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DUIGNAN'S FAVOURITE. Irish. The Irish harper Arthur O'Neill (1734-1818), one of the last great itinerant Irish harpers, mentions one musician named Duigenan in his memoirs:

There was a harper before my time named Jerome Duigenan, a native of the County of Leitrim, not blind, an excellent Greek and Latin scholar and a charming performer on the harp. I heard numerous anecdotes of him. The one that pleased me most was that when he lived with Colonel Jones of Drumshambo, who was representative in Parliament for the County of Leitrim, the Colonel went to Dublin on the meeting of Parliament, where he chanced to fall into company with an English nobleman who brought a Welsh harper with him, who played very well. He played some time before the Colonel, and the nobleman asked him if he ever heard so sweet a finger. 'Yes, I did,' says the Colonel, 'and that by a man that never wears either linen or woollen.' 'I will lay you a bet of a hundred guineas', says the nobleman, 'you can't produce anyone to exceed my harper.' 'Done!' says the Colonel, and the bet was accordingly bound.

The Colonel writes directly to Drumshambo for Duigenan to come with all speed to him to Dublin, and to be uncommonly careful to bring with him a suit of cauthuck [cáiteach], that s, a dress made of beaten rushes with something like a caddy or plaid of the same stuff. Duigenan came post accordingly, and on his arrival in Dublin came to the Colonel's lodgings. The Colonel in the meantime acquainted all the members of the bet, who all requested it should be decided in the House of Commons before business commenced. The two harpers performed before all the members and it was decided by all much in Duigenan's favour, particularly by the English nobleman himself, who exclaimed, 'Damn you, why hadn't you better clothes?' 'Och,' says Duigenan, 'I lost my all by a lawsuit, and my old nurse for spite will not suffer me to wear any other.'-'Damn me, but you shall,' and [he] then put a guinea in his hat and went all through the sitting members, who every one threw in a guinea each, so that the nobleman's hat was near half full, which he put into Duigenan's pockets. Duigenan was in the full cauthuck dress at the time. He was a tall, handsome man and looked well in it, and wore the cap all the while, which was in the shape of a sugarloaf decorated with tassels of rushes well worked. However, Duigenan contrived to spend the chief part of the money before he left Dublin.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources:

Recorded sources: Seamus Horan - "Traditional Irish Music from County Leitrim."




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