Ray Driscoll

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Ray Driscoll, singer. Born outside Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland, 1922; died Shropshire, 23rd November 2005.

Ray was born in Ireland in 1922 but lived most of his life in England, where he died in 2006. He was unknown to the folk scene until later in his life when he attended a few folk clubs and festivals. He learnt songs such as My Bonny Boy, a version of Long a-growing, from his Irish father, and added to his repertoire when living in Shropshire and London, plus time spent in the Royal Navy. His repertoire consisted of many folk standards such as The Banks of Sweet Primroses and Jones' Ale, but there are also some songs unique to Ray, such as the satirical Napoleonic song Pompalerie Jig and a story of highway robbery The Doughty Packman. Also unique to Ray was the song Wild, Wild Berry, a haunting reworking of the Lord Randal ballad.

(posted to Tradsong by Gwilym Davies - 22/7/08)

Ray Driscoll passed away in Shropshire on 23rd November. He was a traditional singer with a repertoire drawn from Irish and English sources. He was 'discovered' by Mike Yates in about 1992, who recorded some of his songs, including the strange 'Wild, Wild Berry' a unique song related to the Lord Randal story. He attended very few folk functions apart from some singing weekends in Dorset and Sussex, and the Padstow celebrations every May Day where he would sing in the London Inn. I counted Ray as a good friend and he allowed me to record his entire repertoire, copies of which recordings are now in the National Sound Archive.

He had been ill for some time and died peacefully in his sleep.

He leaves a widow, Sheila.

He will be sorely missed by those who knew him.

(obituary posted to Mudcat by Gwilym Davies - 28/11/05)

Ray Driscoll: was from a musical family, his Irish grandmother teaching him such songs as Rocking the Cradle.  Ray also picked up songs from the streets of south London when he was a child and from singers in Shropshire a few years later.  He had returned to London when I met him in the 1980s and was eager to pass on his songs to a younger generation.

Part of the booklet notes, written by Mike Yates, to the Musical Traditions Records CDs The Birds Upon the Tree (MTCD333)


Ray Driscoll, Wild, Wild Berry: The Songs of Ray Driscoll, Proper Job Productions (Artension CD 703), 2008. Available from 39 Buckles Close, Charlton Kings, Cheltenham, GL53 8QT.

Notes on the songs by Gwilym Davies


Tracks on compilations:

Doughty Packman, The (Roud 18306) on MTCD333 The Birds Upon the Tree

We are the Peckham Boys on Troubles They Are But Few: Dance Tunes & Ditties, The Voice of the People Volume 14, Topic Records TSCD6641


Gwilym Davies, “The songs of Ray Driscoll” in English Dance & Song, Vol. 56 No. 3, November 1994, p7-9 Includes words and music for The Doughty Packman, The Death of Queen Jane, Pompalerie Jig and Wild, Wild Berry.