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Category Archives: Polka

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 / […]