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Elizabeth Kelly’s Delight (Ador)  

Edel Fox, The Sunny Banks

Edel Fox, The Sunny Banks (2013)

This slip jig, “Elizabeth Kelly’s Delight,” is tune #68 in Breandán Breathnach’s (1912–1985) Ceol Rince na hÉireann 1 (1963).  It is on Edel Fox’s CD The Sunny Banks (2013).  She’s a great concertina player. The alternate title “Catherine Kelly’s” is from Martin Hayes, on his CD Under the Moon (1995).  Some say that it’s a typographical error, but as Elizabeth and Catherine were sisters, I think there’s more to it.  Elizabeth Kelly (known as Eliza, and sometimes Lizzy) was born in Kilcloher between Carriagholt and Kilbaha in 1889.  She was the mother of the renown Co. Clare fiddler and concertina player John Kelly (1912-1989) and so the grandmother of his sons, the well-known fiddlers John Kelly Jr. and James Kelly.  Their father, John Kelly Sr. was born in Rehy, Cross, Kilballyowen in south Clare, one of eight children of Michael and Eliza Kelly.  He grew up with Clare music played by his uncles, and by his mother on concertina.  His grandmother was born on the island of Scattery near the mouth of the Shannon. He was also influenced by the tunes played on Scattery, which included Continental style tunes, waltzes, and the north Kerry music played on the island: polkas, slides,  and single jigs.

In his younger days the future John Kelly Sr. met the travelling piper Johnny Doran at Kilkee races (in September 1932) and they struck up a friendship which lasted until the piper’s death in 1950.  As he was the only musician to have recorded with Doran, it’s likely that without John Kelly Sr. we’d have no recording of the piping of Johnny Doran.  John Kelly Sr. was also a founding member, with Sean O’Riada, of Ceoltoiri Cualann, a traditional group that in many ways was responsible for the modern revival of traditional Irish Music — some of whose members formed The Chieftains.  John Kelly Sr. began teaching his son James to play fiddle at the age of three, and James began touring at 16.  He toured Europe, the US, Canada, and South America, and was a member of several influential Irish groups, including Patrick Street and the legendary Planxty. He was a presenter of the Pure Drop series for Irish TV and has appeared several times with the Grammy award winning Irish group The Chieftains. In the US, James has performed several times on Garrison Keillor’s national radio show A Prairie Home Companion. Many bands have done versions of “Elizabeth Kelly’s Delight,” such as Lunasa.  Though self-described as “a traditional Irish music group,” Lunasa is actually a bit more of a rock band than a traditional band, one of a number which aims to make money by attracting younger audiences whose own musical tastes are much more rock-based than traditional-based. The band is Kevin Crawford, Cillian Vallely, Trevor Hutchinson, Seán Smyth, Donogh Hennessy, and Paul Meehan.  They have a couple of tune books with dots of what they actually play, and as incredible as it sounds they do a much better transcription job than I do.  In one tune book Donogh Hennessey writes:

“Aoibhneas Eilis Ni Cheallaigh” or “The Loveliness of Elizabeth Kelly” when roughly translated into English, is a mighty slip jig I learned from my great friend and fiddle player Mark Crickard and flautist Cian O’Sullivan with whom I played music for many years in Dingle and East Germany. Lizzy Kelly was a concertina player from Kilrush in Co.Clare.

This tune is also taught at the Dublin slow sessions, but there it’s called “Cobblestone Slip Jig.”  And just so you know, there is also a single jig in G with the name “Elizabeth Kelly’s Delight” which is a different tune.  What this shows is that Lizzy seems not to have been stingy with her delight.

If you want the ABC for this tune, click Catherine Kelly’s


Am  / Am G Em / Am   / G  Em : |

Am G Am /Am G Em / Am G Am / G  Em : |


Elizabeth Kelly’s Delight, slow tempo



Elizabeth Kelly’s Delight, med tempo



Catherine Kelly's

Catherine Kelly’s




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