Brown-Sailed Boat (The)
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BROWN-SAILED BOAT, THE. Irish; Reel, Highland or Strathspey. Ireland, County Donegal. E Dorian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AA'B. The tune is a County Donegal adaptation of the Scottish strathspey "Peter Bailie (1)." According to Caoimhín Mac Aoidh, the title comes from the Kilcar area and references the story of a young woman, daughter of a wealthy local man, whom her father had betrothed to a rich man she did not want to marry. Instead, she gave her heart to a young fisherman from the area, and when her disapproving father found out he forbade her ever to see her lover. She and the young man contrived to meet in secret, and arranged that should he be able to meet her he would use a brown sail on his return from fishing in Donegal Bay, and if he could not he would show his white one. The lovers continued to meet for some time, planned their independence, and when they had enough saved they eloped. The first tune played at the hauling home dance was this strathspey, which as it was untitled was given the name "The Brown-Sailed Boat" by the fiddlers in honor of the couple.
Mac Aoidh also notes that Donegal fiddler John Doherty injected a skipping rhythmic effect into the tune by playing a Scottish snap (a sixteenth and dotted eighth note combination) on the first and third beat of the bar, immediately followed on the second and fourth beats by a pair of eighth notes .
- Caoimhín Mac Aoidh, "The Donegal 'Highland' tunes: origins and movement of a dance-driven genre," in Ón gCos go Cluas/From Dancing to Listening, Liz Doherty & Fintan Fallely, eds., Aberdeen, 2019.