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Daily Archives: April 9, 2014

The Wise Maid (D)

The reel known as “The Wise Maid” seems to date only from the 1970s, but is now in the top twenty most widely-known Irish reels in the world. The well-known whistle player Larry McCullough, in his The Complete Irish Tinwhistle Tutor (1987), attributes the tune to the Ardara, Co. Donegal, fiddler John Doherty (1900-1980), as does accordionist […]

Father Kelly’s (G)

“Father Kelly’s Reel” in G is yet another tune that is played in sessions around the globe.  Father P. J. Kelly (1926 – March 25, 2006) named this tune “The Rossmore Jetty” after the pier on the river Shannon near his hometown of Woodford in East Galway. This tune is also called “Father Kelly’s #1.” […]

Cooley’s Reel (Edor)

Cooley’s Reel is so popular at sessions around the world that it is sometimes played in different keys/modes (esp. Bdor and Ddor) just for a diversion.  There are those, of course, who place it just inside their “too popular” category, and those that place it just outside.  As I actually lack that category in my repertoire, […]

The Banshee (G)

The reel entitled “The Banshee” is a session favorite pretty much everywhere.  It was composed by James McMahon (b. ≈1900), a flute player originally from South Fermanagh, in Northern Ireland.  He married Rose Tally, eventually moved to Belfast, and became an influential flute player there.  He composed several other well-known tunes, including “The Ivory Flute” (he actually played […]

Maid Behind the Bar (D)

The reel “Maid Behind the Bar,” has a slightly different A part in O’Neill’s, Music of Ireland (1903) – a book commonly called “O’Neill’s 1850” because it has just over 1,850 tunes in it.  In that collection this tune (or a member of this tune family) is entitled “The Green Mountain” (pg. 227, #1205).   So, […]

Mountain Road (D)

“The Mountain Road” is a reel composed by Michael Gorman (1895-1970), an Irish fiddler from County Sligo.  When he was young, his foster parents sent him for fiddle lessons to James Gannon (who taught Michael Coleman). Willie Clancy used to tell a story about a nine year old Gorman: “Gannon wrote out the tunes in his […]

The Wind that Shakes the Barley (D)

In addition to this reel, there is a song, a novel, and a movie with the same title title. None bear any close relation to the tune, save the name, the concept of which is itself a deeply ensconced in Irish consciousness. There’s also many-a CD that contains the tune. The song is an Irish […]

Silver Spear (D)

The reel “The Silver Spear” is a popular session tune, more so at one time, but still surely in the top ten worldwide session repertoire.  It is followed almost ineluctable by “Humours of Tulla” around Kansas City, and is common also at slow sessions everywhere, such as the Musique Irlandaise slow session at the Quiet Man pub in […]