Cornish Traditional Music, Dance and Associated Customs

The website of Dr Folk ( Merv Davey)


I completed my PhD on folk tradition and identity at the Institute of Cornish Studies in September 2011 and when I embarked on this venture my my family coined the term "Dr Folk" and it stuck!  These pages provide some information about about my research, some papers and projects I have been involved in and also a little background about myself and what lead to my interest in this area.

BIO PIC: I am as they say a "Newquay boy" but spent several years at college and working in London before moving back to Cornwall in my mid twenties. I have been firmly ensconced in a little village a few miles off the A 30 near Bodmin for some 20 years now but true to my Newquay origins I am a frequent visitor to the surf and the boot of my car is usually occupied by a soggy  wetsuit.  I come from an extended musical family and have always been charmed by my parents, aunties and uncles links with a certain " Goonhavern Banjo Band ", indeed mandolins and banjos were my formative early musical experience. It is my grandparent's generation, however, which connect me most strongly with Cornish folk tradition. Grandfather Veale  was a step dancer in his youth and involved in the troyls held on the fish cellars at Newquay where his mother played concertina for dancing. Troyl is a dialect word deriving from the Cornish term for a reel and used to describ a barn dance or a ceilidh. Whilst in London I maintained contact with other Cornish exiles and, perhaps inevitably, developed an interest in Cornish Studies.

On my return to Cornwall I pursued this interest through Cornish Language classes and in 1978 I was made a language bard of the Cornish Gorsedh. I renewed my acquaintance with the Cornish Folk club scene that I had frequented as a teenager and was also involved with my brothers in a band called Bucca.  I have followed a number of lines of musical interest since then including a spell in a Pipe Band and the Cornish Dance group and ceili band Cam Kernewek.   I am fortunate in that I share a passion for traditional dance and music with my wife Alison and our adult children Jojo and Cas, all of whom have made a major contribution to the An Daras Cornish Folk Arts Project (see above link). We work as a family barn dance band around the villages of North Cornwall, Alison and I also have regular excursions, suitably attired, into the territory of living history, Jojo and Cas tour the festival scene as "Scoot.

My professional background is that of social care and I have enjoyed a career which has included such varying roles as mental health social worker, manager of occupational therapy services and tutor for both the WEA and the Open University. A special interest in British Sign Language has also given me the opportunity to work as a free lance  interpreter for the Police and a sign language presenter for West Country Television. In 1997 I was commissioned by the Director of Cornwall Social Services to undertake research into social care needs for people with a disability and supported this by enrolling on a number of post graduate diploma courses on social research. I eventually combined this with work towards an MA at Plymouth University and ultimately my dissertation looked at identity and the forces that impact on how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us. It is at this point that my interests converge and have lead me to my current research project around identity and traditional music. 

Merv Davey Meneghyjy, Withiel, Bodmin, Kernow, PL30 5NN, UK Te;l 01208 831 642