The Thorn Tree. CD/mp3

 10.00 18.00

Jig The Geese in the Bog 3:19
Slow Air Ag Taisteal na Blárnan
(‘Travelling through Blarney’)
Reels Jim Coleman’s / The Mason’s Apron 3:01
Slip Jigs The Thorn Tree / I’m the Boy for Bewitching Them / My Mind will Never Be Aisy 3:50
Carolan Sir Arthur Shaen 3:24
Hornpipes The Stack of Barley / The Blackbird 3:25
Harp Pieces King of the Blind / Carolan’s Quarrel With the Landlady (Carolan) 5:07
Jigs Munster Buttermilk / The Green Fields of Woodford 2:39
Slow Air Port na bPúcaí 4:12
Reels The Sweetheart Reel / Into the Wood 3:14
Jigs Mulhaire’s / The Spotted Dog 3:16
Harp Piece The Jointure and Jig 5:28
Schottisches The Cat that Kittled in Jamie’s Wig / Killarney Wonder 3:02
Laments Fingall’s Lamentation / Marbhna 5:14
Reels The Green Groves of Erin / The Ravelled Hank of Yarn / Lucy Campbell 4:21
Total Running Time: 57:04

1. The Geese in the Bog (Jig)

This well-known jig was recorded in the 1930s by Sligo fiddler Paddy Killoran, and by renowned uilleann piper Seamus Ennis in 1974, under the title ‘The Lark’s March’. A two-part version of the tune was collected by George Petrie (1790-1866) and a similar version appears in O’Neill’s Dance Music of Ireland (1907). There is also another 2-part jig of the same name.

2. Ag Taisteal na Blárnan (‘Travelling through Blarney’) (Slow Air)

This slow air can be found in a number of late 18th-century collections, under the title ‘Stáca an Margaidh’ ( ‘The Market- Place Idler’). It is thought that the title commonly used today came from a poem by the great 18th-century poet Eoghan Rua Ó Súilleabháin, which he set to the existing air. It has been recorded by various artists, including piper Liam O’Flynn (The Given Note, 1996) and The Chieftains (Boil the Breakfast Early, 1979).

3. Jim Coleman’s / The Mason’s Apron (Reels)

I learned the first tune from fiddler Brian Rooney’s recording, The Godfather (1999). He called it ‘Seamus Tansey’s’ after the Sligo flute player, who recorded it in the 1970s. Jim Coleman was an older brother of the great Michael Coleman, and although there are no recordings of his music, he was also highly regarded as a fiddler in his own right.
Like many of our older reels, ‘The Mason’s Apron’ can be traced back to 18th-century Scotland, first appearing in print there in the 1790s. This particular version comes from the whistle playing of Micho Russell (1915-94) from Doolin, County Clare. He in turn got it from Patrick Flanagan, a concertina player in his area, when he was a boy. Micho can be heard playing it on The Man From Clare. I first heard his version on the recording Fierce Traditional by Frankie Gavin (2001).

4. The Thorn Tree / I’m the Boy for Bewitching Them / My Mind will Never Be Aisy (Slip Jigs)

The Thorn Tree comp. and arr. G. Hambly I composed the first tune in 2004. Lone thorn trees (hawthorn or whitethorn) feature prominently in Celtic folklore – such trees were thought to be home to the Little People or to protective spirits, and it is considered very bad luck to cut one down.
I got the other two slip jigs from O’Neill’s Dance Music of Ireland (1907) but both actually originated in Scotland. ‘I’m the Boy for Bewitching Them’ has its origins in a Scottish song ‘And the Kirk would let me be’. This first appeared in the Guthrie Manuscript (1675-80) (now housed in Edinburgh University Library), and later in slip jig rhythm in Alexander Stuart’s Musick for Allan Ramsay’s Collection of Scots Songs (1724).
The last tune appears as ‘Woo’d and Married and A” in James Oswald’s The Caledonian Pocket Companion (1750-60). Both tunes can also be found in a number of later Scottish collections under various titles.

5. Sir Arthur Shaen (Carolan Piece)

This piece was composed by the well-known Irish harpercomposer, Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738), in honour of Sir Arthur Shaen, of Kilmore, County Roscommon who died in 1725. The tune appeared in a publication of Carolan’s compositions thought to have been compiled by his son, and published in Dublin c.1748. Fragments of this book have been preserved in the National Library of Ireland, but its exact title is unknown. The tune is quite different in style to many of Carolan’s pieces, and possibly reflects an older style of harp composition dating from the era of the Bards, which was in decline by this time.

6. The Stack of Barley / The Blackbird (Hornpipes)

These are two well-known hornpipes. The first was published in John O’Daly’s The Poets and Poetry of Munster (Dublin, 1849), set with the song ‘Aisling Phádraig Conndúin’ (‘Patrick Condon’s Vision’). It also appears in the Goodman, Roche and O’Neill collections, and there is a particular two-hand dance associated with this tune.
‘The Blackbird’ was published in Breathnach’s Ceol Rince na hÉireann, Vol. 1 (1963). There are a number of tunes with this name, possibly derived from a common source, including the well-known set dance (which I recorded on my first CD Between the Showers). The ‘Blackbird’ or ‘An Londubh’ is one of many allegorical names used to refer to Ireland, as well as to various members of the royal Stuart dynasty.

7. King of the Blind (Harp Piece) Carolan’s Quarrel With the Landlady (Carolan Piece)

‘King of the Blind’ is the first piece in the first collection of Irish tunes to be published in Ireland – John and William Neal’s A Collection of the Most Celebrated Irish Tunes (Dublin, 1724). The origin and story behind the tune are unknown, but it is thought to be a contemporary instrumental piece.
The second piece is another composition of Turlough O’Carolan. No words survive, but it is possible that the landlady referred to in the title was Bridget Waldron, about whom Carolan composed an epigram. The tune appears in the Forde and Pigot collections, and in both, the source of the tune is given as Patrick Carey’s ‘book’. Carey was a piper living in Cork in 1845, who had compiled a manuscript collection of tunes which is now lost. It is related to the tune ‘Sit Down Under my Protection’, published in Edward Bunting’s 1840 volume Ancient Music of Ireland. Bunting collected that tune in 1799 from harper Charles Byrne from County Leitrim.

8. Munster Buttermilk The Green Fields of Woodford (Jigs)

The first jig is a variant of ‘The Frost is All Over’, which I learned from the recording Kitty Lie Over, by Mick O’Brien and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (2003). They got it from the playing of Sliabh Luachra fiddler, Denis Murphy on The Star Above the Garter (1969).
I learned the ‘Green Fields of Woodford’ from a recording by Peter and Angelina Carberry, Memories from the Holla (1998). Their source was New York flute player, Jack Coen (originally from East Galway), who in turn learned it from the flute playing of Jim Conroy of Woodford, County Galway.

9. Port na bPúcaí (Slow Air)

This haunting air comes from the Blasket Islands off the coast of Kerry, and is specifically associated with Inis Mhic Uibhleáin (Inishvickillaun). The tune is said to have been heard by islanders, being sung by the fairies, in the 19th century. The title means ‘the tune of the fairies’ or ‘music of the ghosts’. It has been recorded by many musicians, but my main inspiration was accordion player Tony McMahon’s version.

10. The Sweetheart Reel / Into the Wood (Reels)

Into the Wood comp. Paddy O’Brien, arr. G. Hambly I learned the first tune from the playing of East Clare musicians, Martin Hayes and Mary McNamara. It was the last tune in a set they got from Martin’s father, fiddler P Joe Hayes. It can be heard on Mary’s solo concertina CD Traditional Music from East Clare (1994) and was also published by O’Neill in his Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody (1922).
The second tune was composed by accordion player, Paddy O’Brien (1922-91) of Newtown, County Tipperary, and it can be found in the 1992 publication, The Compositions of Paddy O’Brien.

11. Mulhaire’s / The Spotted Dog (Jigs)

The Spotted Dog comp. John McEvoy, arr. G. Hambly The first tune may have been composed by Martin Mulhaire, from Eyrecourt, County Galway, in honour of his father Tommy, a music teacher and composer, or by Tommy himself in the 1950s.
‘The Spotted Dog’ was composed by fiddler John McEvoy, and is named after a well-known Irish music pub in Birmingham, where he lived for many years. I learned it from a recording by John and his sister Catherine McEvoy, The Kilmore Fancy (2004).

12. The Jointure and Jig (Harp Piece)

This air with jig variation appears in Edward Bunting’s 1796 volume, A General Collection of the Ancient Irish Music. Bunting collected it from Mayo harper Hugh Higgins in 1792, and attributes it to 17th-century harper-composer, Thomas Connellan (c1640-c1720) from Cloonamahon, County Sligo. ‘The Jointure’ means the ‘marriage bond’ and it was possibly a love song, but no words survive. Another version appears in Neal’s Most Celebrated Irish Tunes (1724) under the title ‘Stary ghed ma lousa Voem’ ( ‘A stáraí a ghoid mo chlú-sa uaim’ – ‘O Rogue who stole my reputation from me’). The basic melody is similar, but it is written in a different time signature. Also, Bunting’s version shows more idiomatic harping traits. The version I play here is mainly based on Bunting’s version, but combines some elements of both.

13. The Cat that Kittled in Jamie’s Wig Killarney Wonder (Schottisches)

I learned these tunes from Mayo accordion player Tommy Doherty, at a session at the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil in Clonmel a few years ago. The first tune is associated with the playing of Donegal fiddler, John Doherty (d.1980). Of Scottish origin, it appeared in Neil Gow’s Part Fourth of the Complete Repository of Original Scots Slow Strathspeys and Dances (Edinburgh, 1805) under the title ‘Panmure House’. This tune is also known in Scotland as a strathspey called ‘Miss Lyall’. There are very strong links between the music of Donegal and Scotland.
The second tune was recorded c.1924 by legendary Sligo fiddler Michael Coleman (1891-1945), as part of a set entitled ‘Killarney Wonder’.

14. Fingall’s Lamentation / Marbhna (Laments)

‘Fingall’s Lamentation’ was published in Neil Gow’s A Fourth Collection of Strathspey Reels (Edinburgh c.1800), where it is described as “A very old Gaelic air”. However, such statements were frequently made in collections from that period, and it cannot be taken as a true indication of the age or origin of the tune. ‘Fingal’ is the name given to Fionn Mac Cumhaill (leader of the Fianna in Celtic mythology) in Scotland. I have taken some liberties here with the accidentals in Gow’s version, preferring to use the flattened 7th throughout, as is usual in modal tunes in the Irish musical tradition.
The second tune was collected by Edward Bunting from Armagh harper Patrick Quin, and published in his 1809 collection A General Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland. The title given there, ‘Marbhna nó Cumha’ can be translated simply as ‘Lament’.

15. The Green Groves of Erin / The Ravelled Hank of Yarn/Lucy Campbell (Reels)

Three well known reels, widely played at sessions and all appearing in O’Neill’s and Breathnach’s collections. ‘The Green Fields of Erin’ also appears in Goodman’s 1861 volume.
The second tune was recorded by James Morrison (fiddler) and Michael Carney (piper) in the 1920s under the title ‘The Peeler’s Jacket’, and is also associated with the piping of Willie Clancy.
‘Lucy Campbell’ originated in Scotland as a strathspey called ‘Miss Lucia Campbell’s Delight’ or ‘Ball na Grandach’, first published in 1786 in Joshua Campbell’s A Collection of New Reels and Highland Strathspeys.