Banks of Dunmore, The
DESCRIPTION: An Englishman falls in love with a poor farmer's daughter of Dunmore. She will not marry a non-Catholic. She convinces him, by reference to the Testament, of transubstantiation and the authority of Rome. He converts. They marry and settle in Dunmore.
EARLIEST DATE: before 1862 (broadside, Bodleian 2806 c.16(159))
KEYWORDS: courting marriage England Ireland religious Bible
FOUND IN: Ireland
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Tunney-StoneFiddle, pp. 43-44, "The Banks of Dunmore" (1 text, 1 tune)
Bodleian, 2806 c.16(159), "The Banks of Dunmore" ("Ye lovers of high and low station, and gentlemen of renown")," H. Such (London), 1849-1862; also Firth b.26(413), "The Bloom of Erin"
cf. "The Protestant Maid" (subject: religious conversion) and references there
NOTES [1285 words]: Broadside Bodleian 2806 c.16(159) is the basis for the description.
Dunmore is in County Galway.
See "Garvagh Town" for a song in which a Roman Catholic suitor fails to convert the Protestant "star of Garvagh Town"; at the end they discuss their differences over a drink, shake hands, and part without either converting. - BS
The Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation holds that the bread and wine of the communion service are transformed into the body and blood of Christ -- admittedly not in appearance or in demonstrable chemical contest but in some sort of unmeasurable reality called "substance" or "essence" or something like that. (Apologies for sounding scornful; the concept of something that is "real" but *by definition* unverifiable by science is beyond my feeble capacity to take seriously.)
This is based primarily on the gospel language (Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:17-20) saying that the disciples ate Jesus's body and blood, which is very loosely linked to later practice of the Lord's Supper by 1 Cornthians 11:24-26. Some see incidental support in chapter 6 of John, in which Jesus said that the bread of God comes down from heaven, and adds (6:35) that he is the Bread of Life.
It should be noted that this doctrine was not found in the early church; Radbertus propounded it in 831 (Bettenson, p. 147: "In the ninth century Paschasius Radbertus published a treatise, On the Body and Blood of the Lord, in which he pushed to extremes the language of John Damascene, '...though the body and blood of Christ remain in the figure of bread and wine, yet we must believe them to be simply a figure and that, after consecration, they are nothing other than the body and blood of Christ... and that I may speak more marvellously, to be clearly the very flesh which was born of Mary, and suffered on the cross and rose from the tomb....'"). Aquinas supported this view (Bettenson, p. 148), but it did not become official Catholic doctrine until the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 (Christie-Murray, p. 99).
The Bible isn't really much help here (all statements about the Greek text of the Bible are based on the text and apparatus in Aland, pp. 436-437). The earliest Biblical statement is in 1 Corinthians 11:24. The Greek reads literally "This [of] me is the body th[at is] over you" -- which could perfectly reasonably be rendered "This my body is for you." (The majority of late manuscripts, and the late Latin translations, preface this with "Take, eat," but these words are clearly an interpolation from Matthew). The next sentence reads "This do into [i.e. for] the [of] me remembrance." In verse 25, Jesus declares, "This the cup the new covenant in the [of] me blood; this do, as often if [i.e. as] [you] drink, into [i.e. for] the [of] me remembrance."
In Mark, the earliest Gospel account, verse 14:22 described Jesus taking bread, breaking it, and saying, "take, this is the body [of] me." (The late manuscripts read "take, EAT", but the overwhelming majority of early manuscripts omit; it is clearly another intrusion from Matthew.) 14:24 reads "This is the blood [of] me [of] the covenant, th[at which] [is being] poured over many." (The late manuscripts and the Vulgate Latin, used by the Catholic Church, reads "the NEW covenant, but this is clearly an intrusion from Luke or 1 Corinthians).
Matthew and Luke expand, in various ways, on the form in Mark, but in every case the active verb is simply "estin," "is" -- plain old present tense. It implies no action (unless the action was done earlier by blessing the bread and wine). Similarly, the Latin uses "est," "is." If you just go by what the Bible says, there is no special transformation or divine action. On the other hand, by being so plain, the Bible arguably leaves open the possiblity that Jesus's blessing (which on its face appears to be just that: A blessing) performed some action. Of course, Paul's comments give no hint that that action, if it in fact occurred in the Last Supper, ever happened again.
It took less than a century and a half for Wycliffe -- the first significant theologian after the Lateran Council -- to go after the doctrine (Nigg,. p. 265). Luther, without absolutely condemning the doctrine, did not require it (Christie-Murray, p. 130), and did say that "Transubstantiation... must be considered as an invention of human reason" (Bettenson, pp. 197-198). The Augsburg Confession of 1530 expressly denied it (Bainton, p. 149). Henry VIII continued to accept transubstantiation, but after his death, the Anglican church came to a position which implicitly opposed it: "The prayer was not that the bread and wine might *become*, but only that they might *be*, Christ's body and blood, thereby at least suggesting the repudiation of transubstantiation in favor of Luther's doctrine of concommitance" (Bainton, p. 201).
It is my experience that *no one* has ever been convinced of Transubstantiation by references to the Bible. It is also my experience that attempts to do so lead to bitter fights, with non-Catholics going as far as to call the Catholics cannibals. (Observe the sarcastic Protestant response in "The Protestant Maid.") If the guy went along in this case, it was out of infatuation, not Biblical logic.
Setting all that aside, though, there are interesting political undercurrents, depending heavily on the date of the song and where it originated. Obviously it must date before 1862. The feeling on the Ballad-L mailing list, in the absence of a more detailed analysis of the data, was that it was probably post-1798. This was an interesting period in both the Church of England and in the Irish church.
Chris Brennan, whose observations are based on Paddy Tunney's version and O'Boyle's notes to Tunney's recording, thinks it an Ulster song, and places it in the context of the evangelical upsurge among Ulster protestants in the first half of the nineteenth century. In that version, it appear to be an Ulster Catholic and Protestant who meet.
On the other hand, the H. Such broadside, which predates Tunney's version by a century, makes the Protestant half of the duo a presumed Englishman. This is interesting because the Church of England at this time was going in the exact opposite direction from the evangelical Dissenters of Ulster. This was the period of the "Oxford Movement," a time when many members of the Church of England were being attracted back to Catholic tradition and ritual (Douglas/Elwell/Toon, p. 281). The single strongest example came in 1845, when John Henry Newman converted from Anglicanism to Catholicism (Douglas/Elwell/Toon, p. 266). An Oxfordite might well be so pro-Catholic as to be open to arguments about Transubstantiation; a genuine Reformed churchman would see that as the same sort of bunk that it appears to be to me.
This opens up the interesting (though unlikely) possibility that this song could have originated in England as a sort of allegory on the Oxford Movement, with Ireland standing for Catholicism and England standing for Anglicanism (referred to loosely as Protestantism, though technically Anglicans are not Protestants; Protestant is a technical term for a different branch of non-Catholic non-Orthodox Christianity).
Even if we allow that that was its original form, though, it seems clear that that was not how it was understood. The song appears to be extinct in England -- but is preserved in Ireland. There, it seems clear, the song is seen as a demonstration of the superiority of Catholicism, and Catholic doctrine, to Protestantism. This would also explain why the theological argument, so nonsensical to a true member of a Reformed denomination, is allowed to pass essentially without comment. - RBW
Last updated in version 2.5
- Aland: Kurt Aland, Synopsis Quattuor Evangeliorum (i.e. Synopsis of [the] Four Gospels, a parallel edition of the four Gospels in Greek), first edition 1963; revised thirteenth edition 1985 (I use the second printing, 1986, by Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft Stuttgart)
- Bainton: Roland H. Bainton, The Reformation of the sixteenth century, Beacon Press, 1952 (I use the 1959 paperback edition)
- Bettenson: Henry Bettenson, editor, Documents of the Christian Church, 1943, 1963 (I use the 1967 Oxford paperback edition)
- Christie-Murray: David Christie-Murray, A History of Heresy, Oxford, 1976
- Douglas/Elwell/Toon: J. D. Douglas, Walter A. Elwell, and Peter Toon, The Concise Dictionary of the Christian Tradition, Regency/Zondervan, 1989
- Nigg: Walter Nigg, The Heretics: Heresy Throughout the Ages, an English translation and abridgement by Richard and Clara Winston of Nigg's Das Buch der Ketzer, 1949; translation copyright 1962 (I use the 1990 Dorset edition)
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