came from Great Britain, and appeared about the time of James VI of Scotland, aka James I of England. While he was on the Scottish throne, James decides to kick all the "Egyptians" out of Scotland. One of them, whose name is supposedly Johnny Faa defies the order, and in some versions never leaves Scotland, or in other versions of the story returns to Scotland. Eventually the Law catches up with Johnny Faa, and they hang him. The songwriters of the day got hold of the story, and in the end we have our Whistling Gypsy Rover, or Black Jack Davey, or Gypsy Davey.

26 Jul 00 - 12:32 PM (#265045)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Áine

Ha! Great minds run in the same direction, eh Larry? You can take what InOBU said to the bank, folks. Go raibh maith agat, a Lorcán.

-- Áine

26 Jul 00 - 01:36 PM (#265085)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: GUEST,Airto

I've never been fond of the song we're talking about here. I find the chorus twee and the melody too wholesome. According to the DT, where it appears as Gypsy Rover, it was written by Leo Maguire.

Leo presented a programme for many years on Irish radio sponsored by Walton's, a well known music shop in Dublin. He finished up every week with the advice "if you feel like singing a song, do sing an Irish song".

Irish music wasn't particularly respectable at the time Maguire started (the 40s or 50s?)and what he's written here, it seems to me, is a bourgeois version of an old story.

The second last verse makes it clear that the man she runs away with is indeed wealthy, and not a gypsy: "At last he came to a mansion fine...". So all's well then, etc. The whole message has been transformed compared with the variants mentioned by InOBU.

Davy Faa, also in the DT, is much more complex. Have you ever heard a more poetic way of describing a rape ("Twas there he took the wills o'her afore she was won awa'")? Social realism in Scotland obviously didn't begin with Trainspotting.

26 Jul 00 - 02:35 PM (#265124)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: JenEllen

Thanks InOBU, very informative.

26 Jul 00 - 03:52 PM (#265163)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Pseudolus

Geez, I always took the song to have the message, "Don't judge a book by it's cover" as in, don't make assumptions about people because of their culture, apprearance, race, etc. etc. In fact I prefer to think of it that way. I love a song that has a prejudiced opinion proven to be wrong. It's good for the soul. However, It is interesting to hear the folks who have clearly thought about and researched the song....Interesting thread....


26 Jul 00 - 05:30 PM (#265254)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: InOBU

My hat is off to our Russian guest for getting the ninbers right on old James - Thanks.. Larry

26 Jul 00 - 11:05 PM (#265479)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: paddymac

Thanks to all for your contributions to the discussion. It illustrates once again that you never know where a thread will go, but you can be assured that an honest question will receive honest and considered responses. Educational as well!

17 Sep 00 - 09:34 AM (#299219)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Roger in Sheffield

'An Spailpín Fánach', do you have words in english Áine. I have the tune already.

17 Sep 00 - 07:48 PM (#299507)
From: CarolC

AN SPAILPIN FANACH (without fadas)

Never again will I go to Cashel
Selling and trading my health
Nor to the hiring-fair, sitting by the wall
A lounger on the roadside
The bucks of the country coming on their horses,
Asking if I'm hired
"Oh lets go, the journey is long"
Off goes the Spailpin Fanach.

I was left as a Spailpin Fanach
Depending on my health
Walking the dew early in the morning
Catching all the illnesses going around.
You'll not see a hook in my hand for harvesting
A flail or a short spade,
But the flag of France over my bed
And the pike for stabbing

Five hundred farewells to the land of my father
And to the dear island
And to the boys of Cualach because they never
feared in the trouble times of defense,
But now that I'm poor, miserable and alone
In these foreign lands
I'm heart-broken becauseI got the call
To be a Spailpin Fanach.

I well remember my people were at one time
Over at the bridge at Gail
With cattle, with sheep, with little white calves
And plenty of horses
But it was the will of God that we were evicted
And we were left with only our health
And what broke my heart everywhere I went
"Call here, you Spailpin Fanach."

Taken from the liner notes of the Dervish CD, "at the end of the day".


17 Sep 00 - 08:24 PM (#299526)
Subject: Lyr Add: WHISTLING GYPSY ^^^
From: Áine

Dear Roger,

I have a different set of words that Carol, and these are the ones that are closest to the lyrics that I know in the Irish. I guess you can sing both sets to the tune that you know and see which set of words fits.

A gypsy rover came over the hill,
Into the valley shady,
He whistled and he sang 'till the green woods rang,
And he won the heart of a lady.

She left her father's castle gate,
She left her own true lover,
She left her servants and her estate,
To follow her gypsy rover.

He whistled and he sang 'till the green woods rang,
And he won the heart of a lady.

Her father mounted his fastest steed,
And searched the valley all over,
He sought his daughter at great speed,
And the whistling gypsy rover.

At last he came to a mansion fine,
Down by the river Claydee,
And there was music and there was wine,
For the gypsy and his lady.


"He is no gypsy, Father," she cried,
"But lord of these lands all over,"
"And I shall stay 'till my dying day,"
"In the arms of my gypsy rover."

Refrain ^^^

18 Sep 00 - 04:48 PM (#300149)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: MartinRyan


Those are Leo Maguire's words, as near as dammit - but I've never seen a version of An Spailpín Fánach that resembled it. Could you be thinking of a translation of Maguire? I'll have a look.


18 Sep 00 - 05:05 PM (#300163)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: MartinRyan


Got it. The collection "Abair Amhrán" gives a song under the title "An Spailpín Fánach" which is clearly a trnslation of Maguire's song and intended to be sung to the same air. It states:"Proinsias Ó Maonaigh a d'aistrigh"

Carol's set is a translation of the older Irish song of that title which is not really related to the thread topic IMHO.


19 Sep 00 - 11:57 AM (#300728)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Áine

Dear Martin,

That's the song I was thinking of, all right. So it's Leo Maguire that wrote it, right? I prefer it in Irish (of course), and I've always been impressed with Proinsias Ó Maonaigh's translation abilities. His translations always sound like they are the 'originals'.

-- Áine

19 Sep 00 - 08:36 PM (#301083)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: rabbitrunning

The version I learned was so close to Aine's that I can't remember the words I knew. Hopefully I've written them down somewhere. I do remember thinking that the Gypsy Rover wasn't rich in anything but freedom and the love of his lady, though. I always imagined the father having to go back home grumbling, and I don't remember anything about a mansion.

Oh, why don't twelve year olds learn to take proper notes!

19 Sep 00 - 08:47 PM (#301086)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Bernard

Then there's the Scots song, Lizzie Lindsay -

He says 'I fancy you, will you elope with me?'

She says 'No way!'

He says 'I'm rich, with a title'

She says 'Oh, alright then'!!

Not too dissimilar in ethic!

19 Sep 00 - 08:50 PM (#301089)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Bernard

BTW - the line as I sing it is:

'At last he came to a castle fair'

20 Sep 00 - 12:00 AM (#301181)
From: Seamus Kennedy

Seo an Spailpín fánach ón sliabh anuas
Le coiscéim éadrom lúfar,
Ag ceiliúr 's ag ceol agus draíocht ina ghlór,
Agus mheall sé an ógbhean uasal.

Ah, dí dú, ah dí dú dah dé,
Ah, di du, ah di dé di

D'fhág sise teach a hathair féin,
D'fhág sise gaolta 's cáirde,
Thréig sise 'n fear a bhí luaite léi
Agus lean sí and Spailpín Fánach.

Ah, dí dú, ah dí dú dah dé,
Ah, di du, ah di dé di

Ghluais a hathair sa tóir 'na ndiadh
Trasna sléibhte is bánta,
Ag iarraidh tuairisc' fána níon
Is an Spailpín béalbhinn fánach.

Ah, dí dú, ah dí dú dah dé,
Ah, di du, ah di dé di

Tháinig sé 'r ball go dtí caisleán mór,
B'ann a fuair sé 'n lánúin; Is bhí togha gach bia agus rogha gach dí
Ag an níon 's ag an Spailpín fánach.

Ah, dí dú, ah dí dú dah dé,
Ah, di du, ah di dé di

"Ní spailpín é," a athair ar sí,
"Ach tiarna óg na háite;
Go dté mé i gcré ní scarfaidh mé
Leis an Spailpín béalbhinn fánach."

Ah, dí dú, ah dí dú dah dé,
Ah, di du, ah di dé di

Proinsias Ó Maonaigh, d'aistrigh.

As you can see, Áine, a direct translation of the popular Clancy Brothers version.

Le meas,
Séamus Ó Cinnéide

20 Sep 00 - 08:30 AM (#301276)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: GUEST,from skarpi at work

Hallo all, i think I will try to sing one Irish version next time when I perform with my band. We did use the Leo Version when we recorded it. All best skarpi Iceland.

20 Sep 00 - 09:12 AM (#301298)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Áine

A Shéamuis,

If you mean by 'direct' you mean 'literal', I can't agree there. Ó Maonaigh's version doesn't have any 'green woods' in it, for example. To me, his Irish lyrics draw a much more romantic picture than the English. For example, Ag ceiliúr 's ag ceol agus draíocht ina ghlór agus mheall sé an ógbhean uasal and Go dté mé i gcré ní scarfaidh mé leis an Spailpín béal bhinn fánach.

Come on, admit it, this is one of those few times when the translation improves on the original. And if you've ever tried to translate an song in English to the Irish, you know how hard it can be. Not only to capture the intent of the original words; but also to write it well as Gaeilge. Which is exactly what Ó Maonaigh has done here with his beautiful imagery and well turned internal rhyme.

Le meas, Áine

20 Sep 00 - 09:31 AM (#301309)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: rabbitrunning


Could you please tell us what got improved in the Irish in English, because I'm all curious and I took Norwegian in college?

I'm crossing my fingers and hoping I got your name right!

20 Sep 00 - 03:47 PM (#301584)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Seamus Kennedy

A Áine, I agree. It's not a literal translation, because a literal translation would probably have been cumbersome He captured the spirit of the original, and his internal rhymes are more consistent (and mellifluous). "Ag ceiliúr 's ag ceol agus draíocht ina ghlór," is better than "He whistled and he sang til the green woods rang."

But verse for verse, he pretty much matches the story line, which is what I meant by "direct". Le meas.

20 Sep 00 - 04:00 PM (#301588)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Áine

Ah, Seamus, I just blowin' up yer nose a wee bit! ;-) I knew you'd agree with me; after all, aren't you a fella le draíocht i do ghlór and all? *BG*

Le gach dea-ghuí, Áine

20 Sep 00 - 04:03 PM (#301594)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: Llanfair

The only trouble with Lizzie Lindsay is that she couldn't resist Big Macs.

21 Sep 00 - 12:29 PM (#302312)
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
From: The Lighthouse

By the way, the father never states one way or the other at the end of the song what HE thinks of the whole thing. It's the daughter who claims that "I will stay til my dying day". The father makes no comment on being happy that she's rich - so I think he chased them both because she had left and not simply that she left with a gypsy or not.

13 Nov 01 - 10:31 AM (#591557)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: JedMarum

14 Nov 01 - 10:34 AM (#592408)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: GUEST,From skarpi Iceland .

Halló all, Now I can begin to sing this song in gealic great. I think I sang He´s no gypsy my fathe she said, but lord of these lands all over..... . Thats Tamóra´s version. All the best skarpi Iceland..

17 Nov 01 - 09:21 AM (#594617)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Roger in Sheffield

words and midi

05 Feb 02 - 11:14 PM (#643547)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?

Very interesting thread here. I'm sorry I'm so late in joining. My brother, who passed away 1 1/2 years ago, used to sing this on those close-to-perfect evenings- in front of a fire or on long walks along the water. I don't think I'll ever forget his soft voice or his beautiful whistle nor the contentment I felt when he got to the line about the gypsy who was actually a "lord of these lands all over." I always took it to mean he owned the land in spirit and she would love him forever because of this spirit. I think I'll stick with my interpretation because it fits my memories perfectly. I do wish I had asked my brother's interpretation. He would have so enjoyed this thread as he was ever curious and I'm sure he would have enhanced it with his own posting. Thanks for triggering fond memories. A grateful Kathleen

05 Feb 02 - 11:38 PM (#643558)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: DonMeixner

I first learned this song from a Corries record I had in HighSchool. I still have the record and I still sing the song.

There isn't whole lot different from The Whistling Gypsy Rover than from Anachie Gordon or Willie O' Winsbury or Jock of Hazeldean. Or for that matter Patches and Romeo and Juliette.

Kids fall in love and Dad doesn't like it or the in most cases his daughter's Boyfriend. And as in life he either comes around or he doesn't, they live happily ever after or one or both of them die.

I imagine they are all retellings of the same old story with the moral made to fit a time and a place. Willie O Winsbury wins over Janet's father because he is so handsome. Jock O' Hazeldean does esentially the same thing . Poor Anachie arrives late leaving Lord Salton to bury two people. And Patches can't can't escape the stigma of the shanty town so she drowns herself.

But jeepers gang its just a bunch of good songs. Lets not make more of them that they are. Next thing you know some pinhead will be telling me I shouldn't sing songs that speak of oppressing the Gypsies, poor folk, or landless poachers.

.....The socially acceptable but politically discontected and landless rover can over the hill.......

Doesn't really sing from the soul does it?


06 Feb 02 - 01:32 AM (#643591)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Kaleea

There is too much emphasis on being aghast at what some perceive to be prejudice! Lighten up, folks. We cannot go back several decades or hundreds of years & change the prejudices of the composers. We cannot change the lyrics to Stephen Fosters songs where he commonly & liberally uses vocabulary of the time (i.e., "darkies" "ethopian" etc.). If we take songs in context of when they were written, and by whom, especially a "folk" song, then we are students of music, musicoligists, if you will, if only of the armchair variety. At this point, we then must accept the song & it's lyrics for what they are, and not place blame, but rather ascertain the message, if any, which the song offers. If we like a song, if it speaks to us, then it has a message worth sharing to others. I have heard the Whistling Gypsy Rover song as long as I can remember. I have heard some of the above versions in english & Irish, and sometimes they sing that the "whistlin' Gypsy Rover" is a pauper, an ideal of the proverbial, romantic "gypsy" living as Robin Hood in the forest. Most of the time, it is the classic tale of the prince who, posing as a pauper, finds love and takes her home, for her to find that she has indeed won the brass ring & married a prince. But most miss one important clue to his personality & musicianship, and that is of the "irish tin whistle" or "penny whistle," which gives a whole new meaning to "he whistled & he sang till the green woods rang." I prefer to enjoy the version where they came to a castle fine.

06 Feb 02 - 07:01 AM (#643668)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: InOBU

Hi Kaleea:
It is not about cleaning up the words or only singing PC songs. However, it is important to unpack the history in the songs we sing, as they are the historical record of the common people. I was very happy to see this, as discriminiation against Roma is still accepted, and I hope those who sing this (I sing an old varrient) do so with some appreciation of the history of prejudice behind the song, not that the song is prejudical per se. It is hard to lighten up when scores of Roma are being murdered today in the Czech Republic, when a million or so Roma in the US live under the civil rights radar, and well, if the world where all rosey and nice, warm with love instead of global warming and the detonation of bombs, it would be great to lighten up! So in all warmth and love I say, get a little heavy!
Chearsmdears, Larry

06 Feb 02 - 02:39 PM (#644000)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: McGrath of Harlow

I've never heard any songs about oppressing poor people or poachers, except they are taking the side of the poor people being oppressed and the poachers.

Gypsies and the like, well, I have heard a few songs where they are seen as the outsiders and suspect. But more often in the songs where Gypsies come in, the song tends to be from their side.

So far as this song is concerned, it's maybe a bit more complicated than has come out.

My understanding is that there are two parallel songlines in the tradition which have come together in this version.

One is the song about the lady eloping with a band of Gypsies, and the husband (most times) coming after her. Sometimes the Gypsies end by getting strung up, sometimes the ending is left open - either way the lady is clear enough that she would always choose the Gypsies over her husband. (And there are some versions in which there is a suggestion that she was a Gypsy in the first place herself.)

And the other song is the one about the lord or the prince, or often enough the King of Scotland who makes himself out to be a Gypsy, because he envies the free life, and when he has a girl run off with him, at the end he reveals who he is.

Both songs on balance tend, in their various versions, to be on the side of the Gypsies, even if sometimes there's an element of patronising romanticising of the life.

The Leo Maguire song brings the two separate songs together and blends them. I've never really liked it too much, seems a bit too sweetened. Maybe it'd be better in the Irish version.

Incidentally I've said Gypsy here because a lot of the time in these songs they probably aren't Roma - while the word "travellers" has got so mixed up in recent years, what with New Age Travellers and that, and my understanding is that these days many travelling people prefer to avoid it. And of course "travelling" doesn't define people, it's often what's been forced on them. As a term, it's maybe a bit like migrant or refugee.

07 Feb 02 - 12:35 AM (#644324)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: DougR

Arghhhhhhhh! Don and Kaleea are right, I think. The are just songs, and they have been performed for a long time. And the performers enjoy singing it, and the listeners enjoy listening to it. Why make such a big deal of it?


07 Feb 02 - 05:23 AM (#644388)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: GUEST,McGrath of Harlow

Songs are a big deal, I believe. They can put us in touch with all kinds of important things in the past and the present.

That doesn't mean they have to be prettied up and so forth to avoid offending people. It means that when we sing them we have to be aware that in some cases their might be people who may be offended, and take that into account. That's just good manners.

"Taking into account" doesn't mean censoring. It means understanding and being ready to explain.

08 Feb 02 - 09:38 PM (#645712)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: GUEST,Davey

I agree with Mr. Harlow. there is far too much PC crap bandied about these days. He hit it on the head when he mentioned the blurring of definitions. Some there be who, in their ignorance, apply the social divisions of their own society to other societies. This is a type of patronising arrogance which I find difficult to stomach. For example, there are no Gypsies / Roma in Ireland. The term is misapplied in English and leads to confusion. The mixup becomes even worse when the PC'ers treat Tinkers as if there is no difference between them and "Gypsies". The distinction is clearcut in the Irish language: A Tinker is a "Tincéir" i.e. a tinsmith, a man with a respected and useful trade in days before the disposable society. I doubt if there are any Tinkers to be found today. They had settled homes and travelled in a limited area plying their trade. They were often musicians, which made their periodic visits to a locality doubly welcome. The dictionaries give no cross reference to any other class of people!! The term covering "Gypsy" is "Lucht Siúil" i.e. walking people, which approximates to "Travellers" but in its literal sense. Racially, the "Lucht Siúil" are identical to the Irish population; they have the same surnames, speak English with a pronounced brogue, play the same type of music, sing the same types of songs, practise the same religion (Catholic)and they are white. They are not foreign refugees.

08 Feb 02 - 11:02 PM (#645759)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: DougR

Jeeze, McGrath! We are in agreement on something! I cawnt believe it! You did, in fact, hit the nail on the head. I'm delighted that you finally came around to my point of view! :>)


12 Jun 02 - 02:24 PM (#728513)
Subject: Lyr Add: GYPSY DAVY (from Helen Hartness Flanders)
From: GUEST,John Minear - minmax@ceva.net

In her book, ANCIENT BALLADS TRADITIONALLY SUNG IN NEW ENGLAND, Helen Hartness Flanders has a version of "The Gypsy Laddie" (K on pp. 210-213, entitled "Gypsy Davy" that seems related to "The Whistling Gypsy" song by Maguire. She says, "As heard by Charles H. Benjamin in lumber camps north of Patten, Maine, around the 1860's and 1870's. This was sung by his daughter, Mrs. Charles Woodbury, now of Washington, D.C. - December 15, 1948".

The tune looks similar. I don't have the means to reproduce it here. Perhaps someone else can do that. The words are as follows:

Oh,Gypsy Davy came over the hills,
Came down through the Eastern valleys.
He sang till he made the wild woods ring,
And he charmed the heart of a lady.
Ah-da-dum, a-da-doo, ah-da-doo, ah-da-day,
Ah-da-dum, ah-da-doo, ah-da-day-dee;
He sang till he made the wild wood ring,
And he charmed the heart of a lady.

A lord returning home at night,
Inquiring for his lady,
They made him this reply, that she
Had gone with the Gypsy Davy.

"Go fetch me now my coal-black steed;
My gray is not so speedy;
I've rode all day, but I'll ride all night
Till I overtake my lady."

He rode till he came to the muddy water side-
It looked so dark and dreary;
He rode till he came to the muddy water side,
Where he beheld his lady.

"Oh, will you leave your house and home?
Oh, will you leave your baby?
Oh, will you leave your own wedded lord
To go with the Gypsy Davy?

"Last night you lay in your soft, warm bed
And in our arms your baby;
Tonight you'll lie on the cold, cold ground
In the arms of the Gypsy Davy."

"I never loved my house and home,
I never loved my baby,
I never loved my own wedded lord
As I love the Gypsy Davy."

The verses after verse one are certainly different from what the Clancy Brothers sing, and seem much more akin to other American versions. But the tune is there and the basic form of the story. In this version the "Lord" is her husband rather than her father.

I am always interested in how these songs evolve.


line breaks fixed by mudelf

12 Jun 02 - 02:38 PM (#728530)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Mrrzy

When we were in Eastern Europe, Mom always held us kids very tightly by the hand whenever there were gypsies around, because she "knew" they stole children. In this day and age... plus she could tell, say, Hungarian gypsies from Serbian gypsies from Rumanian gypsies... they were not considered all one group by the folks among whom they lived, that's for sure.

12 Jun 02 - 02:42 PM (#728536)
Subject: Lyr Add: GYPSY DAVY (from Dorothy Scarborough)
From: GUEST,John Minear - minmax@ceva.net

In addition to the version posted above from Flanders, I also came across the following in Dorothy Scarborough's book A SONG CATCHER IN THE SOUTHERN MOUNTAINS, published in 1937, pp. 224-225. Dorothy Scarborough says:

"Margaret Widdemer gave me the words and music for another account of the elopement. She wrote, "This is a variant of the RAGGLE-TAGGLE GYPSIES, evidently. It was given to me orally by Mrs. Margaret Leamy, who learned it as a child in Ireland. It is a lullaby, as is clear not only from the refrain, but from the interesting reproach in the last stanza..."


Gypsy Davy came over the hills,
Down thro the valleys shady,
He whistled and sang till the wild woods rang,
And he won the heart of a lady.

Ah de doo ah de day ah de day dee,
He whistled and he sang till the wold(sic)woods rang,
And he won the heart of a lady.

My lord returning late at night,
Asking for his lady,
The servants said, "She's out of door,
She's gone with the Gypsy Davy."

Oh, saddle to me my jet black steed,
The brown one is not so speedy;
Oh saddle to me my jet black steed,
I'll off and find my lady!

He sought her up, he sought her down,
Thro woods and valleys shady,
He sought her down by the waterside,
And there he found his lady.

What made you leave your house and home?
What made you leave your baby?
What made you leave your own wedded lord
To go with the Gypsy Davy?

I never loved my house and home,
I never loved my baby,
I never loved my own wedded lord
As I love the Gypsy Davy.
There is not tune. The verses are very similar to the version from Maine. Perhaps the Maine version was based on an earlier Irish version. Both predate the Maguire version, especially if the Maine version comes from the 1860's or 70's. The one from Scarborough/Leamy would probably date from about the same period.

Does anyone know of a 19th century Irish version similar to either of these?


line breaks fixed by mudelf ;-)

12 Jun 02 - 02:44 PM (#728538)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: CapriUni

Btw, a bit of a thread creep, but just a bit of a one.

One summer morning, in a year when we were in the midst of a gypsy moth catapilliar plague (happens on a ten year cycle or so: 7 years of almost none, then a year with some, then more, and finally population boom; then almost none for another 7 years), Mother thought she saw something in an old dog house by our front door (that our other dog had outgrown). She had to sweep away the catapilliar silks that were draped over the doghouse to see properly, but sure enough, there was a tiny black puppy -- no more than 8 weeks old -- sitting in the doghouse, as pretty as you please, with an old sneaker in front of him.

Now, our house was in the middle of the forest, and not visable from the road. Our driveway was 1/5 mile long, and unpaved, and if someone wanted to drop a puppy off at a doorstep, it would be far easier to do so at a neighbor's door, and the puppy was so young and small, it's hard to imagine him walking up the driveway himself, without any sign of injury or stress, and settling into the doghouse as though he were posing for a Hallmark greeting card. Yet there he was, as if dropped from heaven.

...in honor of the Gypsy moths all around him, we named him Gypsy Davy. The sweetest little dog I ever knew...

13 Jun 02 - 12:21 AM (#728922)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: GUEST,ozmacca

I have a scots variation of the Gypsy Rover, pulled out of a compilation years ago, in which the Gypsy is not one but three lads who come to the house. The lady leaves home with them etc etc... but when the lord finds out there's a really different ending. He sends for two hangmen and he has the three brothers hanged for stealing his lady away. Good for tacking on at the end when the ordinary version's been sung.

13 Jun 02 - 07:09 AM (#729055)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar


My sediments entirely.

I didn't know that Leo Maguire wrote The Whistling Gypsy, but it doesn't entirely surprise me. The song is one of my earliest childhood memories, as indeed is the Waltons programme. Don't forget the all-important introduction to the catch-phrase: "And remember, if you feel...".

I actually didn't like Irish trad music at the time (1950s), and the Walton's prog was a contributory factor with its wall-to-wall céilí bands and countless kitschy ballads of local patriotism ("there's none can compare/ with the County Kildare etc. etc. ad nauseam) and emigration ("If we only had old Ireland over here...."). A product of industrial protectionism as much as of cultural nationalism, it was a reflection of the stultifying introversion of Dev's and John Charles McQuaid's Ireland, and it came close to putting the music in the same ghetto as "compulsory Irish".

But then along came O Riada, the Chieftains and Planxty, and the rest is history. Now, oddly enough, I can even enjoy "The Homes of Donegal" as sung by Paul Brady, though it was an abomination in its original Waltons version.

Sorry, drifting/ranting a bit. But the people who sang THAT "Whistling Gypsy" would run a mile from a real one, just as most of the songs mentioning the pipes in the Waltons era (Danny Boy, The Kerry Dances etc.) were sung and listened to by people who had probably never even heard the sound of the uilleann pipes.

13 Jun 02 - 07:22 AM (#729059)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: manitas_at_work

Aren't the pipes referred to in Danny Boy the war-pipes?

13 Jun 02 - 07:23 AM (#729060)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: InOBU

A chara, An Pluiméir Ceolmhar:
As to the likes of em running from a real Pavee, Ceart go lear, a mhic!!! My father is Anglo Irish, and me mum is half Roma (Lovari rather than a Pavee). I learned ninety percent of my music from Pavees (I play the Uilleann Pipes and as you may know from this board, I write and sing contempory historical ballads). Well to the point, When in Listowl, for example, I'd spend a great deal of my time, when I was not busking down by the race course, with the Pavee communittee (back in the seventies and early eighties). Well, being rather fond of John B. Keene's books, my wife and I (back then we were Shem and Bior ... ) well, John B. stood in the door with his arm accross the door way and told me he didn't serve "our kind" in his pub... often the same folks who romantasize Pavee culture, discriminated against Roma.
Is mise, le meas,

13 Jun 02 - 07:57 AM (#729074)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar

Yup, that's the sad downside of an otherwise very humane and warm-hearted author, Larry, and I can understand if you revised your opinion of him.

I used to be a regular listener at Johnnie Keenan's "Pavee club" session in Slattery's of Capel Street, Dublin in the early 70s, and remember hanging out with Paddy at a Listowel Fleadh around that time. Maybe we've met without knowing it. I got my first practice set from John.

Manitas, you might be right, though the person who wrote the Danny Boy words may never have seen pipes of either kind in the flesh!

13 Jun 02 - 08:49 AM (#729095)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: IanC


From what we know of Fred Weatherley, it could be pan pipes.

I was just reading James Merryweather's article about regional bagpipes in the EFDSS newsletter (Summer 2002). Very interesting ... but it reminds us that "pipes" can (and often do) mean a whole lot of things from whistles to military fifes.


13 Jun 02 - 09:08 AM (#729100)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Malcolm Douglas

Fred Weatherly was almost certainly thinking of the Highland pipes -though the phrase is really only a "stock" image in his song- and may not even have known that there was any other kind. He was a lawyer and songwriter, after all, and the Irish connection with Danny Boy is the tune, not the words, which were originally set to another air of Weatherly's own making, which didn't sell.

The American sets from Flanders and Scarborough above are particularly interesting in that they show clear precedents for Maguire's chorus (which I think I had supposed to be his own); unfortunately I don't have the relevant volume of Flanders, so I can't help with the tune.

13 Jun 02 - 09:23 AM (#729106)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: IanC


Humour warning!


13 Jun 02 - 10:30 AM (#729156)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Malcolm Douglas

I posted my last without having seen yours!

13 Jun 02 - 10:44 AM (#729167)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: IanC


Looked like you were replying ... actually, I doubt if Fred had ever heard of any other kind.


13 Jun 02 - 03:44 PM (#729415)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: InOBU

An Pluiméir Ceolmhar!
We may have well met! Where you at Slatterys the night some fellow threw a drink at Paddy's wife (gee around 1979 perhaps... maybe a few years latter...) I was playing in a booth with Johnny and Jane Kelton and one or two others... then about an hour latter Paddy came down from upstares, and she (who had been happly talking away at the bar for the past hour after) began to cry and point at the fellow... who darted into the hit and miss, meanwhile, Big Finbar barred the door to the jacks so Paddy wouldn't be up for murder... while Johnny said to my wife and I, and Jane, "Well, time to go..." a memorable night... it was entirely!!One that stands out in my mind!
A few months after John Keenan died, Johney and his mum, Mary, where over here in New York. Mary told me that she first saw John walk down a hill outside of Dublin. She said a few months ago, he and she were walking and he told her to wait at the bottom of the same hill. "He walked up that hill and took a heart attack and died. He walked down that hill into my life and then up that hill out of my life. Isn't that a Traveller's marrige?" she asked me.
Well, as to John B., a fine writer, though a flawed fellow. Who is perfect? But, I do feel prejudice is one very very black stain on one's being. I did enjoy his writing, and wish he was a bigger man about hospitality though.

13 Jun 02 - 04:18 PM (#729445)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Chicken Charlie

There are umpty-seven variants on the song. I always do "Blackjack Davey," in which the liberated-chick-before-her-time is pursued not by dear old dad but by hubby. There are, as usual with many Anglo-American derivatives, two sides of the family song-variant tree, one in which she stays with her lover and one in which she tearfully comes home--not for hubby, who is sort of a dork anyway, but for her blue-eyed baby-oh.

I got Blackjack Davey from some old book of Carolina songs that was written and illustrated in pre-PC days, but now that all racist strife has ceased, we may assume that Davey deals 21 in Vegas.

Another "Justice or Reality?" quandary shows up with "Golden Vanity," in case someone is about to call my bluff on "Oh, yeah, happens all the time, just hang around." In GV #1, the mean evil captain leaves the kid to drown. In GV #2, the kid says, "OK, mean evil Cap'n, what goes around comes around," and sinks his own ship. In GV#3, the kid really gets religion and says, "OK, mean evil Cap'n, I'd sink you too, but hey, there are women and children on board, so I'll just stay here and drown; don't mind me." Well, actually, all those utterances rhyme, but you Catters all get my DRIFT. [Oh, gawd!!!]

You can tell I'm off for a long weekend soon. :)


14 Jun 02 - 06:32 AM (#729795)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar


It would be overstating things to say that things were always very civilised in Slat's in my time, but there was never any pint-throwing.

Mind you there was a confrontation in connection with the domestic affairs of one of the sons (my lips are sealed), but it didn't degenerate into violence inside the pub. But it was the sort of episode which would be used to justify the JB Keane attitude, as if the same kind of thing didn't happen among other groups in society.

Around the same era, the girl who subsequently became my wife was the cause of a Hollywood-style Irish bar brawl between apparently "respectable" people in the very respectable Baggott Street (not O'Donoghues's, one of the places with higher social aspirations across the street from Doheny and Nesbit's, home of the Dublin branch of the Chicago school of economics). Fortunately I wasn't there and didn't even know her at the time, so I didn't have to get a bloody nose to prove my undying devotion.

One of the things which struck me most about John senior was his acute sense of respectability - he reminded me very much of my own mother's upper-working/lower-middle-class Edwardian social values, even though she didn't think much of my hanging around with travellers. I unintentionally offended him once with what was meant to be a complimentary remark about Davy Spillane's adoption of the travelling style of piping. I wasn't even aware I had given offence at the time, but Johnnie junior came up to me a week later in Slat's and I wondered if I was going to get a dig without knowing why. But he simply conveyed in very elliptical terms the fact that I had given offence, and when I met John I made a suitably elliptical apology which he accepted in equally elliptical terms. A decent man, and Mary was also a decent woman.


14 Jun 02 - 07:13 AM (#729818)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: InOBU

Actually, that is indeed why I point to that particular event.... if you where there that night you would have remembered it! I agree about John and Mary, Gotta run, I will say more after breakfast, Cheers larry

14 Jun 02 - 08:26 AM (#729847)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: InOBU

PS Nice breakfast, good fruit salad... My recolection of the event, lo these many years on, is that rather than a pint, it was about an eigthth of a glass of whiskey, and niether Paddy's wife or the drink tosser were Pavees as well! Cheers, Larry

27 Jun 05 - 07:07 PM (#1511283)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Le Scaramouche

Teenager runs of with dark, sexy stranger. Daddy, scandalised, gives chase, she finds out her lover is actualy stinking rich and all ends well. MONEY has a way of making so many things seem right.
That's what the song's about, not the rights or wrongs of prejudice against Roma.

27 Jun 05 - 07:19 PM (#1511292)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: InOBU

L S:
That is one verson of the song, the ones I like, the girl leaves the rich Gyjzo and runs off with the Romanichal...
If you read the thread with care, you would see, lo these many years ago, we were saying, know the history not censor the songs... the history is that back to the middle ages Roma in western Europe where hanged for breathing the air... adds a touch of irony to the song, n'est pas?
All the best

27 Jun 05 - 07:21 PM (#1511294)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: InOBU

PS By the way L.S.... check out me new song on the post Lorcan Otway new project Amy Gray... it is more up to date than this old thread.

28 Jun 05 - 07:10 PM (#1512053)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: MartinRyan

Odd to find my posting at the top of this thread...


29 Jun 05 - 03:10 AM (#1512233)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Big Al Whittle

with all these different versions its amazing there isn't one, where the girl says, all right Dad I'll come home - that bloody whistling is starting to get to me.....

29 Jun 05 - 04:53 AM (#1512272)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Le Scaramouche

He's loaded, so I bet she learned to live with it. Heck, could even buy diamond earplugs.

30 Jun 05 - 01:23 AM (#1513031)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: LadyJean

Long ago, I read an Irish folktale about a princess who is presented with her choice of kings. The king of the tinkers is included in the group to humiliate him. But he's the man the princess chooses, and she follows him, barefoot across the land, until he proves to be a real king, with a castle and lands, who was looking for a wife who would love him for himself.

30 Jun 05 - 04:15 AM (#1513079)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Big Al Whittle

yeh I've done a song writing competition that was a bit like that, though without the happy ending.

12 Nov 06 - 02:41 PM (#1883970)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: GUEST,Whistling Gypsy Rover

I read your blog on a song called The Gyspsy Rover (July 00). These things never seem to go away. In answer to your concern about "everything being hunky-dory when the father finds out the Gypsy is rich", I think you misinterpreted the song. The Gypsy Rover is not rich in terms of money or lands. By "lord of these lands all over", it means that he is free to wander all through the open country at will. He has no title to these lands, he just uses them for his own pleasure. Wanderlust. It is a common desire to think of the poor wanderer as "owning" the lands about him. And as far as "was he a real Gypsy"? Maybe, but maybe not. All people who went a'wandering were said to be gypsies. Gypsy was more likely a lifestyle than a race. Real gypsies were found more in the Balkans than in Ireland or Britain though stories about them travelled far in song and poetry.

12 Nov 06 - 02:46 PM (#1883978)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: GUEST,Gassed

Ah! Always the hunt for prejudice! Always the hunt for some hidden racial meaning. The inquisition is going strong! Hail The Inquisition!

12 Nov 06 - 03:57 PM (#1884060)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: GUEST,memyself

Oh come on, Gassed - I've just read the entire thread, and there may have been some half-hearted "hunt for some hidden racial meaning" in a few threads back in 2000 - it's now '06, by the way - but it's mostly been a meandering conversation about everything from pet dogs to picturesque deaths of memorable characters. No one seems terribly worked up about the racial business - not as worked up as you seem to be, anyway.

12 Nov 06 - 04:12 PM (#1884070)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: skarpi

Hallo all , I heard that this a Scottish song , who some Irishman
took over to Ireland ?? but thats the story ,,

but I sang it like this

The whistling gypsy came over the hill
Down through the valley so shady,
He whistled and he sang
'til the greenwoods rang,
And he won the heart of a lady.

Ah-re-do, ah-re-dora day,
Ah-re-do, ah-re-da-ay
He whistled and he sang
'til the greenwoods rang,
And he won the heart of a lady.

She left her father's castle gates
She left her own true lover
She left her servants and her state
To follow the gypsy rover.


Her father saddled up his fastest steed
And roamed the valleys all over
Sought his daughter at great speed
And the whistling gypsy rover.


He came at last to a mansion fine,
Down by the river Claydee
And there was music and there was wine,
For the gypsy and his lady.


"He is no gypsy, my father" she said
"But lord of these lands all over,
And I shall stay 'til my dying day
With my whistling gypsy rover."


but its only me

All the best Skarpi Iceland

12 Nov 06 - 06:19 PM (#1884192)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: GUEST,memyself

Virtually the same as the lyrics posted back in '02 - except those don't contain the mysterious term "Violag" - must be the name of the gypsy, I suppose.

12 Nov 06 - 06:28 PM (#1884201)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Snuffy

That's not an "o" it's a letter called "eth" and is a d with a crosspiece ð - used in icelandic for a soft "th" sound. (The hard "th" is called "thorn" and looks like a p or y - þ)

I guess viðlag means chorus

13 Nov 06 - 01:27 AM (#1884418)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: skarpi

hallo all


ð and þ are used in Icelandic both letters

all the best Skarpi Iceland

13 Nov 06 - 09:00 AM (#1884619)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: GUEST,memyself

That gypsy is always going to be Violag to me!

30 Jan 07 - 05:01 PM (#1952880)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?

31 Jan 07 - 12:47 AM (#1953160)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Jim Lad

The gypsies who camped around my neck of the woods weren't int PC all that much either.

31 Jan 07 - 01:42 AM (#1953170)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Gurney

The version under discussion seems to me to be prejudiced all right, but not about race but about position. She runs off with 'one of them' but it turns out ok, because he's really 'one of us!'

The whole thing is just a variant in a huge family of songs, in many of which the father/husband challenges the lover to a duel (and wins) or simply runs the bloke through, and sometimes her as well, for talking back. This is one that ends happily, so perhaps we shouldn't knock it.

Certainly we shouldn't look for modern mores in songs which are centuries old. Everyone is a child of their time.

31 Jan 07 - 04:12 AM (#1953236)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: dianavan

Very interesting thread.

I think it must have been written by an Irish traveller.

I think the daughter was saying,

Don't call him a gypsy father, he was born of this earth, and everywhere he steps he becomes the prince of the earth. He is welcomed with wine and song in mansions finer than your own.

To me it fits with the travellers philosophy and maybe even their history of metal workers in the castles of ancient kings. Of course a father would not want his daughter to run off with a landless, musician but she says he is lord of all.

31 Jan 07 - 04:22 AM (#1953245)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Tradsinger

One gypsy I knew objected to hearing the song 'Raggle Taggle Gypsies' as he considered that description to be demeaning to gypsies. Interesting.

31 Jan 07 - 04:30 AM (#1953251)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Scrump

Certainly we shouldn't look for modern mores in songs which are centuries old. Everyone is a child of their time.

I agree. One problem is that some people do this, i.e. try to apply modern 'rules' to old songs, and try to stop people singing them for fear of offending people. Yes, there are some songs that would be offensive because of the language used, but others where it's not so easy to draw the line between what is offensive. As was said in another thread recently, there would be very few old songs we could sing if we take this modern 'puritanism' to extremes, as some folk are wont to do.

As long as the singer is aware of the song's context in history, and sensitive to modern views, and takes the trouble to explain to the audience, I don't see a problem myself (with the exception of certain songs which may be directly insulting to people).

In the case of the Whistling Gypsy / Gypsy Rover, I never really thought of it as being offensive. I thought of the 'gypsy' as a romantic, roving blade type of character, which seems complimentary to me rather than derogatory, but I suppose it depends on your view.

I think the song mocks the rich father for looking down on the gypsy, and trying to stop his daughter running off with him, rather than being derogatory to the 'gypsy' himself, or the gypsy people. The message I get from it is that the daughter fell in love with a man she believed to be a gypsy, and it was only later she found out he was a rich man in disguise (or something like that).

Similar to "Hi for the Beggarman", where a beggar turns out to be rich. Again the story is about a girl who falls for a poor man (the beggar) and pokes fun at her parents for trying to stop the match. The message is "love is more important than money".

(Apologies if these points were made above, I only had time to skim through the posts).

15 Sep 08 - 05:46 AM (#2440701)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: romany man

As i sit quietly reading threads (yes i can read and do joined up writing) I am amazed at how often threads turn to the travelling fraternity, most ideas are split, we are either theiving no good na'do wells, or we are a romantic musical people with a way of life others aspire to, well folks , we react to given situations, we can be either, but hey dont put us all in one box, our history (in uk) goes back into the deep dark realms, often we had to poach, rob or beg to live, but we are a proud race, we like to work for our crust. We tend to stick together wether settled or travelling, sadly thanks to legilation, its hard to travel, there are no more stopping places those that do travel often harrassed to the point of madness, as for the threads relating to irish and the like travellers, yes there is a difference, between all of us, also, the owning of land issue is a case in point, many romanies have bought land thinking they would be able to live on it, i can only quote a case that my family were involved in, uncle bought land next to a non gypsy man who had three mobile homes on it and a trnsport company parking their lorries in it, uncle thought planning permission would be a doddle, oh no, he was told outright, NO GYPSIES ever got planning here, well 20 years later, still no planning, BUT we got a letter last week offering to buy the land so that a major housing developer could put 20 houses on the site, HHMM prejudice ? oh no just business, and how many of you want a gypsy living next door, daily we face prejudice and even on tv the PC brigade allow the calling of names directed at us, watch the top gear reruns where they take a caravan on the road, listen for the number of times james may calls us "pikeies" etc, No folks the life of a gypsy has never been easy and never will, we know it , what can we do nothing.
Back to the song we tend to "own" the land we are stopping on, not literally but as we are there at that point of time all we roam on is ours, then when we leave its only remembered as a good stopping place or a bad one, so he could have been the lord at that time,
the times that the song relates to are long gone, but we all tend to put todays thought on old writings,

15 Sep 08 - 05:56 AM (#2440706)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Big Al Whittle

I'm predjudiced against anybody who whistles. My father used to whisle a lot, and he was part gypsy. Can't bleeding rove far enough as far I'm concerned, once they start whistling.

I suppose if you are a Whistling Gypsy Rover, and that's your gig - fair enough - but someone like Roger Whittaker, I can see no excuse for.

15 Sep 08 - 10:03 AM (#2440939)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: romany man

oh look something else we cant do, i will add that one to the list

15 Sep 08 - 11:14 AM (#2441023)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Big Al Whittle

The whistling gypsy came over the hill.....

quite a trick, mind you I could do stuff like that when I was younger.

15 Sep 08 - 01:44 PM (#2441147)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Richard Bridge

Oh, good riposte, Romany Man!

15 Sep 08 - 05:21 PM (#2441401)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: romany man

thank you richard hope you well

08 Feb 14 - 03:51 AM (#3599387)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: GUEST,John Cowan

I heard this performed in Scottish Gaelic by a singer named Kennedy at the Spencertown Academy in New York State, probably back in the 80s. He explained that this was the "wife runs away, husband goes after her, captures her and her lover, kills him, locks her in a hut for the rest of her life" version from which the modern Gypsy Rover descends. He had a very haunting voice, though I couldn't follow one word of the lyrics.

08 Feb 14 - 05:50 AM (#3599409)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: GUEST,Eliza

I remember as a small girl listening to this song on the radio, and really loving it. Just after the war, where I lived in Middlesex (west of London) a huge procession of pony-drawn traditional 'gypsy' caravans arrived every Spring and drew up on our central green. These folk were always called The Gypsies, and the general feeling was pleasure that they'd come again, just like the swallows. They were a part of our seasonal life. The women would come round selling pegs and bunches of heather etc, and were received with courtesy and kindness on the whole. My mother (being Irish) was always glad to see them and have a natter. Gypsies were seen as romantic and their life as very attractive and carefree (it was probably hard in reality though!). This song could be summed up in that one word - Romantic. A Gypsy man would be regarded as exotic, handsome (because they were quite dark-skinned and had a healthy look from outdoor living) and yes, sexy. There was no intention or undertone of prejudice, racism, despising or any other nasty attitude. It is just an expression of a young woman's feeling of freedom and earthiness at being with a man like that. People are far too over-sensitive and find offence where there never was any, not in those halcyon days anyway.

08 Feb 14 - 09:10 AM (#3599447)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Jim Carroll

Just completed this note in preparation for putting our Clare song collection up on the County Library website in a couple of months
Will be tackling 'The Whistling Gypsy later
Always though the idea of someone running off with a good looking woman common sense and good taste - can't see where the prejudice comes in.
Your Borrowesque description of Gypsy life has been the plague of real Gypsies existence for centuries.
I agree with you about the 'over-sensitivity', but George Borrow created a hell of an image for them to live up to.   
Jim Carroll

Auld Scoláire Hat – Susie Cleary
This was written as 'My Old Killarney Hat', by Dublin baritone songwriter, Leo Maguire (1903 – 1985)
Maguire was born in Dublin's inner city, trained as a baritone under Vincent O'Brien, John McCormack's voice teacher. For many years he performed with the Dublin Operatic Society
He wrote over 100 songs, his best known being "The Whistling Gypsy", a rewrite if the Child Ballad 'The Gypsy Laddie' (Child200)
Maguire also wrote parodies and humorous songs under the name Sylvester Gaffney.

08 Feb 14 - 09:36 AM (#3599451)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: GUEST,Eliza

Jim, but those were 'real' gypsies that I described, not an image of them. Their lives were lived in front of our noses (well, parked on the green for some weeks in our district) And one other point:- they obviously chose that existence (as do gypsies today) After all, if life on the road was too arduous for them, there was nothing to stop them putting down roots and getting jobs. Just after the war there were jobs galore for able-bodied men. Schools were and are free. Houses could be rented. My father rented ours and worked hard to pay the rent. Their existence was their choice, so presumably they liked things that way. I'm just saying that we felt no animosity towards them. If they didn't want to present this 'image', why on earth go round in beautifully painted horse-drawn caravans, wearing unusual clothes and speaking a strange language? If one persists in being different, and I'm all for that, then people will romanticise and fantasise about ones life. Nowadays of course they face racism, ostracism and antagonism.
By the way, in the house at the bottom of our garden lives a gypsy family (their own name for themselves) who have decided to settle in our village. They keep hens and we buy their eggs. Their 2 small children are delightful. Dad looks like a pirate with a large ring in one ear and a coloured scarf round his head. He helped my husband mend our fence last year. So please don't think that 1) I know nothing about gypsies 'in the flesh' or 2) I have any prejudices about them.

08 Feb 14 - 11:15 AM (#3599490)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Jim Carroll

I don't think that you do Eliza - sorry for giving the impression that I did, but much of what you are describing is taken by many to be how "real Gypsies" should be, and castigate those who aren't, which creats problems.
We've been on idyllic sites (especially when its not raining) where Travellers have been given a reasonable site and good facilities and are happw where they are - the Winterbourne site outside Bristol was the last time we worked in depth with a singer - magic!
However, our main experiences were in urban settings with rat-infested sites with no running water and sanitation, constant harassment by the police and a permanent fear of having bricks, or even fire bombs thrown through their windows.
The John Major Government did away with the legal requirement for all councils to provide sites and Travellers today are no longer protected by the law as far as having something as fundamental as having a place to stop is concerned.
Things are ten times worse in Ireland - in our town, the police have been known to visit all the pubs when Travellers are seen in the area and instruct the publicans to lock the doors and only allow people they recognise onto the premises - failure to do so means that police will not respond to calls for assistance should trouble break out.
"their own name for themselves"
I'm always a little wary of this - I'm well aware of the different origins of various groups of Travellers, but I've seen far too often these differences being used by Gypsies "It wasn't us - it must have been the "tinks, nackers, pavvies, mumphers..." or whatever abusive term people have for non-settled families.   
English Gypsies were notorious for this sort of scapegoating prejudice at one time.
In reality, there are very few pure-bred Gypsies nowadays - there haven't been for along time.
Today's Travellers all face the same problem - getting a decent stopping place and being treated as human beings.
Sorry to have given the wrong interpretation of your views and experiences, if I have - just coming to the end of a very unpleasant argument with someone who is supporting the ethnic cleansing of Israeli Bedouins - it's left a nasty taste in my mouth
Best wishes
Jim Carroll

08 Feb 14 - 12:44 PM (#3599514)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: GUEST,Eliza

I should think it did leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth Jim. It never ceases to amaze me, the lengths some people will go to in their (usually totally ignorant) condemnation of their fellow men/women. It's evil in my opinion. Any hatred is evil. And the travellers, gypsies etc require what any of us do, a decent place to sleep, clean and sanitary toilet facilities, safety and peace. But above all, kindness and understanding from their fellow human beings. I saw a lot of nastiness while prison visiting. The non-travelling inmates hated the travellers and called them Pykies. They said they were dirty and dishonest(!!!!) (This from serial burglars and drug dealers who actually had the most disgusting ways of concealing drugs, needles etc.) Kindness is rather an old-fashioned concept nowadays, but I think it's the most important virtue to have and cultivate.
Best wishes to you too Jim.

08 Feb 14 - 01:15 PM (#3599525)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Jim Carroll

Look down the notes for Pat's photograph of the pub door window -still common in parts of England.
The photo was taken during a travellers campaign to make such signs illegal - nowadays they take the form of "no Travellers served" hung on mirrors behind bars and quickly removed if a policeman or official looking individual comes in
Jim Carroll

08 Feb 14 - 10:02 PM (#3599636)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Van

Jim get out more there are real Gypsies out there. Not travellers, and never confuse the two. I have three friends, two of whom call themselves Roma and one who calls herself a Gypsy. They are from Eastern Europe where they are regarded as a separate race. They call themselves my three wives. There is a fourth recently wishing to join us.

09 Feb 14 - 03:16 AM (#3599686)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Jim Carroll

Have got out more - thirty odd years more, so please don't tell...grandmother - eggs etc.
In the xenophobic world that we live in today - where it has become almost a crime to be 'different' "Real Gypsies" has become a form of racism - sometimes a frighting as Aryan - non Aryan.
We've seen this up close over the three decades we worked with Travellers.
Basically there is no important difference between the life-styles and problems of all Travellers today - they are all subject to extreme persecution.
We saw the results of this demonstrated in a spectacular fashion in London in the 1980s.
A group of Irish Travellers we were recording set up an organisation called 'The London Roadside Travellers', aimed at improving conditions for those residing mainly in East London.
They campaigned for permanent halting sites for the large number of mixed English, Scots Welsh and Irish Travellers in the area and won the support of the GLC and one of the local Councils, who entered into negotiations with the Government to raise money to establish several sites.
When some of these were completed the Council came to the group and told them they were unable to deal with them so they were not officially recognised - they would only turn the sites over to The Gypsy Council - the English Travellers group.
The Gypsy Council, who in those days adopted the "real Gypsy" line, turned the new sites over to English Gypsies, who by and large were still travelling in the rural areas surrounding London.
After a short time of settling the sites, the new occupants decided to move back on the road en-mass and sold their sites to the people who had fought for them in the first place.
Travellers are travellers and until that fact is recognised that they all share the same problems, the real and non Gypsy nonsense will continue to act as a divide-and-conquer crowbar to keep travellers in the squalid conditions in which they are forced to live.
Please don't try to tell me that I need to "get out more" - been there - done that, don't need to rely on romantic and mystical garbage.
One of the most telling statements to come out of the Radio Ballad, The Travelling people was when the Midlands resident house-dweller told the interviewer - "They can't be bothered to live like us... they're not real gypsies anyway - cue Spanish guitars and clicking castanets!!!
Jim Carroll

09 Feb 14 - 01:47 PM (#3599821)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: MGM·Lion

I doubt strongly whether "Travellers by appointment only" has anything to do with "travellers" in the sense of gypsies, Roma, The Travelling People, &c [what sort of "appointments" would any of these be required to make, & for what purpose? to get served in the bar -- oh, come on!].

It clearly refers to sales reps, or, in earlier parlance, "commercial travellers", who would call, often, unless pre-empted by an appointments system, at inconvenient times, trying to sell particular branded drinks &c to the publican —— Represented in popular memory by Clarence Wright's "Good morning! Nice day!" character in Tommy Handley's popular ITMA* comic programme of the 1940s.

I don't deny that there have been many offensive notices on pub doors regarding who wasn't welcome within. But this is clearly not an example of one of them.


*= "It's That Man Again". Nothing to do with the Irish Traditional Music Association ~~ I recall a thread on that somewhat unfortunate confusion not all that long since!

09 Feb 14 - 01:55 PM (#3599822)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: MGM·Lion

Several of Dorothy L Sayers 1930s detective short stories, apart from the better-known Lord Peter Wimsey series, feature one Montague Egg, an observant "traveller in wines & spirits" -- a respectable and hardworking young middle-class salesman, well-known at the pubs, hotels and catering establishments which he visits, always by appointment.

09 Feb 14 - 03:04 PM (#3599838)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Jim Carroll

"It clearly refers to sales reps, or, in earlier parlance"
No it doesn't Mike - the pub was forced to take down the No Travellers sign and put up an ambiguous one
Taking the photo was part of the campaign to get the signs made illegal
We really are aware of the circumstances in the area it was taken.
Get a little tired of people who don't like or know Travellers telling us what's what - haven't forgotten your support for the ethnic cleanser.
Sorry - us boring people tend to have long memories.
Jim Carroll

09 Feb 14 - 09:54 PM (#3599907)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Van

I don't think that my Roma friends would see me as racist. They would certainly not wish to be confused with travellers. You mix with your people, I mix with mine.

10 Feb 14 - 03:19 AM (#3599942)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: MGM·Lion

Pity you didn't get a pic of the original one then, Jim. The present one as shown is not 'ambiguous', but can only have the interpretation I put on it. Nobody, but nobody, makes an 'appointment' to get served in a pub; but a sign refusing to see reps except by appointment is quite usual. I remain entirely unconvinced unless you can produce a pic of the sign you claim the pub to have been 'forced' [by whom, pray?] to replace with this one.


10 Feb 14 - 03:29 AM (#3599945)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: MGM·Lion

... e.g, google this ref ~~~


10 Feb 14 - 03:52 AM (#3599947)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Jim Carroll

"Pity you didn't get a pic of the original one then, Jim"
The photo was chosen, as all the other were, in relation to our work with the singers on the CD
It was a pub that had refused service to all of them at one time or another and its wording was a running joke between them - "Must go and make an appointment....!" was an indication that they were heading off for a drink.
The photograph was taken about three years after the campaign to remove the notices had ceased and remained there several years longer.
Far from there being only one interpretation, a number of people who have the CD have commented on the notice, you are the only one who has ever raised a question about its interpretation - ah well, I suppose some people only see what they want to.
Maybe I'm naive in believing that anybody who has had anything to do with Traveller singers were aware of the continuing forms of prejudice still operating against them.
You remain unconvinced?
In the early eighties the areas in East London where we were recording Travellers was bristling with "No Traveller" signs - we could spend half a night looking for pubs along the Mile End Road that would serve us when we went for a drink with Travellers.
The London Roadside Group, with the support of The GLC, a couple of Students and a friendly solicitor, mounted a campaign to get the signs removed.
Hackney Council, then Labour controlled, gave them its support and sent representatives around to visit those with signs and put pressure on them to take them down - most did, in view of having their to apply for renewal of their licences.
That particular pub did what some of them did and toned down the wording, first it changed it to "no troublesome Travellers" and after further pressure, settled on that one - and continued to refuse to serve Travellers up to the point when Major and his mob removed the somewhat leaky umbrella of the 1968 Caravan and Camping Act, and all the Travellers we knew fled London in panic - the beginning of the ethnic cleansing of Travellers in Britain.
Those were, of course, the halcyon days before Thatcher (would-be Mrs Pinochet) and her thugs got her claws into peoples' consciences.   
"You mix with your people, I mix with mine"
I mix with anybody Van - I don't ask for copies of their family trees before I drink with them.
Takes all kinds.
Jim Carroll

10 Feb 14 - 03:55 AM (#3599949)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: MGM·Lion

... and note following from 'sensagent' dictionary website ~~

synonyms - sales representative
sales representative (n.)

bagman, representative, roadman, salesman, salesperson, sales rep, saleswoman, commercial traveler (American), commercial traveller (British), rep (informal, abbreviation), traveler (American), traveling salesman (American), traveling saleswoman (American), traveller (ellipsis, British), travelling salesman (British), travelling saleswoman (British)

10 Feb 14 - 04:04 AM (#3599951)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: MGM·Lion

"a number of people who have the CD have commented on the notice, you are the only one who has ever raised a question about its interpretation -

ah well, I suppose some people only see what they want to."
Indeed, Jim. But works both ways, perhaps, in re yourselves & those who have commented previously?

Think about it...

10 Feb 14 - 04:09 AM (#3599954)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: MGM·Lion

... and I have already said, see above 9 feb 0147pm, that I make no denial of the fact that there have been far too many examples of disgracefully discriminatory signs outside pubs [& all sorts of other venues]. I just maintain this to have been an ill-chosen example.


10 Feb 14 - 04:39 AM (#3599966)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Jim Carroll

As I said Mike - we have nothing to say to each other
Jim Carroll

10 Feb 14 - 04:49 AM (#3599970)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: MGM·Lion

Then why are you saying it, pray? You could at least try to be consistent: but in this instance, after several exchanges, this seems a particularly crass get-out when losing an argument.

Personally I don't give a flying u·no·wot if you speak to me or not. Sulk in your corner if you choose. But I remain a free agent, & shall address you or not as I choose. So live with it.

& ɷɷɷɷɷ's 2U.

Another of my infantile manifestations for you to feel so superior about in your monumental dignity ~~ always willing to oblige!


10 Feb 14 - 04:49 AM (#3599971)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Jim Carroll

Sorry - misposted
I have given you the facts of the notices as I understand and experienced them, just as I gave similar information to your ethnic cleansing friend when he deliberately opened a thread to prove they never existed - he still maintains that argument.
Look up his "reasoned and intelligent" arguments on the matter if you wish - I'm sure they're still on file.
As I said - we have nothing to say to each other (my version of a "long spoon" I suppose).
Jim Carroll

10 Feb 14 - 05:26 AM (#3599980)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: MGM·Lion

Then for pity's sake stop saying "nothing" to me. Don't you know what "nothing" means?

AND, as I said, I shall decide what I may have to say as I see fit, to whomever I may see fit, without soliciting the leave of you, O Big·Head·&·Little·Wit*


*(character, in case you didn't know, in some Mummers' Plays, so appropriate here on a folk forum -- esp for you!)

10 Feb 14 - 05:40 AM (#3599984)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Jim Carroll

" O Big·Head·&·Little·Wit"
Tsk Tsk - second childhood showing again
Jim Carroll

10 Feb 14 - 05:49 AM (#3599987)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: MGM·Lion

I'd pre-empted that comment; but did Ducky-Features notice?

And there he goes again, with his Big Head & his Little Wit, and his nothing to say to me! Talk about predictable!

Ain't he just the Dilly·Dilly·Duckling...!

(Milton Ager / Jack Yellen)

Ain't [s]he sweet?...
Now I ask you very confidentially
Ain't [s]he sweet?


10 Feb 14 - 06:24 AM (#3599995)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Van

I think that the point I was trying to make, rather clumsily was that my friends are Roma and are not travellers. They are treated as foreigners in their own countries. No need to upset each other.

10 Feb 14 - 07:18 AM (#3600010)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Jim Carroll

"No need to upset each other."
I hope not Van - not on my part certainly.
I am well aware of the differences in culture of the various Travelling groups in Britain, though I sometimes think those differences are misunderstood.
For instance, our main experiences are with Irish and Scots Travellers who have been on the roads for many centuries and have their own strong distinctive cultures.
I can see no reason why differences in culture should act as a barrier between these groups and it disturbs me greatly when those differences are used to denigrate all Travellers: Gypsies, Rom, Tinker.... whoever.
All of their traditional ways of life are now faced with extinction at present and one of the ways to hurry that extinction has been to exploit the differences.
The London Roadside Travellers group was made up of English and Welsh Gypsies and Irish and Scots Travellers; together they won decent sites for London Travellers and nearly managed to get the racist signs removed - an important lesson, as far as I'm concerned.
Divide and conquer and bigotry have been the weapon of the establishment for a long time now.
Sorry about the noisy child in the background - we are expecting the baby-minder at any minute!
Jim Carroll

10 Feb 14 - 08:20 AM (#3600030)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: MGM·Lion



Crushed & wounded by the MORDANT< wit!!

Nothing for it ~~ Off Down The Garden To Eat Worms -- again!

And the really sad thing -- it really does think it's the Poossikatz Welligogs, you know. Big Head & Little Wit and predictable lefty wanker...

Oh, grow up, Carroll ··· infantile idiot that you are ··· & do the world a favour.

But don't forget you have nothing to say to me, will you now? Come on now. Self-control! Firm grip!...

Dere's a good boy...

10 Feb 14 - 08:43 AM (#3600036)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: GUEST,Eliza

Jim, I sympathise entirely with victims of overt and covert prejudice. As you know, my husband is a black African chap, and if ever I saw a half-hidden sign in a pub, cafe or restaurant 'No blacks served here' there'd be murder committed. And I applaud your defence of Roma, travellers and gypsies of all kinds. It's easy for those not involved to refuse to see the prejudice, and to say it doesn't exist. But the victims themselves must know, they're the ones who are ostracised and shunned. I think it's terrible that any group in our 'enlightened' society should be treated as inferior, unwelcome or fit for abuse. When will people grow up, civilise themselves and become kinder?

10 Feb 14 - 09:08 AM (#3600046)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Van

The degree of prejudice that still exists in society is hard to believe. After my wife died and I ended back on the market I went about with a Roma woman, east European, I then became aware of how she was treated and of how many people are not colour blind. Currently my companion is black (her choice of description) and again I see how we are treated, places it is better to avoid etc. It seems too easy to believe that all that disappeared years ago.

10 Feb 14 - 01:13 PM (#3600115)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Jim Carroll

We recorded accounts of dawn raids on site with no other purpose than to make their stoping in the area uncomfortable
One friend, a singer named Mikeen McCarthy's fifteen year old song was stopped by the police in London, told he fitted the description of a suspected burglar in the Midlands, and driven to Birmingham, where he was released without charge and left to make his own way back to London.
It was a regular occurrence for Travellers to be asked to "donate" to the "police fund" in order to be left in peace.
I was told by a work-mate that his brother-in-law and friends intended to fire-bomb an illegal stopping place on Mitcham Common.
I went to the police and reported the matter
Luckily I also went to the local Travellers site where a Gypsy Concil man was stopping - he organised a watch on the on the site and the raid never took place.
As far as we knew, the police did nothing, but three weeks after we had reported it we had a visit from a lone policeman whose main interest was to find out why we were "consorting with these people in the first place".   
At the time we were working with Travellers the overwhelmingly most common crime was driving without tax and insurance, yet they were subject to regular harassment.
The Gypsy Councilman I mentioned once carried out an investigation into the piles of rubbish on their site (the oldest continually settled site in London - George Borrow wrote about it)   
The G.C. man traced the fridges, cookers, abandoned cars... etc, directly back to local householders who were using the site as a rubbish dump.
Sorry to go on so long - it really does get me going.
Van - I really do sympathise with your position - I lived in London long enough to know first hand that you are not alone in your situation
Jim Carroll

10 Feb 14 - 01:31 PM (#3600123)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: GUEST,Eliza

We are lucky here in our area, my husband has met with no sort of racism. But next Monday he's going down to London on his own to renew his Ivory Coast passport. I'm not well enough to accompany him, but I've warned him to keep his head down, stay near shops etc (the Embassy is near Hyde Park) and get back home as soon as poss. I do hope he isn't hassled.

10 Feb 14 - 02:52 PM (#3600147)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Jim Carroll

I think I have said this once before Eliza
Racism in London, although common, tends to be passive - vocal rather than active.
I wish you both well.
However anti-Traveller the UK may be, it doesn't measure up in any way to that in Ireland.
You may have read recently of a Roma child being taken away from its parents by the authorities because it had blonde hair and blue eyes - they assumed the child had been kidnapped.
They were forced to returne the child to the family shortly afterwards - it remains to be seen if an enquiry is held into the affair
Let me say that not all Traveller police encounters were as grim as I've outlined.
Our first experience with Travellers was on a site at Ladbroke Grove in West London; it was a long L-shaped strip of waste land that stretched beneath the arterial road carrying traffic out of London to the West Country.
In those days the law was that illegally camped Travellers had to be served a two-week notice to quit, after which they would be escorted off by the police nd the Council.
The people we were recording had all been swerved notice and we went to witness and photograph the eviction.
The 30-odd familes put up no resistance and drove off dutifully.
A the task drew to a close one of the councilmen noticed a lone caravan at the L-junction in the distance.
As he walked towards it, it drove onto the site, followed by all the thirty-odd families who had just been evicted - they'd driven around the block and re-entered the site from the other end - winning another two weeks plus before they could be evicted again.
A few months later we met some of them in one of the poshest parts of London at Harrow-on-the Hill.
The family was taking part in protest overnight stops in order to draw attention to the lack of stopping places.
They had driven onto a piece of land in the centre of the town meaning to stay the night and leave the following day.
In a panic, the local council ordered a couple of enormous metal skips to block the entrance to the land in order to prevent more Travellers moving on.
As the skip delivery vehicle lowered the second skip into place, the operative's hand slipped and the skip fell out of control, wedging itself between the first one and a sturdy brick wall.
It was nearly a month before the council could arrange for the wall to be taken down, the skips removed and the Travellers sent on their way.
The incident made it's way into Traveller folklore.
Good days!!
Jim Carroll

10 Feb 14 - 08:18 PM (#3600238)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Joe_F

It seems to me that there are two bits of folklore here:
1. Traveling men (bums in general; Gypsies, traveling salesmen, soldiers, & sailors in particular) have been around and are better at satisfying women sexually than homebodies are.
2. If you are hospitable to a traveling man, making him at home in your house or your body, he may turn out to be rich, or an angel (like the ones in Sodom), or an outlaw (Pretty Boy Floyd), and then you will be rewarded for your charity. Of course, he more likely will turn out not to be, but never mind; this is a very old & charming kind of propaganda.

10 Feb 14 - 08:38 PM (#3600242)
Subject: RE: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
From: Lighter

Great observations, Joe!

05 Jan 16 - 07:36 PM (#3763110)
Subject: Back to An Spailpín Fánach
From: AmyLove

I've found varying lyrics for An Spailpín Fánach. I'm going to post a couple of them here in case anyone finds them useful and/or has any comments regarding the variations. First, some other links to yet more variations (I'm sure there's a lot of overlap. I haven't examined all these lyrics closely.):










And here are the two sets of lyrics I've chosen to post, with the links above the lyrics:


Is Spailpin aerach tréitheach mise
agus bígí soláthar mná dhom,
Mar a scaipfinn an síol faoi dhó san Earrach
in éadan na dtaltaí bána,
Mar a scaipfinn an síol faoi dhó san Earrach
in éadan na dtaltaí bána,
Mo lámha ar an gcéachta a'm i ndiaidh na gcapall
agus réapfainnse cnoic le fána.

Is an chéad lá in Éirinn dár liostáil mise,
ó bhí mé súgach sásta,
Is an dara lá dár liostáil mise
ó bhí mé buartha cráite,
Ach an tríú lá dár liostáil mise,
thabharfainn cúig céad punt ar fhágáil,
Ach dtá dtugainn sin is ar oiread eile
ní raibh mo phas le fáil agam.

Is mo chúig chéad slán leat a dhúithe m'athar
Is go deo deo don oileán grámhar
'S Don scata fear óg atá 'mo dhiadh ag baile
Nár chlois orm in am an gháthair
Tá Bleá Cliath dóite is tóigfear Gaillimh
Beidh lasadh a'inne ar thinnte cnámha
Beidh fíon agus beoir ar bord ag m'athair
Sin cabhair ag an Spailpín Fánach.

Agus bhí mise lá breá ar mhargadh Chill Channigh
Agus tháinig sé go trom ag básiteach
Is tharraing mé isteach is chuir mé cúl le balla
Agus thosaigh mé ag glaoch na gcárta
Mar ghlaoidh isteach orm bean 'a leanna
Ag súil is go nólfainn ma phaighe
Is dheamhan deor dár glaoiadh as sin go maidin
Nach raibh síos in aghaidh an Spailpín Fánach.

Is bhí mise lá breá thíos I nGaillimh
Is bhí an abhainn ag góil le fána
Bhí an breac is an eascain is an beartín slat ann
Is chuile ní dhá bhréachtha
Is bhí mná óga ann go múinte tóigthe
Said a bhí tanaí tláith deas
Ach dheamhan bean óg dhá suidhfinnse leí
Nach gcuirfinn an dubh ar an mbán di.

Agus b'fhuide liomsa lá bhéinn i dteach gan charaid
Ná bliain mhór fhada is ráithe
Mar is buachaillín aerach súgach meanmnach
A bhréagfadh an bhruinneall mhánla
Is a dhá bhean déag a bhí ag éad is ag iomaí liom,
ag súil le tairfe mo láidhe,
B'é paidir na caillí nuair a théinn thar a' táirseach,
"Now behave yourself, a Spailpín Fánach."


Im spailpín fanach ' fágadh mise,
A' seasamh ar mo shláinte,
A' siúl a' drúchta go moch ar maidin
Is a' bailiú galair ráithe.
Ní ficfar corán im láimh chun bainte,
Súiste na feac beag rámhainne
Ach colours na Frainc' os cionn mo leapan
Agus píce 'gam chun sáite.

Go deo, deo 'rís, ní raghad go Caiseal,
A' díol ná a' réic mo shláinte,
Ná 'r mhargadh na saoire im shuí cois falla,
Im scaoinse ar leataoibh sráide,
Bodairí na tíre a' téacht ar a gcapaill,
Dhá fhiathraí ' bhfuilim haidhráltha,
Seo téanam chun siúil, tá 'n cúrsa fada,
Seo ar siúl an Spailpín Fánach.

Go Calainn nuair ' théim 's mo hook im ghlaic
'S me 'nsúd i dtosach geárrtha,
'S nuair ' théim go Dúrlas sé 'n liú ' bhíonn acu,
Seo chughainn an Spailpín Fánach!
Cruinneó' mé ciall agus triallfad abhaile
Agus cloífead seal lem mhaithrín
'S go brách aríst ní glaofar m' ainm
Sa tír seo im Spailpín Fánach.

Mo chúig céad slán chun dúthaí m' athar
Agus chun an oileáin ghrámhair,
Is chun buachaillí na Cúlach, os dóibh nár mhiste
In aimsir chasta na ngárd' ann;
Ach anois ó tháim im chadhain bhocht dealbh
I measc na ndúichí fáin seo,
'S é mo chumha thrí mo chroí go bhfuair mé 'n ghairm
' Bheith riamh im Spailpín Fánach.

'S i gCiarraí 'n ghrinn do gheofaí an ainnir,
Go mb'fhonn le fear suí láimh léi,
'na mbeadh lasadh thrí lítis 'na gnaoí mar eala
'S a cúl fionn fada fáinneach,
A gile-phíb 's a héadan greanta
Is a béilín deas mar shnáthaid
'S muar go mb' fheárr liom í na straoill ó Chalainn
Go mbeadh na céadta púnt le fáil léi.

Dá dtagadh an Francach anall thar caise
Is a champa daingean, láidir,
Agus Boc Ó Gráda chúinn abhaile
Agus Tadhg bocht fial Ó Dála',
Bheadh bearaicí 'n rí go leir dá leagadh
Agus Yeomen againn da gcárnadh,
Go mbeadh Sasanaigh go fann is Clanna Ghael go teann
Agus Éire ag an Spailpín Fánach.