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Daily Archives: May 4, 2014

Sean Ryan’s Polka (D)

As I mention now and then, tunes named after people usually indicate simply that the person named was fond of playing the tune. At times, however, it is an accurate attribution.  I believe this polka was composed by the prolific composer and fiddle player Sean Ryan (1919-1985) from Nenagh, co. Tipperary, and first cousin of Paddy O’Brien (1922-1991) […]

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 […]

Padraig O’Keefe’s #2 (D)

This is one of the slides called “Padraig O’Keefe’s” (sometimes spelled “O’Keeffe’s” or even “O’Keeff’s”).  There is no common numbering as far as I’ve been able to tell.  I call this “#2” just because I know another O’Keefe slide.  Padraig O’Keefe (1887 – 1963) is from the region called Sliabh Luachra (pronounced Schleeav-lokhra), at the […]

Merrily Kiss the Quaker’s Wife (G)

“Merrily Kiss the Quaker’s Wife” is a West Kerry slide.  It’s also called “Merrily Kiss the Quaker.”  As noted in my Tune Dictionary, slides are too often confused with other tune-types, especially single jigs.  At any rate, this tune is sometimes played as a double jig in sessions. Now this tune is old.  Really old! […]

A Fig for a Kiss (G)

This slip jig is usually called “A Fig for a Kiss.”  Now, people like to speculate about tune titles, and this one seems to confuse people pretty often, given the things posted about it online — not to mention the very different things that are designated by the word “fig.”  However, it’s actually not hard to understand […]

Kid on the Mountain (Eaeol)

In the slip jig “Kid on the Mountain,” the “kid” in the title is a young goat, of course, not some human child stranded on some high wind-blown wintry mountain in Jaunary.  When I play it I like to think of the kid as traversing a rocky slope on a nice Spring day. Now this […]

Hardiman the Fiddler (Dmix)

The slip jig “Hardiman the Fiddler” is thought to have been named in honor of James Hardiman, who was the first librarian of Queen’s College in Galway and author of Irish Minstrelsy: Or Bardic Remains (1831).  This tune probably dates back to his time.  It shows up in O’Neill’s 1850 as tune #1117, and O’Neill’s 1001 as […]

The Butterfly (Edor)

“The Butterfly” slip jig is very popular among (some) musicians and dancers, and shows up in John Sayles’s much-loved film The Secret of Roan Inish (1994). It is a three-part tune and is played AABBCC. Though commonly called “The Butterfly,” it is claimed to also be called “Bill Grogan’s Goat” or “Barney’s Goat.” As the version of “Barney’s Goat” I looked […]

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 […]

Bill Sullivan’s (A)

The polka “Bill Sullivan’s” is also called “Mickey Chewing Bubblegum,” but sometimes called “Kevin Burke’s” because he teaches it on DVD #1 of a pair entitled “Learn to Play Irish Fiddle: Polkas, Jigs & Slides” (Homespun Videos, 2002).  It’s interesting that it’s acquired the title “Kevin Burke’s” because he himself calls it “Bill Sullivan’s” on […]