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Ships are Sailing (Edor)

Wild Blue

Eileen Ivers, Wild Blue (1996)

The reel “Ships Are Sailing,” or “Longa Ag Seolad” in Irish, is usually played AABB, but sometimes played ABAB. It has been recorded many, many times.  The Flanagan Brothers do a banjo version on their The Tunes We Like to Play on Paddy’s Day (1930), there’s an interesting solo fiddle version on Bobby Casey’s Casey in the Cowhouse (1959/1992), and there’s an intricate arrangement of it on Eileen Ivers’ CD Wild Blue (1996).  There is also a full-speed version online by the popular Foinn Seisiún series of books and CDs, based on the sessions at Comhaltas headquarters in Monkstown. Unlike many other oft-played tunes this one has barely succumbed to the typical disgrace of “death by popularity,” though it may be a bit thread-bare in some sessions.  It is #1264 in O’Neill’s 1850, #532 in O’Neill’s 1001, #174 in the Roche Collection, #532 in Ryan’s Mammoth Collection (1883), and is in Phil Rubenzer’s Midwestern Irish Session Tunes (2000).  Though sometimes entitled “Take Her Out and Air Her,” it’s in plenty of other collections as well since it’s such a long-standing session favorite.  The tune “Drogheda Bay” has an almost identical B-part.  However, the tune played by Natalie MacMaster on My Roots Are Showing (1998) entitled “The Ships are Sailing” is a different tune entirely. She plays a jig in A with the same name originally recorded on 78 by Brooklyn accordionist John J. “Dutch” Kimmel (1866–1942) in G and New York fiddler James Morrison (1891 – 1947) in A.

For the ABC click Ships are Sailing

Ships are Sailing, slow tempo


Ships are Sailing, med tempo (Glen Pekin, fiddle)

Ships are Sailing, the dots

Ships Are Sailing

Ships Are Sailing


  • Bill Corser
    Posted August 19, 2016 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    How can I pull off the mp3 for “Ships are Sailing” for me to practice button accordion accompaniment? (Sorry to be such a doofus).

    • Posted August 24, 2016 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      Hi Bill,
      Thanks for the inquiry. I’m working on making it easier to get the MP3s from
      I’ll let you know when I have something in place. In the meantime, you
      should be able to play the files on any device.


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