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Hag in the churn (Ador)

Butter Churning

Butter Churning in Ireland c. 1914

This jig is much more typically called “Hag at the Churn,” and is one of a number of “hag” tunes: “Hag with the Money,” “Hag in the Kiln,” “Hag at The Spinning Wheel,” “Hag’s Purse,” “Old Hag You Have Killed Me.” However, though today “hag” is a dysphemism for self-assured and unflappable women, in more magical times it referred to a treacherous, female hell-fire demon.  So, the title here refers not to the woman doing the churning, but to a magical creature. She was thought to have snuck into the butter churn stolen some of the butter, if there was less butter produced than expected; and she was thought to have snuck and played a prank if the butter didn’t congeal as expected.  Don’t take this from me. Here’s the Fiddler’s Companion version:

Caoimhin Mac Aoidh says a correct translation of the Irish title would be “Hag in the churn.” This refers, he maintains, to the folk superstition that witches would inhabit a churn to steal butter. They could not abide this particular tune, however, so it would be played as a ward when the chore of churning butter was done. It was a terrible and telling mark if a woman left the house during this ritual. (Andrew Kuntz)

So, if you were not a fan of the tune, you would have done best to endure it anyway!  This is tune #43 in Breandan Breathnach’s Ceol Rince Na hEireann, Vol. 2  (1969) but there given the un-title “Gan ainm” (no name).

If you want the ABC for this tune, click Hag in the Churn

Hag in the Churn, slow tempo (pipes)

Hag in the Churn, slow tempo (guitar)

Hag in the Churn, med tempo (guitar)

Hag in the Churn, med tempo (pipes)

Hag in the Churn

Hag in the Churn

Hag in the Churn

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