Blackthorn Stick (1)

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BLACKTHORN STICK [1]. AKA and see "Billy Patterson," "Billy Patterson's Favorite," "Boys of Bockhill," "Boys of Rockhill," "Catholic Boys (3)," "Coach Road to Sligo (1) (The)," "Eagle's Nest (The)," "Fire in the Valley," "Fire on the Mountain (2)," "Hare on the Mountain (The)," "Humors of Bantry," "Rose on the Mountain (1) (The)," and "Joys of Wedlock (2) (The)." Irish (originally), English, American; Jig. G Major (Allan, Kennedy, Miller & Perron, Spandaro, Sweet): A Major (Barnes, Kerr, Raven). Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB (Kerr): AABB (most versions). This popular tune has been absorbed into several fiddling traditions, similar to the jig "Haste to the Wedding (1)." For example, it is one of the tunes (along with "Ten-Penny Bit" and "Connaughtman's Rambles (1) (The)") used to accompany English rapper sword dancing. Bayard (1981) thinks the tune "a thoroughly characteristic Irish jig, probably of no great age." Blackthorn, Prunus spinosa also known as the Europena spiny plum, is a hard wood tree or bush with small white flowers. It is reddish-black in color and has very sharp, vicious spines on the bark. Its wood is very hard, close grained and has numerous knots, and although it can be difficult to work with, it is the choice wood for canes. Modern day shillelaghs are made of blackthorn due to the long shortage of oak in Ireland, and tend to be short, stubby implements (as opposed to the old oak shillelaghs which were about three feet long). See also "Welcome Home Royal Charlie," which uses one part of "Blackthorn Stick [1]." Some general melodic contour similarities with the first strain of "O'Connell's Welcome to Dublin", "O’Connell’s Welcome to Parliament (1)," or "Daniel O'Connell's Welcome to Parliament."

Researcher Conor Ward finds a version of the melody as an untitled air in P.W. Joyce's Old Irish Folk Music and Songs (1909, No. 836).

Source for notated version: David Street [Spadaro].

Printed sources: Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes, vol. 2), 2005; p. 107. Giblin (Collection of Traditional Irish Dance Music), 1928; No. 97. Jarman (Old Tyme Fiddlin' Tunes); p. or No. 16. Kennedy (Fiddler's Tune-Book: Jigs & Quicksteps, Trips & Humours), 1997; No. 7, p. 4. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 1), c. 1880; No. 13, p. 37. McDermott (Allan's Irish Fiddler), c. 1920's; No. 3, p. 2. Miller & Perron (New England Fiddler's Repertoire), 1983; No. 2. O'Brien (Jerry O'Brien's Accordion Instructor), Boston, 1949. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 115. Ryan's Mammoth Collection, 1883; pp. 80 & 83. Silberberg (Fiddle Tunes I Learned at the Tractor Tavern), 2002; p. 12. Spadaro (10 Cents a Dance), 1980; p. 44. Sweet (Fifer's Delight), 1964; p. 38. Tubridy (Irish Traditional Music, vol. 1), 1999; p. 30.

Recorded sources: Pibroch MacKenzie – "The Mull Fiddler" (1969). Bob Smith's Ideal Band – "Better than an Orchestra" (1977).




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