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Mills are Grinding (Ddor) 

Burke, Up Close

Kevin Burke, Up Close (1993)

The reel “The Mills are Grinding,” is also called “The Flowers of Limerick” and “Tuttle’s.”  It is one among a large family of similar tunes, in both Irish and Old-Time traditions, which is suitably played in various modes, and then given different titles: “The Bunch of Keys” (Gdor), “Telephone Reel” (Gaeol), “Paddy on the Turnpike” (Ador), “Paddy on the Handcar” (Ador), “Ducks on the Pond (A|Amix),  “The Yellow Heifer” (Amix), “The First House in Connaught” (G) — also known as “Terry Moylan’s” — and “Walsh’s” (G). Often called “The Auld Reel” in Scottish trad, it is also part of the Quebecois tradition from the playing of Joseph Allard (1873-1947), and there called “Reel du Plombier” (Gdor).  If you know one of the family members, the rest will sound vaguely familiar. Members of this large tune family can be traced to the early 1700s.

Our tune here was recorded in 1931 by The Ballinakill Céilí Band, which had been organized by Father Larkin, and they included it on their six-record eponymous 78 RPM collection (Nov. 1931), a set which brought them to international fame in the early 1940s.  Silly Wizard plays a folk-rock version on their album Caledonia’s Hardy Sons (1978), track 4, called “The Auld Pipe Reel.” The version and setting here is from Kevin Burke’s Up Close (1993), track 4, and called “Tuttle’s” on that album.  Notice that there is a setting in D and in G (taken from O’Neill’s 1850 and 1001 respectively), but which are essentially the same tune as Burke’s, just in a major setting.  Joe Burke plays this tune in his typical thoughtful, slow style along with “Paddy Doorhy’s” on his album The Tailor’s Choice (1983).  So, though the settings may be different the tune is in Ryan’s Mammoth Collection (1883), it is #1379 in O’Neill’s 1850 (1903) in D, #627 in O’Neill’s 1001 (1907) in G, #140 in the Roche Collection of Traditional Irish Music, vol. 1 (1912), and in Brid Cranitch’s (ed.) Irish Session Tunes: The Orange Book (2005).

For the ABC click Mills are Grinding

The Mills are Grinding, slow tempo (fiddle, Dave Agee)

The Mills are Grinding, med tempo (fiddle, Dave Agee)

The Mills are Grinding, the dots

Mills are Grinding

Mills are Grinding








  • Posted December 8, 2014 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jean, there are a couple of different tunes sharing this name, but the one also called “Tuttle’s” is the one posted here. The versions in D and G, you’ll notice, are really just the same tune in a different setting. I happen to like the dorian setting, but the other are good too. I do really appreciate your comment, as it made me look all this over again and identify a couple of mistakes I had posted here. I changed the graphic too. Thanks!

  • Jean J. Smith
    Posted December 8, 2014 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    I went to “” and typed in “Mills Are Grinding” and came up with a different tune altogether.
    Could you please check on the title and help me out?

Thanks! Any comments?

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