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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Blackthorn Stick (G) 

The Blackthorn tree (prunus spinosa), is a member of Rosaceae (the rose family), and has reddish-black bark with protruding sharp spines, and so it’s also called the “European spiny plum.”  Blooming as early as March, it is, like dandelions, an important first-food for bees.  The Blackthorn is an hermaphroditic insect-pollinated hard-wood tree with small white flowers. It is […]

Tommy People’s [Mazurka] (D)

This mazurka, “Tommy Peoples,’”  is the first mazurka on track two of Frankie Kennedy and Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh 1982 recording Ceol Aduaidh (North Music), as well as on an old cassette that Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh [Mar-aid ne Mooney[1] recorded with her father Proinsias Ó Maonaigh [Francie O’Mooney] (1922-2006), probably back in the 1970’s entitled Fiddlesticks: Irish […]

Mason’s Apron (A)

The first sound recording of “Mason’s Apron” appears to have been by New York accordion player John J. “Dutch” Kimmel in 1915.  Sligo fiddle master Paddy Killoran (1904-1965) recorded “Mason’s Apron” as a two-part reel in March, 1939. Some play it with an added third part. Some fiddlers play pizzicato notes during the tune as […]

The Glasgow Reel (Daeol)

“The Glasgow Reel” is more often called “Tam Lin” around KC and some other environs.  It has been set in Daeol, Eaeol, and Aaeol, primarily. It is often heard in sessions played first in Daeol, then in Aaeol for a variation — and I have both here.  Dublin musician Davey Arthur (originally from Edinburgh, Scotland) […]

Din Tarrant’s (D)

“Din Tarrant’s” polka is sometimes called “I Have a Bonnet Trimmed in Blue.” Whatever the name, this polka is from the Sliabh Luachra region (on the Cork-Kerry border). Din Tarrant was a Sliabh Luachra fiddler, and an exponent of the “house party” style of fiddling (less ornamentation in the left-hand, less slurring with the bow) […]

Tralee Gaol  (Ador) 

When this tune, the “Tralee Jail,” is played in Edor it is often called “Glen Cottage.”  In Scotland it’s called “The Haughs of Cromdale.”  The Flett’s write “The Haughs of Cromdale” is one of the relatively small group of Country Dances which are in Strathspey tempo. It provides a further illustration of the use in […]

The Abbey Reel (Ador)

Our tune here, the “Abbey Reel,” also called “Ríl na Mainistreach” in Irish, is a single reel. It is the second tune on the first track of Liz Carroll’s album Liz Carroll (1988), and the second in a set by De Danann on Colm Murphy’s CD An Bodhrán (2004).  It does have a number of names and associated variations, some […]

Jackie Small’s (Edor)      

The jig “Jackie Small’s”  is  named after Jackie Small, a Galway musician who was initiated into traditional music during his student years at University College Galway in the 1960s and 70s.  He later received tuition on the uilleann pipes at Na Píobairí Uilleann in Dublin, and then collaborated with his teacher, Pat Mitchell, in editing […]

Donnybrook Fair (G)

The phrase “Donnybrook Fair” has a few different references: this jig, a broadsheet ballad, and a phrase for a brawl or riot — as in “it was a right Donnybrook Fair down at O’Shea’s last night.” The tune is a fairly old one.  O’Neill has it as “Joy of My Life” in 400 Tunes Arranged […]

The Lisdoonvarna Reel (G)

“The Lisdoonvarna Reel” is tune #1314 in O’Neill’s 1850 (1903), and #576 in O’Neill’s 1001 (1907).  It dates from at least the late eighteenth century, but has a number of names, such as “The Irish Hautboy.”  A hautboy is double-reed instrument, usually an oboe.  In this case, because hautboy is preceded by Irish, the title […]