Dinny Delaney's (1)

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DINNY DELANEY('S) [1]. AKA and see "Hag in the Kiln (The)," "Old Hag in the Kiln (The)." Irish, Single Jig or Slide (12/8 time). D Mixolydian. Standard tuning (fiddle). ABB. Dennis "Dinny" Delaney (1836-1919) was a blind piper and character from Ballinasloe, east Galway, who recorded this tune on a wax cylinder in 1902. Delaney competed in the Feis Ceol in 1898 and was recorded on an Edison cylinder at that time as well, playing "Kid on the Mountain," "Repeal of the Union (The)" and "Woman of the House (The)" as well as "The Hag in the Kiln." Breathnach says: "Delaney it seemed was not one whit overawed by the occasion" (Ceol VIII, 1986). Captain Francis O'Neill has a sketch and photograph of Delaney that appears in his Irish Minstrels and Musicians (1913, pp. 305-308):

Dennis 'Dinny' Delaney

One of the few surviving, good, old-time players of the rollicking style lives in his native town of Ballinaslie, County Galway. Robust in build and ruddy of complexion, he is one of the central figures in its life, and in its celebrated fair. Though totally blind, he is, strange to say, unsurpassed as a judge of cattle and other kinds of farm stock, and so well recognized in his skill in this respect that at fair and market his opinion is eagerly sought when trading is in progress. Stranger still is the fact that furniture moving is his principal occupation. With a table on his head, or a cupboard on his back, he can make his way safely all over town. To see him thus engaged and without a trace of timidity in his footsteps, a stranger would never suspect that he was blind.

Gifted with great conversational powers, an endless fund of humor, and a tenacious memory, his is naturally the life of every gathering which he attends. With such attractions, not to mention his qualifications as a prize-winning piper, we can understand how he won the heart and hand of a buxom young colleen half his age, it being his second matrimonial venture.

The jolly Denis, having "seen" to the burial of an old friend and brother piper, naturally "came in" for his beautiful set of pipes. He disposed of his own superannuated set, made by the elder Kenna in 1781, to Mr. Wayland, the irrepressible enthusiast and untiring promoter, of Cork, he being the fifth proud possessor of this specimen of Kenna's handiwork. The first owner after coming from the hands of the maker was a Mr. Burke of Tyrquinn, near Athenry, County Galway, and their cost ten pounds. By bequest they became the property of Mr. Burke's nephew, Mr. C. Natton, of Kingstown, Dublin, from whom Denis Delaney purchased them in 1873.

In friendly rivalry at a big concert in Dublin, Mr. Delaney and Prof. P.J. Griffith played their respective versions of the "Fox Chase," and, while both delighted the audience with their performance, it was freely conceded that Prof. Grffith's version of that famous but much varied composition was the better. [Hereafter, O'Neill prints a long poem, called "Warpipes versus Fiddle", inspired by the incident].

As a prize-winner at pipers' competitions all over Ireland, we know of nothing to equal Denis Delaney's record. Since 1897-the date of their origin-he has to his credit 29 first, 12 second, 6 third, and 1 special prizes up to the year 1912, according to his own account. Accustomed as he had been to winning distinction for over a dozen years, his bump of self-esteem suffered no diminution in the flight of time, and however much we may approve the decisions of the adjudicator in awarding the prizes to others at the Dublin Feis in 1912, we cannot help sympathizing with Delaney, whose pride had sustained a shock so severe that he hastened away without waiting to enjoy the subsequent festivities, or sit in the group of competitors for a picture.


Source for notated version: piper Pat Mitchell, 1972 (Dublin, Ireland), who had the setting from Delaney's cylinder recording [Breathnach].

Printed sources: Breathnach (CRÉ II), 1976; No. 88, p. 46 (appears as "Old Hag in the Kiln"). Bulmer & Sharpley (Music from Ireland), 1976, vol. 4, No. 81. Sullivan (Session Tunes), vol. 2; No. 39, p. 16.

Recorded sources: Claddagh CC17, Seán Keane - "Gusty's Frolics" (1975). Green Linnet SIF 3005, The Bothy Band - "Old Hag You Have Killed Me" (1981. A reissue of the 1976 Mulligan LP). Green Linnet GLCD 3009, Kevin Burke - "If the Cap Fits" (1978). Shanachie 34007, Tommy Peoples (with Paul Brady) - "The High Part of the Road" (1976).

See also listings at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [2]




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