X:1 T:Ballemonny Races M:C| L:1/8 R:Reel B:Alexander Mackay – A Collection of Reels, Strathspeys and Slow Tunes… B:Chiefly composed by Alexander Mackay, Musician Islay (c. 1822, p. 14) B: https://digital.nls.uk/special-collections-of-printed-music/archive/104487947 N:Dedicated to the Right Hon. Lady Elinor Campbell of Islay and Shawfield. N:Mackay was born c. 1775 and was a fiddler-composer from Islay. Many of his N:tune titles are reflect Islay settings. N:Printed in Glasgow by J. MacFadyen, 30 Wilson St. Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:G G2 BG E2 BE|G2 BG EGFD|G2 BG E2 BG|cedB AGFD:| G3g gdBG|A3a agfd|efge agfd|efge dcBA| G3g gdBG|A3a agfd|efge agfd|egfa g2G2||
BALLEMONNY RACES. Scottish, Reel (cut time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. "Ballemonny Races" appears in Islay fiddler-composer Alexander Mackay's Collection of Reels, Strathspeys and Slow Tunes (Glasgow, c. 1822). The title presumably references the small County Antrim town of Ballymoney, twenty miles across the sea from Islay, but indicative of the communication (commercially and musically) between the two regions.
Racing at Ballymoney took place from the twelfth to seventeenth of August each year, and drew crowds that not only enjoyed the horse racing but other entertainments as well (including cockfighting). Englishwomen Anne Plumptre wrote of her travels in Ireland in the summers of 1814 and 1815, and while touring County Antrim she recorded:
Returning to Coleraine, I proceeded from thence to Ballymoney, which was to be my night-quarters. Here I found that I had fallen unluckily upon the time of the races; and at first there seemed some reason to apprehend a repetition of the night-adventures at Cushendall: however, the landlady of the inn (the Antrim Arms) was extremely civil, and exerting herself to make room for me, an arrangement was at length made, by which I was to have a bed-chamber. As the landlady thought I might be lonely, and want some amusement, she came and announced that there were players in town, for the races, if I would like to go to the theatre, and presented me with a bill of the performances for the evening. As this was the only opportunity which had fallen in my way of seeing an Irish itinerant company, I should most probably have gone, had I not been very much fatigued from a succession of days of pretty considerable exertion.