The Best ITM Tune-Learning Tutor

Tag Archives: Irish Session

Father O’Flynn’s Jig (D)

“Father O’Flynn’s” jig was more often called “Top of Cork Road” until A. P. Grave’s (the father of poet Robert Graves) wrote lyrics for it in 1906, and called it “Father O’Flynn.” The song became very popular and so the tune took on the new name.  Unfortunately, after writing it A. P. Graves sold it […]

Egan’s Polka (D)

“Egan’s Polka”  is another great tune for teaching polkas – though I have read that players in Glasgow sessions won’t play it.  It is a Kerry polka, and also goes by the name “The Kerry Polka” — as do a number of different Kerry polkas.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is even more confusion about the name […]

Breeches Full of Stitches (A)

The polka “Breeches Full of Stitches” is a great tune for beginners, or those first learning Irish polkas.  Some people play this in G, but Kevin Burke plays it in A Ionian.  So, here it’s in A Ionian.  Martin Hayes plays this in his typical slow, deeply emotional way on his first album Martin Hayes […]

Ballydesmond Polkas (Ador)

The  three Ballydesmond Polkas can be found on a number of recordings and websites.  The order and numbering given here is from the album entitled The Star Above the Garter, by Denis Murphy (1910-1974) and Julia Clifford (1914–1997), siblings from Sliabh Luachra.  The area called Sliabh Luachra (pronounced Schleeav-lokhra, with the ‘kh” as that middle-of-the-mouth […]

Maggie in the Woods (G)

“Maggie in the Woods” is a popular two-part polka, similar to “The Scartaglen Polka” (also in G), though the latter has three parts. There are some common lyrics to this polka:  If I met Maggie in the wood / I would kiss her if I could / that’s the thing would do her good / […]

Child of My Heart (Aaeol)

“Child of My Heart” is a single jig, #1095 in O’Neill’s 1850 (1903) and #395 in O’Neill 1001 (1907). According to the Fiddler’s Companion, the tune was picked up by Capt. Francis O’Neill from John Ennis, the piper and flute player from County Kildare who had himself gotten it from a nameless player who was […]

 Drowsy Maggie (Edor)

“Drowsy Maggie” is a very popular reel at sessions all over the world.  It’s #1425 in O’Neill’s 1850 – i.e., O’Neill’s Music of Ireland (1903) – and so probably dates back to the mid-nineteenth century.  However, there’s not much clear information about the tune’s origin or subsequent history. It should not be confused with a set […]

The Banshee (G)

The reel entitled “The Banshee” is a session favorite pretty much everywhere.  It was composed by James McMahon (b. ≈1900), a flute player originally from South Fermanagh, in Northern Ireland.  He married Rose Tally, eventually moved to Belfast, and became an influential flute player there.  He composed several other well-known tunes, including “The Ivory Flute” (he actually played […]