Blue Ribbon (The)

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BLUE RIBBON (THE). AKA and see "Orange and Blue (1)," "Hot Punch (1)," "Katy Jones," "Kitty Jones," "Green Ribbon (The)," "Blue Bonnets Hornpipe." Irish, Reel. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB: AABB (Alexander). The reel was collected in the Slieve Gullion region of south County Armagh by the Rev. Luke Donnellan (1878-1952), a rector at Dromintee, who published a collection of over 100 tunes, mostly reels, in 1909 in an article entitled "Oriel Songs and Dances" in The Journal of the County Louth Archaeological Society (vol. II, No. 2). Oriel [1] (now Oirialla), or Airgíalla, and Anglicizations, Oriel, Uriel, Orgiall, or Orgialla, was the name of an ancient Irish federation or kingdom largely in what is now the County Armagh, in the north of Ireland. Donnellan was enthusiastic about P.W. Joyce's then recently published Old Irish Music and Songs (1909), but found Irish music rather rare in his area.

The old people of Dromintee will tell you of the number and the skill of musicians who used to come to [nearby] Forkhill fair. I was told there used to be as many as thirty playing at it. They display an extensive knowledge of the names of songs and dance tunes, but cannot sing them. The reel known as “Black Haired Lass (2) (The)” No. 66 inf., seems to have been a great favourite with everyone. These facts point to a vanishing and disappearing musical culture.

Forkhill Fair, held on Michaelmas Day (Sept. 29th) was once the great horse and cattle fair, and festival of the area (St. Michael is the patron saint of horsemen).

Researcher Conor Ward finds the tune in common time rhythm in Alexander’s Fifty New Scotch and Irish Reels and Hornpipes (J. Alexander. London, c. 1826, No. 31, p. 15) under the "The Blue Ribon" (sic) title. He also finds versions in 19th century musicians' manuscripts from counties Leitrim and Longford. "In the Francis Reynolds MS, 1885, of Gaigue, Ballinamuck, Co. Longford," writes Ward, "there is a version called 'The Blue Ribbon' while in the Larry Smyth MS c.1900 of Abbeylara, Co. Longford it's entitled 'The Green Ribbon'. It's also found in the Gunn Book c.1850 of Co. Fermanagh under the title 'The Blue Ribbon'. Interestingly, beside Reynolds' title in the manuscript he provided an alternative title 'Kitty Jones' which leads us to the next part of the story...Fiddler Frank Quinn (1893-1967) of Drumlish, Co.Longford, recorded a version of this tune in 1925 entitled 'Katty Jones' where he sang a number of verses interpolated with the music. Additionally, another version of this tune appears in the Alex Sutherland MS c.1930s of Carrigallen, Co. Leitrim, entitled 'Miss Jones Reel'. All of this evidence suggests that there was a popular song in this region that was sang to this tune. Aside from Quinn's few verses, the full transcript of the original song has not been located thus far."

See the hornpipe setting as "Blue Bonnets Hornpipe," Frolic (The), Lick the Ladle Sandy (2), See also 6/8 time variants of the melody at "Hot Punch (1)" and "Orange and Blue (2)."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Alexander (Alexander’s Fifty New Scotch & Irish Reels & Hornpipes), c. 1826; No. 31, p. 15. Donnellan (Journal of the County Louth Archaeological Society, vol. II, No. 2), 1909.

Recorded sources:




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