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Daily Archives: May 4, 2014

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 […]

Rights of Man (Eaeol)

The hornpipe “Rights of Man” is a popular hornpipe, and also known as “Bedlam Boys” (though there are other tunes by this name as well).  It has been attributed to James Hill, though admittedly there is scant evidence.  It shows up in all the major Irish tune collections I’ve encountered.  Some people regard it as […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

The Lilting Banshee (Ador)

The tune we know as “The Lilting Banshee” is listed as “The Miller of Glanmire” in O’Neill’s Dance Music of Ireland (1907) – called “O’Neill’s 1001” because it has 1001 tunes in it, or called “not the yellow one, the other book.” In fact, this tune has many names, and what it’s called will depend […]

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 […]

Denis Murphy’s Polka (D)

The title “Denis Murphy’s Polka” does not tell us much about the tune’s history, unfortunately.  It may be a tune composed by Denis Murphy, but much more likely is just one of the tunes often played by Denis Murphy.  The insertion of a person’s name in a title is almost always a way of paying […]