Sunday, January 02, 2011

"Cat That Kittled [Kittened] In Jamie's Wig"

See also my post at

Traditional Irish harp player Grainne Hambly of Co. Mayo plays it on her CD Thorn Tree (in a medley with "Killarney Wonder") ... liner notes on her website.

Sheet music in A Dorian and MIDI file on the website ... also w/ comments on the Session website : "This strathspey is generally called Miss Lyall or Miss Lyall's in Shetland, Scotland, and Cape Breton. "


Fiddlers Companion has this entry at CAT AGUS AN BAGUN, AN et seq.:
CAT THAT KITTLED IN JAMIE’S WIG, THE. AKA and see “The Bonnie Lassie [2],” “Mrs. Grant of Laggan,” “Miss Lyall [1].” Irish, Highland. Ireland, County Donegal. A Dorian. Standard tuning. AA’B. A popular highland in County Donegal, recorded by fiddler John Doherty. In Scotland the tune is known as a strathspey called “Miss Lyall.” The title refers to a cat that had a litter of kittens in Jamie’s wig.


Musiciologist Paul Tyler has discovered an account by one Joseph Hayes, born in 1786 in Pennsylvania, who moved from that state down the same Ohio river to settle in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Late in his life he dictated memories of frontier life from circa 1810, including an account of dancing after corn-huskings. Hayes writes that at these events "in one corner would be seated the fiddler delving way with fingers, elbow, cat-gut and horse-hair, to the joy of all around - The pieces of music mostly called for, were 'The gray cat kittened in Charley's wig,’ 'Captain Johnston', 'Buncomb' &c. the whole ending in a jig called 'Clear the kitchen'.” The melody appears in Ryan’s Mammoth Collection (1883, pg. 168) as “The Bonnie Lassie.” Source for notated version: John Doherty (1895-1970, County Donegal) [Feldman & O’Doherty]. Feldman & O’Doherty (The Northern Fiddler), 1979; pg. 80. Green Linnet SIF 3077, John Doherty - “Bundle and Go” (originally recorded for Topic Records). Green Linnet SIF 188, Patrick Street – “No. 2 Patrick Street” (appears under the eroneous title “Hard by Seifin”).
Paul Tyler is a musicologist and fiddle player of Chicago, bio on Fiddle-L listserv


From the Session, comments tab
I have recently seen these lines in a collection of Perthshire Ballads, Rhymes and Fragments: Anti-Jacobite Fragments
The cat has kittled in Charlie's wig,
The cat has kittled in Charlie's wig,
There's ane o' them living, and twa o' them dead,
The cat has kittled in Charlie's wig.


Cf. Fraser's Magazine 78 (1868): 35 in a story called "Bolsover Forest" - from Google Books - Bolsover is in Derbyshire

The cat's kittened in Charlie's wig.
There's two of them living, there's four of them dead;
T'ane a son, t'ither's a darter,
The four dreed their weird in a bucket of water.

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