International Ballad Commission Annual Conference

Songs of Liberation, Rebellion and Resistance

46th Kommission für Volksdichtung/International Ballad Commission Conference

Irish World Academy of Music and Dance
University of Limerick

27 June – 1 July, 2016



Hills of Limerick, shores of Clare,

We give salute, both here and there,

We sing, we chant, lament, give voice

In tribute to brave Sandra Joyce.


Where’er she goes – and go she does! –

She leaves the place in quite some buzz,

With broom and dustpan, duster too,

She’s so much housekeeping to do.


As we arrive, there’s mmuch boo-hoo

-The boys have beat the Boys in Blue,

The English and the Scots affected

Still reeling from the UK BREXIT.


THAT mood’s dispelled, it’s ballad time!

Brief greeetings, bags, by half-past nine

The game’s afoot, and first to come

In suit and tie, Dave Atkinson.

(Later that day, as is more normal,

We launch the event in ways more formal.)


From Atkinson to Åkesson

(arethey related?); everyone

Shows sympathy as, heart a-flutter,

She starts to speak…. and cough and splutter;

When stepping down the stairs to speak, Hans goes at quite a lick,

Such dangers lurk for balladeers who visit Limerick.


A young Spaniard by name of Don Juan

Simply died, and surprised everyone.

Exactly the same

Occurred to Queen Jane –

They’re the stiffs of which ballads are made.


Three down. Thirty-something to go.

Our revered president lets us know,

But we don’t care a toffee…

We neeed our first coffee

Which we’ve earned from the urn in the foyer.


The conferernce hall is chilly,

We really need a tot,

It would be good if Julia

Supplied a moonshine tot.

At least we know we’re being green,

Though hands andd toes are blue:

Put on an Aran pullover

And sup a pumpkin stew.

(Because soup doesn’t rhyme)


On the tour of the town, we went up and down

Sightseeing, in search of each sight:

Some of which we missed out as we trundled about –

Was that site on the left or the right?


Roisí sings with gusto; as we eat, the fiddler’s bolder;

Comparéd with the lecture hall, the cathedral’s still colder.

Yet once the singing starts, we warm:

Those voices take us all by storm,

We’d like to thank them all again,

Again, once more, and then again.


Wedneesday morning come, and the conference goes modal:

Recovered from her malady, Chair Åkesson can yodel.

The Anglo-bashing balladry persists: now in South Africa

– I hope I am not Boering you, I am not an arms trafficker

So I, and Chris, and David are agreed, we’re philosophical:

Without the British Empire this event would be impossible.


And if you find the words I write are flippant, flat or skittish,

Accept my deep apologies – you see, I’m only British!

We may have built an Empire, but I fear it’s fair to say,

That none have ever been so good at thowing one away.

by Andrew Rouse


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