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Category Archives: Irish-American Culture

Toss the Feathers (Eaeol)

There are a few tunes that go by “Toss the Feathers.” This one, in Eaeol, is popular.  The other, in Dmix, is popular too.  This one is identified by Stanford and Petrie as a Clare reel. Brendan Breathnach says it is known in County Tipperary as “Thresh the Feathers” and “The Humours of Ballagh” (1976). […]

Hag in the churn (Ador)

This jig is much more typically called “Hag at the Churn,” and is one of a number of “hag” tunes: “Hag with the Money,” “Hag in the Kiln,” “Hag at The Spinning Wheel,” “Hag’s Purse,” “Old Hag You Have Killed Me.” However, though today “hag” is a dysphemism for self-assured and unflappable women, in more magical times […]

The Maid(s) of Mt. Kisco (Ador)

This reel, “The Maid(s) of Mt. Kisco” is named after a town.  Mount Kisco is described as both a village and a town in Westchester County, New York State.  It is actually a small, but now very expensive town just north of NYC and bordering Chappaqua. One story,  according to Billy McComiskey, is that this […]

Danny Pearl’s Favorite (A)

This tune is “The Red Haired Boy,” a translation of the Irish title “Giolla Rua” – which is Anglicize as “Gilderoy” – and is said to refer to King James V.  It is called “An Maidrin Ruadh” (The Little Red Fox) in Bunting’s A Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland (1840). There is also […]

Smokey Chimney (D|A)

“The Smokey Chimney” is a strange little hornpipe, a fact which makes me like it even more.  It is in two keys, and so seemslike some kind of hornpipe mash-up — which it is.  It is tune #1635 in O’Neill’s 1850 (i.e., O’Neill’s Music of Ireland, 1903) as a two part tune, the first two parts […]

Morrison’s Jig (Edor)

This jig, usually just called “Morrison’s,” gets its name from the renowned Sligo-born Irish-American fiddler James Morrison (1891 – 1947) who, in fact, did not write it.  He was, of course, older than that California musician who named his band after Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception (1954).  Our James Morrison learned the tune from a […]

Foxhunter’s Jig (D)

“Foxhunter’s Jig” is a slip jig. The title of this four-part slip jig concerns, of course, an over-hill-and-dale foxhunt.  Thus, a few desultory comments are in order. The earliest known notation of this tune is c. 1847, where it is entitled “Dublin Gigg-a-Jigg” (in A) – both are old spellings of “jig,” and“gigg-a-jigg” is the hoary […]

My Darling Asleep (D)

The jig entitled “My Darling Asleep” is #925 in O’Neill’s 1850 (1903).  The piper and pipe maker Leo Rowsome (1903-1970) used to recount a story in which Chief O’Neill (1848-1936) got this tune from Abram Sweetman Beamish of co. Cork, who called it “My Darling in Bed.” O’Neill thought that that title was just too suggestive, […]

Monaghan Twig (Amix)

The name of the reel “Monaghan Twig” probably refers to a switch or something similar, and as the name “O’Manacháin” means “descendants of monks” it might be a euphemism that downplays the severity of corporal punishment.  It could also be a meiosis, and reference a Monaghan shillelagh. As for the tune, there are many versions of “Monaghan Twig,” […]

The Kesh Jig (G)

“The Kesh Jig” is on the Bothy Band album called The Bothy Band  (1975), and thereafter became a popular session tune.  Often just referred to as “The Kesh,” it’s not as popular as it once was, in the 1980s for example, mostly because it is considered by some to have been over-played.  It probably wouldn’t […]