Saturday, January 29, 2011

Irish tunes in D w/ dulcimer and guitar

Dulcimer and guitar (DADGAD) duo from upstate New York - YouTube channel at

Top of Cork Road
Top of Cork Road Irish Fiddle Tune Traditional Mountain Dulcimer Kristin Gitler Acoustic Guitar David Goldman Central New York

Fiddlers' Companion has:
TOP OF CORK ROAD [1], THE (Mullac Botair Corcaig). AKA and see "Bonny Green Garters [1]," "Cork Road," "Father O'Flynn," "Rollicking Irishman," "To Drink With the Devil," "Trample Our Enemies," "Yorkshire Lasses [1]." Irish, American; Double Jig. USA; New England, southwestern Pa., southern N.Y. D Major (most versions): C Major (Howe, Joyce). Standard tuning. AABB. Bayard (1981) says that despite the Irish-ness of its title, English versions in print predate Irish ones. He reports that Moffat found no earlier Irish versions that 1798, while Kidson found English versions (as "The Yorkshire Lasses") from 1789 and 1781. The melody serves as the vehicle for Alfred Percival Graves’ song “Father O’Flynn,” published in 1874. New York researcher, musician and writer Don Meade says: “The title track of Tommy Peoples’ Shanachie LP The High Part of the Road is a back translation into English of an Irish translation of “The Top of the Road” (Ard an Bothar), which Breandan Breathnach in Ceol Rince na hEireann, vol. 1 mistakenly applied to the preceding jig in Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, a two-part version of ‘The Blooming Meadows.’”


The tune was cited as frequently having been played for Orange County, New York, country dances in the 1930's (Lettie Osborn, New York Folklore Quarterly). Perhaps the earliest recording is from 1905 by violinist Charles D’Alamaine, born in 1871 in England, who died in 1943. D’Alamaine immigrated to the United States in 1888, and by 1890 had established himself as “instructor on violin” in Evanston, Illinois; by 1910 he had removed to Yonkers, and in 1920 was a chiropractor in New York City (info. from Paul Gifford). Sources for notated versions: Hiram Horner (fifer from Westmoreland and Fayette Counties, Pa., 1960), Hoge MS (a fife MS from Pa., 1944) [Bayard]. Bayard (Dance to the Fiddle), 1981; No. 450A‑C, pgs. 429‑430. Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; pg. 56. Harding's All‑Round (1905, 1932), No. 176. Harding Collection (1915) and Harding's Original Collection (1928), No. 87. Howe (1000 Jigs and Reels), c. 1867; pg. 19. Jarman (Old Time Fiddlin' Tunes); No. or pg. 17. S. Johnson (The Kitchen Musician No. 6: Jigs), 1982 (revised 1989, 2001); pg. 13. Joyce (Ancient Irish Music) 1873/4th ed.; No. 48, pgs. 48-49. Kerr (Merry Melodies), vol. 1; pg. 38. Kerr (Merry Melodies), vol. 3; No. 189. Kerr (Merry Melodies), vol. 4; pg. 22. Miller & Perron (New England Fiddler’s Repertoire), 1983; No. 33. Moffat (202 Gems of Irish Melody), pg. 50. O'Neill (O’Neill’s Irish Music), 1915/1987; No. 163, pg. 91. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1979; No. 1031. O'Neill (Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems), 1986; No. 244, pg. 54. Robbins, 1933; No. 127. Roche Collection, 1982, vol. 1; No. 97, pg. 42. Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, 1883; pg. 85. Songer (Portland Collection), 1997; pg. 198. Sweet (Fifer's Delight), 1964; pg. 48. White's Excelsior Collection, 1907; pg. 3.

See also listings at:

Alan Snyder’s Cape Breton Fiddle Recording Index

Jane Keefer’s Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources

Alan Ng’s Session -
This song is first published in England as the "Yorkshire Lasses" in 1789. The earliest Irish version stems from 1798. It is also widely known as "The Rollicking Irishman" and the famous song "Father O'Flynn".


And one that isn't in D (that I know of), and isn't played on a dulcimer ...
Mary O'Hara on harp ... an Irish art song called "The Fairy Tree" ...

Audio of John McCormack on Great Voices of the 20th Century on the Rhapsody website.

Mary O'Hara has music - for harp and voice - in Vol. 2 of Travels With My Harp" series of transcriptions. Available on her website.

Mudcat Cafe has the usual authoritative thread at with complete lyrics:
Subject: RE: The Fairy (Thorn) Tree
From: Alice
Date: 12 Jan 01 - 12:31 PM

Isabel Leslie, alias Temple Lane, Clogheen, Ireland

All night around the thorn tree,
The little people play,
And men and women passing
Will turn their heads away.
From break of dawn til moonrise,
Alone it stands on high,
With twisted springs for branches,
Across the winter sky.

They'll tell you dead men hung there,
Its black and bitter fruit,
To guard the buried treasure
Round which it twines its root.
They'll tell you Cromwell hung them,
But that could never be,
He'd be in dread like others
To touch the Fairy Tree.

But Katie Ryan who saw there
In some sweet dream she had,
The Blessed Son of Mary
And all His face was sad.
She dreamt she heard Him saying:
"Why should they be afraid?"
[O'Hara repeats "Why should they be afraid?"]
When from a branch of thorn tree
The crown I wore was made?

From moonrise round the thorn tree
The little people play
And men and women passing
Will turn their heads away.
But if your heart's a child's heart
And if your eyes are clean,
You'll never fear the thorn tree
That grows beyond Clogheen
There's also a page, with local lore, put up by local authorities in Clogheen.

Lyrics on a CD by a Canadian singer named Calistia attributed to Temple Lane. She's Wiccan, leaves out the third and fourth verses on her website.

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