This map was generated from the Historical Database of Folk Play Scripts (Millington, 1994-2006) using the Master Mummers' Folk Play Scripts Explorer.
The map shows the distribution of the first line of one of the more common formulaic couplets in British and Irish folk plays, in which one character calls on the next:
And if you don't believe what I say,
Enter in [someone] and clear the way
And if you don't believe the words I say,
Step in [someone] and clear the way
There are two variants of this line, differentiated by the words given in italics above. The 'what I say' version is the more widely distributed of the two, and is probably the older version, with early records in Truro (1785-1789) and Belfast (1803-1818). The oldest 'words I say' example comes from Bowden, Scotland. It may have originated in Scotland and then worked its way south.
It is not the distribution pattern per se that is interesting about this couplet, but the degree to which it is used in different parts of the islands. This becomes apparent when the dots are resized to reflect the number of times the line is used at each location. The significance of this variation is discussed with map for line two of the couplet - Step/Enter/Walk/Come in [someone] and clear the way.
Historical Database of Folk Play Scripts
Internet URL: http://www.folkplay.info/Texts.htm, 1999-2006, accessed 27th Jun.2009