New Crops, Old Fields

Reimagining Irish Folklore

by Conor Caldwell (Volume editor) Eamon Byers (Volume editor)
Edited Collection X, 190 Pages
Series: Reimagining Ireland, Volume 80


From our homes to our houses of government, from our schoolyards to our stadia, from our galleries to our gable walls, folklore is not only preserved but continues to be reimagined in all aspects of everyday life in Ireland. In the twenty-first century, the traditions of Irish folklore are engaged in a constant process of regeneration, where the old and the new, the oral, the textual and the visual intermingle. However, while the «first life» of Irish folklore has amassed a vast literature, what has attracted less attention is its «second life»: the variety of ways in which traditions have been reused and recycled in other contexts by politicians, poets, visual artists, sportsmen, tourism officers, museum curators, writers and musicians.
This volume is concerned with those moments of cultural creation that occupy the space between the «first life» and «second life» of folklore and, in particular, the ways in which folk traditions are reinvented. Featuring essays from both authorities in the field and emerging voices, this interdisciplinary collection demonstrates the rich diversity of folk culture, as a practice and as an area of study, in contemporary Ireland.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Figures
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction (Eamon Byers / Conor Caldwell)
  • 1 Folklore: A Zombie Category? (Diarmuid ó Giolláin)
  • 2 Legends and Oral History in Bram Stoker’s The Snake’s Pass (Manuel Cadeddu)
  • 3 Humanizing History: Storytelling and Subjectivity in the Works of Frank Delaney (Anjili Babbar)
  • 4 Who Knows Where the Time Goes: Songs of the Past and Stories of the Present in Kate Thompson’s The New Policeman (Rebecca Long)
  • 5 Valse Shilly Shally: An Irish Expression of the Viennese Waltz (Maria Byrne)
  • 6 Musical Interpretations of Fenian Literature by Contemporary Irish Composers (Angela Horgan Goff)
  • 7 Revisiting Samhain: Two Directions on a Theme (Daithí Kearney)
  • 8 From Page to Stage and Beyond: (Re)imagining Cré na Cille (Eilís Ní Dhúill)
  • 9 Mother Ireland: Folklore and the Fractured Family in Irish-Themed Cinema (Jack Casey)
  • 10 Discovering and Celebrating Ireland’s Tree Folklore (Ben Simon)
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Index
  • Series index

← vi | vii →

List of Figures


Valse Shilly Shally: An Irish Expression of the Viennese Waltz

Figure 1:Samuel Lover, ‘Sally’.
Figure 2:Trad., ‘Tá an Coileach ag Fógairt an Lae’.
Figure 3:William Balfe, ‘Killarney’.
Figure 4:Cover of the sheet music for ‘Valse Shilly Shally’. Reproduced with permission from Taisce Cheol Dúchais Éireann, Irish Traditional Music Archive.


Revisiting Samhain: Two Directions on a Theme

← viii | ix →


We would like to thank the New Crops, Old Fields team, both old and new, for their help in bringing this publication to fruition and shaping the work of the group: Audrey Robitaillié, Caoimhe Nic Lochlainn, Joanne Burns, Marjan Shokouhi, Angela Horgan Goff, Pádraig McGonagle and Sheila Rooney. The conference from which this volume of essays originates was generously hosted by the School of Creative Arts at Queen’s University Belfast (now part of the School of Arts, English and Languages), and diligently facilitated by Mrs Audrey Smith and Mrs Iris Mateer. The editors also gratefully acknowledge support obtained through the QUB Student Led Initiatives fund and the help of Foras na Gaeilge. ← ix | x →

← x | 1 →



In Dermot Healy’s final novel Long Time, No See (2011), the narrator describes the assiduous and almost oneiric labour involved in building a wall with stones he has salvaged from the shore and the ruins of a monk’s chamber:

Some of the stones I used had come inland in storms. But today I started to haul from an old ruin up on the bank overlooking the sea. I got an awful bad feeling as I pulled the rocks out of the ruin. I had to tell myself over and over that they were going back into another wall. The ruin was supposed to have been a henhouse way back, but it was the strongest-built henhouse I ever came across. There were massive stones in her. I could have been demolishing a small church, and sometimes I thought I was.

A beehive hut it might have been.

A monk’s chamber.

I could even feel the sense of balance of the man who had built it.


X, 190
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2017 (February)
Folklore Contemporary Ireland
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2017. X, 190 pp., 7 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Conor Caldwell (Volume editor) Eamon Byers (Volume editor)

Conor Caldwell is a musician, broadcaster, teacher and researcher based in Belfast. He completed his PhD at Queen’s University Belfast in 2013 with a thesis studying the life and music of celebrated Donegal fiddler John Doherty. Eamon Byers is a teacher and writer based in London. He completed his PhD at Queen’s University Belfast in 2014 with a thesis exploring the interaction between medievalism and folk music in English culture from the eighteenth century to the present day.


Title: New Crops, Old Fields