X:1 T:Dick Gossip's R:reel N:Sometimes played with the parts in the opposite order B:Whistle and Sing by Eamonn Jordan Z:Thomas Keays M:C| L:1/8 K:D ef|gB (3BBB gBaB|gB (3BBB gfed|(3cBA eA fAeA|(3cBA ed cdef| gB (3BBB gBaB|gB (3BBB gfed|cdef gece|dfec d2:| AG|F2 AF BFAF|F2 AF GFED|E2 EF GFED|EDEF GFED| F2 AF BFAF|F2 AF GFED|A2 AB cABc|dfec d2:||
DICK GOSSIP'S REEL. AKA and see "Castle Reel (2)," "First Cup (The)." Irish, Reel. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. A favorite for some time at contra dances (although nowadays less likely to be played), and still sometimes heard at Irish sessions. Irish fiddler Sean Maguire is said to have played the tune at London sessions in the 1960's. There is some confusion about which section of the tune is to be played first. The origins of the tune are obscure although the Paddy O'Brien tune collection gives that it was named for a famous highwayman. Dick Gossip was an 18th century rapparee whose ballywick was the area around South Tyrone and Fermanagh. He was reputed to have been a dispossessed Irish landowner who sought to recoup his fortune through acts of lawlessness, only to meet the fate of most such brigands-he was apprehended and hanged. I myself have not been able to find any information about such a highwayman. It seems as likely to me that the title stems from the usage of the phrase 'Dick Gossip' to identify a 'man who likes to talk (or gossip)', in occasional use in the 19th century. Reference, for example, this passage from Henry Hunt's Memoirs, vol. 3 (1820).
As, however, I was a perfect stranger in Gloucester,I made but little progress; for every one I met appeared as shy of having anything to say about the gaol, as if he were himself afraid of becoming an inmate in the horrid place. At length, I found a person of the name of Wittick, a hair-dresser, the genuine Dickey Gossip of the city, who was exactly what I wanted. Having told him my name and my business, he "let loose his tongue", and gave me such a history of some of the revolting scenes that occurred within the walls of their city bastile, as harrowed my soul with horror.
Irish fiddler and folklorist Caoimhin Mac Aoidh has perhaps some definitive information on the tunes origins. He writes that while at the University of Cork in the 1980's he and Belfast fiddler Ben Gunn shared some time playing a common repertory of traditional tunes. Mac Aoidh was shown by Gunn an old manuscript collection that had been in the Gunn family for many years. He recalls:
The collection was inbound manuscript form with an introduction in an artist's hand in a very good attempt to reflect Irish illuminated manuscripts. The collection of tunes were sourced from a strong nest of fiddlers from around the end of the 1800s living in the area of Hare Island and thereabouts in Lough Erne, Co. Fermanagh. Ben's father, Tommy, was a very gifted fiddler from Fermanagh and who eventually lived out his adult life in Belfast. He came into possession of the collection and it has remained in the Gunn family. There is only one copy of this manuscript and thus is poorly known in the tradition. Breandan Breathnach did have some limited access to it and you can find references to it in Ceol Rince as the "Gunn MSS".
The tunes in it were marvellous and are not well known. Tommy was very friendly with Cathal McConnell and Cathal did get tunes from it. Lady Ann Montgomery, whose name always indicated a Scottish source, in fact, came from this collection. If memory serves me rightly at this point, I think my curiosity as regards Dick Gossip's source was satisfied by finding it under that title in the Gunn or Hare Island Collection.
In October 1983, Ben gave a lecture on the collection and its contents at the annual fiddlers gathering in Glenties. He had the collection with him and there was great interest in it. He was trying very hard to have it printed, but rightly so he was firm that the illustrated artwork would be preserved and presented in the publication. This was putting an unduly high price on the printing costs and it never was released.
The tune is not related to Kennedy's similarly titled reel "Dickie Gossip or Goodman's hornpipe of the same title. L.E. McCullough recorded the tune on his album "Late Bloomer" (1984) with Chicago fiddler Liz Carroll under the title "The Castle Reel," perhaps having picked up that title from a 1970's recording by fiddler Jimmy Power.