Downey's Lock

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DOWNEYS LOCK. English, Reel. D Phrygian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. Gale Huntington (1977) notes that ship's fiddler William Litten's sub-title for this tune in his manuscript was "The Lock Downey Pissed Through." He speculated that it could be one of Litten's original numbers. The title's meaning (with the curious sub-title!) was cleared up by the late Bruce Olson, who linked it with a song called "Onagh's Lock/Oonagh's Waterfall/Una's Lock." The song was also printed as "Darby's (or Downey's) Key to Una's Lock," and "The Lock that Scatters Oonagh's Piss," and Litten's tune appears to be a variant title. See note for "Onagh's Lock."

Source for notated version: William Litten, who compiled his music manuscript collection c. 1800–1802, apparently while serving as a ship's fiddler with the British East India fleet (he served on the HMS Gorgon on the return voyage, 1802). The ms. came into the possession of Allen Coffin (b. 1788), of Martha's Vineyard island, Massachusetts, who brought it home with him when he returned. [Huntington]

Printed sources: Huntington (William Litten's Fiddle Tunes, 1800–1802), 1977; p. 13.

Recorded sources:




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