logo Enthusiasms No 46
A collection of shorter pieces on subjects of
interest, outrage or enthusiasm ...

Correspondence on the
Around the Hills of Clare review

As on previous occasions, I've decided to put all the correspondence together into this Enthusiasms piece, rather than as a series of Letters, where it's not always easy to find the piece that someone is referring to, together with a link to the review in question.

Also, in their first letter (below), Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie say they will 'be sending a detailed reaction to the review ... [of which they] will be happy to supply a copy to anyone interested'.  They have now produced this detailed reaction, as promised, and it is available from them at: riddles@eircom.net

Ed. - 9.5.05

Re: Around the Hills of Clare (1)

To the editor, Musical Traditions.

While we await with some interest your opinions on the points we have raised below, we would be grateful if you would include this in your letters section in its entirety, without the benefit of editorial insertions, as has happened to correspondence of ours in the past. We will be sending a detailed reaction to the review, not for publication as we really don't want this to degenerate into a slanging match, but we will be happy to supply a copy to anyone interested. This is not a practice that we would normally wish to indulge in but, as your review is so riven with inaccuracies and unfairness, we feel we would like to set the record straight in order to limit the damage to what is, after all, an album of traditional singers.

To say that we were surprised to read the review of 'Around The Hills of Clare' would be to understate our feelings somewhat - we were gobsmacked. At present, we feel a rather numb depression at finding that someone is prepared to go to these lengths to deliberately rubbish a project which we considered extremely worthwhile and which has been well received in Ireland. Our first reaction was to walk away from it and get on with the rest of our lives. However, we feel that we owe a response on behalf of the performers on these CDs, most of whom are now dead, who have been so generous and have contributed so much to our understanding and love of traditional song, especially as the reviewer seems to have gone out of his way to misrepresent or ignore a number of them.

Of the singers still alive, it is stated that octogenarian "Ollie Conway could not possibly be described as a traditional singer since he apparently came to singing rather late in his life and remains very much a Comhaltas style singer of Comhaltas style songs"; this despite his being widely acknowledged locally as one of the few remaining traditional singers of the older generation in West Clare. His involvement with singing, from childhood, was made clear on the sleeve notes to the LP 'The Lambs on The Green Hills' (a classic, according to the reviewer).

Two other performers, Vincie Boyle and Patrick Lynch, are suggested to be 'revival', presumably because of their ages (50s), even though both come from local country backgrounds, have learned their material traditionally from friends and family and only perform locally, apart from the very rare occasion when Patrick has been invited to do so outside the county. Patrick's magnificent recitation, 'The Battle of Billingsgate' is described thus by the reviewer: "the literary merits of which strike one as owing more to a magazine such as Ireland's Own". However, one of Ireland's leading folklorists, Ríonach uí O/gain from the Department of Irish Folklore, considered this piece significant enough to include it in her definitive work on the folklore of Daniel O'Connell, 'Immortal Dan', and even used an illustration from it for the cover of the book.

Of the singers no longer with us, we are told that Austin Flanagan "really does initially sound like a woman" and are taken to task for not pointing this out. Even if we had agreed with this, we have always avoided making such tasteless personal remarks about people who have been generous enough to give us their songs. Martin Reidy's beautiful 'Maid of The Moorlough Shore' is said to have included "one nonsensical lyrical interpretation", despite the song making perfect poetic and narrative sense and the line in question in no way detracting from the enjoyment and appreciation of it.

The reviewer's disregard for the singers and their songs is underlined for us by the fact that, in a piece of over eight and a half thousand words, an inordinate length for any review, he sees fit to write little more than four paragraphs, less than four hundred words, on the singers and songs combined. (The footnotes to the review are approximately four times that length). Of the fifteen performers on these CDs, the singing of only eight merit a mention, mainly restricted to one or two words. Mikey Kelleher, Vincie Boyle, Nonie Lynch, 'Straighty' Flanagan, Kitty Hayes, Patrick Lynch and Martin Long may as well have stayed at home! Apart from the derisive remark about the recitation, and having 'Banks of Sullane' and 'A Stór Mo Chroí' written off as "Comhaltas style songs", the material is ignored completely. If the reviewer feels that this is all that the fifteen singers, forty three songs, two tunes, two pieces of narrative and one recitation - over two and a half hours of recording - are worth, surely he should say so. Even if this review had not been so offensive, it would have been a disgrace for its neglect of the performers and their material. Instead, the reviewer chooses to put the booklet of notes and texts under the microscope in order to "list the inadequacies". This he sets about with some relish, opening with: "Frankly, to list its inadequacies would be akin to copying the London edition of Yellow Pages in longhand, but I will try!" From the outset, the tone adopted by the reviewer is unpleasantly aggressive, an attitude which we are, by and large, unused to among people who share an interest in traditional music and song. In its way, this is an advantage as it immediately helps us identify the obvious animosity the reviewer appears to bear towards us, in spite of his having had minimal contact with Jim and none whatsoever with Pat (though he does appear to have remarkable insight into her opinions on traditional singers and her definition of what constitutes a 'revival' singer).

We are grateful to the reviewer for pointing out the small number of genuine errors in the notes, the main ones being two incorrect song references, our failing to qualify a statement about Child having missed 'The Bramble Briar', and our claim that 'Daughter, Dearest Daughter' has survived longest in Ireland. There are a number of factual points we are challenged on, all of which we have since checked and find ourselves in total disagreement with the reviewer, particularly on the question of emigration from Ireland, the reviewer's claim having caused some hilarity here in West Clare.

The writer constantly attempts to undermine our notes with disparaging comments on our choice of 'other recordings' and insists, throughout, in putting forward his own, even to the extent of writing his own note to one of these. Similarly, he persistently challenges the amount of information we give, for example, by suggesting that we should have given a reason as to why the ballad 'Lord Lovell' was not popular in Ireland (isn't it?) and why there are no Irish recordings of 'Little Ball of Yarn'. Also, to counteract our alleged failure to supply such information, the reviewer insists on supplying his own which includes a 217 word statement on the transmission and relevance of narrative song, 146 words on Clare topography, 217 words on Charles Kickham, a 287 word piece on Lord Lovell, and 347 words on the intervention of the clergy into country house dancing, (the reviewer's claims on this last are easily disproved by Breandán Breathnach's excellent article on the subject in volume 6 (1982) of the Clare journal, Dal gCaís). In a number of cases, the information he supplies has already been covered in our notes.

*The reviewer appears to overlook completely that whatever we wrote had to fit, along with two CDs, into a DVD box. This confined us to a 40 page booklet (originally we believed 36 pages to be our limit, but the editor was able to fit the extra pages into his format). *

Apart from those we have acknowledged, virtually all the other alleged errors raised (despite being accompanied by such unhelpful descriptions as "arrant nonsense", "blinding irrelevance", "puzzling", "striking omission", "absurd", "bizarre", etc.) are either incorrect or of minor significance. For instance, lapses on two occasions when we wrote in the first person are described somewhat uncharitably as "mysterious" in one case and, in the other, he accuses us of using another writer's notes! He points out in his customary derogatory manner, a grammatical error we made; however, we note that the review in question is peppered with such errors but we prefer not to criticise at such a level. **

In the course of his seeking out our mistakes, the reviewer makes a number of his own; for instance, he claims that we had omitted a Child number when we had not; also he fails to recognize that two tunes he cites as being different are, in fact, close variants. The most outstanding of these errors is, while attempting to point out a piece of information he claims we have overlooked, he not only gets the name and gender of a singer wrong, but also fails to recognize that what he cites as two songs are, in fact, virtually identical textually, one having two extra verses and a different air. While claiming that "their (sic!) are two songs which share this title", he appears to have overlooked the fact that one was 'Farewell To Miltown Malbay' while the other was 'Farewell to Miltown' ­ or have we sunk to his level?

Typical of his approach is the sarcastic remark: "still, typographical accuracy seems to be of little concern as the inhabitants of Dungarvan will discover in the notes to Lismore Turkeys". This is quite unwarranted as the name of the town was spelt correctly throughout the text; however, the note _accurately_ refers to a recording of Paddy Doran, listed both in the BBC archive and the Roud index as Dungarvon. Even if it had been a typing error on our part (which had also been overlooked by the Music Traditions proof reader), we feel it is totally unnecessary to draw attention to it in such an unpleasant manner.

All in all, we have to confess that this was one of the most destructive reviews we have ever come across. We believe that the malicious approach taken to the task of reviewing this work is not unrelated to a difference of opinion that took place some time ago on the Internet between Geoff Wallis and Jim, concerning another review published in Musical Traditions. Recalling the Elizabeth Cronin book review, once again the editor of this journal has allowed someone take a piece of work entrusted to him in good faith for honest, intelligent scrutiny, and belittle it. This has now happened on at least three occasions, all to Irish subjects, and has gained Musical Traditions a somewhat unsavoury reputation in Ireland as far as its review policy is concerned. This is a great pity as the magazine is unique and has played an invaluable role keeping alive an interest in the performance and understanding of traditional music and song.

It is hardly surprising that this review has taken so long to produce; it was obviously a 'labour of hate'. That it only put in an appearance four months after the release date of 'Around The Hills of Clare' would have been reprehensible had it not been for the fact that the delay lessens the chance of it doing any major damage. We are in no way suggesting that the editor should have attempted to alter the wording or intervene in any other way to influence its form once it had been submitted, but we do believe that the piece, with its spiteful and sarcastic comments, falls so far below acceptable standards of journalism that it should never have been published in the first place.

We find ourselves in total agreement with the sentiments of a mutual acquaintance of ourselves and the editor who, having read the review, wrote to us describing Musical Traditions as having "shot itself in the foot", and went on to say "Rod has really excelled himself here. Apart from being unfair, there seems something personal underlying that review". The same observations have also been made in Clare.

Originally we undertook to put together 'Around The Hills of Clare' on behalf of The Goilín Singers Club in Dublin. At the request of the editor, and with some difficulty, we brought Musical Traditions on board. To say that we now feel that our trust has been betrayed would be an understatement! We would seriously recommend that the editor urgently examines his policy before his reviewers seek out further victims. We hope that The Goilín, whose organisers have been so generous with their advice, energy and funding, will not suffer from this rather unpleasant incident.

Throughout this response, we have stressed the adverse effect that this ill-conceived and unfair review might have on making available recordings of traditional singers to a wider audience; God knows, there a few enough of those being released nowadays. Musical Traditions Magazine, by publishing it, must take its share of the blame for any damage done.

No doubt the above is full of errors, both factual and grammatical and poorly written to boot but, after all, we're human too!

Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie - 24.4.05

Re: Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie's letter

An editor's job is not an easy one - mainly because s/he has to make decisions ... and you can be very sure that every decision you make is going to upset someone!

This is particularly true in the case of MT, since it is really the only one of its kind, and people are unsure of how 'heavy' or invasive my editing is.  Generally, it's as light as possible; if I foresee problems I discuss them with the writer - as I did with Geoff Wallis in this instance - but I leave the final decision with him/her since, as MT's Home Page states 'The views expressed in all articles, reviews, etc, are those of the author of each piece, not of the Editor.'

When I'm sent a CD for review I have to make a decision about who to send it to.  I send it to the person I believe is best capable of writing that particular review.  My first choice in the case of Around the Hills of Clare would have been Tom Munnelly - but he was ruled out by his involvement in the project anyway.  My second choice was Geoff Wallis, whose knowledge of Irish music is first-rate.

I had no idea that Geoff would find fault with the CD's booklet, since my knowledge of Irish music is pretty basic.  Nor was I able to suggest the correction of any of the errors he mentioned, when I was designing the booklet, for that very same reason.

Jim and Pat say that Geoff has his facts wrong.  If so, I'm sure plenty of people will be writing to correct him ... and I will publish their letters.  Debate is always beneficial.

Jim and Pat have told me that all the other reviews Around the Hills of Clare has received have been glowing - so, in a way, I'm glad of my ignorance, since I might have been tempted to send it to someone less knowledgeable in order to secure another glowing review - which would have been a disservice to us all!  If there are errors, then it's the job of a competent reviewer to point them out ... no one is going to learn anything by ignoring them.

As an editor, I can merely select what I consider to be a suitable reviewer ... and then print what s/he writes, without censorship - even when it's uncomfortable to do so!

And it was particularly uncomfortable to print Jim and Pat's letter exactly as written - as they asked me to do (though I did add their names to the end of it, since they had omitted to do so) - with what amounts to a downright libel regarding my own involvement in the project ... but I did, without the censorship they suggest I should have applied to Geoff's review.

They say 'Originally we undertook to put together 'Around The Hills of Clare' on behalf of The Goilín Singers Club in Dublin. At the request of the editor, and with some difficulty, we brought Musical Traditions on board.'  This is quite untrue.

Mike Yates, in his review of our previous collaboration, From Puck to Appleby, wrote 'Jim and Pat now have a large collection of recordings.  From Puck to Appleby is only the tip of the iceberg.  Is there any chance that there will be follow-up CDs?  I certainly hope so.'  I agreed with his comment, and so subsequently asked Jim and Pat whether there was anything else we could work on together.  They told me of the West Clare project they were just starting with the Góilín Club.  Jim also asked me for details of how to set out the DTP format for the DVD case booklets I use, and I sent him a very comprehensive guide to doing that.  Later I was asked if I would undertake to do the whole presentation side of the project in collaboration with them and the Góilín Club.  Discussions ensued with the Góilín's Jerry O'Reilly, and it was agreed that I would produce the booklet, case cover and record labels in PDF format for their printer, whilst they would handle the CD side of things and the eventual manufacture of the finished product.  It would be published as a joint Góilín and MT publication, and I would receive some free copies to sell.  To reiterate - the Góilín asked me to help with the project!

Their letter goes on 'To say that we now feel that our trust has been betrayed would be an understatement!'  I have a coinsiderable number of e-mails both from Jim and Pat and Jerry, praising my layout, thanking me for my work, and expressing their gratitude for getting it done so quickly.  No indication of any 'betrayal of trust' to be found.  Indeed, I don't quite understand of what this 'trust' might consist.  I was asked to design the project's paperwork; I did so - to the evident satisfaction of all concerned.  I was never asked to ensure that the finished product should receive a glowing review in MT - nor could I have possibly agreed to do so!

Naturally, I would have prefered that the review had praised it unreservedly (it is, after all, a very good pair of CDs of some lovely singing) - but things don't always work out as we'd hope in this life.

Ed. - 25.4.05

Re: Around the Hills of Clare (2)

(Since Jim and Pat did not ask that this second letter should be published exactly as sent, I have corrected the spelling and converted it into the normal MT House style of presentation.  Also, since they completely misrepresent what I wrote, I have taken the liberty of correcting them via the usual 'footnote' red asterisks.  Those who wish to see my comments should place their cursor on the asterisks - those who do not should ignore them - Ed.)

With reference to Rod Stradling's response to our letter of 24th April, we feel sure that those who have read Geoff Wallis's review of Around the Hills of Clare and the letter will have seen that we did not, at any time, suggest we wanted a 'glowing' (Rod's description) review and it is more than a little disingenuous of him to suggest that we did.I did not suggest this.  I said that if I had been asked to do so, I would have refused.

Nor did we suggest that it should be censored in any way.They did.  They said that the review 'should never have been published in the first place'.  That is censorship!  However, it is the duty of an editor to ensure that articles, reviews, etc. which he or she publishes are honest, impartial and fulfil their functions.  This review did not meet those criteria.  The time spent on the singers and their songs was negligible and the attitude towards them was, at best, questionable.  The open hostility shown towards the authors fell well below acceptable levels of journalism.I do not detect any 'open hostility' towards Jim and Pat in Geoff's review, rather a simple desire to put the record straight regarding a plethora of inaccuracies and conjectures.  Further, I would remind them of his glowing account of 'From Puck to Appleby' in fRoots.  We believe a responsible editor would return such a review to its author to rethink his or her approach; readers and writers alike should be able to trust that this will be done.And that is exactly what I did in this case.

The facts given regarding Musical Traditions becoming involved in the project are as we stated; however, this is a side issue.Not to me it isn't!  The important question for us is whether an album of traditional performers has received the attention it merits; we believe it has not.  The review speaks for itself; we have nothing to add.

Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie - 26.4.05

Re: Around the Hills of Clare (3)

Dear Rod

In light of the discontent with the review of Around the Hills of Clare aired by Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie, I am writing to make a few points about reviews from the veiwpoint of someone who often purchases CDs and books after reading comments in MT.

The recent Jim Bainbridge CD is a typical example.  Your own review was to the point, concentrating on the music, the quality of recording, standard of delivery, the tunes and songs included, and a little about the man.  Soundclips, which were well chosen, were very helpful in allowing me to form my own opinions.  The details of where to buy the CD were also most useful (I received a copy in a couple of days from Jim, with a very nice note).

The Geoff Wallis review of Around the Hills of Clare showed a very good knowledge of the subject, and provided most of the main criteria for what I consider a helpful review, apart from soundclips.  It appeared atypical, however, in concentrating primarily on the CD notes, at times going into very minor details and virtually presenting an alternative set of notes.  The tone throughout, I thought, was tinged with an element of 'nastiness', which seemed out of place for such a review.

Having not listened to the CD or read the notes, I cannot comment on the many individual points raised, and have no interest in 'taking sides'.  I have limited my comments to what I feel are helpful reviews for me, as a prospective buyer of traditional music CDs and books, and which I might add MT most often provides.

Thanks for all your excellent work.

Ray Spendley

Re: Around the Hills of Clare (4)

Dear Rod

I bought Around the Hills of Clare when it was released, based upon previous experience of the work of Musical Traditions, the Góilín Club, Jim Carroll and Pat McKenzie and some of the singers.  I am glad I did, because the two CDs are a delight.  However, I wonder if I would have bought had I waited to read the review, which I feel is unbalanced.  If others are now reluctant to buy this is a pity, as the potential audience is already small enough.  Whatever its academic failings, Hills of Clare is well worth listening to.

I am a scholar of sorts, but not of traditional music.  Therefore I am not in a position to enter the current dispute, except perhaps to observe that normally academic custard pies do not contain quite so much vitriol.  If I was qualified to review Hills of Clare I would place much more emphasis on the quality of the songs and singers.  In a varied collection there are few songs or performances that I did not fully enjoy.  Some are outstanding.  I thought the booklet quite adequate, particularly the biographies and the excellent photographs.  While someone of the reviewer's expertise and interests may be right in that the booklet fails those 'wishing to learn more about the county's traditions', I cannot agree that the overall production in any way provides a 'disservice' to the singers who grace it.

When this music is consigned to an academic boneyard then this review's balance may be justified - but by then I really won't give a damn.  As long as there are some who enjoy the traditional music and song of these islands as a living thing (and clearly the reviewer is one) then these CDs may be appreciated for their musical worth, and will be a fitting tribute to the men and women whose artistry they thankfully preserve.  I for one would like to heartily thank Jim Carroll & Pat McKenzie and everyone else involved in their production.

Let me urge readers who have not heard Hills of Clare to buy it, and if the booklet niggles, then press repeat play on your CD - or learn one of the songs.  That would be the best service we could do for the people of Clare, most no longer with us, whose living music these CDs contain.


Richard Spencer

Re: Around the Hills of Clare - Geoff Wallis replies

Replying to the letter from Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie, I'd like to kick one of their allegations straight through the window for starters.  They seem to believe that I have some axe to grind and, like sniffer dogs befuddled by the scent of aniseed, smell every available object before determining that this can be traced back to 'a difference of opinion that took place some time ago on the Internet between Geoff Wallis and Jim, concerning another review published in Musical Traditions'.  A debate did take place, but this left such a major impression on me that I have great difficulty either recalling its subject or context.  In other words, my damning review did not arise from some previously formed animosity, though there is one now, since Jim Carroll has defamed me in another forum.

Indeed, I'd like to go one step further and state categorically that, as someone whose life has not involved more than a smidgeon of contact with the English folk and traditional scene, I do not carry any ideological baggage regarding the 'correctness' of the views of anybody.  However, I would state most strongly that writing on traditional music, especially Irish traditional music, is bedevilled by those who believe that they possess ownership of the only approach to the subject.  If Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie (why's it never the other way around, by the way?) were to publish their combined autobiography, I suspect it would be called Our Correct Views on Everything and the follow-up would undoubtedly be Why Our Correct Views Are Correct.

Such ideological trifles might seem irrelevant, except that the letter from Jim and Pat includes mention of a private document which they'll send to any interested parties, detailing their entire reaction to my review.  Such practice was, of course, the norm for groups like the WRP and Spartacists in the 1970s when 'official' reactions would be made at a meeting and then a private document made available for suitably vetted and sympathetic souls.  Such practice decreed that this was the group's final statement on the matter (all other opinions to be nullified), just as Jim and Pat have announced that they will make no further comments in their second letter.  They claim that they do so to avoid any argument developing ' into a slanging match', but employing such phrases as '[the] review is so riven with inaccuracies and unfairness' is hardly likely to guarantee that.  Indeed, their inappropriate use of the word 'riven' is entirely typical of the general illiteracy of their booklet.

However, the main problem is that Jim and Pat are two people who feel that they have a fundamental understanding of 'the truth', whatever that means, and like most other fundamentalists, whether political or religious, they regard any criticism as being a diversion from their chosen path.  So, when such criticism arrives and threatens to prick the bubble of self-righteousness which encapsulates their views on the world and its diverse activities, they react with seemingly innocent outrage.

The fact that the release of Around the Hills of Clare has been 'well received in Ireland' is completely irrelevant.  Perry Como records have been 'well received in Ireland' and nobody could possibly claim that the popularity of Big Tom and The Mainliners illustrates the inherent good taste of the population.  Rather, I would postulate that, just as in the case of Frank Harte's Bonaparte album, reviewers have not bothered to pay justified attention to the writing of Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie.  Such sloppiness seems to pervade recent writing on Irish music and, in my own way, I'm trying to make the whole process more rigorous.

They also look askance at a review of some 8000 words.  Believe me, I would not have written so much if there had been any sense that the booklet's authors truly understood their task.  They clearly did not, and I did.

Jim and Pat also make the remarkable comment that I have ignored the 'material' sung by the singers.  Forgive me, but what is this term 'material'?  I've never met a traditional singer who sang 'material', but I've met plenty who sang songs.  The whole point of my review, which they conveniently seem to have ignored, was that their own writing on such 'material' was hopelessly inadequate.

Much of their response is utterly risible.  They state that, apart from the few errors they're willing to acknowledge, 'There are a number of factual points we are challenged on, all of which we have since checked and find ourselves in total disagreement with the reviewer'.  So these will presumably include their failure to identify the particular mother of the particular Bishop of Derry and so many other factual errors that listing them is pointless.

However, there are some particular points which I'd like to counter.

The reason I mentioned the fact that Roud records so many occurrences of Lord Lovell from English-speaking countries, but so few from Ireland is surely worthy of a comment which Jim and Pat neglected to include.  Their failure to cite the version recorded by Sarah and Rita Keane is an extraordinary omission.

One hearing of Ollie Conway's singing will ratify my statement that he is not, and never could be considered, an Irish traditional singer.  He does sing traditional songs, but not traditionally, if that makes sense, but more in the manner of a stage tenor.

The fact that Patrick Lynch's recitation has been included in an academic publication does not mean that it is of any intrinsic value.  That it has been included in a collection by 'one of Ireland's leading folklorists' is utterly irrelevant since Jim and Pat's booklet, especially in reference to The Little Ball of Yarn, demonstrates that folklorists often don't know their aardvarks from their elephants.  I stand by my original comment that it is a hopelessly trite piece and will add that it is delivered in a stentorian manner far afield from the delivery normally adopted in Irish settings.

My comment about the singing of Austin Flanagan is utterly justified.  It is not a 'tasteless remark' to suggest so.  What on earth is 'tasteless' about suggesting that an initial impression provides the feeling that the listener might be hearing a woman?  I suggest that this tells us more about the booklet's compilers' attitudes than my own.

Yes, there is a 'nonsensical lyrical interpretation' in Martin Reidy's Maid of the Moorlough Shore and Jim and Pat should have at least mentioned this.

Jim and Pat claim that, barring a couple of realisations, 'there are a number of factual points we are challenged on, all of which we have since checked and find ourselves in total disagreement with the reviewer' and go on to suggest that, regarding emigration, ' the reviewer's claim ... caused some hilarity here in West Clare.' Fine, but I didn't make any claims regarding emigration and I suspect that either there's a shortage of good jokes in West Clare or the merriment may have been angled in another direction.

Jim and Pat actually wrote 'Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, famine, evictions, political upheaval and general poverty led to mass emigration from Ireland.'  I simply pointed out that this was utter rubbish and they'd be well advised to look up the meaning of the word 'throughout' in any decent dictionary, otherwise we'll probably all be concerned about the Ennis burger-bun shortage of 1985.

My other comments in the review were engendered by the sheer inadequacy of Jim and Pat's comments and their often nonsensical quality.  However, I'm utterly nonplussed by the suggestion that my comments on the priesthood's disruption of country house dances are incorrect since my research (which was undertaken a few years back) was based on contemporary newspaper reports and other accounts.  Breandán Breathnach wasn't always right in his observations!

Regarding the footnotes, there are so many because the booklet was so infuriatingly inaccurate.

I don't reckon that Jim and Pat's claim re: the size of their booklet is of any relevance since the recent Gael Linn Seoltaí Séidte collection fitted a 100-page booklet into the same space.

My reference to the mysterious 'I' who appears in the discographical sections has not been countered.  Jim and Pat customarily employ the very royal 'we'.  Why did they not do so in the cases I mentioned is unfathomable unless, dare I suggest, they could not be bothered to amend the notes written by one of the people assisting their discographical research.

In terms of typography, why is it offensive to point out that Jim and Pat have misspelt numerous words?  The fact that both the BBC and Roud erroneously refer to 'Dungarvon' should have been acknowledged and corrected.  That they repeatedly get Eamon de Valera's name wrong is unforgivable.

The fact that my review took some four months to appear was entirely the result of my own busy work schedule which meant that I was away from home for some five weeks.  The review was actually completed by the beginning of February and could have then been published, but, anticipating a negative response from Jim and Pat, I asked Rod to delay its appearance until my return in March.  I then decided to take further time smoothing its edges.

I'll stand solidly by the complimentary elements of my review, whose main points were that:

However, the negative points deserve equal recognition, namely that: