The Stars of Ballymenone, New Edition
471 pages

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471 pages

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A new edition of the classic portrait of the people, songs, and tales of Ballymenone from the award-winning author of Passing the Time in Ballymenone.

In the time of the Troubles, when bombs blew through the night and soldiers prowled down the roads, Henry Glassie came to the Irish borderland to learn how country people endure through history. He settled into the farming community of Ballymenone, beside Lough Erne in the County Fermanagh, and listened to the old people. For a decade he heard and recorded the stories and songs in which they outlined their culture, recounted their history, and pictured their world. In their view, their world was one of love, defeat, and uncertainty, demanding the virtues of endurance: faith, bravery, and wit.

Glassie's task in this book is to set the scene, to sketch the backdrop and clear the stage, so that Hugh Nolan and Michael Boyle, Peter Flanagan, Ellen Cutler, and their neighbors can tell their own tale, which explains their conditions and converts them into a tragedy of conflict and a comedy of the absurd. It gathers the saints and warriors, and celebrates the stars whose wit enabled endurance in days of violence and deprivation.

With patience and respect, Glassie describes life in a time and a place exactly like no other, and yet Ballymenone is like a thousand other places where people work on the land during the day and tell their own tales at night, forgotten, while the men of power fill the newspapers and history books by sending poor boys out to be killed.

The Stars of Ballymenone is an integrated analysis of the complete repertory of verbal art from a rural community where storytelling and singing of quality remained a part of daily life.

1. Remains 1
Our District of the Country 9
2. Ballymenone 15
3. Fermanagh 33
4. Northern Ireland 45
5. Carrying On 53
6. Stars in the Dark 67
7. Michael Boyle 115
8. Hugh Nolan 125
9. Peter Flanagan 155
10. Dwelling in Time 189
An Epic of Common Life 225
11. The Fireside 227
12. The Ceili 251
13. Saints 257
14. Saint Columcille 269
15. Battles 275
16. Black Francis 283
17. Experiences 289
18. Fairy Tales 301
19. Ghost Stories 319
20. Exploits 335
21. The Gift of Wit 345
22. Tales in the Ceili 375
23. Public Performance 381
24. The Twelfth in the Town 387
25. A Night at Swad 395
Afterword 419
Acknowledgments 435
Notes to the Book 437
Notes to the Compact Disc 517
Bibliography 558
Index 584



Publié par
Date de parution 12 septembre 2016
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780253022622
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 3 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0500€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Stories and Songs of South Fermanagh
Recorded, Compiled, and Produced by Henry Glassie and Doug Boyd is located online at:
The Stars of Ballymenone

The Stars of Ballymenone
Henry Glassie
Photography, Drawings, and Design by the Author Compact Disc, Stories and Songs of South Fermanagh , Henry Glassie and Doug Boyd
This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press
Office of Scholarly Publishing
Herman B Wells Library 350
1320 East 10th Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47405 USA
New edition 2016
2006 by Henry Glassie
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The Association of American University Presses Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only exception to this prohibition.
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992.
Manufactured in China
The Library of Congress has cataloged the original edition as follows:
ISBN 978-0-253-34717-6 (cloth)
Cataloging information is available from the Library of Congress.
ISBN 978-0-253-02254-7 (paperback)
ISBN 978-0-253-02262-2 (ebook)
1 2 3 4 5 21 20 19 18 17 16
amar rani
The two things happen at the one time.
Things get better.
And they get worse.
- Hugh Nolan
1. Remains
Our District of the Country
2. Ballymenone
3. Fermanagh
4. Northern Ireland
5. Carrying On
6. Stars in the Dark
7. Michael Boyle
8. Hugh Nolan
9. Peter Flanagan
10. Dwelling in Time
An Epic of Common Life
11. The Fireside
12. The Ceili
13. Saints
14. Saint Columcille
15. Battles
16. Black Francis
17. Experiences
18. Fairy Tales
19. Ghost Stories
20. Exploits
21. The Gift of Wit
22. Tales in the Ceili
23. Public Performance
24. The Twelfth in the Town
25. A Night at Swad
Notes to the Book
Notes to the Compact Disc
The Stars of Ballymenone
Hugh Nolan s house, 1972
H UGH N OLAN, MY STAR of the Irish twilight, died on November 14, 1981. A curt note from a nurse at the Erne Hospital told me. She had no one else to write to, and I stood, the paper in my hands, while my mind gathered around the fact. He was an old man, and old men die. That is how it is, people come and go. Then, slowly, like fog in the night, understanding came over me, and I broke down and wept. No death has hit me harder. I knew what the world lost in his passing.
I had come to his place, Ballymenone, in the County Fermanagh, at the southwestern edge of Northern Ireland, to learn how country people endure in violent times. It was 1972, the bloodiest year of the Troubles. Every day, I walked out of the lovely town of Enniskillen, stepping to the hedge when armored cars hurtled past, turning in along familiar lanes to wander the low hills that pitch and drift beside the Arney River. Walking, I got to know every dog, bog, and pass, every farm, every house, every person who lived there, and, a practiced hand at agricultural labor, I worked with them, clamping turf and rooking hay. When questions built up, I took the old cart track over Drumbargy Brae, whistling reels, swinging my sack from shoulder to shoulder without breaking stride, and, happy with anticipation, came down to Hugh Nolan s house by the roadside.
His grandfather built it, a small brick house, whitewashed without, smoked inside to every shade of black. Mr. Nolan lived in one of its two dark rooms. By day he sat at the corner of the wide hearth, tending the fire beside him, feeding it new turf and splashes of oil from an old tin can. An iron crane reached over the smolder, a black kettle dangled from a black chain. His back was bent, and when he rose he had to rock back to look forward, making his way over the treacherous clay floor between the sharp edges of furniture: from the hearth to the bucket of turf by the door, from the table with the shaving mirror and brass candlestick to the table with the bread, from his hard chair to the ruined couch by the fire where he slept at night.
When I arrived, he was there in the corner, his cap and coat as black as the house. I unpacked the gifts bought on my journey: a wedge of cheese, fluffy sweet cakes wrapped in cellophane, two black bottles of stout. I draped another old coat over his powerful shoulders, and knelt to the fire, making our tea. When we were done, and I had washed the cups and spoons, I settled onto the thing he used for a bed. The white cat came to rest, purring on my knee, and I asked the first question. Mr. Nolan cracked a match, sucking the flame into the remains in his pipe, thinking, then put it aside to say, Well now, I ll tell ye the way it is. . . .
Age lined his face, the creases blackened with soot, but his eyes were as clear and bright as a child s-a sign at the scuffed surface of the fine light of his mind-and his words came forth in orderly array, unrushed and precise. Words, he believed, are precious: be careful, be clear, speak the truth; words are all we have to make connections among us, shaping affection, building society. His answers presumed a serious question; they spread with detail and moved smoothly to completion.
Hugh Nolan was born in this house on December 26, 1896. He had traveled to Scotland as a farm laborer and worked the dirt of his own home place, all the while observing, taking, he said, a mental note of what mattered. He had listened to the elders and studied with the masters of his youth, Hugh McGiveney and Richard Corrigan, accumulating information critically, becoming wise. His neighbors called him a great historian. He was my prime guide to the culture of Ballymenone, the best teacher I have ever known.
On our first days together, I listened and took notes. When, in good time, the tape recorder came out, all Mr. Nolan said was that he did not want to record anything harmful to the neighbors. So I showed him the button that stopped the reels from spinning. He never used it, but he paused to be sure the machine was going before he spoke, and during that first year, and all the years that followed, the tapes piled up, the notebooks filled. Slowly, what he knew I learned, and what one old man could know stunned me to tears at his death.
The last time I saw him, it was a few days before Christmas at the Erne Hospital in Enniskillen. He had always refused to be taken away. The heat in the hospital scorched him, he said, and he missed the freedom of his own wee house. But kind people worried around him. Mrs. Corrigan, his neighbor, who brought him hot meals, who read him my letters and wrote his replies, and the nurse who came to visit and the doctor to whom she reported-all had tried to convince him. For years he resisted, then, wonderful rational old man, he thought it over, realizing that he could be robbed, that he could be burned, that he could die alone, and when the doctor began his argument again, Mr. Nolan consented.
Neat rows of metal beds stood on the polished floor. A television flickered at the end of the ward. A green tree glowed with red lights. All he owned had been reduced to the contents of a single slim drawer in the washstand beside his bed. Tidy nurses slipped in and out, bearing stainless-steel trays with coils of clear plastic tubing, chromium clamps, sharp needles, and vials of pale fluid. Old men dozed and sat alone and wandered the aisles in bathrobes. We talked about history. His life s consolation, Hugh Nolan said, had been keepin the truth and tellin the whole tale.
A hundred times I had risen from his hearth, a hundred times he had come with me to the door, wishing me God s blessing as I walked Rossdoney Lane away from him. Now he swung the metal walker before him through the slick corridors to the lobby of the hospital. Gray rain streaked the glass. Good old man, he never had the bad taste to become intimate, but I looked into his eyes and said, I love you, Hugh.
I know, he replied.
No words were left unsaid, the circle closed gently, but I had hoped Mr. Nolan would see the big book I was writing to tell what I had learned in Ballymenone. The first book, All Silver and No Brass , an account of Christmas mumming, had pleased him and my other generous teachers: I love me book, Ellen Cutler said; The book is great, Peter Flanagan said; and a published book persuaded their neighbors that my work among them was serious. While the big book, a garrulous ethnography called Passing the Time in Ballymenone , rumbled through the press, I compiled a small one on the model of Lady Gregory s admirable Kiltartan History Book . Shorn of analysis, rendered down to the texts local people would find engaging, Irish Folk History was designed as a gift to the community, and I sent the first copy to Hugh Nolan. It was returned, unopened and marked addressee deceased, from the Erne Hospital.
Every household received the small book, and it delights me to find it disheveled from use when I visit. The big book landed in the homes of my principal teachers, there to be wrapped up and packed away. On the odd occasion, it was brought out to show the photographs it contained, their places marked by stains at the edge, but reading it was another matter. Re

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