Friday, December 31, 2010

The Rising of the Moon

The ballad takes the tune of another Irish ballad, "The Wearing of the Green" and was first published in Casey's 1866 collection of poems and songs “A Wreath of Shamrocks". The lyrics refer to the outbreak of the 1798 rebellion in County Wicklow county Wexford as United Irish rebels convey the order to rise. The air of hope and optimism associated with the ultimately doomed rebellion was intended to provide inspiration for rebels "Who would follow in their footsteps" preparing to take to the field in another doomed venture, the Fenian rebellion of 1867.
Often sung by The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem among others, the song remains popular and the tune widely recognized in Ireland today as it is often taught in schools, played regularly at official and sporting events and has been covered by a wide variety of musicians. The song is also referenced in the final line of the final entry of Bobby Sands hunger strike diary.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Lone Shanakyle

A song, made famous by Dervish.
Here you hear Deanta:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Londonderry Hornpipe

This version is by The corries

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Johnny, I Hardly Knew You

"Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye" (AKA Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye, and Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya) is a popular Irish traditional anti-war and anti-recruiting song. It is generally dated to the early 19th century, when Irish troops served the British East India company. The original refers to the soldiers from Athy, County Kildare that fought in "Sulloon" (Ceylon-nowSri Lanka) for the East India Company (in what history knows as the Kandyan Wars though the term was not familiar to the Irish). It has become a definitive anti-war song.

You can hear here the version by The Dannan and Mary black

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Irish rover

"The Irish Rover" is a traditional Irish song about a magnificent, though improbable, sailing ship that reaches an unfortunate end. It has been recorded by numerous artists, some of whom have made changes to the lyrics.

Here you hear the version of the Dubliners

The sheet music withe a second vooice

Monday, December 20, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Kerry Dance

According to Fuld (1971), "The Kerry Dance" was composed as a song, published in 1879 and usually attributed to James L. Molloy (b. County Offaly, Ireland, 1837-1909). The opening eight bars are virtually identical to "The Cuckoo," written and composed by Miss Margaret Casson and published in London about 1790; Molloy added the music of the middle part and new words. The melody was cited as having commonly been played for country dances in Orange County, New York in the 1930's
The great Stephane Grappelli and our own Frankie Gavin perform a jam session on a very old Irish Melody.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Scorn not his simplicity

A song by Phil Coulter, brought by Luke Kelly.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Irish Pub

A tribute to the Irish Pubs all over the world on the tune of Hot Asphalt.
Here are the High Kings with their version

Here you find the sheet music of the song with a banjo line as second voice

Friday, December 10, 2010

Drink to me only with Thine Eyes

"Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes" is a popular English song, set to the lyrics of Ben Jonson's 1616 poem "Song To Celia." John Addington Symonds demonstrated in The Academy 16 (1884) that almost every line has its counterpart in the Epistles of Philostratus, notably Epistle xxx. George Burke Johnston noted that "the poem is not a translation, but a synthesis of scattered passages. Although only one conceit is not borrowed from Philostratus, the piece is a unified poem, and its glory is Jonson's. It has remained alive and popular for over three hundred years, and it is safe to say that no other work by Jonson is so well known."Another classical strain in the poem derives from Catullus. In a brief notice J. Gwyn Griffiths noted the similarity of the conceit of perfume given to the rosy wreath in a poem in the Greek Anthology and other classical parallels could be attested, natural enough in a writer of as wide reading as Jonson.
Willa McClung Evans suggested that Jonson's lyrics were fitted to a tune already in existence and that the fortunate marriage of words to music accounted in part for its excellence. Another conception is that the original composition of the tune was by John Wall Callcott in about 1790 as a glee for two trebles and a bass.
It was arranged as a song in the 19th century, apparently by Colonel Mellish, and again arranged as a song by Granville Bantock.

I've made a transcription for 4 voices, but it can also been played by violin, mandoline, bouzouki and octave-mandolin.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dashing White Sergeant

A well-known Scottish reel and dance

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Merry Blacksmith

A traditional, fast reel, here played by Planxty

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Peatbog Soldiers

Peat Bog Soldiers is one of Europe's best-known protest songs. It exists in countless European languages, became a Republican anthem during the Spanish Civil War; was a symbol of resistance during the Second World War; and is popular with the Peace movement today. What makes it perhaps so poignant is the knowledge that is was written, composed and first performed in a Nazi concentration camp by the prisoners themselves.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Follow me to Carlow

"Follow Me Up to Carlow" is an Irish folk song celebrating the defeat of an army of 3,000 English soldiers by Fiach Mac Aodh Ó Broin (anglicised Fiach McHugh O'Byrne) at the Battle of Glenmalure, during the Second Desmond Rebellion in 1580.

Lift MacCahir Og your face

Brooding o'er the old disgrace
That black FitzWilliam stormed your place,
Drove you to the Fern
Grey said victory was sure
Soon the firebrand he'd secure;
Until he met at Glenmalure
With Feach MacHugh O'Byrne.

Curse and swear Lord Kildare,
Feach will do what Feach will dare
Now FitzWilliam, have a care
Fallen is your star, low.
Up with halberd out with sword
On we'll go for by the lord
Feach MacHugh has given the word,
Follow me up to Carlow.

See the swords of Glen Imayle,
Flashing o'er the English pale
See all the children of the Gael,
Beneath O'Byrne's banners
Rooster of the fighting stock,
Would you let a Saxon cock
Crow out upon an Irish rock,
Fly up and teach him manners.

From Tassagart to Clonmore,
There flows a stream of Saxon gore
Oh, great is Rory Oge O'More,
At sending loons to Hades.
White is sick and Lane is fled,
Now for black FitzWilliam's head
We'll send it over, dripping red,
To Liza and her ladies.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Minstral Boy

"The Minstrel Boy" is an Irish patriotic song written by Thomas Moore (1779–1852) who set it to the melody of The Moreen, an old Irish air. It is widely believed that Moore composed the song in remembrance of a number of his friends, whom he met while studying at Trinity College, Dublin and who had participated in (and were killed during) the Irish Rebellion of 1798.
However, the song gained widespread popularity and became a favourite of many Irishmen who fought during the United States Civil War and gained even more popularity after World War I. The song is notably associated with organizations that historically had a heavy representation of Irish-Americans, in particular the police and fire departments of New York, Boston and Chicago and those of various other major US metropolitan areas, even after those organizations have ceased to have a substantial over-representation of personnel of Irish ancestry. The melody is frequently played at funerals of members and/or officers of such organizations who have died or been killed in service, typically on bagpipes. Unsurprisingly, given its lyrics, it is also associated with the Irish Army and with traditionally Irish regiments in the British, United States and other armies.


The Gallipoli campaign took place at Gallipoli peninsula in the Ottoman Empire from 25 April 1915 to 9 January 1916, during the First World War. A joint British and French operation was mounted to capture the Ottoman capital of Istanbul (Constantinopole) and secure a sea route to Russia. The attempt failed, with heavy casualties on both sides.
In Turkey the campaign is known as the Çanakkale Savaş(lar)ı (Çanakkale Wars), after the province of Çanakkale. In the United Kingdom, it is called the Dardanelles Campaign or Gallipoli. In France it is called Les Dardanelles. In Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and Newfoundland, it is known as the Gallipoli Campaign or simply as Gallipoli. It is also known as the Battle of Gallipoli.
The Gallipoli campaign resonated profoundly among all nations involved. In Turkey, the battle is perceived as a defining moment in the history of the Turkish people—a final surge in the defence of the motherland as the centuries-old Ottoman Empire was crumbling. The struggle laid the grounds for the Turkish War of Independence and the foundation of the Republic of Turkey eight years later under Mustafa Kemal Pasha, himself a commander at Gallipoli.
The campaign was the first major battle undertaken by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), and is often considered to mark the birth of national consciousness in both of these countries. As Anzac Day, the 25th April remains the most significant commemoration of military casualties and veterans in Australia and New Zealand, surpassing Armistice Day/Remembrance Day.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

O'Carolan's Farewell to music

Carolan, sensing the end was near, traveled back to Mrs. MacDermott. "I have come here after all I have gone through, to die at home at last, where I got my first schooling and my first horse." he said (Mundey-O'Reilling manuscript pp 147--149 quoted in O'Neill p 100). He retired to bed, eventually too weak even to raise himself up after falling out of bed. After falling out of his bed Carolan said, "I would not be surprised at a man falling when walking, but it is a great surprise for a man to fall when lying down." Toward the end Carolan woke from sleep and asked the butler, William Flynn for a drink. After drinking he spoke:

I duly travelled round through Conn's territory
And I found (?) mighty and vigorous there.
By my baptism, for dispensing [drink] I never found
One who quenched my thirst aright but William Flynn.

They were the last words Carolan spoke. He died Saturday, March 25, 1738 at the age of 68, and was buried in the O'Duigenans' church of Kilronan.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010


The modern use of "Caledonia" in English and Scots is as a romantic or poetic name for Scotland as a whole. An example is the song "Caledonia", a folk ballad written by Dougie MacLean, published in 1979 on the album of the same name and covered by various other artists since, including Amy Macdonald.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bro gozh ma zadoù - Hymne national Breton

Bro Gozh ma Zadoù (Breton for Old Land of My Fathers) is the national anthem of Brittany. It is sung to the same tune as that of the national anthem of Wales, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, and has similar words. The Cornish anthem, Bro Goth Agan Tasow, is also sung to the same tune.
The Breton lyrics are the creation of François Jaffrennou in 1897, and the music was that composed by the Welsh James James for Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau. The new song was first published in 1898, and circulated as Henvelidigez ("Adaptation"). It was chosen as national anthem (and a song to celebrate friendship between the Welsh and Bretons) in 1903, at a Congress of the Union Régionaliste Bretonne held in Lesneven. Maurice Duhamel adapted it for the piano, and it was first recorded by Pathé in 1910.
You hear here the version of Tri Yann

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The king of the Fairies

A hornpipe, played in a heavy metal way

Saturday, November 13, 2010


"Boolavogue" is a famous Irish ballad commemorating the Irish Rebellion of 1798. It was composed by Patrick Joseph McCall in 1898, for the centenary of the Rebellion issued Irish Noíníns (Dublin 1894).
Father John Murphy of the town of Boolavogue in County Wexford led his parishioners in routing the Camolin Cavalry on May 26, 1798. The Wexford insurgents were eventually defeated at the Battle of Vinegar Hill on June 21 and Father Murphy and the other rebel leaders were hanged.
McCall, who also composed the popular Irish ballads "Kelly the Boy from Killanne" and "Follow Me up to Carlow", wrote "Boolavogue" to the old Irish air "Eochaill" ("Youghal Harbour"). The tune was later used in the Australian traditional song "Moreton Bay", about an Irish convict's travails in Australia, and was also used by Seán Ó Riada as part of the film score for Mise Éire (1959). The song is inspired by songs contemporary to the events of 1798 such as Come All You Warriors.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Black and Tans

The Black and Tans as a subject still arouses controversy in Ireland. The Black and Tans were mostly former soldiers brought into Ireland by the government in London after 1918 to assist the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) in their work.
For a number of years, the RIC had been a target for the IRB and then the IRA. RIC barracks were frequently attacked and members of the RIC were murdered. Therefore, recruitment to the RIC started to be hit and the RIC found it difficult to carry out its duties effectively, especially in the remote rural areas of southern Ireland. Never knowing if you were going to be the next target did a great deal to undermine morale in the RIC.
In 1919, the British government advertised for men who were willing to "face a rough and dangerous task". Many former British army soldiers had come back from Western Europe and did not find a land fit for heroes. They came back to unemployment and few firms needed men whose primary skill was fighting in war. Therefore, there were plenty of ex-servicemen who were willing to reply to the government’s advert. For many the sole attraction was not political or national pride – it was simply money. The men got paid ten shillings a day. They got three months training before being sent to Ireland. The first unit arrived in Ireland in March 1920.
Once in Ireland it quickly became apparent that there were not enough uniforms for all those who had joined up. Therefore they wore a mixture of uniforms – some military, some RIC. This mixture gave them the appearance of being in khaki and dark police uniform. As a result, these men got the nickname "Black and Tans", and it stuck. Some say that the nickname came from a pack of hunting hounds known as the 'Black and Tans'.
The Black and Tans did not act as a supplement to the RIC. Though some men were experienced in trench warfare, they lacked the self-discipline that would have been found in the Western Front. Many Black and Tan units all but terrorised local communities. Community policing was the preserve of the RIC. For the Black and Tans, their primary task was to make Ireland "hell for the rebels to live in". Over 8000 Black and Tans went to Ireland and while they found it difficult to cope with men who used classic guerrilla tactics against them, those who lived in areas where the Black and Tans were based, paid the price.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

All through the night (Ar Hyd Y Nos)

"Ar Hyd y Nos" ("All through the Night") is a Welsh folksong sung to a tune which was first recorded in Edward Jones' Musical and Poetical Relics of the Welsh Bards (1784). The Welsh lyrics were written by John Ceiriog Hughes. It has been translated into several languages, including English (most famously by Harry Boulton). The song is included in Fantasia on British Sea Songs at the Last Night of the Proms, representing Wales.
The melody was used by John Gay in The Beggar's Opera. It is also used in the hymn "Go My Children With My Blessing."
The song is highly popular with traditional Welsh male voice choirs, and is sung by them at festivals in Wales and around the world.
The song is also sometimes considered a Christmas carol, and as such has been covered by numerous artists on Christmas albums, most recently including Olivia Newton-John and Michael McDonald who performed the song as a duet on Newton-John's 2007 album Christmas Wish.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Stor Mo Chroi

"A Stór Mo Chroí" is Irish and means approximately "darling of my heart."
Brian O'Higgins was an Irish patriot who took part in the 1916 Rising and was an active Republican for the rest of his life. He published a yearly newsletter called the Wolfe Tone Annual that served as a counterblast to the views propagated by the ‘revisionist’ official historians in Ireland.
He wrote a large number of patriotic songs and poems, many under the pen name of Brian na Banban. Most of his works were written in response to specific events, so they have tended to become lost to dusty tomes as memory of the events faded and they lost their significance. Now when they are sung, they usually require an explanation of the events on which they were based.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Two Marches

Sheet music for two marches

Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Around My Hat

The song "All Around my Hat" is of nineteenth century English origin. In an early version, dating from the 1820s, a Cockney costermonger vowed to be true to his fiancee, who had been sentenced to seven years transportation to Australia for theft and to mourn his loss by wearing green willow sprigs in his hatband for "a twelve-month and a day," in a traditional symbol of mourning.
In Ireland, Peadar Kearney adapted the song to make it relate to an Republican lass whose lover has died in the Easter Rising, and who swears to wear the Irish tricolour in her hat in remembrance.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Down by the Glenside

Down by the Glenside (The Bold Fenian Men) is an Irish rebel song written by Peadar Kearney, an Irish Republican and composer of numerous rebel songs, including "The Soldier's Song" ("Amhrán na bhFiann"), now the Irish National Anthem.

Kearney was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, popularly known as the Fenians. He wrote the song about the time of the 1916 Rising. It evokes the memory of the freedom-fighters of the previous generation (strong, manly forms...eyes with hope gleaming), as recalled by Ireland personified as an old woman down by the glenside. It is effectively a call to arms for a generation of Irishmen accustomed to political nationalism.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

For Linda

A tune for whistle and bouzouki by Gatherer

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Josefin's Waltz

This powerful tune is called "Josefins Dopvals" (Josefin's Baptism Waltz) and was written by the guitarist of the great Swedish folk band "Väsen": Roger Tallroth.
Here you see Joseph Soboll playing the tune on his 12-string cittern, tuned D-G-D-G-D-G, wth capo on first fret:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Col. John Irwin (Planxty Irwin)

This lovely piece was composed by Turlough O'Carolan for Colonel John Irwin of Tanrego House, which is situated on Ballysodare Bay, Co. Sligo. In the second verse Carolan mentions the Colonel's exploits in Flanders and speaks of him as a young man. The song was composed probably not long after the Peace of Utrecht in 1713 when the Colonel would be home from the wars ...
Col. Irwin was born in 1680 and died in 1752. He was High Sheriff of Sligo in 1731.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Barbara Allen

A version by Art Garfunkel

Sheet music:

Barbara Allen

In Scarlet town where I was born
There was a fair maid dwelling
And every youth cried well away
For her name was Barbara Allen
Twas in the merry month of May
The green buds were a swelling
Sweet William on his deathbed lay
For the love of Barbara Allen

He sent a servant unto her
To the place she was dwelling
Saying you must come to his deathbed now
If your name be Barbara Allen

Slowly slowly she got up
Slowly slowly she came nigh him
And the only words to him she said
Young man I think you're dying
As she was walking oer the fields
She heard the death bell knelling
And every stroke it seemed to say
Hardhearted Barbara Allen

Oh mother mother make my bed
Make it long and make it narrow
Sweet William died for me today
I'll die for him tomorrow

They buried her in the old churchyard
They buried him in the choir
And from his grave grew a red red rose
From her grave a green briar

They grew and grew to the steeple top
Till they could grow no higher
And there they twined in a true love's knot
Red rose around green briar

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Boys that wore the Green

Michael Corcoran (September 21, 1827 – December 22, 1863) was an Irish American general in the Union Army during the American Civil War and a close confidant of President Abraham Lincoln. He led the 69th regiment into action at the First Battle of Bull Run. Corcoran also led the regiment to Washington, D.C. and served in the Washington defenses building Fort Corcoran.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Chanson à boire

This is a traditional drinking song from Brittany brought by Tri Yann

Sheet music for 4 voices

Friday, October 8, 2010

Preab San Ol

18th century Irish song by Riocard Bairéid, originally in Gaelic; English version by Donald O' Sullivan

Preab san ól
(another round)

1.Why spend your leisure bereft of pleasure?
Amassing treasure you'll scrape and save.
Why look so canny at ev'ry penny?
You'll take no money within the grave.
Landlords and gentry with all their plenty
Must still go empty where'er they're bound,
So to my thinking, we'd best be drinking,
Our glasses clinking on- another round.

2. The huxter greedy will grind the needy
Their straits unheeding, shouts: 'money down!'
His special vice is his fancy prices,
For a florin's value he'll charge a pound.
With hump for trammel, the scripture's camel
Missed the needle's eye and so came to ground
Why pine for riches when still you've stitches
To hold your britches up- another round.

3.The shipmen trading in Spain and Aden
Return well laden with oil and corn.
And from Gibraltar their course they'll alter
And steer for Malta and the Golden Horn.
With easy motion they sail life's ocean
With ne'er a notion they'll soon run aground,
So lads and lasses make all your passes
And fill your glasses for.. another round.

4. King Solomon's glory, so famed in story,
Was far outshone by the lily's guise.
But cold winds harden both field and garden;
Pleading for pardon, the lily dies.
Life's but a bubble of toil and trouble,
A feathered arrow, once shot ne'er found.
It's nought but miming, so ends my rhyming
And still we've time in for- another round.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

An Emigrant's Daughter

A song about Irish emigration.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Eamann an Chnoic

"Éamonn an Chnoic" ("Ned of the Hill") is a popular song in traditional Irish music. It is a slow, mournful ballad with a somber theme and no chorus.

The song concerns Éamonn Ó Riain (Edmund Ryan), an Irish aristocrat who lived in County Tipperary from 1670–1724 and led a bandit or rapparee gang. Although there is no positive proof of Ryan's existence, he is mentioned in a pamphlet of 1694, in which he and four other raparee leaders called for the overthrow of William of Orange in favour of the Catholic James II.
The background to Ryan's career was the confiscation of Irish Catholic land in the Act of Settlement 1652 after the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland when many dispossessed landowners became outlaws, known as "tories" or "rapparees". Their ranks were swelled after the Williamite War of 1689-91, when many of the defeated Catholic Jacobites turned to banditry. It is likely that Ryan himself served in the Jacobite army.
It is said that Ryan became a rapparee or outlaw after shooting a tax collector dead during a quarrel over the confiscation of a poor woman's cow. Various other stories are told in which Ó Riain plays the role of the rebel hero who battles authority in the mode of Robin Hood and countless others.

You can finds here the sheet music of Eamann an Chnoic, with the melody for low whistle and bouzouki as second voice

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Morphet Rant

A beautifull, fast reel

Friday, October 1, 2010

Son Ar Chistr

Aka the Cider Song, a drinking song from brittany