Waxies' Dargle

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"The Waxies' Dargle" is a traditional Irish folk song about two Dublin "aul' wans" (ladies) discussing how to find money to go on an excursion. It is named after an annual outing to Ringsend, near Dublin city, by Dublin cobblers (waxies). It originated as a 19th-century children's song and is now a popular pub song in Ireland. [1]

Music of Ireland Music created in various genres on the island of Ireland

Irish music is music that has been created in various genres on the island of Ireland.

Folk music Music of the people

Folk music includes traditional folk music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th-century folk revival. Some types of folk music may be called world music. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted orally, music with unknown composers, or music performed by custom over a long period of time. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles. The term originated in the 19th century, but folk music extends beyond that.

Dublin capital and largest city in Ireland

Dublin is the capital and largest city of Ireland. It is on the east coast of Ireland, in the province of Leinster, at the mouth of the River Liffey, and is bordered on the south by the Wicklow Mountains. It has an urban area population of 1,173,179, while the population of the Dublin Region, as of 2016, was 1,347,359, and the population of the Greater Dublin Area was 1,904,806.


Origin of the "Waxies' Dargle"

The Dargle Dargle Bray 2002 109w.jpg
The Dargle

In the 19th century, during the Summer, the gentry of Dublin would travel out to Bray and Enniskerry with their entourages and have picnics on the banks of the River Dargle. The Dargle was a popular holiday resort, and the name in Dublin slang became synonymous with "holiday resort". [2]

Bray, County Wicklow Town in Leinster, Ireland

Bray is a coastal town in north County Wicklow, Ireland. It is situated about 20 km (12 mi) south of Dublin city centre on the east coast. It has a population of 32,600 making it the ninth largest urban area within Ireland.

Enniskerry Town in Leinster, Ireland

Enniskerry is a village in County Wicklow, Ireland. It had a population of 1,811 at the 2011 census.

River Dargle River in Co. Wicklow. Ireland.

The River Dargle rises in the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland on the northern slopes of Djouce Mountain and flows over the highest waterfall in Ireland, falling 121m at Powerscourt Waterfall. It then flows through the Glencree Valley where it is fed by the River Glencree before flowing east for a further 13 km (8.1 mi) where a small tributary the Swan River joins opposite the People's Park, Little Bray. The Dargle then flows for a final 1 km (0.62 mi) to reach the Irish Sea at Bray Harbour.

The shoe-makers and repairers in Dublin were known as waxies, because they used wax to waterproof and preserve the thread they used in stitching the shoes. [3] Easter and Whitsun were their principal holidays, Monday being the excursion for men and Tuesday for women. The original Waxies' Dargle was said to be part of Donnybrook Fair, but because of riotous behaviour this fair closed in 1855. [4] In any case, the waxies' excursions did not go all the way to Bray, but only went as far as Irishtown which is located between Ringsend and Sandymount. [5] In imitation of the gentry, they called their outing the Waxies' Dargle. They drove out from the city to Ringsend on flat drays, ten or a dozen to each vehicle. It cost two pence per car-load and the usual cry of the driver was "Tuppence, an' up with yeh!". Those who wanted a more comfortable ride could take a jaunting car from D'Olier Street for threepence. [2]

Easter Major Christian festival celebrating the resurrection of Jesus

Easter, also called Pascha or Resurrection Sunday, is a festival and holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day after his burial following his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD. It is the culmination of the Passion of Jesus, preceded by Lent, a 40-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.

Whitsun name used in the UK for the Christian festival of Pentecost

Whitsun is the name used especially in Britain and Ireland, and throughout the world among Anglicans and Methodists, for the Christian festival of Pentecost, the seventh Sunday after Easter, which commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ's disciples. In England it took on some characteristics of Beltane, which originated from the pagan celebration of Summer's Day, the beginning of the summer half-year, in Europe. Whitsuntide, the week following Whitsunday, was one of three vacation weeks for the medieval villein; on most manors he was free from service on the lord's demesne this week, which marked a pause in the agricultural year. Whit Monday, the day after Whitsun, remained a holiday in Britain until 1971 when, with effect from 1972, the movable holiday was replaced with the fixed Spring Bank Holiday on the last Monday in May. Whit was the occasion for varied forms of celebration.

Donnybrook Fair

Donnybrook Fair was a fair that was held in Donnybrook, Dublin, from the 13th century until the 1850s. It has given its name to an Irish jig, an upscale supermarket chain, a broadsheet ballad, and is a slang term for a brawl or riot.

Their destination was a favourite resort for Dubliners, a grass-covered triangle near the sea-front at Irishtown. On Summer evenings fiddlers, flautists and melodeon-players played dance music (sets, half-sets and reels) until midnight. There was a roaring trade in porter, cockles and mussels and "treacle Billy". On Bank holidays there were boxing contests. [2]

There is an engraved stone, marking the location of the Waxies' Dargle "picnic" site near Gleesons Pub in Irishtown.

Robert Gogan [6] describes how the "Waxies' Dargle" focuses on working-class Dublin. The places referenced are in areas frequented by the poor. Monto was an area around Montgomery Street, a notorious red-light district near the centre of Dublin. Capel Street is on the north side of the city and was renowned for its pawnbroking shops, a few of which remain to this day.

The Waxies' Dargle is also mentioned in another Dublin folk song, "Monto (Take Her Up to Monto)", written by George Desmond Hodnett.

"Monto " is an Irish folk song, written in 1958 by George Desmond Hodnett, music critic of the Irish Times, and popularised by the Dubliners.

George Desmond "Hoddy" Hodnett was an Irish musician, song-writer and long-time jazz and popular music critic for the Irish Times.

The Waxies' Dargle is referenced in the Aeolus episode of the novel Ulysses by James Joyce. The character Myles Crawford refers to the two old ladies on top of Nelson's pillar as being "Out for the waxies' Dargle".

The air

The air to which the song is sung is that of "Brighton Camp" (a reel in G Major), which is also used for "The Girl I Left Behind" and "The Rare Old Mountain Dew". [7] The earliest known version of the melody was printed about 1810 in Hime's Pocket Book for the German Flute or Violin (Dublin), vol. 3, p. 67, under the title The Girl I left Behind Me (in the National Library of Ireland, Dublin). [8]



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  1. Brady, Eilís (1984). All in! All in!: A selection of Dublin children's traditional street-games. Dublin: Four Courts Press. ISBN   978-0-901120-85-4.
  2. 1 2 3 Quidnunc (9 October 1933). "An Irishman's Diary". The Irish Times . p. 4.
  3. Bernard Share: Slanguage, A Dictionary of Irish Slang. Dublin, Gill and McMillan (1997 and 2005) ISBN   0-7171-3959-X
  4. Novelliste (8 November 1952). "The Waxies' Dargle". The Irish Times . p. 10.
  5. Quidnunc (25 March 1936). "An Irishman's Diary". The Irish Times . p. 4.
  6. 50 Great Irish Drinking Songs, Music Ireland, 2005
  7. Behan, Dominick (1964). Ireland Sings. London: Essex Music. p. XII.
  8. James J. Fuld, 3rd. ed. 1985, The Book of World-Famous Music Classical, Popular and Folk, pp. 242-244, Dover Pub

https://m.soundcloud.com/daymeeyen/the-waxies-dargle So-Ranna play their version of The Waxies Dargle, live on WDAR FM, Dublin