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Mooncoin (Amix)

The jig “Mooncoin” is named after Mooncoyne, a town in County Kilkenny in SE Ireland, in an area that has produced many a fine piper over the last two hundred years. One of them, James Byrne, was discovered in Mooincoyn in 1904 by Father Henebry and Father Fielding (both clerics and Irish music enthusiasts).  They recorded Byrne on an Edison cylinder. Excited by their find, they arranged to have him conduct a class for aspiring pipers and then acquired a venue for the masterclass.  However, as the date approached the priests were unable to locate Byrne again because, as O’Neill writes, Byrne had “a microbe of vagrancy,” and had no wish

to submit to the restraints of a settled residence or the monotony of steady employment. So away he went to enjoy the pleasure of conviviality [i.e. da craic] and change of scene, leaving his kind-hearted benefactors in a fit mood to appreciate the feelings of the man who undertook to domesticate wild ducks. (Breathnach, 1997)

The “Mooncoin” jig is tune #1034 in O’Neill’s 1850.  It is nearly identical to the Ulster/Scottish/English tune “The Major” (which dates at least to 1742), and is related to the jig “Denis Delaney” and the march “King William’s Rambles.”  So, taking all these versions into account, this tune is in a wide range of collections, from Cumbria and Northumberland,.  Reportedly, one version from Cumbria, and dated 1748, has 22 parts! That would clearly indicate it as pretty crazy piping tune.  A poem about James Byrne was composed by Denis Quigley.  And note that there is also a “Mooncoin Reel,” which is different.





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