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Tag Archives: Learning Irish Music

The Ashplant (Edor)

The term “ash plant” or “ashplant” was once a very common term, and still is in some places.  It is a euphemism used by the young and the old.  For the young it is a teacher’s stick which would be used to point out important locations on a map, to remind students of something written […]

Carraroe (D)

This light-hearted jig is a member of a large family which includes “The Blue Bonnets Over the Border,” “The Scotsman Over the Border,” “Mist on the Meadow,” and “The Mist in the Glen,” among many others.  The co. Limerick fiddler Martin Mulvihill (1919-1987) called this “The Portrowe Jig” in his First Collection of Traditional Irish Music […]

Last Night’s Fun (D)

While there are a handful of tunes known by this name, one being the slip jig better known as “Wink and She’ll Follow,” this reel is the one best known as “Last Night’s Fun,” though it will sometimes be called “Joe Cooley’s No. 1” since it was popularized by the great co. Galway accordion player […]

Broken Pledge (Ddor)

The reel “Broken Pledge” is played in a number of different settings.  It’s often in Ddor, a somewhat rare mode for tunes in ITM, but also shows up in Dmix, in D Ionian, as well as mixtures of these, and much more unusually in Eaeol and Amix. The cryptic title is a matter of some […]

Tenpenny Bit (Ador)

This jig has been around a long while, and has a number of titles. It’s tune tune #969 with the title “Three Little Drummers” in O’Neill’s 1850 (1903) — i.e., O’Neill’s Music of Ireland — and tune #189 and with the same title in O’Neill’s 1001 (1907) – i.e., Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems.  It is also called “Cock in the Heath” which is sometimes […]

Dusty Windowsills (Ador)

Though common in Irish sessions, this three-part jig was actually composed by Johnny Harling (b. early 1960s), a flute player from Chicago.  Two somewhat conflicting stories have been put forth about the title. According to the least plausible one, this jig was inspired by the Kansas song “Dust in the Wind” and originally titled “Dust on the […]

Jackie Coleman’s (D)

It is pretty common for tunes that carry a person’s name to simply be an homage, merely indicating that that person liked the tune and played it often.  Yet, it is sometimes also actually accurately a possessive-indicator, as it is in this case. Jackie Coleman (1928-2001), may he rest in peace, composed this tune around 1954. He passed […]

Humours of Bahrain (G)

This is a polka written by the prolific tune-composer and accordion player Paddy O’Brien (1922-1991) of Nenagh, co. Tipperary (pictured right).  The name is common enough, and so don’t confuse our man here with others, such as the other Paddy O’Brien (b. 1945) from Castlebarnagh, co. Offaly, who also plays a two-row button accordion. The […]

Anderson’s Reel (D)

This reel is named for the Sligo piper Michael J. Anderson (1865-1947), who would eventually be called “Piper Anderson.” He was a flute player until he emigrated to the States as a teenager, where he learned to play and make the uilleann pipes.  His home, at 1459 Amsterdam Ave., New York City,  became a popular gathering […]

Miss Monaghan (D)

This reel is one of many that were named for young women.  The practice was common in the nineteenth century when all the music that was played, and all the music that had ever been played, was played by living breathing human beings. Though there was the occasional concert, music was most commonly heard in […]