In The Rare Ould Times, songwriter Pete St John refers to several famous Dublin landmarks which have disappeared since his childhood.
The Pillar was Nelson’s Pillar which had dominated O’Connell Street in Dublin city centre since 1809. It was blown up by the IRA in 1966.
The Met refers to the Metropole, which was situated next to the General Post Office in O’Connell Street. It was badly damaged in the fighting during the 1916 Easter Rising but was later restored and became a popular cinema and ballroom.
It closed in 1972 as customer numbers dwindled due to competition from rival attractions such as television. The building was later knocked down to make way for a department store.
The Royal refers to the Theatre Royal which was knocked down in 1962 and replaced by an office block.
Ring a ring a rosey, as the light declines
The verses lamenting the changes taking place in Dublin are followed by the two-line chorus evoking childhood memories.
Ring a ring a rosey is popular children’s rhyme used by children in English speaking countries all over the world.
Ring-a-ring o’ rosey,
A pocket full of posies,
We all fall down.
The first known published version appeared in 1881 but it’s thought to be much older. There was a widely held urban myth that the rhyme dated back to the Great Plague of London in 1665, or even to the Black Death plague that decimated Europe in the 14th century, but folklorists have dismissed these theories.
Ring a ring a rosey would be a part of every Dubliner’s childhood memories and the mention of it evokes nostalgia for times gone by.
Recordings of The Rare Ould Times
The Rare Ould Times was first recorded by The Dublin City Ramblers who had a big hit with it in Ireland. It was also a number one hit in Ireland for Danny Doyle. It has since been recorded by numerous artists including The Irish Tenors, The High Kings and Flogging Molly.
The Dubliners also helped popularise The Rare Ould Times with both Luke Kelly and Ronnie Drew taking lead vocals on different recordings.