Ah Surely (1)

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AH, SURELY (1) (Cinnte le Dia). AKA and see Bearna na Gaoithe," "Killabeg's House," "Killaghbeg House," "Boys of the Twenty-Five (2)," "Rose in the Garden (3) (The)," "Windy Gap (The)," "Bonfire (2) (The)." Irish, Reel. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB.
Seamus Tansey tells a colorful tale (see liner notes to "Easter Snow") about "Ah Surely" that he maintains is a very old Sligo reel, played first by an old flute player named Willie Snee who lived in the hills of Darroon outside Ballymote. Tansey relates: "Nobody knew how Willie Snee had so many tunes stored up in his head. This was the turn of the century before Coleman had gone to America to make records, long before radio or recording studios came to Ireland. Willie would answer quietly that he first heard these tunes from 'the little people'. The boys, however, would not believe him. One Sunday there was a great gathering of flute players, the Preston Brothers and many more. They decided to have a contest amongst them to find out how many tunes each of them had. The contest went on all day, but in the end Willie Snee won out, playing this tune. In admitting defeat, all of them said in tribute 'Ah Surely Willie, Ah Surely' and that is how this old reel got its name. Willie Snee died, alas, in Sligo while he was heading home. People perhaps thought Willie Snee was mad with his talk about the fairies and so on, but the people then (and now) didn't understand the close affinity between musicians and the environment. In actual fact maybe Willie Snee was saner than all of them."

A version of the reel appears in the c. 1883 music manuscript collection of Gortletteragh, Co. Leitrim, fiddler Stephen Grier as "Boys of the Twenty-Five (2)," and County Longford fiddler Packie Dolan recorded it in New York in the 78 RPM era under the title "Windy Gap (1) (The)."

Source for notated version: Sources for notated versions: accordion player Sonny Brogan (County Sligo/Dublin, Ireland) [Breathnach, Vol. 1]; whistle player Mary Bergin (Ireland) [Breathnach, vol. 3]; Co. Sligo flute player Sonny McDonagh (b. 1926, Rinnarogue, Bunninadden, Co. Sligo, Ireland) [Flaherty].

Printed sources: Breathnach (CRE I), 1963; No. 81, p. 36. Breathnach (CRE III), 1985; No. 129, p. 61. Cotter (Traditional Irish Tin Whistle Tutor), 1989; 71. Flaherty (Trip to Sligo), 1990; p. 124. Taylor (Where’s the Crack), 1989; p. 13.

Recorded sources: Gael‑Linn CEF 071, Mary Bergin ‑ "Feadoga Stain" (1979). MKM7590, Mike McHale – “The Schoolmaster’s House” (2000. Learned from his father, a button accordion player from County Roscommon). Yazoo Records, Paddy Killoran & Paddy Sweeney – “The Wheels of the World, Vol. 1.”




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