"The Great-Grandma I remember - Her name was Rosa - she was born in Downpatrick, Ireland. She came to Australia with her sister Bridget on a sailing ship, landing in Melbourne 1859. She died in October 1925 and I can still hear her voice.

The lullaby which has been used for her descendants even down to great great great great grandchildren - descendants of at least two of her daughters. It is a slow rocking rhythm, and a soporific melody. But be prepared to sing it for as long as your mind can keep awake. Very effective with a babe in arms, retains its power from parental couch to toddler's cot in the next room, and remains usable for as long as you are able to retain your parental influence! Tradition is that her mother sang it to all Great-Grandma's brothers and sisters. We have never come across any other family who knows this 'song'. It is known as 'Old Black Crow'." -Shirley


*Or Mummy or Grandma, etc.


"As the toddler becomes more verbal, she often interrupts and states just who says Yes or No. 'Singing Old Black Crow' is often at that stage more of game than a lullaby Being chosen and named to have said 'Yes' becomes akin to being raised to the peerage by His Majesty The Toddler." Shirley

I asked Shirley the meaning of "beebow" and here's here response:

"Hi Lisa - I am chuckling - as will be my Grandma (Australian born 1867 - of her Downpatrick (Ireland) mother), my Australian born Mother - her 2 brothers - my brother - sundry cousins of varying degrees - wherever we may be. Personally I have always imagined it a rocking cradle, but we don't really know what beebow is - any more than several other words which probably were corrupted by little Australians born between 1861 and 1875."

Jenny Bond wrote, "That is so amazing! My Granny used to sing it to us and I've never met another family who knows it. Granny was born to Scottish parents but my grandfather's grandmother mother was Irish, from Limerick. A mystery! I live in England but we have a son and granddaughters in Australia."

Thanks and Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Shirley Pitcher - now nearly 92 (in 2014) and a Great Grandma herself - for sharing this song and for commenting on it! Thanks to Jenny Bond for sharing her experience of the song!

Thank you!