Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Ernest Milligan, his 1907 'Up Bye Ballads' and Sir John Byers

Earlier in the year I posted a series of seven articles on Ernest Milligan’s 1907 collection of North Down Ulster-Scots flavoured Up Bye Ballads. I’ve since found that there is a copy in the Princeton University Library collection which bears the handwritten inscription:

"21/12/07, to Sir John Byers with the author's compliments."

Sir John Byers (1853-1920) was an important figure at the time - a biography is online here. The Ulster Folk & Transport Museum has Byers’ collection of what it describes here as:

Collection of Ulster Dialect items manually recorded by Sir John Byers, c 1890-1910, and examples of proverbs and sayings (dialectal and otherwise) and folklore. The material was collected by Byers, a medical doctor, out of personal interest in this subject area and was recorded from the dialect content of the speech of his patients and from items found in the local press, in particular the Ballymena Observer. The collection consists of Byers' original hardback notebooks and typescript transcriptions of same prepared by his daughter.

A portrait of Byers is below.