SO the story goes, William Pembroke Mulchinock wrote The Rose of Tralee about his true love, Mary O’Connor, but did he?
This question will be debated at the second annual Mulchinock Symposium which will form part of the Mulchinock Family Gathering during the celebrations to mark 60 years of the Rose of Tralee International Festival. This initative is funded by Fáilte Ireland as part of the Festivals Diaspora Development Plan.
William was undoubtedly a gifted Poet and this talent will be recognised when he is inducted into the Kerry Writers Museum Hall of Fame in Listowel on Saturday 24th August.
Did William write the Rose of Tralee? The Rose of Tralee International Festival organisers have agreed that a forensic authorship analyst should investigate the matter in more detail.
The Mulchinock Gathering Coordinator, Bryan Carr, said: “It has been a widely held belief, passed down through generations, that local Tralee Poet William Pembroke Mulchinock 1820-1864 was the author of the poem and the true love of Mary, The Rose of Tralee. While the poem never appeared in William’s own New York published book of ‘Ballads and Songs’ in 1851. The two-verse poem was published by Edward Mordaunt Spencer of London in 1846. In over two years of searching, nothing can be found on an Edward Mordaunt Spencer in births, marriages, deaths or land registry in the UK. This has led to the investigation as to who wrote the poem.”
Dr. Andrea Nini, Lecturer in Linguistics and English Language at the University of Manchester for forensic linguistic is studying the authorship of The Rose of Tralee.
Dr. Nini works on historical cases of disputed authorship and his techniques are commonly adopted in forensic linguistics to solve cases of disputed authorship such as the Jack the Ripper and Bixby Letters.
Plagiarism was common place at the time, the registered Composer of the Music, Stephen R. Glover set the poem to music prior to it being published as a Poem and Glover was being sent sometimes up to sixty poems for settings a day, while it is known that William sent his poetry to everyone and anyone who would pay him a fee.
Doubt is also cast over three of Mr. Spencer’s poems in his only publication ‘The Heir of Abbotsville’, which specifically refer to a ‘Mary’ and seem to be totally out of style and context from the other poems in his publication.
“Whatever the outcome of the research, the Festival, Tralee and Kerry needs to acknowledge the amazing Poet that William Pembroke Mulchinock was and ensure that the legend of William and Mary will continue to live on,” said Bryan.
Dr Andrea Nini hopes to complete his research in time for the 2019 Rose of Tralee International Festival and Mulchinock Family Gathering, which coincide with Heritage Week.
A pop-up Mulchinock Museum at Balloonagh Church in Caherslee, Tralee, a Plaque Unveiling Ceremony on Ashe Street, the Mulchinock Symposium and William's induction into the Kerry Writers Museum Hall of Fame will take place during the Festival.
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