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Category Archives: Irish Pictures

Beare Island (Emix|Edor)

This reel was composed by West Cork accordionist Finbar Dwyer, but is sometimes claimed to be the work of Paddy Fahy.  It is on the Kevin Burke and Mícheál Ó Domhnaill album Portland (1982), as well as Mick Conneely’s Selkie (1999). It’s a two-part reel played AABB, with the A-part in Emix and the B-part […]

Jenny’s Chickens (Baeol)

“Jenny’s Chickens” is a reel is usually preceded by “Bonnie Kate” due to the recordings of Michael Coleman and Joe Burke. Michael Coleman was the first to make this tune popular. I have been told that every time he played it, he would change it a little bit.  This may make the tune more interesting […]

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 […]

Merry Blacksmith (D)

The reel “Merry Blacksmith” is a lively, popular tune in both the Irish tradition and in American old-time.  Though once known as “The Peeler’s Jacket,” it is not any more — unless one calls it “Peeler’s Jacket #1” and one is a supreme fan of the Fiddler’s Companion, which I am.  The tune is often […]

Harvest Home (D)

The hornpipe “Harvest Home” is also called “The Cork Hornpipe” by people from cork, and called “Baile an Fhómhair” by people who prefer its Irish name.  The tune was known in the States in the 1840s.  It’s probably more fun to play than to listen to.  It requires some work to make the melody flow smoothly […]

The Butterfly (Edor)

“The Butterfly” slip jig is very popular among (some) musicians and dancers, and shows up in John Sayles’s much-loved film The Secret of Roan Inish (1994). It is a three-part tune and is played AABBCC. Though commonly called “The Butterfly,” it is claimed to also be called “Bill Grogan’s Goat” or “Barney’s Goat.” As the version of “Barney’s Goat” I looked […]

Bill Sullivan’s (A)

The polka “Bill Sullivan’s” is also called “Mickey Chewing Bubblegum,” but sometimes called “Kevin Burke’s” because he teaches it on DVD #1 of a pair entitled “Learn to Play Irish Fiddle: Polkas, Jigs & Slides” (Homespun Videos, 2002).  It’s interesting that it’s acquired the title “Kevin Burke’s” because he himself calls it “Bill Sullivan’s” on […]

The Wise Maid (D)

The reel known as “The Wise Maid” seems to date only from the 1970s, but is now in the top twenty most widely-known Irish reels in the world. The well-known whistle player Larry McCullough, in his The Complete Irish Tinwhistle Tutor (1987), attributes the tune to the Ardara, Co. Donegal, fiddler John Doherty (1900-1980), as does accordionist […]