“Jig of the Dead” goes well, both melodically and thematically, in a set with “Haunted House” and “Halloween Jig.” Like the first of these tunes, it has an interesting story to go with it. Harry Bradley writes:Seamus Tansey informs us that [this jig] was employed for an unusual funeral rite performed in the countryside around his native Gurteen. According to Seamus, during the waking of the deceased, it was customary for a couple of hardy dancers to lift the body and dance it around the room one last time before it was removed to its final resting place. This is the piece of music that was habitually performed as a theme tune to that end. Oddly enough it is also played as a march in the Antrim fife and drum tradition. Its title in that tradition, as if to emphasise a contrast, is “Young Men in Their Bloom.”
Now, the flute player and uilleann piper Harry Bradley was a 2014 musician of the year, has served as a member of the board of directors of Na Píobairí Uilleann (NPU), and designed and initiated the NPU Heritage & Research Project, a training program centered on the Na Píobairí Uilleann archive. You can hear Harry’s piping on his popular piping podcast The Errant Elbow.
As for “Jig of the Dead,” the local accordion player Roger Fox brought this tune and its story to my attention around Halloween 2013.
Jig of the Dead, slow (mandolin)
Jig of the Dead, med (mandolin)