Dr. MacMahon Bishop of Clogher

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DOCTOR MACMAHON, BISHOP OF CLOGHER. Irish, Planxty (6/8 time). C Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. Composed by blind Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1738). There are two Bishops of Clogher, one Catholic and one Church of Ireland (Anglican). The Catholic MacMahon family was once-prominent in south Ulster and boasted of several members who became Bishops of Clogher. The name derives from mathghamban, a bear, and the family is said to be descended from Mahon O'Brien, grandson of Brian Boru. Heber MacMahon, Bishop of Clogher, was executed as a member of the Catholic Conspiracy of the mid-17th century, a generation before O'Carolan's birth. He was a firm adherent of Owen Roe O'Neill and actually led the Ulster army after O'Neill's death. Defeated by Sir Charles Coote (see "Planxty Charles Coote"), MacMahon was captured two days later and was quickly executed. His head was stuck on a spike at Enniskillen Castle and his trunk buried by some Catholics on Devenish Island, with the permission of Governor King. It is probable, perhaps, given the dates of O'Carolan's maturity, that the Doctor MacMahon of the title refers to Hugh MacMahon, appointed Bishop of Clogher in 1707 (he was later Archbishop of Armagh), who died in 1737. He reported in 1714 to the Pope on the state of religion on the island. See O'Sullivan (Carolan: Life and Times, 1958, pp. 255-257, for a lengthy and complete discussion).

Source for notated version: John Lee's A Favourite Collection of the so much admired old Irish Tunes, the original and genuine compositions of Carolan, the celebrated Irish Bard (Dublin, 1780) [O'Sullivan].

Printed sources: Complete Collection of Carolan's Irish Tunes, 1984; No. 89, p. 71. O'Sullivan (Carolan: The Life, Times and Music of an Irish Harper), 1958; No. 89, p. 149.

Recorded sources:




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