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'Flying down the Saltmarket': the Irish on the Glasgow Music Hall Stage.

Little Mackenzie danced the Highland Fling in the national costume, and afterwards, in the attire of a Son of Erin, danced a jig, to the satisfaction of all. (1)

Glasgow's rapid industrial expansion in the nineteenth century brought an enormous growth in the city's population and, with it, a new cultural and ethnic diversity. The impact of the incomers--who ranged from Gaelic-speaking 'teuchter' migrants from the highlands and islands, and rural workers from lowland areas, to communities of Irish, Italian, Lithuanian, Polish and Jewish immigrants from Russia and eastern Europe--was reflected in a range of national and ethnic stage representations seen in the city's theatres and music halls. One of these representations, the kilted Scotch comic, exemplified by Harry Lauder, has been the subject of intense critical debate concerning its significance as an icon of Scottish identity. Denounced by critics in the 1970s and 1980s, alongside Kailyard literature and tartanry, as a kitsch symbol of what Tom Nairn termed 'cultural sub-nationalism,' (2) the figure has more recently been re-evaluated by writers who view its emergence as a response to the urgent need for a new version of Scottish identity, which reflected the demographic changes and new urban contexts of late nineteenth-century Scotland. In this reading the Scotch comic figure was a robust product of what David Goldie terms 'a self-reflexive popular culture', and its garish tartan hybrid of Highland dress and lowland manners not a gross caricature but a deliberate, knowing composite, one that Scottish audiences intuitively recognised in Lauder's case as 'a sophisticated presentation of a national type that is being celebrated and ironised at the same moment,' (3) and which, on a slightly different tack, Alasdair Cameron and Adrienne Scullion suggest offered 'symbols of a nationality which, under normal circumstances, audiences were never allowed to express.' (4)

If the Scotch comic was then on some level part of the re-making (or re-imagining) of Scottish identity, the other side of the negotiation surely involved the new immigrant groups present in Scottish cities. How did these sorts of stereotypical national stage representations work in respect of immigrant communities?

In Glasgow the Scotch comic's rival on the halls, the Irish comedian, offered a potentially far more contentious and socially-charged representation than his Scottish counterpart, given the enormous hostility directed at the Irish in the west of Scotland. In fact, the marked disparity between this widespread anti-Irish prejudice and the popularity of Irish songs and entertainments throws the contradictions of these stage representations into sharp relief, and invites a series of questions as to the role of the stage Irish figure in this context: what possible function did the characterisation serve, beyond that of entertainment, who was it aimed at, and, given the crude, reductive nature of these sort of stereotypes, what impact did it have on relations between Irish communities and indigenous Scottish audiences?

This essay seeks to answer these questions by examining Irish performers and their songs and material in the context of Glasgow music halls, and specifically through performances at a particular venue--the Britannia Music Hall, located in Trongate in Glasgow, which opened in the final days of 1859. The aim is to evaluate Irish entertainments and their meanings within the social and cultural context of their performance in the music halls of the time, a process which involves first appreciating the demographic basis of the Irish presence in the city.

The Irish Community in Glasgow

In the early nineteenth century the Irish presence in Glasgow was largely associated with migrant seasonal workers. However the Famine of the 1840s brought a rapid growth in Irish immigration and, by 1851, 64,185, or 18.2% of Glasgow's total population of 358,951 were Irish-born, in contrast to the national figure for Scotland of 7.2%. Although this marked the highpoint of Irish immigration to the city, after which its rate fluctuated, the Irish-born remained a sizable proportion of the population until well into the twentieth century. In 1871 Irish-born inhabitants constituted 14.3% of Glasgow's population, the figure declining to 10% in 1891 and 6% in 1911. (5)

While Irish workers in the pre-famine period had gravitated to eastern districts, with Glasgow Cross providing a gathering place where they competed for hiring against workers from the Highlands, the mid-century saw their spread throughout areas of cheap and insanitary housing in the city centre. By the 1850s the Irish represented a substantial and possibly dominant influence in the districts immediately surrounding the Britannia. In 1851 the Rev. Robert Buchanan, minister of the Tron Church parish, which ran from Trongate in the north to Bridgegate in the south, and from Old Wynd in the west to Saltmarket to the east (Plate 1), stated that the area's population was 'more than one-half Popish', and that during his tenure, the Irish presence in the parish had grown from 3,500 to 6,000 of the total population of 12,000 inhabitants in 1850. (6) Official statistics confirm that 45% of the district around St Mary or Tron parish was Irish-born in 1851. (7) While Irish immigration tailed off in the 1850s and 1860s, and legislation to clear slum housing began to take effect in the 1870s, the parish's proportion of Irish-born inhabitants remained as high as 32% in 1881, after considerable clearances had taken place in Tron, Bridgegate and the Wynds. (8)


In the popular imagination, the Irish were identified with low-paid, unskilled labour and manual occupations, and moreover with undercutting established rates of pay, strike-breaking and anti-trades union activity. Irish men in particular were associated with drunkenness, fighting and loutish behaviour, with laziness, indolence and stupidity portrayed as their main characteristics. The upshot of this low socio-economic status, their presence in the worst areas of overcrowded slum housing in the city, further associated them with disease and lack of cleanliness, while their Catholicism was regarded as wilful, self-indicting provocation to the Presbyterian beliefs of the indigenous majority. In fact, modern scholarship has suggested that a number of widely-held beliefs concerning the Irish were inaccurate or misconceived: for example, work on Irish immigrant patterns of employment have shown it to have been more diverse and less reliant on lower-skilled occupations than previously believed. (9)

These perceived stereotypical traits of Irish character and behaviour were promoted in the popular entertainment culture of the time through songs, sketches and plays. The prominence of Irish performers in early music hall meant that a self-consciously mythologised version of Irish culture and identity was already well-established in the Glasgow entertainment world by the 1850s, the period just prior to the Britannia Music Hall's emergence. In the first instance it was most evident in the output of Irish comic actors, whose work in a repertoire of melodramas and comic plays furnished a rich gallery of characters and situations that formed the basis for excursions into other forms. James Handley, the first modern historian of the Irish in Scotland, wrote of this area that:
   For the lighter moments of the immigrant the playhouse provided
   rich fare with a rich native flavour. Indeed in the second half of
   the nineteenth century the abundance of Irish melodrama on the
   boards would indicate that the theatre in Scotland looked to the
   immigrant for solid support. Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Paisley,
   Greenock and Coatbridge purveyed such robust entertainment as Peep
   o' Day or Savoureen Deelish, Dermot, the Son of Hibernia or The
   Girl of Balliemoyle, Whiteboys or The Lily of Leinster, Charles
   O'Malley or Love, Fun and Fighting, The Bleak Hills of Ireland,
   Handy Andy, The Irish Emigrant and Kathleen Mavourneen. Dion
   Boucicault's Colleen Bawn, Arrah-na-Pogue and The Shaughraun were
   regularly performed in Scotland until well into the twentieth
   century. (10)

While Handley describes the enthusiastic immigrant audience for these Irish entertainments, he also draws a sharp distinction between the intended constituencies for the two types of performance. Irish performers, he suggests
   catered skilfully for the two sections of their audience: Irish
   songs and political drama for the immigrants, and the stage
   Irishmen [...] for the delectation of the native, much as the Scots
   comedian by travestying in English music halls the weaknesses of
   his own country pandered to his southern audience's sense of
   superiority. (11)

Although Handley was describing the first half of the nineteenth century, this division between certain Irish stage genres and the stage Irishman per se seems highly artificial. As Handley acknowledges elsewhere, the boundaries of popular entertainments like theatre, melodrama, circus and music hall constantly overlapped and elided, as performers moved freely between formats, repeating and developing themes. The notion that the Irish stage figure did not inflect other forms, or was impervious to, for example, the political undercurrents of the domestic dramas in which he was frequently situated, seems very questionable.

Moreover, invoking comparisons with the Scotch comic, a much more complex cultural construction than Handley allows for, also undermines claims for the travestied status of the stage Irishman: after all, if the Scotch comic was conceived for English audiences, why was it so demonstrably popular in Scotland? For the stage Irishman to similarly represent a caricature intended purely for 'native' audiences (in this case Scottish, by no means connoting the same associations as the English), would require Irish immigrant audiences to reject or be indifferent to the character, a position which, I will suggest, was far from the case.

If Handley had in mind the oafish Irish caricature often identified as the butt of English humour, he was no doubt more sympathetic to the witty protagonist developed by Dion Boucicault, who 'altered this image by making his Irishman the clever and attractive central character in a play set in Ireland, in which the absurd Englishman, or Anglo-Irishman, makes a fool of himself among the Irish'. (12) But if Boucicault inverted the former dynamic, in the process gaining credit for reinventing the stage Irishman, the figure's context remained firmly Irish and rural. While these dramas clearly 'spoke' to immigrant audiences in Scotland, the question remains as to how the cultural negotiation involving the figure and wider Irish representations generally was advanced by these pieces: why was the potency of the stage Irish figure defined in terms of, or in opposition to, the English? For the Irish in Scotland, a whole new range of issues, involving urban living, religious discrimination and cultural difference surely required the development of more relevant stage representations.

While Irish dramas remained popular until well into the twentieth century, I suggest that music hall took up the baton, developing and renewing Irish stage iconography to reflect the realities of immigrant living, and in the process broadening the stage Irishman to adapt it to Scottish urban contexts. The starting place to testing this lies in the interaction between theatre and music hall performers during the latter's formative period. If Irish dramas were a popular staple, part of their wider significance lay in the vehicles they provided for Irish actors, who used their rich repertoire of comic characters as a springboard to crossover success in the music hall. For successful actors, a move into the expanding new genre represented a natural progression from popular theatre, a career path we can verify through the patterns of their engagements. The 'Irish Comedian' George Hodson, who appeared at Glover's Prince's Theatre Royal in Glasgow in July and August 1853, was, by July 1865, presenting his 'Irish Entertainment' at Brown's Royal Music Hall, before appearing the following week at the Theatre Royal. (13) In some cases Irish dramas themselves served as vehicles for the transition. Gardiner Coyne, the 'celebrated Irish comedian and vocalist,' who appeared in Kathleen Mavourneen at the Theatre Royal, Dunlop Street, Glasgow, in 1864, was by 1873 playing his star role of Myles-na-Coppaleen in The Colleen Bawn at a music hall, the Southminster Theatre of Varieties in Edinburgh. Moreover by 1895, his Gardiner Coyne's Combination was on the bill at the Britannia, where they were kept over for a second week performing their 'laughable Irish sketch, "Maccaroni."' In other words, Coyne's theatrical actor-management had evolved into an Irish sketch company on the halls. (14)

If these dramas provided the prototype for the Irish stage persona, Irish performers and managers also played a founding role in the development of Scottish music hall from its beginnings in the 1840s. The pervasiveness of this Irish influence was evident in professional and entrepreneurial links between Scotland and Ireland in the 1850s. James Shearer, proprietor of the Whitebait concert rooms in St Enoch's Wynd, was also manager of the Imperial Colosseum in Belfast in 1857, while Charles Levy, of the Shakespeare Saloon in the Saltmarket, another of Glasgow's leading singing saloons, acquired a Dublin venue, Byrne's Concert Hall, in the same year. Irish and Scottish performers regularly travelled between the two countries, and this closely entwined relationship, based on a commonality of shared Celtic cultural perspectives, and facilitated by improvements in sea travel, continued throughout the nineteenth century. (15)

The Irish remained integral to Glasgow's music hall culture throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, moving freely between roles as performers, managers and entrepreneurs. The Britannia itself (Plate 2) was located at the heart of this Irish influence. The high levels of Irish immigration to its surrounding districts already outlined meant that from its opening the 'Brit', like its soonto-be neighbours, the Scotia in Stockwell Street, and the Star, in Watson Street by Glasgow Cross, had a significant Irish presence in its audience, and featured Irish acts prominently on its bills. Over its lifetime Irish performers remained a mainstay, the artists' genres and billing soubriquets altering remarkably little over the period from 1860 to 1914.

By the 1880s the Britannia was at the centre of an Irish performing sub-culture. Although Irish acts never constituted a majority, star Irish comedians were particularly popular as headline attractions. The full range of Irish genres--from dancers, vocalists and duettists to 'low' or knockabout comedy--is demonstrated by the list of Irish performers that appeared at the hall in the course of a single year, 1885. Other Irish comedians associated with the Britannia in the same period, the 1880s, included 'Ireland's Gem,' Patrick Rooney, Patrick Feeney, 'The Irish Ambassador' and 'The Man That Came Over From Ireland', Pat Connor and Pat Rafferty, as well as Teddy O'Lacy, Pat McGowan, Patsy Malloy, Dicky Sullivan and Paddy Hodgetts.

Irish Performers at the Britannia Music Hall, 1885

Dermot & Doyle, Irish knockabout comedians and dancers

Ted Grattan, Irish comedy

Cheevers & Kennedy, Irish, Negro and Dutch characters

The Donnells, James and Kate, English and Irish duettists

'Count' George Pearson

The Two Macs, Eccentric Irish Knock-about Act

Brothers Golding Dutch and Irish business

Patsy Harvey, clever eccentric Irish comedian and dancer

Paddy and Ella Murphy, genuine Irish Duettists and Dancers

Kearns and Kasey, Irish duettists

Sam Jones, Acrobatic Dancing and Irish Songs

Tom Macrorey, Irish Character business

Messrs Folloy & O'Neil, impersonations of Irish Life & Character

P.W. O'Brien, Irish low comedy

Walter Munroe, Great star Hibernian entertainer

W. J. Ashcroft, The Solid Man

Messrs Lally & Doyle, The Men Who Erected the City

Brothers Stannard, Hibernian Songs and dances

Elliot & Renson, Irish Character Duettists and Dancers

Mr Dan Leno, Irish Comedian and Prize dancer (16)


The provision of such acts clearly represented a market-driven response to audience demand. So 'Count' George Pearson first appeared at the Britannia in 1879, but made his 'breakthrough' there in 1883 singing 'Tyrone amongst the Bushes', and proved so popular that he was annually re-engaged at an increased fee. Leading stars were similarly booked for their drawing power: news of W. J. Ashcroft's 1885 engagement at the Britannia was trailed in the press a full eight months before his appearance.

The search for new attractions was clearly a major preoccupation, with the Britannia's management known for 'importing large numbers of "directs" from America', as well as, in an ironic press dig, 'Bowery Boys from Liverpool, and American teams from as far as the [nearby] Hatter's Brae, Cowcaddens'. Items and biographies in music hall trade journals, and first-hand recollections of this period, the 1880s, all confirm that the management style of the time was aggressively entrepreneurial and highly opportunistic in locating and capitalising on its stars. An example involved the 'Two Macs,' subsequently popular headliners, who initially came over from Dublin to play in Coatbridge. Hearing of their success, the Britannia's manager H.T. Rossborough booked them for the hall, but initially chose not to print any bills for their first week. When they proved enormously popular, 'The next week's bills came out with the Two Macs on the top "Re-engaged Regardless of Expense"'. (17)

The Irish influence seems to have permeated all levels of the hall's management and professional culture through a network of ties and associations. Rossborough, the proprietor, was born in America, and may well have come from an Irish or Irish-American background; his wife was the widow of the Irish comic singer Paddy McGowan, and his step-son, Alex McGowan, subsequently became acting manager. The 1881 census also shows the household included an Irish girl as a domestic servant.

If the popularity of these Irish performers, then, was undeniable, both with partisan immigrant audiences at the Britannia, and with the wider music hall public, the question remains as to quite where their attraction lay for these different constituencies, and why Irish acts remained popular--and, on some level, resonant--for so long?

Part of the answer involves establishing the Irish community's own relationship to the stage Irishman, in other words, unpacking Handley's assertion that the figure was intended for the delectation of 'native' (Scottish) audiences. In this respect, past dismissals of the stage Irish character by critics fail to provide a convincing motive for the figure's patronage by the expatriate Irish. Declan Kiberd suggests that, for those Irish who chose to play up to the stage image in their dealings with English:
   the stereotype had indeed certain short-lived advantages. It
   permitted some form of elementary contact between the immigrant and
   the native English; but it necessitated only a circumscribed
   relationship, which the Irish could control and regulate at will.

As a result, many immigrants perfected 'an art of fawning duplicity'. (18) But even if, as Kiberd asserts, 'it suited the Irish in Britain, and possibly even in America to conform to the prototype,' the suggestion he quotes that 'the caricature and ridicule meant that the English considered them harmless creatures' seems a very broad generalisation. (19) A more psychologically complex reading, which allows for a more knowing degree of Irish agency, comes from Richard Allen Cave:
   One might argue that the strategy of the overt assumption of the
   role of Stage Irishman was designed to convey the impression that
   the Irish, inured to the insult implicit in the stereotype, had
   begun to act in the manner expected of them by the English as a
   deliberate, even political, ploy to keep hidden and protected the
   true spirit of the nation, so that the last laugh was on the
   English for being short-sighted and insensitive in perceiving
   egocentrically only what they chose to see.20

These readings make several important assumptions about the Irish stage character: that on some level it exerted a literal, performative influence on the immigrant community; that, in conception and impact, it was directed at the English; and that Irish audiences (even if they manipulated it to their advantage), were essentially passive recipients--rather than formers--of the depiction. I suggest that all these factors are questionable, and that, at least in the different contexts that I am examining--in Scotland, and in music hall--the Irish stage figure was, like its Scottish equivalent, the Scotch comic, a considerably more complex phenomenon. In contrast, I will argue that the Irish figure (or figures) fulfilled two important functions, one of which related to the Irish in Scotland, and the other to the wider Irish world. The first was that, through songs and performing material, Irish stage characters helped adapt the immigrant Irish community to the process of urbanisation in Scotland by shifting the focus of Irish characterisations from rural to urban contexts that better reflected their new circumstances. And secondly, they provided a unifying version of national identity, such as was required by reductive popular theatre formats, that linked Irish communities in British cities like Glasgow to those in North America and the wider Irish diaspora.

The Irish in Scotland

In examining the first of these, the figure's significance to the Irish in Scotland, the key focus lies in the performing material, which broadened the range of the stage Irish persona to include increasing references to urban subjects and immigrant experience. In music hall, the Irish stage persona was projected through a wide and continually up-dated repertoire of songs, available in Glasgow-published collections such as Barr's Irish Songster (1880s) and Shamrock Songster (c.1901). This material broadly consisted of two streams: sentimental songs and ballads revolving around love of family and homeland ('Erin'); and comic sketches, songs and patter. While the tone of the sentimentalised material remained remarkably consistent over a long period--the emotive iconography of green hills, silverhaired mothers and dark-eyed colleens remaining virtually unchanged from the 1860s to the 1920s (21)--other Irish music hall idioms offered a marked broadening of the themes. So while comic songs continued to celebrate the 'Irish' characteristics familiar from popular dramas--drinking, laziness, the propensity for violence through the ubiquitous 'Donnybrook,' for example--they also often featured references to Glasgow life and locations that marked them out as distinct products of the urban Irish experience. In drawing on familiar city locations and circumstances of immigrant experience, they therefore set their Irish characters firmly in the Glasgow landscape.

While fighting remained a characteristic theme, other songs gained their comic effect by pointing up the disparity between the swaggering, posturing tone of Irish men about town and the underlying social reality of their place in society. In C. R. Armstrong's 'Dungannon', based on a real-life Glasgow character, the self-styled 'bould boss of the Bazaar', likes 'a taste of whiskey/Just a small drop in a jar'. But at the song's end confirmation of the 'boss's' true threadbare status comes when he goes to meet his sweetheart, 'Connaught Mary Ann',
   as fine a girl as you would meet from here to Castlebar,
   An' she always goes in her barefeet
   Like the Boss of the Bazaar. (22)

Dungannon reappears in another song, 'Donnelly's Hotel,' about a lodging house at Bridgeton Cross, where he forms part of the gallery of inmates, along with 'Kelly, that loafs about the toll,' 'all the fancy men, and the boys that humphs the coal':
   And there is big Dungannon, he thinks that he's a swell,
   He gets his doss for nothing down in Donnelly's Hotel.

In 'The Terror of the Briggate,' the bullish claims of the self-regarding protagonist, Mick, to be pugilistic 'cock of the walk' are similarly shot down by the clumsiness of his confused attempts at social aggrandisement, and by a series of references to his social milieu.
   Ye see a man before ye that has gained great respect,
   The reason is I make myself so free,
   An' to occupation, shure, I am an architect,
   Yis, at carrying the hod there's none bates me. (23)

Among other details that further telegraph the joke and firmly place him in his Glasgow milieu, are that Mick 'resides' in the (notorious) Jaffrey's Close, off Stockwell Street ('an' that's where I was born, You'll see my name placed on the door wid chalk'), and frequents '... Dobbin's in Saltmarket' [where] 'shure all us gintry goes, It's good enough to get stuff there on tick'. While we don't dispute Mick's claim to be the top fighting man of the locality, his muddled pretensions to gentlemanly status, emphasised by the richness of the brogue, reinforce the image of the Irishman as cocksure, vain, and, above all, insensitive to the ridicule of others. If the joke here is at the expense of self-importance, and getting above oneself, then such thick-skinned Irish gaucheness, translated in these songs as an inability to see oneself as others do, also had the potential for sympathetic portrayal. The protagonist of 'The Girl That Was Dressed Like a Fairy', also by the Glasgow songwriter Armstrong, describes how, on visiting the Theatre Royal ('the Royal Theatre') he is besotted by one of the dancing girls. Catching her eye, he winks 'in the rale ould Irish fashion', to the mirth of those around him, and adding to the hail of bouquets raining onto the stage, throws 'a small one from my coat.'
   For that people at me kept sneerin',
   But a short note inside it I wrote,
   Sayin', Meet me when you're done appearin'.

Encountering the girl after the show, he accompanies her back to her digs, 'a self-contained mansion about seven flights of stairs up, oh, it was quite a heavenly abode,' where they enjoy 'a grand dramatic conversation.' As in the previous songs, the humour is at the expense of the gauche Mick, who is subsequently clearly taken advantage of by his chorus girl ('Oh, begorra, I plase this girl rightly, The people says there's Mick the pro., For I carry her luggage home nightly.') However, the character's naivety, and sense of being both 'of the big city, and yet out of place in it, has a charm that translates, at least at one point, into genuine lyricism: after their first meeting, the love--and stage-struck Mick confesses in patter how 'that night when I got home I dreamt I had a second-hand pair of wings on me, an' was flyin' about the Saltmarket lookin' out for my darling fairy.' (24)

Such imaginative flights of fancy--from the mouth of a rough-cast 'cratur' in a music hall song of the late 1880s--were not uncharacteristic. Declan Kiberd, among others, has seen the original stage Irishman as a product of English Protestantism's need for 'a foil which might set off the domestic [English] virtues of efficiency, order and reason,' noting that, as the price for this 'the feeling for poetry and emotion was projected onto the native.' (25) Notwithstanding the continued (irresistible) attraction of boozing and brawling as comic subjects, Irish music hall acts helped promote the increasing association of 'Irish' with good-humoured loquaciousness and wit, through verbal dexterity, 'blarney' and cross-talk. An element of whimsy or fantasy--the 'poetry and emotion' that Kiberd refers to remained a licensed characteristic of Irish acts.

If the Irish are then increasingly part of urban society, some Irish comic songs reflected this by focussing on what could be seen as more universal themes: the perennial problem of what to do with lazy sons, as in 'Barney Wrought in Dixon's,' where the second offspring was a 'holder on/In Elder's big ship yard,' (a Clyde shipbuilders), before being sacked and 'running with the mob'; a man worried about his wife drinking with the lodger ('Doing Doctor Tanner'); and the sexual harassment and domestic abuse faced by Irish women. (26) Although the exposition of these latter subjects was constrained by the comic idiom, and by their performance by male comedians, they nevertheless reflected genuine critiques of Irish masculinity in a number of domestic situations: 'Is it because I'm Irish!' concerns a girl's problem in keeping her boyfriend, Barney, from confusing her 'shyness' with consent to his sexual advances; in 'Oh, Mr Murphy!' a young woman is forced to fend off the unwelcome attentions of a former boyfriend, a butcher, who won't give up even though she is now married ('Last night as I was passing he bawled out in the street/"Step inside, Mrs Casey, and inspect this joint of meat."'); (27) and in 'Mistress O'Hooligan's Son,' the protagonist rues the day she ever listened to the eponymous dame, and agreed to marry her son, who turned out to be an abusive monster:
   For he is a notorious rascal, a day's
   work he never would do,
   But come home at night, and provoke me to fight,
   then batter my face black and blue. (28)

If these songs all show a normalisation of themes, of characters depicted in a wider range of urban social contexts, a further indication of growing confidence lay in the emergence of Irish songs with a political or radicalising message. The 'patriotic Irish comedian' Pat Rooney's 'I will always speak of Old Ireland with Pride,' and 'Ireland will Once More Arise from the Dust', ('sung with immense success at the Britannia Music Hall, Glasgow,') were typical products of the 1880s. In these, the writers and performers observed music hall conventions regarding politically divisive material: so songs were designated 'patriotic' rather than 'nationalist', for the more positive/ambivalent aspect this lent them, and were careful to proceed from a position of historic loyalty--first emphasising Irish blood shed in England's past defence--and to argue for political reform on reasoned grounds of fairness and natural justice. On these terms calls for reform/self rule could be characterised as a reversal of previous injustice, and, rather than a dangerous precedent, be portrayed as simply restoring the equilibrium of natural, harmonious good relations with the mother country. (In other words, for those in the audience who weren't listening too closely, it could seem as if the singer wanted home-rule for Ireland to secure the future of the Empire.)

Concern that Irish politics could have an incendiary effect on audiences was shared by legitimate theatre managements. A press advertisement for Home Rule, or Ireland for the Irish, at Glasgow's Royal Princess's Theatre in 1880 carried a disclaimer that the play 'has no political or religious tendency, and is simply a resume of scenes and incidents depicting the present condition of the Irish tenant farmer.' However in music hall, performers could, given a suitably 'patriotic' delivery, use such songs to deliver a developed political critique. Pat Rooney's 'Ireland Once More Will Arise from the Dust' went beyond a straightforward plea for Home Rule to touch on both the demographic problems caused by Ireland's population drain, and the need for a wider range of economic measures:
   A justful law to deal with land,
   Erin can claim at last,
   But to make Ireland prosperous,
   A few more should be passed;
   With trade and commerce as of yore,
   It quickly would be shown,
   That Irish manufactures,
   Can always hold their own. (29)

Pat Feeney, the pre-eminent Irish patriotic vocalist in this vein, was regarded as a champion of nationalist sentiment. Although his repertoire included its share of heavily sentimentalised material, he was also on a personal level passionately engaged with the community and its struggles, and was remembered as 'really a patriot off the stage as well as on [who] on more than one occasion of famine and other causes of unemployment in his native land [...] collected for sundry charity funds for the relief of his distressed compatriots'. (30)

The collective effect of this body of music hall songs was to broaden the range of associations and possibilities of Irish stage characters. No longer limited to stock types familiar from rural dramas, they now included a new set of hybridised figures and situations that unmistakably belonged to the urban landscape in which they were performed: the swell, self-important 'fighting man,' the honest Irish workman whose observations on city life reveal him as an innocent abroad, and a range of characters rooted in the physical and material circumstances of immigrant life in Scotland. Familiar Irish 'characters,' no longer pretending to be in a mythical rural Ireland, but as encountered in the streets of Glasgow.

The fact that these songs were about life in urban Scotland also has important implications for our view of the function of these music hall representations. As I have suggested, previous criticism of the 'legitimate' stage Irishman has characterised the figure as a projection of English colonial 'Otherness,' in Kiberd's words, 'a foil which might set off the [English] domestic virtues of efficiency, order and reason.' (31) This analysis, largely based on the work of eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Anglo-Irish dramatists, has also tended to be rather casually ascribed to the character's music hall version. Kiberd points up the disparity in the attitude of English audiences towards the Irish by which 'the music-hall creation was loved and the real-life model hated', but suggests their affection for Irish protagonists was 'a classic example of the tendency of all repressive regimes to sentimentalise their victims.' (32)

However from a Scottish perspective, this reading seems questionable on two counts: firstly, that the connotation of Irish stage representations in the English milieu, the assumed default for most of these studies, was substantially different from that applying in Scotland, where the territory was much more complex (being simultaneously more religiously hostile and--paradoxically--culturally receptive); and, secondly, that music hall's taking up and development of the Stage Irish character should be viewed as quite different to that of legitimate theatre, in that we get a completely different perspective on the Irish figure's exaggerated characterisation when it is set alongside the other reductive ethnic and national stereotypes with which music hall stages were populated.

The key lies in the functioning of music hall itself. Kiberd views the stage Irish persona as a caricature, in which immigrants to England (and America) acquiesced because it suited their need for a prototype at a time when, coming from rural backgrounds, they had no ready-made urban identity. But this view of a persona squarely intended for English audiences (which even Handley, for quite different reasons, is quite happy to fall back on) does not correspond to our experience of Glasgow. As I have suggested, at the Britannia in the 1880s large numbers of 'Irish' performers sang Irish songs to audiences likely to contain a high proportion of immigrants or those of Irish extraction. Notwithstanding their exaggerated comic idiom, at least part of their performing material reflected immigrant experience through references to Glasgow locations and the day to day experiences and situations of immigrant life. The introduction of local references might possibly be put down to detail--to colour furnished to add verisimilitude--were it not for the fact that the presence of political and national content in songs also suggests an Irish consciousness and political aspirations at work within the format. (33)

The vibrancy of this performing tradition suggests that Glasgow Irish audiences, rather than finding it, in Kiberd's words, 'easier to don the mask of the surrogate Irishman than to reshape a complex urban identity of their own,' were in fact doing precisely the latter: that these comic songs located in Glasgow were both celebrating Irish figures on the Scottish scene, and staking a claim for their rights, both in Scotland and, through campaigning for political self-determination and Home Rule, in Ireland. Reframed in these terms, the Irish music hall character seems less a response to Scottish or British--and let alone English--imaginings, than an expression of identity at least partly engendered by the demands of diaspora. This factor--the role of the character as a transmitter of national cultural identity between the centres of diaspora--is one that I identified earlier, and will now explore.


Glasgow was a key British centre of the Irish diaspora. As a major port and industrial centre, the city acted as a conduit or clearing house for Irish immigrants passing through in number of different directions: to and from Ireland, via Dublin and Belfast; within Britain, to the other major Irish communities in London, Liverpool and Birmingham; and, beyond this, to the American centres of Boston and New York. Besides this role as a gateway, Glasgow's own shifting Irish population, both established and transient, kept in close touch with events at home through an extensive and self-renewing network of contacts--familial, commercial and cultural--made possible by its proximity to Ireland and the ease of sea travel. These links also provided contact with musical and cultural developments in Ireland. Irish actor managers regularly brought companies to Glasgow and Clydebank for seasons of Irish dramas. And from the 1870s Glasgow was part of what developed into an established pattern of theatrical touring that saw productions play in a circuit that comprised Glasgow, Belfast, Dublin, Cork and Liverpool. (34)

If the Glasgow community remained connected to cultural influences from Ireland, it also conspicuously embraced music hall, which featured in social events promoted by Glasgow Irish organisations. St. Patrick's Night celebrations in the 1880s, usually presided over by a priest, featured Irish music hall songs as well as traditional music. The Irish National League's weekly concerts, designed to provide affordable winter entertainment for working people, also featured songs from the halls. At one packed event in the Gallowgate, arrangements clearly reflected rural Irish protocols, with 'The ladies [...] placed on one side, and the gentlemen on the other; of course there was a guard between them, still the boys kept winking over to the colleens, and the colleens winked back in return.' (35) But for all this social conservatism, the entertainment provided by amateur performers included 'Where the grass grows green,' 'Those words are engraved on an Irishman's heart,' and 'Homeward once more'. The inclusion of such songs, typical of nostalgic music hall balladry, at community events did not represent an imposition by external, commercial pressures, but rather the genuine emotive resonance such material could have for expatriate audiences.

If the Irish community identified with music hall, the careers of many performers were also closely bound up with the experience of diaspora. For example, most of the Britannia's star comedians of the 1880s previously discussed were not born in Ireland but came from backgrounds in Irish communities in Britain: Pat Rooney was from Bolton, George Pearson came from Liverpool, and Pat Connor began his career as a boy in Bradford and Leeds. Pat Feeney was born in Birmingham. Walter Munroe was Irish-born but grew up in Liverpool. These performers' approach to Irish identity was, like that of many in the audiences to which they performed, conditioned by their experience as immigrants in British cities, and of what it meant to grow up as part of a contentious minority in an often hostile host society. Striving to develop careers in Britain, they faced choices as to the degree to which they chose to be professionally defined by their Irish identity, a situation which amounted to a trade-off between the socio-economic price of acknowledging ethnic extraction and, in the right situation, capitalising on its professional utility.

Perhaps as a result of their experiences, Irish performers became closely identified with the Irish community in Britain, and with the promotion of Irish political consciousness. The outstanding figure in this respect in the 1870s and 1880s was the 'patriotic' Irish comedian Patrick Feeney (Plate 3) who used his act as a focus for political material, and whose death in London in 1889 at the age of forty-eight provoked an enormous outpouring. A tribute in a Glasgow music hall paper, printed alongside a notably sober and statesmanlike portrait of the performer, stated of his activism:
   Pat was a most enthusiastic Home Ruler; in the days when Home Rule
   found more bricks than sympathy in the music halls, Pat used never
   to miss an opportunity of advocating the claims of his race. It was
   his boast that he was largely responsible for the changed feeling
   that has come in latter days. (36)

Glasgow's own iconic Irish star was Marie Loftus (Plate 4), reputedly born in Stockwell Street in 1857 of Irish parents, although the fact of her Irish identity was, in professional terms, much more locally and selectively deployed. Loftus, who made her first appearances as a girl dancing at the Scotia music hall, went on to become one of the transcendent female stars of the Victorian music hall, appearing in Drury Lane pantomimes and touring South Africa and the United States. Although early in her career she sang 'Kilkenny Kate' and was billed as 'The Hibernian Hebe', she quickly developed into a skilled Serio Comedienne, who specialised in delivering pastiches of a wide range of different performers and song genres. There is no evidence to suggest that, in her mature incarnation as 'The Sarah Bernhardt of the Halls', Loftus made a particular feature of Irish material, or was known as being of Irish extraction by wider British audiences. But on her regular triumphant returns to her home city her Glasgow Irish background was a key part of her appeal. At a tribute concert to raise funds for Feeney's mother and daughter held at Glasgow City Hall under the auspices of the Irish National League, one of several such events nationally, it was reported that, among the long list of contributing Glasgow performers, which included Miss Maud Bruce singing 'Killarney,' and Mr Orr Leslie with 'The Irish Emigrant,' 'Miss Marie Loftus was the favourite, her appearance alone brought forth rounds of deafening applause.' (37) She subsequently attended at an INL meeting to contribute 1[pounds sterling] to branch funds.




If these 'Irish' performers were products of the British Irish diaspora, its other key dimension, and export market, was North-American. Just as Boucicault's Irish dramas were conceived and written for the American market, so Irish-American influences fed back into British music hall through the exchange of performers, songs and performance styles. The diasporic backgrounds of Irish-American performers often mirrored those of their British colleagues. British stars like Loftus, 'Our Mollie', and Nellie Farrell, the 'Glittering Star of Erin,' (Plate 5) found their North American equivalents in the New York-based singer and jig dancer Kitty O'Neil, and Massachusetts-born Maggie Cline, the 'Irish Queen' of Tony Pastor's Bowery Theatre, whose riotous songs included 'When Hogan Pays the Rent' and 'Throw him down, McCloskey'. (38) Among British centres, Glasgow was a net exporter of talented 'Irish' performers, being, as an 1880s report put it, 'famed all over the country for many years back of sending out some of the best Irish comedians in the music hall line.' (39) Many of the most successful went to try their luck across the 'Herring Pond' in America and further afield. These included such Britannia favourites as The Donnells, Folloy and O'Neil (who made 'many long and successful tours in America, Australia and the Continent' (40)), Cairns and Conway, The Brothers Wilkinson, and Palles and Cusick.

In return, imported Irish-American performers continually arrived to refresh and develop performance styles in Glasgow. An example was W. J. Ashcroft, who, at his debut performance at the Britannia in the early 1880s, sensationally overturned the previous Irish comic fashion for knee breeches, shillelaghs and dancing in 'Irish jig time,' by appearing in whiskers, tall hat and trousers to deliver his song 'Muldoon, the Solid Man'. An eyewitness described how the Britannia audience was at first bemused, until, at the end of the first chorus, Ashcroft 'turned his head over his shoulder and said, "Ah, ah, bhoys, I'll soon get a grip of ye"', and started to dance. In the storming performance that followed, the audience 'wouldn't let him away'. (41) Ashcroft held the stage for an hour and twenty minutes, while '"Muldoon the Solid Man" became the rage and was sung everywhere.' (42) The song had originally been the signature of the leading Irish-American double-act, Harrigan and Hart. Its extended life in Britain and Ireland with Ashcroft, who built a considerable career based around the song and character, demonstrates the close interrelationship between these parallel performing worlds. (43) Such transatlantic careers could even come full circle. Diamond and Ryan were 'two Glasgow boys that went over to America [...] and created quite a sensation as Irish duettists all over the States.' After Diamond died young and was replaced by an American, the succeeding act, Kelly and Ryan, 'great Irish comedians, and double dancers,' returned via England to play in Glasgow in 1887.

A result of this national and international market for genre performers was that, as a marketable commodity, the 'Irish' persona was open to anyone who could realise it. For performers, Irish comedian was, like Scotch comic and blackface minstrel, one of a number of interchangeable characterisations that could be taken up and used for as long as was professionally advantageous. So the Glasgow comedian W. H. Lannagan, like Harry Lauder, began his career 'working Irish business' as an Irish comic vocalist before, 'seeing a vacancy in the Scotch business he turned his attention in that line' and re-emerged as the 'Scottish Lion comedian.' (44) (Plate 5)

The development of the stage Irish figure in such a formalised context produces a number of issues of commodification and cultural appropriation associated with mass culture. One concerned the question of authenticity, and the extent to which it could be commodified. An example concerns Walter Munro, the 'Great Star Hibernian Entertainer,' (Plate 6) who began his career in Liverpool halls, and made his breakthrough in Glasgow in 1881, when he 'scored [...] a terrific success' with a clutch of songs that included the previously discussed 'Girl that was Dressed like a Fairy,' 'The Terror of the Briggate,' and, above all, 'his wonderful life-like impersonation of that well-known local character called "Dungannon."'45 As we have seen, these songs, all 'written expressly for him by C. R. Armstrong of Glasgow,' drew on local references and situations, including the real-life 'Dungannon,' in a way that was calculated to appeal to Glasgow audiences. Munroe's astuteness in commissioning them from one of Glasgow's top songwriters for his engagement in the city evidently paid dividends. They also nicely encapsulate the problems of authenticity and appropriation. Were these apparently Glaswegian Irish numbers less authentic because they were not sung by a 'native' Irish comedian--that is, one from Glasgow? Or was their resonance for the audience largely the same, because Munro himself was from an immigrant

background? In other words, were the songs much more about diaspora?


While the local setting was explicit in the songs' lyrics and setting, the audience's identification was as much with the performer's diasporic credentials: music hall was professionally cosmopolitan, and, for the songs' purposes, being Irish--of some sort--was more important than being Glasgow Irish. Although Shaw's 1904 satire John Bull's Other Island made great play of the fraudulence of what Cave describes as 'a Glaswegian doing a stage-Irish turn', a point had surely been missed: for all the play's blunt demarcation that, as Ben Levitas put it, Shaw's character Haffigan, 'born in Glasgow, howsoever of Irish extraction, and however Irish he might appear, is not Irish,' (46) the opposite was clearly the case for Irish audiences in Britain; certainly in Glasgow the resonance of such performers was in no way lessened by their being from Glasgow--or Birmingham, Bolton, or Liverpool--and in many cases was probably enhanced by being rooted in the shared experience of immigrant Irish audiences.

The Irish stage genre was also an example of the economic exploitation of cultural capital. In this it parallels debates surrounding nineteenth century Scottish popular culture discussed earlier in this essay. Just as the technological innovation of an affordable popular press allowed the Kailyard authors to take advantage of the new market for cheap fiction, so the Irish stage figure, at least in this latter phase, must be seen as part of the same movement. As John Harrington has written of the relations between the Irish and English theatres, 'at least part of the story is about the fortunes of Irish literature as export.' (47)

The paradox of such exported national cultures was that even as they were being taken up abroad, the same economic and technological pressures which brought about the impulse for large-scale population movements were also leading towards increasing cultural cosmopolitanism. As Christopher Morash has observed of Ireland in the 1870s, at a time when much the same process was also occurring in Scotland, 'in the same years that Irish culture was becoming more self-consciously national, the new rail and steamship routes and the growth of English and American touring companies were making Ireland a part of a theatre world that was increasingly multi-national.' (48) These latter observations serve to locate the stage Irishman--and woman--and their associated music hall genres within wider movements involving the place of national cultures and imagery in the age of mass production.

In these respects, music hall seems to have offered greater opportunities for the development of Irish stage representations than was often the case in Irish dramas. Ruth Forbes suggests that, in the development of cultural identity in the industrial age, 'historical continuity was also apparent in the transportation of the tropes of rural and early industrial society to the larger industrial urban environment'. She cites as an example the way that the adaptation of conventions and imagery from rural ballads to nineteenth century urban settings resulted in 'the transfiguration of shepherdess to factory girl', as the latter figure emerged as a recurring motif in songs and poems from Glasgow, Dundee and industrial cities in the north of England.49 I suggest that, in transposing themselves to new media and forms, familiar figures from Irish female iconography, touching down in the more egalitarian environs of urban music hall, similarly found opportunities to shed some of the constraints of Irish domestic drama, where female stereotypes had been denied the opportunities for revision accorded to the stage Irishman. (50)

Several writers have described English star Jenny Hill's empowering and subversive performances burlesquing Boucicault's male characters. (51) However in the 1870s the Britannia provided the 'celebrated Irish comedienne, Miss Hussy St. George, the great male impersonator,' who in her song 'The Big Ship That First Brought Me Forth', 'dressed as the old-style Irish comedian with knee breeches and shillelagh. She could sing, talk and dance and was a very creditable performer indeed.' (52) Billed as 'The Female Irishman', St. George seems not, like Hill, to have been offering a one-off satirical sketch to knowing metropolitan audiences, but something different: a dedicated impersonation of male Irish comedians, whose swaggering mannerisms were only too familiar to Glasgow Irish audiences. A contrasting model of female Irish performer was Nelly Farrell, 'the Glittering Star of Erin', who combined the emotive, expatriate appeal of songs like 'Some May Love the Land of the Thistle: or, My Hearts Away in Ireland' with a formidably assertive femininity which enabled her to win over disruptive male audiences of 'Trongate Mashers' at rough halls like the Star, Watson Street. At the Gaiety, it was reported 'she 'fairly "kills" the Masherites, with her dashing and voracious manner.' (53) In renegotiating the presentation of Irish idioms, both performers seem in different ways to have offered wider audiences what Cave terms 'a woman's impression of the Irish predicament, a championing of a recognisably celtic sensibility as obviously Other and alternative but acceptable on its own merits.' (54)

In some instances, the process of the transposition of figures from Irish female iconography to music hall was also being replicated on other levels by artistic and literary society. So Mary Connolly, 'the Great Irish Soprano, found in the streets of Dublin,' one of a number of such singing waif acts, (55) who appeared on the bill at Glasgow Empire in 1918, offered a sort of popular theatre corollary to the aesthetic vogue for paintings of 'Irish Girl' subjects by late nineteenth-century artists such as Ford Madox Ford, James McNeill Whistler, James Tissot and the Irishborn John Lavery (who had slept rough on Glasgow Green as a teenager). (56) A well-established vein of music hall songs similarly represented an idealised depiction of the colleen and her more spirited, less chaste cousin, the Irish barmaid.

These representations had their utility. At a time when middle class intellectual circles were disparaging Irish popular culture, music hall and popular theatre offered a forum for the accommodation of traditional forms and representations. So a press report of a 1907 Scottish Society of Literature and Arts lecture on 'Irish Fairy Tales and Songs,' given before a 'hard-headed, matter-of-fact Glasgow audience', could condescendingly dismiss the lady lecturer's subject as dealing with the 'to Scotch minds, failings of her countrymen'. (57) However, it was in precisely what the report conceded to be the fruits of these 'failings'--'simplicity of nature and sincerity of feeling'--that variety and popular theatre dealt. Ironically, given music hall's associations with modernity and the pressure of the market, it was these popular theatre forms which offered channels by which older traditional and popular entertainments could by-pass critical constraints to restate their uncomplicated appeal in new urban circumstances. So Chalmers Mackey (Plate 7) could present Rollicking Rory, billed as 'a new romantic Irish fairy play', at Glasgow's Grand Theatre in 1913. (58)


Music hall performers in Glasgow adapted Irish stage representations to reflect the experience and circumstances of immigrant life in urban Scotland. Songs and performing material, while retaining their distinct Irish character and idioms, subtly and selectively transposed Irish characters to this new urban context. However, an important part of the Irish stage characters' continuing appeal to immigrant audiences lay in their simultaneous resonance as a representation of Irish identity shared with Irish communities in other parts of the UK and the United States. I suggest that, for Glasgow Irish audiences, the continuing resonance of these characterisations lay in the fact that they also represented a shared, transferable image of national identity. Evidence of this lay in the fact that between the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Irish performers and acts continually circulated between Glasgow and American centres, exchanging songs, and introducing new fashions and styles of performance in a way that provided for the refreshment and renewal of such Irish representations.


(1) Professional Gazette and Advertiser (later Barr's Professional and Author's Journal, hereafter the Professional), January 1894.

(2) Tom Nairn, The Break-up of Britain: Crisis and Neo-Nationalism (London, 2nd ed., 1981), pp. 156-63. See also Colin McArthur (ed.), Scotch Reels: Scotland in Cinema and Television (London, 1982).

(3) David Goldie, 'Hugh MacDiarmid, Harry Lauder and Scottish Popular Culture', International Journal of Scottish Literature, 1 (Autumn 2006) p. 12.

(4) Alasdair Cameron and Adrienne Scullion, 'W. F. Frame and the Scottish Theatre Tradition,' in Cameron and Scullion (eds), Scottish Popular Theatre and Entertainment: Historical and Critical Approaches to Theatre and Film in Scotland (Glasgow, 1996), p. 39. For a useful overview see also Ian Brown, 'In Exile from Ourselves? Tartanry, Scottish Popular Theatre, Harry Lauder and Tartan Day', Etudes Ecossaises, 10 (2005), pp. 123-141.

(5) D. Fitzpatrick, 'A curious middle place: the Irish in Britain, 1871-1921' in R. Swift and S. Gilley (eds), The Irish in Britain, 1815-1939 (London, 1989), p. 13. See also C. Withers, 'The Demographic History of the City, 1831-1911' in W. Hamish Fraser and I. Maver, (eds), Glasgow vol. 2: 1830 to 1912 (Manchester, 1996), pp. 150-1.

(6) Speeches [...] delivered in the General Assembly 1851, pp. 8-9, quoted in J. E. Handley, The Irish in Scotland (Glasgow, 1964), p. 107.

(7) J. B. Russell, The Vital Statistics of the City of Glasgow (Glasgow, 1886), pp. 14, 20, 45, quoted in A. Gibb, Glasgow: The Making of a City (Beckenham, 1983), pp. 127-30.

(8) Gibb, Glasgow: The Making of a City, pp. 127-30.

(9) C. Pooley, 'Segregation or integration? The residential experience of the Irish in mid-Victorian Britain' in Swift and Gilley, Irish in Britain, pp. 60-83. Other misconceptions include the assumed Irish predilection for drunkenness and links to the drinks 'trade', which probably takes insufficient account of the scale of Catholic temperance movements. Handley suggests that by 1841 it was estimated that more than 17,000 Irishmen in Glasgow had taken 'the pledge', and that 30,000 Irish were connected to temperance societies in the city, out of total membership of 50,000: The Irish in Scotland, p. 17. The assumption that 'Irish' was synonymous with 'Catholic' overlooked the fact that modern estimates suggest 25% of Irish immigrants were Protestant, and the majority probably came from urban rather than rural contexts, as was widely believed. See also A. Suzanne, Multiculturalism in Practice. Irish, Jewish, Italian and Pakistani Migration to Scotland (Ashgate, 2000), pp. 16-19.

(10) J. E. Handley, The Irish in Modern Scotland (Oxford, 1947), p. 156.

(11) Handley, The Irish in Scotland (1964), p. 124.

(12) D. Krause, 'The Theatre of Dion Boucicault' in The Dolmen Boucicault (Dublin, 1964), p 13. See also J. M. Nelson, 'From Rory and Paddy to Boucicault's Miles, Shaun and Conn: The Irishman on the London Stage, 1830-1860', Eire-Ireland, XIII: 3, (Fall 1978), p. 103.

(13) The Era, 17 & 31 July 1853, p. 10; 7 August 1853; 16 & 23 July 1865, p. 12.

(14) Playbill, Theatre Royal Glasgow, 22 Nov. 1864, UKC/POS/GLA R: 0597415, Templeman Library, University of Kent at Canterbury; programme, The Colleen Bawn, 26 April 1873, Edinburgh, Misc. Theatre Programmes, Box A, Edinburgh Central Library; Britannia Variety Theatre, Aug 29 1896.

(15) The Edinburgh-born comedian Arthur Lloyd, who became proprietor of the Queens Royal Theatre, Dublin, in 1874, went on to manage the Shakespeare Music Hall (formerly the Star) in Glasgow in the 1880s. Barney Armstrong, comedian and one-time co-proprietor of the Queens and Tivoli Variety Theatres in Glasgow, recovered from bankruptcy to manage theatres in Belfast and Dublin. These interlinked patterns of activity were to continue well into the twentieth century.

(16) The Professional, 1885.

(17) Glasgow Eastern Standard, 20 June 1925.

(18) D. Kiberd, Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation (Vintage edn, 1996), pp. 29-30.

(19) D. Kiberd, 'The Fall of the Stage Irishman' in R. Schleifer, (ed.), The Genres of the Irish Literary Revival (Oklahoma & Dublin, 1980), p. 42.

(20) R. A. Cave, 'Staging the Irishman' in J.S. Bratton et al, (eds) Acts of Supremacy: The British Empire and the Stage, 1790-1930 (Manchester, 1991), p. 64.

(21) As an illustration, the titles of songs from a single page of the song-sheet included 'Ireland', 'My Own Land,' 'We'll Sing to Thee, Dear Ireland,' 'Blue are the Eyes of My Kathleen,' 'Limerick is Beautiful,' 'Hurrah for the Emerald Isle,' 'Eily Mavourneen,' and 'My Dear Old Irish Home,' Professional, 15 June 1901, p. 7.

(22) 'Dungannon, The Boss of the Bazaar'. Music and Words, Written and Composed by C. R. Armstrong, Professional, 8 August 1885, p. 7.

(23) 'The Terror of the Briggate', Professional 8 August 1885, p. 7.

(24) 'The Girl That Was Dressed Like A Fairy', Professional 8 August 1885, p. 7.

(25) D. Kiberd, Introduction, The Irish Writer and the World (Cambridge, 2005).

(26) 'Barney Wrought in Dixon's', 'Doing Doctor Tanner,' both 'written by James Curren and sung by Pat Connor,' Professional, 21 February 1885, p. 6.

(27) 'Is It Because I'm Irish!' Written by Felix Fordie Greenock'; 'Oh, Mr Murphy!' Words by Will Moore. Sung by J. P. Curlett with success.' Professional, 9 February 1901, p. 5.

(28) 'Mistress O'Hooligan's Son. Written by P. O'Neil, Glasgow, and sung with great success by Frank Cafferty. Professional, 1 June 1901, p. 4.

(29) 'Ireland Once More will Arise from the Dust.' Words by P. Sweeney. Music by S. Potter. Sung with immense success by Pat Rooney at the Britannia Music Hall, Glasgow': Professional, 28 February 1885, p. 6.

(30) H. Chance Newton, Idols of the Halls: My Music-Hall Memories (London, 1928; Wakefield repr., 1975), p. 199.

(31) Kiberd, 'Introduction,' The Irish Writer and the World.

(32) Kiberd, 'The Fall of the Stage Irishman' in Schleifer (ed.), The Genres of the Irish Literary Revival, p. 40.

(33) This identification with national imagery in popular entertainments also extended to Irish communities in other Scottish cities. Ruth Forbes has written that in Dundee 'the period around St Patrick's day also saw an increase in the number of acts of an Irish nature, including comedians, singers and popular dramas'. Forbes, 'Patterns

of Cultural Production and Reception in Dundee 18501-14' (unpublished PhD, University of Dundee, 2003), p. 332.

(34) C. Morash, A History of Irish Theatre, 1601-2000 (Cambridge, 2002), pp. 105-6.

(35) Irish National League Concerts, Professional April 1888, p. 8.

(36) Professional, 18 May 1889, p. 8.

(37) Professional, 1 June 1889.

(38) D. Meade, 'Kitty O'Neil and her "Champion Jig": A Forgotten Irish-American Variety Theatre Star', New Hibernia Review, 6:3, (Autumn 2002), pp. 9-22. R. W. Snyder, The Voice of the City: Vaudeville and Popular Culture in New York (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989/Ivan R. Dee edn, 2000), pp. 23-4, 45, 48, 54. For Cline see Paul Antonie Distler, 'The Rise and Fall of the Racial Comics in American Vaudeville' (unpublished PhD dissertation, Tulane University, 1963), pp. 117-121.

(39) Professional, April 16, 1887.

(40) Glasgow Eastern Standard, 27 June 1925, p. 7.

(41) Ibid., 20 June 1925, p. 7.

(42) Ibid., p. 7.

(43) D. Meade, 'The Life and Times of "Muldoon, the Solid Man"', New York Irish History, vol. 11 (1997), 46.

(44) Professional, 6 April 1889.

(45) Professional, 17 October 1885, p. 4.

(46) Cave, 'Staging the Irishman', p. 120; Ben Levitas, 'These Islands' Others: John Bull, the Abbey and the Royal Court', in Richard Cave and Levitas (eds.), Irish Theatre in England (Dublin, 2007), p. 18.

(47) J. P. Harrington, The Irish Play on the New York Stage, 1874-1966 (Champaign, 1997),

p. 11.

(48) Morash, A History of Irish Theatre, p. 103.

(49) Forbes, 'Patterns of cultural production and reception in Dundee 1850-1914', unpublished PhD thesis, University of Dundee, 2003, p. 343.

(50) J. Williams and S. Watt, 'Representing a "Great Distress": Melodrama, Gender and the Irish Famine', M. Hays and A. Nikolopoulou, (eds.), Melodrama: The Cultural Emergence of a Genre (New York, 1996), pp. 245-266.

(51) Cave, 'Staging the Irishman', pp. 64-8. J.S. Bratton, 'Jenny Hill: Sex and Sexism in Victorian Music Hall', in Bratton, (ed.), Music Hall: Performance and Style (Milton Keynes, 1986), p. 108.

(52) Glasgow Eastern Standard, 25 July, 13 June 1925, p. 7.

(53) Professional, June 1885, p. 4.

(54) Cave, 'Staging the Irishman', p. 67.

(55) For Connolly's career see Eric Villiers, Ireland's First 'Soul' Singer: The Forgotten Story of Mary Connolly (Omagh, 2002).

(56) F. Cullen, 'From Mythical abstractions to modern realities: depicting the Irish emigree' in Cullen and R. F. Foster, 'Conquering England:' Ireland in Victorian London (London, 2005), pp. 54-65.

(57) Glasgow Evening Times, 19 February 1907, p. 8.

(58) Entertainer, 11 October 1913, p. 6.
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Date:Jun 22, 2009
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