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A PIPER'S DREAM by Brian McNamara

Behind The Tracks

1. Jigs: The Newport Lass / The Gander in the Pratie Hole / When Sick is it Tea you want?
Poirt: Gearrchaile Bhaile Uí bhFiachain / An Gandal I bPoll na bhFataí / Tae a theastaíonn uait is tu tinn?
(Trad. Arr. Brian McNamara)

These three jigs are very much associated with the piping tradition.

The Newport lass, also known as 'The Trip to Athlone' is published in Brendan Breathnach's 'Ceol Rince na hÉireann-1'.

Like the first jig, The Gander in the Pratie Hole is included in 'Ceol Rince na hÉireann-1'. It is also featured in 'The Dance music of Willie Clancy' (Ed. Pat Mitchell, 1976).

The jig When Sick is it Tea you want? first appeared in print in 1798, in a London collection of country dances under one of the different titles used for it 'Go to the Devil and Shake yourself'. Over one hundred years later its setting in O'Neill's 1850 and 1001 collections was found to be almost exactly the same as that first printed. Another but less used name for it is 'The Penniless Traveller' which can also be found in O'Neill's 1850 collection. The tune also appears in Ryan's Mammoth as 'Go to the Devil and Shake yourself' and in the third volume of 'Ceol Rince na hÉireann' as 'When Sick is it Tea you want?'. It appeared in Petrie's collection under the slightly modified name 'When you are sick 'tis tea you want'.

Brian (Uilleann Pipes pitched in 'C').


2. Hornpipes: An tSean Bhean Bhocht / The Tailor's Twist
Cornphíopaí: An tSean Bhean Bhocht / Casadh an Táilliúra
(Trad. Arr. Brian McNamara)

Starting this selection of piping favourites is the hornpipe An tSean Bhean Bhocht. This title was one of the poetic images and names used to refer to Ireland. The first line of an old melody song went: "Oh the French are on the sea says the Sean Bhean bhocht', referring to the Irish hope of help from France and the Irish struggle for independence. According to Breathnach in 'Folk Music and dances of Ireland' the original air is associated with a Scots air. The setting played here is a more elaborate version of the old song, and is a version attributed to Séamus Ennis. The only known published transcription of this version is that from the playing of Liam O'Flynn in 'Ceol Magazine' Vol. 8, Dec. 1984.

The influence of early 1900 American recordings on Irish traditional music has been well recognised. Here we have The Tailor's Twist, one of a set of two hornpipes recorded in August 10th, 1935 for Colombia Records by James Morrison. The Sligo fiddle player was born in Drumfin near Collooney and died in New York in 1947. The tune was also associated with piper Tommy Reck and subsequently transcribed from his playing by Breathnach and published in his third volume of 'Ceol Rince na hÉireann'. It also appears in the Roche collection and is also known by the name 'The Jolly Butchers'.

Brian (Uilleann Pipes pitched in 'C'), Michael (Harp).


3. Reels: The Old Bush / Jenny's Wedding
Ríleanna: An tSean Sceach / Bainis Shinéid
(Trad. Arr. Brian McNamara)

This selection features two reels associated with the music of Clare musicians.

The first reel, The Old Bush, was a big favourite of Willie Clancy. Having featured on the milestone All-Ireland Champions recording issued in 1960, The Old Bush is also very much associated with the music of Paddy Canny, P.J. Hayes and Peter O'Loughlin. This reel also appears under the title 'Captain Rock' in Petrie's collection and O'Neill's 1001 collection. Interestingly, writing in the mid 1880s, Petrie had suggested that the tune was a County Clare reel. Breathnach's first volume of 'Ceol Rince na hÉireann' includes the reel under the title 'The long hills of Mourne'.

Jenny's Wedding was popularised by Clare musicians Paddy Murphy and Peter O'Loughlin. It is published in Ryan's Mammoth collection (1883) and in O'Neill's 1001 collection.

Brian (Uilleann Pipes pitched in 'C').


4. Jigs: Seán Buí / Tap the Barrel / Neary's Jig / Haul her Across the Road
Poirt: Seán Buí / Bearnaigh an Bairille / Port MhicNaraigh / Tarraing trasna an bhóthair í
(Trad. Arr. Brian McNamara)

This first jig, Seán Buí, is included in O'Neill's 1850 collection. It also appears as a Scots jig under the title 'Over the water to Charlie' and as 'Mickie Murphy's Jig' in Kerr's collection. Another name for this tune is 'Kinloch of Kinloch' as found in the unpublished collection (1844-1846) of the aforementioned local fiddle master 'Blind Kiernan'. Brendan Breathnach ('Folk Music and dances of Ireland') identifies this jig as a particularly popular melody to which Munster poets of the eighteenth century penned their verses with at least fifteen songs having been written to it.

Tap the Barrel is taken from the recently published volume of James Goodman's (1866) collection (Tunes of the Munster pipers, 1998, Ed. Hugh Shields) and is attributed to Tom Kennedy the Kerry piper from Corca Dhuibhne.

Neary's jig is associated with the Mayo born fiddle player Jimmy Neary who emigrated to Chicago in the 1920s. The home of Jimmy and his wife Eleanor was regarded as a musical haven in Chicago for Irish musicians and this jig is one of a number of rare tunes associated with them. This tune was recorded by Johnny McGreevy on his Philo LP.

The final tune in this selection Haul her across the road is taken from the 1883 collection of Stephen Grier. No other reference to this tune has been found to date.

Brian (Uilleann Pipes pitched in 'D'), Jens (Guitar), Michael (Harp).


5. Air: Ní ar Chnoc ná ar Ísleacht
Fonn mall: Ní ar Chnoc ná ar Ísleacht
(Trad. Arr. Brian McNamara)


This air was learned from the tin-whistle playing of Donncha Ó Briain. The air is associated with the Ranafast region of Co. Donegal and was collected by the late Brother Jim Forristal on one of his many visits to Co. Donegal. Forristal, a native of Co. Wexford, was a teacher at St. David's Primary School, in Artane, Dublin and collected and documented many rare Donegal airs during his lifetime. This air was learned by the musically talented O'Brien family of Artane from Brother Forristal.

Brian (Uilleann Pipes pitched in 'C').


6. Jigs: The Beauties of Ireland / Under the Willows she is Sleeping / The Old Figaree
Poirt: Plúr ban na hÉireann / Faoin Sail atá sí ina Suan / An Sean-ghaige
(Trad. Arr. Brian McNamara)

The first jig here, The Beauties of Ireland, was learned from the local Sutherland manuscript. It also appears in O'Neill's 1850 collection.

Like the first tune in this selection, Under the willows she was sleeping was also learned from the Sutherland collection where it appears as a waltz. One other reference to this tune has been located in 'Walton's Tutor and Selection of Irish Airs for the Bagpipes' (Ed. G. de m. H. Orphen Palmer, 1967), where it is classified as a lament with the title 'Under the willow tree night and day'. Lyrics of a ballad titled 'Under the willow she's sleeping' were published in a nineteenth century ballad sheet which was subsequently included in 'Harding's Dublin Songster Vol.1'.

This setting of The Old Figaree was taken from the Grier manuscript. A number of settings of this tune exist. A two-part version with the title 'The Old Figaree O' occurs in Ryan's Mammoth collection and another two part setting under the name 'The Gallant Tipperary Boys' appears in the Roche collection.
O'Neill in his 1850 collection featured a four-part setting by the name 'Gallant Tipperary'. Thomas Moore, noted for setting many of his lyrics to old Irish airs chose this melody for one of his songs 'The Young May Moon'. The Old Figaree appears as a song and a melody in Kerr's collection.

Brian (Uilleann Pipes pitched in 'D'), Deirdre (Concertina), Jens (Guitar).


7. Reel: Colonel Fraser
Ríl: Coirnéal Fraser
(Trad. Arr. Brian McNamara)

Colonel Fraser is well known as one of the 'big' piping tunes and was first recorded on wax cylinder by the piper Patsy Touhey. There are numerous settings of this tune to be found. A two-part version occurs in Grier's collection, while a four-part setting is included in O'Neill's 1850 and 1001 collections. Petrie's collection features a four-part setting under the title 'Green fields of Ireland'. A five part version similar to that featured on this recording is published in 'The Dance Music of Willie Clancy' (Ed. Pat Mitchell).

Brian (Uilleann Pipes pitched in 'C').


8. Single Jigs: Stoney Batter / The Templehouse / Grier's #37
Port Shingle: Bóthar na gClóch / Teach an Teampaill / Mac Ghríoghair #37
(Trad. Arr. Brian McNamara)

The settings of these three single jigs were taken from the Grier manuscript.

The first jig, Stoney Batter, has been printed in 'Ceol Rince na hÉireann-4' (Ed. Jackie Small), taken from the Grier collection. No other source has been found for this tune to date.

This second tune, The Templehouse , is included in Leavy's second collection 'Dance Music of Ireland'. A setting as a Scot's Jig appears in the collection of Kerr while two settings of the tune are found in O'Neill's 1850 collection.

The third single jig Grier's #37 appears untitled in Grier's manuscript as number thirty-seven, hence the name.

Brian (Uilleann Pipes pitched in 'C'*), Deirdre (Concertina), Michael (Harp), Jens (Guitar).


9. Air: An Bonnán Buí
Fonn mall: An Bonnán Buí
(Trad. Arr. Brian McNamara))

The poem An Bonnán Buí was written by Co. Cavan poet Cathal Bui Mac Giolla Gunna who died about 1750. Walking one winter's day by the local 'Lough MacNean' lake which borders counties Leitrim, Cavan and Fermanagh, he noticed a dead bittern on the ice-covered lake. The poor bird had perished of thirst unable to find a water-hole. The poet, who was fond of drinking himself moralised on the tragedy and penned this powerful song. The version of the air played can be found in PW. Joyce's 1909 'Old Irish Music and Song' as notated from Leitrim piper Hugh O'Beirne. A similar version and another different setting in ¾ time can be found in Bunting's collection.

Brian (Uilleann Pipes pitched in 'C').


10. Reels: Satin Slipper / Our House at Home / Jackson's Hi Ho
Ríleanna: An Slipéar Sróil / Ar dTigh sa Baile / Hi Ho Sheáin
(Trad. Arr. Brian McNamara)

The settings of all three reels played here were learned from the manuscript of Alex Sutherland.

The first reel The Satin Slipper also appears in O'Neill's 1850 collection. The fifth volume of 'Ceol Rince na hÉireann' edited by Jackie Small features two settings of this tune; a setting taken from Brendan Breathnach's collection 'An Cnuasacht Iomlán den Cheol Damhsa', and a second setting notated from a 1949 Radio Éireann recording of the great Sligo fiddle player Paddy Killoran.

The second tune appears as 'Mulvey's reel' in the key of A-major in Sutherland's collection but is also included in the Grier manuscript under the title Our House at Home in the key of D-major. It was locally named after piper William Mulvey who had inherited Grier's manuscript after the latter's death. A variant of this tune is known as 'Is Trua gan Peata an Mhaoir agam' as found in Petrie and Joyce's collection and as 'Your Mother's Fair Pet' and 'I'm Ready Now' in O'Neill's 1001.

Jackson's Hi Ho is one of many tunes associated with the Gentleman piper Walker Jackson from Limerick (1700s). Thirteen tunes were published by Jackson in his collection 'Jackson's Celebrated Irish Tunes' in 1780, however many more tunes incorporate his name. Jackson's Hi Ho was a very popular tune with fiddle players in the south Leitrim area and is also included in the Fermanagh manuscript collection of Patrick Gunn.

Brian (Uilleann Pipes pitched in 'D'), Deirdre (Concertina), Jens (Guitar).


11. Hornpipe: The Groves
Cornphíopa: Crannciuil na Tor-choillte
(Trad. Arr. Brian McNamara)

This is another tune associated with piper Jackson, according to O'Neill. The hornpipe seems to have first been given prominence through the playing of a piper called John Hicks in Chicago around 1880. Hicks was a protégé of the Gentleman piper Captain William Kelly and came to America in 1850, aged 25. He was noted for his very wide repertoire. Patsy Touhey learnt the tune from Hicks and it is thought that in turn Sergeant Early learned it from Touhey. A different setting, in the minor key is known as 'The Drunken Sailor'. First written down by George Petrie (1789-1866) in the mid 1800s it can also be found in O'Neill's 1850 and 1001 collections credited to James Early. Séamus Ennis referred to this hornpipe as one of the 'big' hornpipes!

Brian (Uilleann Pipes pitched in 'C').


12. Reels: The Braes of Busby / Sean Reid's Favourite
Ríleanna: Mala Bhusby / Rogha Sheáin Uí Riada
(Trad. Arr. Brian McNamara)

Like many Scottish tunes The Braes of Busby has been adopted to the traditional Irish idiom. The setting heard here is that most associated with the piping tradition. The tune was originally included in John Bowie's 'Collection of Strathspey Reels and Country Dances' c. 1789, as a four part reel, a collection like many other Scottish publications which found its way to Ireland. The tune is also found in its four-part version in the Grier manuscript while a three-part version appears in Ryan's Mammoth collection. The reel 'Dowd's Favourite' is a recognised variant of The Braes of Busby.

Sean Reid's Favourite, also known as 'Gilbert Clancy's reel' was a big favourite of Gilbert's son, Willie Clancy. Although born in Co. Donegal, Sean Reid lived most of his life in Co. Clare, the native county of his parents where he was prominent throughout his life as a piper and fiddle player. This tune is published in 'The Dance music of Willie Clancy' (Ed. Pat Mitchell).


Brian (Uilleann Pipes pitched in 'C').


13. Slip Jig: Gusty's Frolics
Port Luascaigh: Pléaráca Aibhistín
(Trad. Arr. Brian McNamara)

This is another of the tunes recorded on wax cylinder by piper Patsy Touhey. According to O'Neill, The slip jig is a composition of the Aughavas Gentleman piper, Gustavis (Gusty) Nicolls. Petrie notated the tune using the title 'Gurty's Frolics' and it is under this name that it occurs in both O'Neill's 1850 and 1001 collections. However, it is included as Gusty's Frolics in the local Grier manuscript.

Brian (Uilleann Pipes pitched in 'C'*), Deirdre (Concertina), Michael (Harp).


14. Air: Loch na gCaor
Fionn mall: Loch na gCaor
(Trad. Arr. Brian McNamara)

A favourite of Willie Clancy, this air is an invocation of the Jacobite insurrections in Scotland and the Stuarts' cause. Irish Jacobite supporters believed that the Stuarts would return to Ireland to free Catholicism from the burden of the Penal Laws. Loch na gCaor recalls the defeat of Bonny Prince Charlie's army at the hands of Cumberland's redcoats at Culloden Moor on April 16th, 1746 (Ref: 'A pocket history of Irish Traditional Music', G. Ó hAllmhurain). Bonny Prince Charlie was immortalised in Ireland in poetic code names such as 'The Blackbird' and tunes like 'Jenny's Welcome to Charlie' and 'Bold Johnny Cope'. The romantic ballad 'Dark Lochnagar' written by Lord Byron was sung to this melody.

Brian (Uilleann Pipes pitched in 'C').


15. Jigs: My Former Wife / Sergeant Early's Jig
Poirt: Mo Bheanchéile a bhí / Port Mhaor Uí Chonaire
(Trad. Arr. Brian McNamara)

Both of these jigs appear in O'Neills 1850 and 1001 collections and were sourced from Aughavas piper Sergeant James Early.

This first jig My Former Wife with its large range going up to high C-natural was one of piper Bernard Delaney's showpieces in Chicago during the early years of the twentieth century. It was also associated with the duet playing of James Early and Mayo-born fiddle player John McFadden.

The second jig is entitled Sergeant Early's Jig in O'Neill's books having been received from James Early. A variant appears in the Hardebeck collection under the title 'Tune the fiddle'.

Brian (Uilleann Pipes pitched in 'C').


16. Reels: The Torn Jacket / My Love is Fair and Handsome / Sporting Kate
Ríleanna: An Chasóg Stroicithe / Tá mo ghrá-sa go hálainn / Cáit Spórtúil
(Trad. Arr., Brian McNamara, except 'The Torn Jacket' composed by Connie O'Connell)

The first reel The Torn Jacket is a composition of fiddle player Connie O'Connell from Kilnamartyra, Co, Cork.

My Love is Fair and Handsome is taken from the Grier manuscript and no other reference can be found to this version. Another setting of the tune can be found from a transcription of the music of the Co. Westmeath piper Joe Kilmurray of Ballinacarrigy.

Sporting Kate is a version of Bonnie Kate. This tune was first published in 'Thompson's Complete Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances' in 1761 under the title 'Bonnie Lass of Fisherrow'. It is a tune of Scottish origin and according to Niel Gow was composed by Donald Dow, a fiddle player from Perthshire. Settings of this tune are included in Breathnach's 'Ceol Rince na hÉireann-1' and in O'Neill's collections under the title 'The Boys of Limerick'. Ryan's Mammoth and the Roche collection also feature the tune as 'Bonnie Kate'. The version played here is taken from the local Kiernan manuscript (1844-46) where it is titled 'Sporting Kate'.

Brian (Uilleann Pipes pitched in 'D'), Michael (Harp), Deirdre (Concertina), Jens (Guitar).


17. Reel: The Morning Thrush
Ríl: Fuiseog na Maidine
(Composed by James Ennis)

This tune was composed by James Ennis (1885-1965), father to the legendary piper Séamus Ennis. According to Séamus it was inspired by the sound of a thrush which sang each morning outside his father's bedroom window. It won first prize in the 1913 Dublin Feis Ceoil competition for newly composed tunes.

Brian (Uilleann Pipes pitched in 'C'), Michael (Harp).

2002-03 Copyright Piper Brian