[Home]Abigail, Belle Of Kilronan

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This song combines the ballad tradition of lovers-parted-by-war (cf. [The Girl I Left Behind Me], [The Cruel War], [Fare Ye Well, Enniskillen], through to Tie a Yellow Ribbon and Billy Don't be a Hero) with the Irish traditional [The Star of the County Down]. In the 69 Love Songs booklet, Stephin Merritt says that war justifies over-the-top sentimentality, which he likes.

It takes plenty of licence with tradition and with 'keeping it real' (see Stephin Merritt quotes).

  • The album version has treated guitar panned quickly across the stereo — by contrast, the song sounds more 'authentic' when performed live without these treatments.
  • It's hard to place and date the war to which the song refers: there have been few wars that have extended throughout Ireland ('blowing through the land') or been protracted enough for a girl to grow into a woman ('When I come home, if I come home / You'll be a grown woman').
  • On a technicality, [Kilronan] is in County Roscommon ('Abigail / 's gonna be the beauty of County Galway').

The great Irish traditional harp player and songwriter Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1736) is buried in a Kilronan church [source], and Kilronan Parish is still home to a [Harp festival]. In a tradition of non-authentic instrumentation that would surely appeal to Stephin Merritt, much of O'Carolan's harp music, along with other folk tunes and ballads, has been sequenced for MIDI [link].

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Edited 2004-8-28 3:19 pm by DavidJennings (diff)
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