“The Grand Dissolving Views (II)”


Singer, by a fireside, sees "a Grand Dissolving View" of past events as -- a poor worker and his starving family, a swindler going free while a starving orphan goes to jail -- and Irish heroes who "died for love of country; it was an honourable crime"


The first verses of "The Grand Dissolving Views" (I) and (II) are identical; the second verses are almost identical in their portrayal of a poor family and they share one more verse comparing the fates of a swindler and poor thief. The question is "which is the original and which the derivative?" For a date, an 1875 broadside for another song lists "Grand Dissolving Views" as one of the newest songs (NLScotland, RB.m.143(144), "The Harp That Once Through Tara's Halls," The Poet's Box (Glasgow), 1875).

The heroes cited often each have ballads of their own: executed Father Murphy ["Come All You Warriors," "Father Murphy (I)," "Some Treat of David," "Father Murphy (II) (The Wexford Men of '98)," "Boulavogue"], Robert Emmett ["Emmett's Grave"], Lord Edward ["Edward (III)"], Allen Larkin and O'Brien ["Allen, Larkin and O'Brien"], O'Connell ["Daniel O'Connell (I)," "Erin's King (Daniel Is No More)"), "Kerry Eagle"] and General Meagher ["The Escape of Meagher"]; I have found no song yet for United Irishmen John and Henry Sheares [see now "The Brothers John and Henry Sheares" - RBW], or 18th century orator and member of the Irish parliament Henry Grattan [as "Henry Grattin"] (source: "Henry Grattan" and "Shears Brothers" in _1798 Rebellion_ at the Rathregan National School site). - BS

Several histories I've read have notes about how Irish folklore magnifies some heroes, such as Wolfe Tone and Father Murphy, and ignores the Sheares brothers. The latter are at least mentioned in "The Tree of Liberty," plus the probably-not-traditional "The Brothers John and Henry Sheares." Gratton earns a brief comment in "Ireland's Liberty Tree," which is mostly about the parliament he built up.

I do think "The Grand Dissolving Views (I)" is the original; (II) looks very much like a local adaption. - RBW

Cross references


  • Bodleian, Harding B 19(35), "The Grand Dissolving Views" ("While thinking of some past events at home the other night"), unknown, n.d.


  1. Healy-OISBv2, pp. 30-32, "The Grand Dissolving views" (1 text)
  2. BI, BrdGDV2


Author: unknown