DESCRIPTION: "Bad luck to ye Drimon and why did you die?" I'd sooner have lost my son and hut. When I found her "I rolled and I bawled and my neighbors I called." "I thought my poor Drimindoon never would fail."
EARLIEST DATE: 1956 (Creighton-Maritime)
LONG DESCRIPTION: Macaronic w. Gaelic. An old man loses a cow but can't tell how; he laments that as he went to mass, he saw his cow, drimindown, sunk into (water, mire). He cries and raises the neighbors; after the cow sinks, she rises again "like a bunch of black wild berries". Ch.: "Ego so ro Drimindown ho ro ha/So ro Drimindown nealy you gra...."
KEYWORDS: death lament nonballad animal grief corpse drowning farming foreignlanguage
FOUND IN: Canada(Mar)
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Creighton-Maritime, p. 176, "Drimindown" (3 texts, 1 tune)
Dibblee/Dibblee, p. 78, "Drimindown" (1 text, 1 tune)
O'Conor, p. 19, "Drimmin Dubh Dheelish" (1 text)
Ernest Sellick, "Drimindown" (on MRHCreighton)
cf. "Maid on the Shore, The (The Fair Maid by the Sea Shore; The Sea Captain)" [Laws K27] (tune)
cf. "If It Wasn't For Dicky" (lyrics)
cf. "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" (lyrics)
cf. "The Barrymore Tithe Victory" (subject: cows, tithes, and the name Drimon).
NOTES [658 words]: The description is based on Creighton-Maritime with help from the notes for Creighton/MacLeod 88(3) in Gaelic Songs in Nova Scotia. Creighton/MacLeod has three versions in English (two with chorus in Irish Gaelic).
Is this an allegory or really about a country-man's lament for the death of his cow? There are Jacobite songs in which a cow is named Drimin and denotes Ireland allegorically. H Halliday Sparling, in Irish Minstrelsy (1888), gives three examples of this in other songs:
"O Say, My Brown Drimin" by James Joseph Callanan, p. 309 [Also in Kathleen Hoagland, editor, One Thousand Years of Irish Poetry, pp. 183-184 -RBW];
"Drimin Dubh"--from Druim-fionn dubh dilis "dear black white-backed (cow)" by Samuel Ferguson, p. 148.
"Drimin Donn Dilis" by John Walsh, p. 203.
ibiblio site The Fiddler's Companion: DEAR BLACK COW  (Druimin Dubh). AKA and see "The Black Cow." Irish, Air (3/4 time). G Dorian. Standard. AAB. The words lament the loss of a cow, comparing it to the celebrated mythological Irish cow which could never be fully milked. In Bunting's 1840 collection he gives a few verses of a political song in which "the black cow" serves as a "very whimsical metaphor, the cause of the exiled monarch." [I must admit, in reading Creighton's first version, I thought of Bonnie Prince Charlie. The more so as many residents of Nova Scotia fled there after the Jacobite rebellions. - RBW]
Other writers, notably George Petrie, Patrick Walsh, Margaret Hannegan, Seamus Clandillon and Redfern Mason, believe "Drimin/Druimin Dubh" (or "Dhriman Dhoun Deelish" "Drimin donn Dilis" etc.) also note the title's symbolizm (sic.) with Ireland. Cazden (et al, 1982) finds that, "with sufficiently imaginative adjustment," the melody resembles the "Drimindown" tune family, which includes O'Neill's "The Sorrowful Maiden" and Cazden's own Catskill Mountain (New York) collected ballad "The Maid on the Shore."
For an exhaustive discussion of text and tune history see "Drumion Dubh(Drimindown,Irish)" on Bruce Olsen's web site. The earliest complete text he finds "is from The Universal Songster, III, p. 45, London: Jones and Co., 1828."
For another copy of "O Say, My Brown Drimin" by James Joseph Callanan (Sparling p. 309) see Kathleen Hoagland, editor, One Thousand Years of Irish Poetry (New York, 1947), pp. 183-184, "O Say, My Brown Drimin". This is an example of Drimin as Ireland.
Zimmermann p. 56: "the strangest allegorical name for Ireland in Irish songs of the eighteenth century is 'Druimfhionn Donn Dilis': 'dear brown cow'. Petrie gave for this rather incongruous name the explanation which has been proposed for some of the women's names applied to Ireland, namely that it might have been suggested by the title or refrain of an older popular song which furnished the tune. In political broadside ballads of the Tithe War, the cow was still accepted as the symbol of Ireland. (See song 41["The Barrymore Tithe Victory"])."
Edward Bunting, The Ancient Music of Ireland (Mineola, 2000 (reprint of 1840 Dublin edition)), p. 93, has a translation of a Jacobite text of "Druimindubh" with "the 'black-backed cow' representing ... the cause of the exiled monarch....
Ah drimindhu' deelish, my darling black cow,
Say where are your folk, be they living or no?
They are down in the ground 'neath the sod lying low,
Expecting King James with the crown on his brow.
But if I could get sight of the crown on his brow,
By night and day travelling to London I'd go.... - BS
[To this compare Ruth Dudley Edwards, The Seven: The Lives and Legacies of the Founding Fathers of the Irish Republic, Oneworld Books, 2016, p. 156 n., who glosses "Druimfhionn donn dilis" as "The dear brown white-backed cow -- one of the allegorical names for Irelend." - RBW]
I believe this was the song, originally Irish, which Lead Belly adapted into "If It Wasn't For Dicky," which the Weavers in turn made into, "Kisses Sweeter than Wine." Really. - PJS
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.