Francis O’Neill (1848-1936) remarks in his book Irish Folk Music: A Fascinating Hobby (1915) that “Rolling in the Rye Grass” was a well-known reel in County Cork when he was a boy – the mid-nineteenth century. Accordionist Johnny O’Leary (1923-2004) remembered that in his last year of life Kerry fiddler Padraig O’Keeffe (1887-1963) was often asked for portions of his vast repertoire. Even on his deathbed someone had asked “Have you any few reels in your pocket?” (perhaps hoping to elicit one final rare gem of a tune). “Can’t think of a bit,” he said, “only ‘Rolling in the Ryegrass,’” and died fifteen minutes later. Dermot Hanifan, in his book Padraig O’Keeffe, The Man and His Music (1995), writes that O’Keeffe composed a great number of tunes, one of which was “Rolling in the Ryegrass.” This is, of course, not possible if the name refers to the same tune O’Neill remembers having heard in West Cork as a boy.
For the ABC click Rolling In The Ryegrass
D / G / D / G A D ||
D / G D / A D A / G D A D ||
Rolling in the Rye Grass, slow
Rolling in the Rye Grass, med
Rolling in the Rye Grass, the dots