Around the House and Mind the Dresser

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AROUND THE HOUSE AND MIND THE DRESSER. AKA - "Mind the Dresser," "'Round the House and Mind the Dresser." AKA and see "Behind the Bush in the Garden (5)," "Irish Ragg," "Merrily Kiss the Quaker--New Set." Irish, Slide (12/8 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. Ciaran Carson references the title in his book Last Night’s Fun (1996), in regards to his observations on the spatial changes a room undergoes during a ceili:

When a ceili is made the dimensions of the room change subtly as the talk includes some news of the outside world. Music starts up, and the dimensions alter once again as dancers take the floor and those not dancing make space and squeeze up against each other, backs to the wall. ‘Around the House and Mind the Dresser’. The room seems to expand or contract in Tardis-like defiance of the laws of time and space. (p. 114)

House dances, popular in the years before the move to dance-halls in Ireland, were held in the central room of a cottage—the kitchen. Table, chairs, benches and other pieces of furniture were moved to the walls, leaving room for a set in the middle. Donal Hickey, in his book Stone Mad for Music (1999), recalls a time that Sliabh Luachra musicians Pádraig O’Keeffe and Paddy Cronin played a house dance in Cordal. The hostess, noting her rather cramped quarters and seeking to conserve space for dancing, asked the pair to mount chairs set on the top of a table and play there. “Christ, Paddy,” said O’Keeffe, “we’ll g'up in the gallery”--and there they played.

"Around the House and Mind the Dresser" is a derivation of a Scottish pipe tune called "Behind the Bush in the Garden (5)" which has no relation to the Irish tunes with that title.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources:

Recorded sources: Shanachie 79026, Chieftains - “Bonaparte’s Retreat.” Shanachie SHA79027, the Chieftains - “Live.”

See also listing at:
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [1]
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]




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