Captain O'Kane

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X:2 T:Captain Oakhain L:1/8 M:6/8 N:"A favourite Irish Tune" S:McGlashan - Reels (c. 1786) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:Gmin G/F/|DBA B2 A/G/|A/B/c/B/A/G/ FGA|BdB cB/A/G/F/|DGG G2:| |:G/A/|Bdd d2 c/B/|Acc c2f|d>g^f g>ab|dg^f g2 g/a/|bag f>ed| d/c/B/A/f FGA|BdB d/c/B/A/G/F/|DGG G2:|]

CAPTAIN O'KANE/O'KAIN. AKA and see "Cailin tighe moir," "Captain Henry O'Kain," "Giolla an Bimhoir," "Wounded Hussar (The)," "Small Birds Rejoice (The)." Irish, Air or Planxty (6/8 time). E Aeolian (Johnson, Matthiesen, O'Neill, O'Sullivan): G Aeolian (Gow, Howe): A Minor (O'Farrell): D Minor (Martin). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Complete Collection, Matthiesen, O'Neill, O'Sullivan): AAB (Howe, Johnson, Martin): AABB (Gow, O'Farrell). O'Farrell directs: "Slow." "Captain O'Kane" is thought to have been composed by blind Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan (1670–1738) for his friend Captain O'Kane (or O'Cahan), a 'sporting' Irishman of a distinguished County Antrim family who was well-known in his day as "Slasher O'Kane"(O'Sullivan, Carolan, The Life and Times, based on information in Hardiman's Irish Minstrelsy, 1831). O'Carolan authority Donal O'Sullivan could find no attribution in any source to O'Carolan, but says the style is his and he generally accepts it is a composition of the bards. O'Sullivan also could find no further information on 'Slasher' O'Kane. O'Neill (1922) says: "We learn from Alexander Campbell's song 'The Wounded Hussar' printed with the music in Smith's Irish Minstrel (Edinburgh, 1825) the O'Kain was Captain Henry O'Kain who died of his wounds 'on the banks of the dark rolling Danube.'" O'Sullivan's attribution is based on a comment by Hardimann (who said O'Carolan wrote it) and because of stylistic similarities with other O'Carolan works. O'Neill (1913) quotes Patrick O'Leary, an Australian correspondent, who wrote that the Captain of the title was "the hero of a hundred fights, from Landon to Oudenarde, who, when old an war-worn, tottered back from the Low Countries to his birthplace to die, and found himself not only a stranger, but an outlawed, disinherited, homeless wanderer in the ancient territory that his fathers ruled as Lords of Limavady." The earliest printing of the tune Captain Francis O'Neill could locate was in James Aird's 1788 Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs (vol. 3), although he also found it (under the title "Captain Oakhain: A Favourite Irish Tune") in McGoun's Repository of Scots and Irish Airs, Strathspeys, Reels, etc. (Glasgow, 1803) – the same title and presumably the same tune was printed in Alexander McGlashan's 1786 collection. Gow also gives "Irish" as the tune's provenance. Piper O'Farrell's 1804 setting of "Captain O'Cain" was entered into the mid-19th century music manuscript copybook of County Cork uilleann piper and Church of Ireland cleric James Goodman [1].

The song "The Wounded Hussar" was written to the melody by Alexander Campbell (O'Sullivan gives his name as Thomas) and appears in Smith's Irish Minstrel (Edinburgh, 1825). It was also included in Surenne's Songs of Ireland without Words (Edinburgh, 1854). The Scots poet Robert Burns wrote his song "The Chevalier's Lament" to the tune of "Captain O'Kean". It goes:

The small birds rejoice at the green leaves returning,
The murmuring streamlet runs clear the vale;
The primroses blow in the dows of the morning,
And wild scattered cowslips bedeck the green dale.
But what can give pleasure, and what can seem fair,
When the lingering moments, are numbered by care;
No birds sweetly singing, nor flowers gaily springing,
Can soothe the sad bosom, of joyless despair.

The deed that I dared, could it merit their malice,
A king and a father, to place on his throne;
His right are these hills, and his right are these valleys,
Where wild birds find shelter, but I can find none.
But 'tis not my suff'ring, thus wretched forlorn,
My brave gallant friends, tis your ruin I mourn;
Your faith proved so loyal, in hot bloody trail,
Alas, can I make it, no sweeter return.

Paul de Grae notes that peripatetic County Kerry fiddler Pádraig O'Keeffe and other Sliabh Luachra musicians played "The Wounded Hussar" as a slow air, using a variation of Carolan's melody (O'Keeffe called it "Banks of the Danube", from a line in the song).

Additional notes

Source for notated version: -

Printed sources : - Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 3), 1788; No. 493, p. 190. Carlin (The Gow Collection), 1986; No. 325. Complete Collection of Carolan's Irish Tunes, 1984; No. 133, p. 95. Gow (Fourth Collection of Niel Gow's Reels), 2nd ed., originally 1800; p. 23. Hardiman (Irish Minstrelsy) 1831, p. lix (in "Memoir of Carolan"). P.M. Haverty (One Hundred Irish Airs, vol. 3), 1859; No. 268, p. 133. Howe (Musician's Onmibus, No. 2), c. 1864; p. 101. Johnson (Kitchen Musician No. 5: Mostly Irish Airs), 1985 (revised 2000); p. 5 (includes a harmony part). Jones [ed]. (Complete Tutor Violin), c. 1815; p. 2. Martin (Taigh na Teud), 1990; p. 14 (appears as "Captain O'Kean"). Matthiesen (Waltz Book II), 1995; p. 10. McGlashan (A Collection of Reels), c. 1786; p. 36 (appears as "Captain Oakhain"). O'Farrell (Collection of National Irish Music for the Union Pipes), c.1799–1800. O'Farrell (Pocket Companion, vol. 1), c. 1805; p. 45. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 627, p. 111. O'Neill (Krassen), 1976; p. 245. O'Neill (Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody), 1922. O'Sullivan (Carolan: The Life, Times and Music of an Irish Harper), 1958; No. 133, p. 173.

Recorded sources: -Green Linnet GLCD 1151, Seamus McGuire – "The Wishing Tree" (1995). Maggie's Music MM107, "Music in the Great Hall" (1992).

See also listings at:
Alan Ng's [2]
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index [3]

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