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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Heather Breeze (G)

“Heather Breeze” is #779 in O’Neill’s 1001 (1907), and it is related to the tune “Crossing the Fields,” in O’Neill’s Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody (1922).  This tune too goes by many names: “Coppers of Brass” (in Tipperary and Kerry), “The Heather Bloom” (in county Monaghan), “The Heathery Braes of Ballyhealy” (in Leitrim), and […]

Halloween Jig (Baeol)

Our Halloween is the night of Oct. 31, and is derived from the celebration of Samhain which begins on Nov. 1st and is a cultural mark of the end of summer.  Now, just so you know “samhain” is pronounced “Sow-in” since the “mh” in Irish is either a w-sound or a v-sound — that’s just […]

Connaughtman’s Rambles (D)

Here’s an anecdote from the dancing side of things: “Connaughtman’s Rambles” seems to be the most popular jig among sean-nós dancers in Connemara. If they’re going to dance a jig, then nine times out of ten this is what they’ll want. The jig is also one of the most commonly played pieces in the Irish repertoire, […]

Sí Beag Sí Mhór (D)

The title of this air, “Sí Beag, Sí Mór,” is sometimes incorrectly written “Sheebag, Sheemore,” “Si Bheag, Si Mor,” and other variations.  It is also given other titles I’ll not offer here.  The “Sí” in the Irish title designates a “fairy hill” or “fairy mound,” some magical swelling.  The word “beag” means “little” and “mhor” […]

Toss the Feathers (Dmix)

The Dmix “Toss the Feathers” reel seems to be more popular in Ireland than the Eaeol “Toss the Feathers” reel, and the opposite is true on this side of the pond.  Some people have taken to calling the tunes “Toss the Feathers #1” and “Toss the Feathers #2,” though in general it remains unclear which […]

Boys of Malin (A)

“Boys of Malin” is a popular reel in County Donegal, in Irish it is Buachaillí Mhálanna. The town of Malin, Donegal, is one of the most northerly villages on the island, and, in fact, Malin Head is Ireland’s most northerly point — though, fyi, it is not in Northern Ireland. The tip of the Head is […]

Humours of Tullycrine (Ador)

This hornpipe, “Humours of Tullycrine,” also has a version called “Bobby Casey’s Hornpipe.”  The latter is played by Kevin Burke and by the Castle Ceili Band.  It has a number of variations, including some nice reel versions. Bobby Casey (1926-2000) played it often, and learned it from his father, John “Scully” Casey. The liner notes on […]

Jacky Tar (Edor)

I learned this hornpipe as “Éamonn McGivney’s,” though there are not many around here who call it that.  Éamonn McGivney’s is a fiddler from Miltown Malbay, Clare co., and this is (apparently) his setting of a version of “Cuckcoo’s Nest” which is also a version of “Jacky Tar.” This hornpipe is probably most widely known as […]

The Rose in the Heather (D)

This jig, “The Rose in the Heather,” comes from the Sliabh Luachra region[1] (pronounced Schleeav-lokhra, with the ‘kh” as that middle-of-the-mouth growly bit), specifically on the Cork-Kerry border.  The Sliabh Luachra region is at the intersection of three counties: Cork, Kerry, and Limerick.  It is renowned for its musical style and for producing some of […]

Rodney’s Glory (Ador)

“Rodney’s Glory” is a barndance.  It is also a set dance version of Turlough O’Carolan’s air “Princess Royal” (or “Miss MacDermott”). The title “Rodney’s Glory,” was derived from verses by the poet Eoghain Rua Ó Súilleabháin (1748-82) in 1782, set to O’Carolan’s tune. The song commemorates a 1782 naval battle in  the American Revolutionary War […]