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The performers in Dusty Bluebells are a truly inter-generational and varied group. They range from a four-year-old joining in while being dandled and bounced by his grandfather, to an eighty-seven-year old with a remarkably strong voice singing an amusing pastiche.

Because Hugh Shields did most of his song-collecting in Ulster there is a preponderance of northern performers, especially from Derry, Donegal and Belfast. But Dublin is well represented and there are examples from other southern counties: Wexford, Wicklow, Cork etc. Listen to the recordings organised in County Playlists.

There are children met accidentally on a seaside beach; neighbours’ children playing on the street or in the farmyard; children skipping and bouncing balls; adults recalling the rhymes and pastimes of their childhoods or re-enacting the old mumming plays (Mummers’ play and songs [Fermanagh] and Christmas mummers’ rhymes [Donegal]); adults singing adult songs which nevertheless have something pleasing to children in them.

Instrumental music plays a small but significant role in the project. When Hugh devised the Old Grinding Young LP project, he decided to include the playing of Donegal fiddle players, father and son, John and James Byrne playing the highland Maggie Pickie.

All the performers gave their time and talents willingly and from the relaxed and warm tone of the recordings evidently enjoyed the activity. Hugh Shields was grateful for the privileges they extended to him. He always enjoyed his interaction with his informants, some of whom became friends over the years.

We have unfortunately not yet been able to make contact with everyone featured in the exhibition. If you recognise your own name, or the name of a friend or relative, we would be really delighted if you would contact us. We would be happy to make recordings available to performers and family members, and also to have more information to add to the exhibition. If you have any further information or queries about the Dusty Bluebells Project please contact us.

All involved in creating this 2019 Dusty Bluebells project share this gratitude and hope that the individuals concerned, or their descendants, will be happy with the result.