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Category Archives: Irish-American Culture

The Ashplant (Edor)

The term “ash plant” or “ashplant” was once a very common term, and still is in some places.  It is a euphemism used by the young and the old.  For the young it is a teacher’s stick which would be used to point out important locations on a map, to remind students of something written […]

Last Night’s Fun (D)

While there are a handful of tunes known by this name, one being the slip jig better known as “Wink and She’ll Follow,” this reel is the one best known as “Last Night’s Fun,” though it will sometimes be called “Joe Cooley’s No. 1” since it was popularized by the great co. Galway accordion player […]

Broken Pledge (Ddor)

The reel “Broken Pledge” is played in a number of different settings.  It’s often in Ddor, a somewhat rare mode for tunes in ITM, but also shows up in Dmix, in D Ionian, as well as mixtures of these, and much more unusually in Eaeol and Amix. The cryptic title is a matter of some […]

Paddy’s Return (Dmix)

This jig, “Paddy’s Return (from Scotland),” is in a large tune-family.  Some members have been extremely popular for more than 400 years.  The members of the family go by many names, and will go by each other’s names as well.  We play this jig pretty close to the way it’s played by the Foinn Seisiún and found […]

Tenpenny Bit (Ador)

This jig has been around a long while, and has a number of titles. It’s tune tune #969 with the title “Three Little Drummers” in O’Neill’s 1850 (1903) — i.e., O’Neill’s Music of Ireland — and tune #189 and with the same title in O’Neill’s 1001 (1907) – i.e., Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems.  It is also called “Cock in the Heath” which is sometimes […]

Dusty Windowsills (Ador)

Though common in Irish sessions, this three-part jig was actually composed by Johnny Harling (b. early 1960s), a flute player from Chicago.  Two somewhat conflicting stories have been put forth about the title. According to the least plausible one, this jig was inspired by the Kansas song “Dust in the Wind” and originally titled “Dust on the […]

Humours of Bahrain (G)

This is a polka written by the prolific tune-composer and accordion player Paddy O’Brien (1922-1991) of Nenagh, co. Tipperary (pictured right).  The name is common enough, and so don’t confuse our man here with others, such as the other Paddy O’Brien (b. 1945) from Castlebarnagh, co. Offaly, who also plays a two-row button accordion. The […]

Plains of Boyle (D)

Often called “The Wexford” by pipers, the hornpipe “Plains of Boyle” used to often be played in the set “Plains of Boyle > Leitrim Fancy” at the beginning of the twentieth century.  You can hear a snippet of a 78rpm recording from 1924 of the piper Michael J. Gallagher playing the tune in that set. […]

Jenny Dang the Weaver (D)

There is a view that the title of this reel was originally something like “The Jenny Damned the Weavers,” and that it concerns the way technology (i.e., a Jenny = an engine = machines) undermines traditional activity (e.g., weaving).  However, on Arty McGlynn’s CD McGynn’s Fancy (1994) Benedict Kiely writes that there are several tunes […]

Home Ruler (D)

The hornpipe “Home Ruler” was composed in the 1960’s by the co. Antrim fiddler Frank McCollam. In sessions it is sometimes called “Home Rule” or “Daniel O’Connell, the Home Ruler” and thought to commend the belief in Irish Home Rule championed by, for example, Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847) and James Brown Armour (1841–1928).  You will also find […]