Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral (That's an Irish Lullaby)" by Paddy Graber
Patrick Graber (1923) was born in Ireland. He sung to me this lullaby. He said, when he sings he remembers the smell of the motherland soil, remembers the taste of fresh bread. The Sleep comes to him in the color of rainbow. “There was always songs which we made ourselves. In Irish a sleep song is called a Shuntree. If I sing for my Daughter Eileen, I sing “go to sleep, my Eileen Allan (dear one), turalura, close your eyes, Eileen, “ashushla” (term of endearment), turaluralay.”
"Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral (That's an Irish Lullaby)" is a classic Irish-American song originally written in 1913 by composer James Royce Shannon (1881–1946) for the Tin Pan Alley musical Shameen Dhu.
These are the original lyrics of the song as published in 1913 by Shannon through M. Witmark & Sons.
Over in Killarney, many years ago
Me Mother sang a song to me in tones so sweet and low,
Just a simple little ditty, in her good ould Irish way,
And I'd give the world if she could sing That song to me this day.
Hush now don't you cry!
That's an Irish lullaby.
Oft, in dreams I wander to that cot again,
I feel her arms a huggin' me as when she held me then.
And I hear her voice a hummin' to me as in days of yore,
When she used to rock me fast asleep outside the cabin door.
This site I found is interesting:
Subject: What does the Irish expression "toora loora" mean?
Asked by: morkai11-ga. What does the Irish expression "toora loora" mean? I heard it first in the song "Reconciliation" by Eileen Ivers in which the chorus is:
Toora loora lay,
Toora loora laddie,
Toora loora lay,
In my efforts to find the meaning, I discovered that it's quite common in various Irish drinking songs and is referred to sometimes as part of a lullaby. It's also included in the song "Come on Eileen," and is often followed by various words such as lay, laddie, aye, li, etc. I'm just trying to figure out what it means or what it's supposed to express (or even if there is, in fact, a set definition). If you know specifically what "toora loora lay" means as well, that'd be great. Thank you!
Answered By: justaskscott-ga Hello morkai11, "A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English," by Eric Partridge (Paul Beale, ed., 8th Ed. 1984), page 1250, states:"tooraloo! Goodbye for now!; I'll be seeing you: a mainly Anglo-Iris var. of tootle-oo" This dictionary dates the expression to circa 1910, and notes it in James Joyce's "Ulysses" from 1922: "'Toraloo,' Lenehan said, "'see you later.'" It also notes the similarity to the Australian expression "too-a-roo, circa 1919-39, which also means "Goodbye!" (page 1248). The online version of the Oxford English Dictionary (available at some libraries) cites Joyce, as well as D.H. Lawrence circa 1921 ("'So long! See you soon! Too-ra-loo!'"), for the meaning "'Goodbye.'"
Conceivably, the expression "tooraloo" could have nothing to do with "toora loora," despite the apparent similarity. But "tooraloo" is used in the sense of "goodbye" in one prominent "toora loora" song:
"... So poor Admiral Nelson Tooraloo ...""Nelson's Pillar" [under lyrics for "Nelson's Farewell" by Joe Dolan]
Now that doesn't mean that "toora loora" can't also be a nonsense phrase as myoarin suggests. Certainly, some songs use it this way. Indeed, it seems to be used this way in the lullaby to which pinkfreud refers:
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, hush now, don't you cry!
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, that's an Irish lullaby.'"
"Irish Lullaby (Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral)"
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS): NIEHS Kids' Pages
On the other hand, "goodbye for now" or "see you later" seems like a reasonable theme for a lullaby. I presume that "rock-a-bye" in "Rock-a-bye Baby" has this meaning. But that's probably a subject for
another question. The main point is that to the extent that "toora loora" has a meaning it's "goodbye for now."
Search strategy --Browsed Partridge dictionary. Searched online Oxford English Dictionary for "tooraloo" and "too." Searched on Google for variations on "toora loora," "toora loora lay, "toora loora laddie," and "tooraloo."
From: myoarin-ga Just so someone can prove me wrong: I think it is just a nonsence rhyme, something typical to the refrains of many English and Irish songs of the past, medieval "skat" maybe. The "words" are almost always ideal for vocalizing, having clear vowels and no difficult to sing consonants. Admittedly, in some refrains like that of the Spanish Lady ("Whack for the toora loora laddie"), one could easily imagine that the "toora loora" is a substitute for a (bawdy?) description of the laddie, but then it would not have to have a meaning of its own. The best-known use of "toora loora" is in an Irish lullabye. The words may not have meaning, but their sound is comforting to babies. "Tiny babies may not be able to understand words, but no worry - some of the most effective songs in this collections are - you bet -
composed of soothing nonsense syllables, for example 'toora, loora' 'baloo, baleerie'."
From: tutuzdad-ga I cannot confirm the validity of the information but according to this interesting source "toora-loorals" was a (perhaps vulgar) term for women's breasts that dates back to the 1900's.
From: myoarin-ga Morkai11, Glad to help - if I am right.Tutuzdad-ga confirms my last remark, whereby "toora loorals" would just be a "filler", meaning whatever was appropriate in the context. When men are talking -or singing- about a woman, most of us immediately assume that any expression describing something in the plural can only refer to one thing - well, one pair of things.
From: tutuzdad-ga To the contrary; my comment does not confirm your speculation that the
term is ambiguous and serves to represent whatever comes to mind. While I cannot confirm that the 1900's origin is the actual source of the phrase [as I warned], neither have you established that it is not.
Sorry, tutuzdad-ga, quite right; I should not have claimed that YOU confirmed anything. The link you gave leads to a screen-full of synonyms, however, that does support the suggestion that just about anything can be a synonym in the context. (I was going to say "anything but pancakes", but then saw "tamales" on the site.) As for the version of "The Spanish Lady" with the refrain, this site
dates it to the 17th century, the four line refrain being obvious nonsence verse, probably to be sung by the crowd listening to the soloist who sang the verses. If the refrain means anything, it is all in the imagination of those singers.