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Tag Archives: Learning Irish Music

Anything for JohnJoe (D)

This is a popular session tune in many places, but it’s not played much in KC area sessions. It is also called “Anything for Johnjo” and “Anything for John Joe.” It is played in a set “Johnny When You Die > Anything for John-Joe” on the Denis Murphy (1910-1974) & Julia Clifford (1914-1997) The Star […]

Road To Lisdoonvarna (Edor)

The slide “Road To Lisdoonvarna” was popularized on this side of the pond (the States) by Grey Larsen (b. 1955) & Malcolm Dalglish (b. 1952), on their album Banish Misfortune (1977). They played this tune in a set of four: “The Road to Lisdoonvarna/Trip to Sligo/Dennis Murphy’s Slide/O’Keefe’s Slide,” where the first and last tunes are very […]

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” […]

Rolling in the Rye Grass (D)

Francis O’Neill (1848-1936) remarks in his book Irish Folk Music: A Fascinating Hobby (1915) that “Rolling in the Rye Grass” was a well-known reel in County Cork when he was a boy – the mid-nineteenth century.  Accordionist Johnny O’Leary (1923-2004) remembered that in his last year of life Kerry fiddler Padraig O’Keeffe (1887-1963) was often asked […]

Burnt Old Man (D)

When I first played this tune, Becky Pringle called my attention to an old Civil War tune, a close variant called “The Campbells are Coming” (G) that is still often played by fife and drum bands.  In the 1950s the tune, at least the A part, was used in a Campbell’s Soup commercial for Scotch Broth. […]

Mason’s Apron (A)

The first sound recording of “Mason’s Apron” appears to have been by New York accordion player John J. “Dutch” Kimmel in 1915.  Sligo fiddle master Paddy Killoran (1904-1965) recorded “Mason’s Apron” as a two-part reel in March, 1939. Some play it with an added third part. Some fiddlers play pizzicato notes during the tune as […]

The Abbey Reel (Ador)

Our tune here, the “Abbey Reel,” also called “Ríl na Mainistreach” in Irish, is a single reel. It is the second tune on the first track of Liz Carroll’s album Liz Carroll (1988), and the second in a set by De Danann on Colm Murphy’s CD An Bodhrán (2004).  It does have a number of names and associated variations, some […]

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, […]

Sí Beag Sí Mhór (D)

The title of this air, “Sí Beag, Sí Mór,” is sometimes incorrectly written “Sheebag, Sheemore,” “Si Bheag, Si Mor,” and other variations.  It is also given other titles I’ll not offer here.  The “Sí” in the Irish title designates a “fairy hill” or “fairy mound,” some magical swelling.  The word “beag” means “little” and “mhor” […]

Toss the Feathers (Dmix)

The Dmix “Toss the Feathers” reel seems to be more popular in Ireland than the Eaeol “Toss the Feathers” reel, and the opposite is true on this side of the pond.  Some people have taken to calling the tunes “Toss the Feathers #1” and “Toss the Feathers #2,” though in general it remains unclear which […]