Fair Haired Kate

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FAIR HAIRED KATE. Irish, Reel. Ireland, County Armagh. G Dorian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. The reel was apparently collected in the Slieve Gullion region of south County Armagh by the Rev. Luke 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). 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).

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