The Crib of Perches / Garrett Barry’s (Reels)
The Crib of Perches was printed in Breathnach’s 2nd volume of Ceol Rince na hEireann, where he attributes it to Paddy O’Brien of Offaly.
The second reel was associated with the playing of the renowned piper, Willie Clancy. Clancy’s father, Gilbert, was a great friend of the blind piper, Garrett Barry from Inagh, Co. Clare, who died in 1900. Willie Clancy attributed this reel to Garrett Barry. It is quite similar to the well-known Miss McLeod’s reel.
Download 330K RealAudio file (lasts 2 min 49sec)
Flying to the Fleadh (Slip Jig)
This slip jig is one of the compositions of uilleann piper Patrick Davey, from Belfast. It was composed in August 1995, on the occasion of the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil held in Listowel, Co. Kerry.
Download 156K RealAudio file (1 min 20 sec)
Eleanor Plunkett (Carolan Piece)
This is one of the most popular and widely played airs by the famous Irish harper-composer Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738). It was written in praise of Eleanor Plunkett of Robertstown, Co. Meath (near Carolan’s birthplace of Nobber). She is said to have been the only survivor of her family, the rest having reputedly been killed by boiling water in their castle at Castlecome. There is no factual evidence to support this, however. The piece was collected but never published by Edward Bunting. As is the case with most of Carolan’s compositions, the piece was originally written as a song with Gaelic words.
Download 333K RealAudio file (lasts 2 min 50 sec)
The Tailor’s Twist / Cooley’s (Hornpipes)
The Tailor’s Twist was one of a set of two hornpipes recorded by James Morrisson on August 10th 1935, for Colombia. This Sligo fiddle player was born in Drumfin near Collooney and died in New York in 1947. It was also transcribed by Breathnach from the piper Tommy Reck, and published in his 3rd volume.
Cooley’s. This tune was composed by the accordion player, Paddy O’Brien of Nenagh, and was made popular by accordion player Joe Cooley. The version played here is that recorded by Noel Hill and Tony Linnane in 1978. The second part is different in places from the original version, which was published in 1992 as part of a collection of
Amhrán na Leabhar (Slow Air)
Amhrán na Leabhar (‘The Song of the Books’), which is often referred to as Cuan Bhéil Inse (‘Valencia Harbour’), was composed by the poet Tomás Ruadh O’Súilleabháin (1785-1848) of Derrynane, Co. Kerry. The song contains eleven verses in all. Tomás Ruadh had been acting as schoolmaster near Caherdaniel and was forced to find a new position when another master was appointed. The poet sought a similar post in Portmagee and put all his books and other possessions on a boat at Derrynane harbour to be sent to the Goilin (Valencia Harbour). He himself made the journey by foot. When he reached Portmagee, Tomás Ruadh heard that the boat containing his books had been ship-wrecked on its way out of the harbour. He composed this song lamenting the fate of his books. This version was arranged by the renowned harper Janet Harbison.
O’Farrell’s Welcome to Limerick / Whelan’s (Slip Jig/Jig)
O’Farrell’s Welcome to Limerick appears in one of the later volumes of O’Farrell’s ‘Pocket Companion for the Irish or Union Pipes’, published in 1810. O’Farrell published four volumes of tunes (most of which were Irish) between 1804 and 1810, as well as a treatise with instructions for playing the pipes. Francis O’Neill states, without evidence however, that this tune is one of O’Farrell’s own compositions.
Whelan’s Jig is named after Tommy Whelan who was a flute player with the early recording group ‘the Ballinakill Ceili Band’. The tune was one of the tracks recorded on ‘A Selection of Irish Dance Music’ featuring Aggie Whyte on fiddle and Peadar O’Lochlainn on flute. This was one of the first tunes I learned from Bernie Geraghty.
Inis Oirr (Air)
This beautiful air was composed by Thomas Walsh. It is named after one of the Aran Islands off the west coast of Galway.
The Gold Ring (Jig)
There are two tunes known by this title. This one was recorded by Sligo fiddle player Paddy Killoran, from Ballymote, in the 1930s. It also appears in Breathnach’s 1st volume, having been collected from the accordion player Sonny Brogan. I am joined on this track by my sister Róisín, who also had a large input into the arrangement of this tune.
Soft Mild Morning / Her Golden Hair Hanging Down Her Back (air / hornpipe)
Soft Mild Morning (or ‘Maidin Bhog Aoibhinn’) was collected by Edward Bunting, from Denis Hempson of Magilligan, Co. Derry. Although collected in 1796, it was not published until Bunting’s 3rd volume of Ancient Music of Ireland, in 1840. Bunting classifies the tune as being ‘very ancient, author and date unknown’. Hempson was the only harper visited by Bunting who still played in the old style, with long crooked fingernails on strings of brass.
Her Golden Hair is a composition of the Clare fiddle and concertina player, Junior Crehan, who died in August 1998. It is one of his less well-known compositions, which was recorded by the uilleann piper Mick O’Brien on ‘May Morning Dew’ (1996).
The Tosa Waltz
This tune was composed in 1996 by Michael Cassidy, fiddle player with the group Craobh Rua. It was composed during a trip to America, for friends in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.
Splendid Isolation (slow air / reel)
This tune was composed by the well-known fiddle player, Brendan McGlinchey. It was originally composed as a reel, in 1972, as the result of “an outpouring of intense emotion”, following the end of a tour when everyone had to go their separate ways. It was reworked as a slow air 20 years later, when Brendan started playing it again after a long break. I learned the tune from Brendan himself, while on the 1996 Comhaltas tours of Ireland and North America.
Tonra’s / Jig ‘gan ainm’ / The Woods of Old Limerick (Jigs)
Tonra’s. This jig is perhaps the most well known composition of Boston-based fiddler, Brendan Tonra. He wrote this tune, his third composition, in the early 1950s while still living in his native Gowlaun, Co. Mayo. Tonra played the tune himself during a Longford Fleadh in the 1950s and it became particularly well known after being recorded by the Liverpool Ceili Band and the fiddler, Sean McGuire. My father learned this tune from the noted Sligo fiddle player, Fred Finn, who died in 1986.
I have no name for the second jig in this set, but I learned it on a Comhaltas Tour in 1996.
The Woods of Old Limerick. O’Neill included this jig in his 1922 collection ‘Waifs and Strays’, which included many tunes not published by him previously, together with different versions of tunes as notated from specific performers. O’Neill gives the source of this tune as a Mr. John Kelly, San Francisco. However no information about this man is found in any of O’Neill’s other works. I learned this tune from the harp playing of Michael Rooney.
The Blackbird (set-dance)
This tune played here as a set-dance is also found as a slow air, and probably originated as a song. The blackbird or ‘An Londubh’ is one of many allegorical names used by the poets and bards to refer to Ireland. The title was also understood to apply to King James III. It is one of the earliest Irish lyrics written in English; Grattan Flood found reference to this Jacobite song in 1709. The words were printed by Bunting in 1840, along with a setting of the tune transcribed from D. O’Donnell, a harper from Co. Mayo, in 1803. A less florid version had been published in the early 1800s, by both Paul Alday and O’Farrell. The version published in Bunting has much in common with the setting included by O’Neill in his 1903 collection, where a Long Dance setting also appears. Today, this tune is most commonly known as a set dance, and is one of the few set-dances danced with the same steps all over the country.
Madge Malone / McIntyre’s Fancy (Carolan Piece / Jig)
Bunting notated this air by O’Carolan from the blind harper Rose Mooney of Co. Meath, and it was published in his first collection in 1796. The subject of the piece is probably Margaret, daughter of John Malone of Cartrons, Kilcleagh, Co. Westmeath.
McIntyre’s Fancy was composed by Offaly flute-player and composer John Brady for the Longridge Ceili band, when competing in an All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil in the 1980s. He dedicated the tune to his wife’s niece, a girl then in her early teens, called Arlene McIntyre, who had been a child film star. This jig is one of the tunes to be included in John’s forthcoming collection of compositions.
John Roche’s Favourite / Kitty Sheain’s Barndance (Fling / Barndance)
John Roche’s Favourite. The oldest written record of this fling is in Volume-2 of Francis Roche’s collection of traditional Irish music, published in 1912. It is likely that Francis Roche called this fling after his father John Roche who was a dancing master of note and also a classical violinist. This tune has been recorded by Matt Molloy, on ‘Stony Steps’.
Kitty Sheain’s Barn Dance is firmly rooted in the Southwest Donegal tradition. It is named after Kitty Sheain Ui Chuinneagain, a noted singer and lilter from Teelin, who recalled that this was a very popular tune at local house dances in the early decades of this century. I learned the tune from Róisín Harrigan, a fiddle player from Co. Donegal.
Counsellor MacDonough’s Lamentation (or Turlough Óg MacDonough) (Carolan Piece)
Two different versions of this Carolan piece are played here. The first is taken from the collection of John and William Neal, ‘The Most Celebrated Irish Tunes, proper for violin, German flute and hautboy’ published in c.1724. The second version was taken from Bunting’s 1796 volume, ‘A General Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland’. The air was composed by O’Carolan on the death of Counsellor Terence MacDonough, from Creevagh, Co. Sligo in 1713. MacDonough (who was generally referred to in Irish as Toirdhealbheach Og or Toirdhealbheadh Caech) had been the only Catholic counsellor-at-law to be admitted to the Irish bar after the conditions of the Treaty of Limerick (1691).
The Mist Covered Mountain / Kilfenora (Jigs)
The Mist Covered Mountain was one of the first tunes composed by Junior Crehan. According to the composer, the tune was inspired by an early morning scene. The birds were singing and Mount Callan was covered in a dawn mist as he was returning home from a dance one morning.. Crehan said that the “sight worked itself into his mind, and as it sank in the notes of the tune began to form”. Many of his other compositions were also inspired by sounds, different scenes, and various legends and traditions.
A Kilfenora Jig – this is another Clare tune. It is associated with the Kilfenora Céilí band having been recorded by them in 1973. There are also other “Kilfenora” Jigs including a popular 5 part tune.
Between the Showers (Peter Ratzenbeck)
This piece was composed by the Austrian guitar-player Peter Ratzenbeck in 1997, the title having been inspired by a visit to Glasgow in 1995. I adapted his arrangement to suit the harp, and play it here with Peter on guitar.
The Glass of Beer / The Bucks of Oranmore (Reels)
The Glass of Beer was recorded in 1976 as part of the first set of reels on the Bridge Ceili Band’s first recording. It is also known as ‘The Listowel Lasses’.
The Bucks of Oranmore: O’Neill includes a setting of this tune, received from McFadden, in his 1903 collection. He associates it with Patrick Flannery, a blind piper from Ballinasloe, Co. Galway, who emigrated to America c.1845. Flannery, according to O’Neill, died while playing the “lively strains of The Bucks of Oranmore”, while entertaining an audience in Brooklyn in 1855. This tune is very popular at sessions.