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Category Archives: Too Popular

Sally Gardens (G)

This is a lively reel at sessions when it’s played, but you might find that it’s thought to be somewhat threadbare at some sessions. Sometimes it’s good to shelve a tune for a while to give it time to re-germinate.  Anyway our tune here bears no relation to the William Butler Yeats poem, or to the […]

Gravel Walks (Ador)

This reel, “Gravel Walks” or “The Gravel Walks,” is also called “The Gravelled Walks to Granny,” and “Jenny Tie your Bonnet.” In Vallely’s  Fiddler’s Companion Caoimhin Mac Aoidh writes that Granny (or sometimes Grainne or Cranny) is a secluded and unpopulated glen between Ardara (pronounces Ar-DRA) and Glencolmcille (pronounced Glen-CULLIM-kill) in southwest co. Donegal.  People […]

Convenience Reel (D)

Also called “Boys of Sligo” this three-part reel is worth knowing, whether you like it or not, as it is played in many sessions.  It is a fairly simple tune, with lots of repeating phrases.  The third part is probably the trickiest of the three.  As such, the tune lends itself to variations, and there […]

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 […]

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, […]

The Kesh Jig (D)

“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 […]

Off to California (G)

The hornpipe “Off to California” is #859 in O’Neill’s 1001 – that is, O’Neill’s Dance Music of Ireland (1903). O’Neill apparently heard it in California, and gave it this name.  So, unlike many other tunes, this one has only a couple of other names.  The origin of this one is unknown as well, though it […]

Tripping Up the Stairs (D)

The jig “Tripping Up the Stairs” is a universally popular jig in sessions, and seems to come from co. Donegal.  It is sometimes thought to be titled “Tripping Upstairs.” Some even think that its current title is a joke, a play on “Tripping Down the Stairs” which they think is the actual title.  Still others […]

Out on the Ocean (G)

This jig, “Out on the Ocean,”  is sometimes played in A rather than G – on Planxty’s After The Break (1979), for instance.  It is a great tune played either rapidly or slowly.  It seems to have been collected first by George Petrie, whose collection is available online. His best known collection is entitled Ancient Irish […]

Sean Ryan’s Polka (D)

As I mention now and then, tunes named after people usually indicate simply that the person named was fond of playing the tune. At times, however, it is an accurate attribution.  I believe this polka was composed by the prolific composer and fiddle player Sean Ryan (1919-1985) from Nenagh, co. Tipperary, and first cousin of Paddy O’Brien (1922-1991) […]