Banks of Claudy (1) (The)

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BANKS OF (THE) CLAUDY, THE (Bruach an Chladaigh). AKA and see "Cailín Donn (An)," "Plain of Boccarough," "Portaferry Boys," "Roving Galway Boy." Irish, Air (2/4 or 4/4 time). F Major (O'Sullivan/Bunting): D Dorian (O'Neill, Stanford/Petrie): D Major (Stanford/Petrie). Standard tuning (fiddle). One part (O'Neill, Stanford/Petrie): AABBC (O'Sullivan/Bunting). Claudy is a village on the right bank of a small stream called the Faughan, which rises in the Sperrin mountains and flows into the River Foyle just before it enters Lough Foyle in County Londonderry. O'Sullivan (1983) notes that old collections record tune was a once popular Irish ballad, known throughout the island and beyond, for, according to A.L. Lloyd, the song has turned up "in Sussex and Scotland, Virginia, USA, and Victoria, Australia, practically word-for-word the same and we have to presume that these versions have probably come from, and been more or less fixed by, some printed original on a broadside or in a popular songster." O'Neill (1913) classifies the melody in a group with "Willy Reilly" et al (see note for "Willy Reilly (2)"). O'Neill relates hearing a memorable rendition by a Chicago piper named John K. Beatty, a native of County Meath who was a genial man and a good musician, though with an inflated opinion of his own abilities ("execution he had-too much of it-but neither time nor rhythm"):

An American lady, of wealth and social distinction, proud of her Irish ancestry, once appealed to us for aid in getting out a suitable programme. The best Irish talent obtainable was engaged. But how about Mr. Beatty? It was contended that he could play The Banks of the Claudy with trills and variations in acceptable style, yet no one could guarantee that he would confine himself within limits. In any event he was the typical bard in appearance. His confident air and florid face, adorned with a heavy white mustache, and a head crowned with an abundance of long white hair, would naturally appeal to an Irish audience, so his name was placed on the programme, well towards the end, to minimize the effect of his possible disregard of instructions.] When his time came to execute The Banks of Claudy he met all expectations--and much more. Intoxicated by the applause, all was forgotten but the mad desire to get more of it, so he broke loose with rhapsodical jigs and reels, his head on high, nostrils distended like a race-horse on the home stretch, while both feet pounded the platform in unison. He evidently 'had it in' for the regulators, for he clouted the keys unmercifully, regardless of concord or effect, and when he quit, from sheer exhaustion, it is safe to say that no such deafening laughter and handclapping ever greeted an Irish piper before or since. ... [Irish Folk Music, p. 26]


For a derivative American version, see G.B. Grayson's "Where are You Going Alice."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 430, p. 75. Stanford/Petrie (Complete Collection), 1905; Nos. 422 & 423, p. 107.

Recorded sources:




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