Fair Haired Kate

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X:1 T:Fair Haired Kate T:Ginger Kate M:C L:1/8 R:Reel S:Rev. Luke Donnellan – “Oriel Songs and Dances", S:Journal of the County Louth Archaeological Society (vol. II, No. 2, 1909; No. 26) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:Gdor DGGB AF G2|DGGB AGFE|DGGB AFGA|defd cAGF|| dggb af g2|dggb agfe|defd fefc|defd cAGF|| GddG BGdG|GddB cAFA|GddG BGAc|defd cAGF| B2 BG (3ABA Ac|B2 BG cAFA|B2 BG (3ABA Ac|defd cAGF||



FAIR HAIRED KATE. AKA - "Ginger Kate." Irish, Reel (cut time). Ireland, County Armagh. G Dorian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. "Ginger Kate" is contained in the music manuscript collection of curate and fiddler Rev. Luke Donnellan (1878-1952), Oriel region, south Ulster[1]. It was apparently collected in the Slieve Gullion region of south County Armagh by and came into the possession of Donnellan, a rector at Dromintee, who published a collection of over 100 tunes, mostly reels, in 1909 in The Journal of the County Louth Archaeological Society (vol. II, No. 2). However, the manuscript index title "Ginger Kate" was retitled "Fair Haired Kate" in the Archaeological Society journal article. The title "Ginger Kate" was included in the tune list of piper Philip Goodman (c. 1831-1908), Carrickmacross, Ireland, who is variously described as "the last professional and traditional piper in Farney, Louth", and also recorded as having been from Donaghmoyne, County Monaghan (all of which are places from the same area, and contiguous to Donnellan's Oriel region). Goodman brought his list to the Feis Ceoil in Belfast in 1898 (Breathnach, 1997).

Donnellan was enthusiastic about P.W. Joyce's then recently published Old Irish Music and Songs (1909), but found Irish music rather rare in his area.

The old people of Dromintee will tell you of the number and the skill of musicians who used to come to [nearby] Forkhill fair. I was told there used to be as many as thirty playing at it. They display an extensive knowledge of the names of songs and dance tunes, but cannot sing them. The reel known as “Black Haired Lass (2) (The)” No. 66 inf., seems to have been a great favourite with everyone. These facts point to a vanishing and disappearing musical culture.

Forkhill Fair, held on Michaelmas Day (Sept. 29th) was once the great horse and cattle fair, and festival of the area (St. Michael is the patron saint of horsemen).


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Rev. Luke Donnellan music manuscript collection [O'Connor].

Printed sources : - Rev. Luke Donnellan, “Oriel Songs and Dances” (Journal of the County Louth Archeological Society, vol. II), No. 2, 1909; No. 26. O’Connor (The Rose in the Gap), 2018; No. 202 (as "Ginger Kate").






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  1. Donnellan researcher Gerry O'Connor came to believe the ms. is not the work of the curate but rather was originally compiled by an unknown but able fiddler over the course of a playing lifetime, probably in the late 19th century. The ms. later came into the possession of Donnellan, who was also a fiddler.
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