Midland Folk Festival 2011 Irish Tunes Workshops

Sheet music (PDF)

Na Ceannabhain Bhana: I got this little gem of a slip jig from track 14 of Mick O’Brien and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh’s fantastic album Kitty Lie Over. I don’t know how to say the name, nor what it means. Here’s a great video of the tune by the band Cran, complete with a sung portion!

Ballydesmond Polka #1: This is the first polka in the classic Ballydesmond Polkas set from Denis Murphy and Julia Clifford’s Star Above the Garter. Some books confuse the matter by skipping this polka and calling the second and third polkas in the set #1 and #2, but this is the legit first tune in the set. This is a Kerry polka, with a very distinctive internal rhythm. I highly recommend listening to this recording of Julia playing it to get a feel for the proper way of playing the tune.

The Rose in the Heather: I believe I learned this double jig at the Conor O’Neill’s session in Ann Arbor — I think Emily Peterson liked to play it. Here’s a recording by the Coleman County Ceili Band, with Peter Horan and Fred Finn on fiddle, and Seamus Tansey and Peg McGrath on flute.

The Galway Hornpipe: Also known as “McDermott’s”, and sometimes played as the first two parts of a four part hornpipe. I learned this from the playing of Peter Horan and Gerry Harrington, on their album Fortune Favours The Merry. Here’s a recording of Martin Wynne, Paddy Reynolds, and Brian Conway playing the four-part version, followed by another hornpipe.

Road to Lisdoonvarna: This melody is very commonly heard as a slide, but this is a reel version. Here’s James Keane playing it; he plays it double (ie AABB) but I’ve usually heard it played singly (ie AB). It’s also been recorded by Shannon Heaton, the Bothy Band, and the Chieftains. But if you don’t want to buy one of those excellent recordings, here’s my version for free.

The Boyne Hunt: I’m not quite sure when I learned this one, but my notated version is based on Donncha O’Briain’s whistle recording of the tune. The good news here is that his album is finally out on CD, including this tune. The bad news is that means I can’t share the recording of him playing it with you, though you can listen to a bit of it by going here and selecting the third sound sample. Still, here’s a fine version of the tune, which as a bonus, has carefully transcribed notation of the variations and ornaments used.

The Sailor on the Rock: I think I learned a slightly odd version of this one from a private recording of Peter Horan. At any rate, my transcription is also from Donncha O’Briain’s whistle playing (see above); he played it after “The Boyne Hunt”. This tune was recorded in the early days by Michael Coleman. Here’s a lovely online recording from Comhaltas.

The Blackthorn Stick: I’m most familiar with this old reel from the playing of Peter Horan and Fred Finn, though it too goes back at least as far as Michael Coleman. Here’s a lovely video of the tune being played by Peter Horan and Gerry Harrington — a set of tunes taken from their album The Merry Love to Play.

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