Irish folk music

why do alot of songs form ireland seem to have “jibberish” in the chorus,“wack fol de diddle de di dol dey” or things of this sort? is it just an infusion of gealic? or whats does it just sound fun? whats the dealio?

thanks in advnced

my guess is it is a test of how drunk you get at the pub: if you can still sing the nonsense lyrics correctly and remember all the verses (they have hundreds) in the right order, you may still be served.

I’m pretty sure that the words they use in most Irish folk songs are Gaelic. I was actually wondering the same thing a couple of months ago so I looked up some lyrics and it said that they were of the Gaelic language. It does sound like they are just making up words most of the time though.:stuck_out_tongue:

Some of it is in Gaelic, like the song “Cruiscin Lan”; and some of it’s just phonetic (but beautiful!) nonsense, like “Ar Fol Lol La Lo**”:

** There’s a lilt in the song I sing, there’s laughter and love.
There’s a tang from the sea and blue from heaven above.
Of reason there’s none and why should there be forby?
But the fire in the blood and toes and the light in the eye.

Air fa la la lo horo er fa la la lay.
Air fa la la lo horo er fa la la lay.
Air fa la la lo horo er fa la la lay.
Fa li fa lo horo er fa la la lay.

The heather’s ablaze wi’ bloom the myrtle is sweet.
There’s a song in the air the roads a song at our feet.
So step it along as light as the bird on the wing.
And stepping along let’s join our voices and sing.


And whether the blood be highland, lowland or no.
And whether the skin be white or black as the sloe.
Of kith and of kin we are one be it right be it wrong.
As long as our hearts beat true to the lilt of the song…


The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem do wonderful versions of these songs and many more…:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:

It’s just the way the Irish rap.

Not sure unless it developed from lilting…and here’s an explanation for it.

The technique developed as a way of thwarting the English laws designed to stamp out Irish nationalism. It was a crime to speak the Irish tongue or to sing or play Irish songs, says Seàn.** “Basically, you couldn’t have an Irish instrument in your house.” So people developed diddling or mouth music.**

Irish rap :eek: please no, I hate rap music.

Ever try reading Finnegan’s Wake?

riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.

Sir Tristram, violer d’amores, fr’over the short sea, had passen-
core rearrived from North Armorica on this side the scraggy
isthmus of Europe Minor to wielderfight his penisolate war: nor
had topsawyer’s rocks by the stream Oconee exaggerated themselse to Laurens County’s gorgios while they went doublin their mumper all the time: nor avoice from afire bellowsed mishe mishe to tauftauf thuartpeatrick not yet, though venissoon after, had a kidscad buttended a bland old isaac: not yet, though all’s fair in vanessy, were sosie sesthers wroth with twone nathandjoe.

Rot a peck of pa’s malt had Jhem or Shen brewed by arclight and rory end to the regginbrow was to be seen ringsome on the aquaface. The fall(bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonner-
nuk!) of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later
on life down through all christian minstrelsy. The great fall of the
offwall entailed at such short notice the pftjschute of Finnegan,
erse solid man, that the humptyhillhead of humself prumptly sends
an unquiring one well to the west in quest of his tumptytumtoes:
and their upturnpikepointandplace is at the knock out in the park
where oranges have been laid to rust upon the green since dev-
linsfirst loved livvy.

Now that’s gibberish!

It is…and this might help to understand the way James Joyce writes.

Or it might seem like the explanation is as bad as the gibberish, I wish you luck. :slight_smile:

It sure give my spellchecker a hard time.


riverrun - the course which a river shapes and follows through the landscape.

Adam and Eve’s - old Franciscan church in Dublin (on the south quays of river Liffey).

swerve - an act of swerving, turning aside, or deviating from a course

bend - curve

bay - an embankment or dam to retain water, or divert its course into a mill stream, etc.

commodious - comfortable, spacious, capacious.

a vicious circle* - a situation in which a cause produces a result that itself produces the original cause.

recirculation - a renewed or fresh circulation

environs - surroundings, outskirts

Tristram - Tristan (hero of medieval romance); Sir Tristrem - metrical romance by Thomas the Rhymer from 13. c.

violer - A player of the viol, in early use esp. one attached to the household of the king, a noble, etc.; a fiddler

d’amore (it) - of love

pas encore (fr) - not yet

rearrive - to arrive again

Armorica - name of the north-western part of Gaul, now called Bretagne or Brittany.**

Well, as one of the Clancy Brothers said about a song one time, “The words are mostly nonsense----but the nonsense has a lovely lilt to it.” :slight_smile:

yay clancy brothers!!!i love those sweaters they wore

Aran sweaters that would be, used to be knitted by hand, not so many knit by hand these days.

Explore Stephen Maguire

I’ve read that the ballad singer uses the nonsense words to create a pause and a moment of suspense between the normally sung stanzas in order to help attract the listener’s attention.

You’ll find the same phenomenon to a lesser extent in traditional Scottish and to an even smaller extent in English ballad singing as well; a few songs are entirely made up of nonsense noise; I think these Scottish songs were either sung while working, while spinning thread, etc., and may try to imitate the noise of a Highland bagpipe.

Is it any different from English Renaissance madrigals? What does hey, nonny, nonny mean? Keep, keep, keep, ke-keep? Down, a down, hey down eh down?

Is it any different from English Renaissance madrigals? What does hey, nonny, nonny mean? Keep, keep, keep, ke-keep? Down, a down, hey down eh down?

I would say the concept is the similar. Anyone have their Oxford English Dictionary handy and want to look up what “nonny” means?

i think it means like “fool” or “silly fellow”

how about “she loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah?” what are those “yeahs” doing there? just filling a blank, i’ve always assumed.

Yes ! I suppose yeahs fit in better than yes,yes,yes.

If you want to, just put in the American equivalents…

Sha-boom, sha-boom, yadadadadada,
Sha-boom, sha-boom, yadadadadada…

Scooby doody doo…

Ram shang-a-lang

Doo wha diddy, ditty dum,ditty dum.



Good point, and how about " who put the bop in the bop de bop de bop, who put the ram in the rama rama ding dong " :bigyikes:

Sorry about the spelling, :wink:

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