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Tag Archives: Irish Session

Killavil (D)

“Killavil”  is a (double) jig from co. Sligo. Killavil is a parish south of Sligo, and the birthplace of the great twentieth century Irish fiddler Michael Coleman (1891-1945).  The name is probably an endocentric compound (or perhaps just a copulative compound) of “cill” (church) and “abhaile” (home, or lit. homeward), and so means something like “Home-Church” […]

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, […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

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,” […]

Cup of Tea (D)

The “Cup of Tea” reel was once called “The Unfortunate Cup of Tea,” which is pretty mysterious.  Speculatively, I would suggest that it refers to a well-prepared, and sweetly anticipated cup of tea that has been subsequently squandered in transportation.  That name was used by the early Irish rock band Horslips for the name of […]

An Comhra Donn (D)

The hornpipe “An Comhra Donn” is light-hearted.  I learned from a Belfast concertina player in the mid-1980s and brought to the KC sessions back in 2007.  The name is pronounced “Ahn Cowrah Dune” and translates from Irish to English as “The Brown Box” – an Irish euphemism for a coffin.  Comhra (coffin) is not to be […]

Boys of Bluehill (D)

This hornpipe, “Boys of Bluehill,” or “Buacailli Ua Cnoc-Gorm” in Irish, is a session favorite. Our old friend Chief O’Neill reported that the melody was unknown to Chicagoland Irish musicians until he transcribed it from the playing of a seventeen year old fiddler named George West, a gifted musician suffering from penury and without his own […]