Flax in Bloom (The)

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FLAX IN BLOOM, THE. Scottish-Strathspey; Irish-Slide, Reel or Fling. D Mixolydian or D Major (Breathnach, Cranford, Flaherty, Moylan, Mulvihill, O'Neill/1850, Taylor). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Emmerson, Flaherty, O'Neill, Roche): AAB (Lerwick, Raven): AABB (Cranford, Moylan, Taylor): AABB (Mulvihill): AABBCC (Breathnach). The melody has settings in several forms in Ireland, Scotland and England, including a hornpipe ("Lily White"), reel ("Flax in Bloom"), fling (Kohler's "Highland Fling", Roche's "Fling"), slide ("Julia Clifford's Slide (1)"), and strathspey ("Marquis of Huntly's Highland Fling (1) (The)"). Lerwick (1985) attributes composition to George Jenkins. The melody is "always associated with that part of Ireland around Connolly, County Clare," notes Christy Moore (1978). The tune was released on a 78 RPM record 1927 by Sligo fiddler James Morrison, and in 1928 by the renowned button accordion player P.J. Conlon (born c. 1890's, Bellmount, Milltown, near Tuam, County Galway). Both men recorded in New York City, and both died there; Coleman in 1945, and Conlon in 1954. Morrison's set of "Flax in Bloom," "Millstone (The)" and "Dairymaid (4) (The)" has been much admired and imitated (e.g. by Belfast fiddler Sean Maguire on Folktrax FTX-375), and the tunes are still heard played together in sessions. "Flax in Bloom" was also recorded on a 78 RPM disc by Cape Breton Irish-style fiddler Johnny Wilmot. The third part in Breathnach's setting, not usual for the tune, was a product of schoolteacher and fiddler Michael ("The Master") McDermott (d. 1947), Pomeroy and Carrigmore, County Tyrone.

Sources for notated versions: fiddler Michael Lennihan (b. 1917, Kilnamanagh, Frenchpark area, Co. Roscommon) [Flaherty]; accordion player Johnny O'Leary (Sliabh Luachra) who associates the tune with box-player John Brosnan [Moylan]; fiddler Brenda Stubbert (b. 1959, Point Aconi, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia) [Cranford]; "from my mother" [Mulvihill]; collected from local musicians in 1937 by Michael 'Master' McDermott (Carrickmore, southern County Tyrone) [Breathnach]; set dance music recorded at Na Píobairí Uilleann in the 1980's [Taylor].

Printed sources: Breathnach (CRÉ IV), 1996; No. 114, p. 59. Cranford (Brenda Stubbert's), 1994; No. 57, p. 20. Emmerson (Rantin' Pipe and Tremblin' String), 1971; No. 55, pg. 143. Flaherty (Trip to Sligo), 1990; p. 89. Jordan (Whistle and Sing), 1975; 28. Lerwick (Kilted Fiddler), 1985; pp. 28-29. Moylan (Johnny O'Leary), 1994; No. 20, pp. 12-13. Mulvihill (1st Collection), 1986; No. 34, p. 9. O'Neill (Krassen), 1976; p. 130. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 1389, p. 258. O'Neill (Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems), 1907; No. 633, pg. 114. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 173 (appears as "The Lily White"). Roche (Collection of Traditional Irish Music, vol. 2), 1913; No. 284, p. 35 (listed as a Fling). Taylor (Music for the Sets: Yellow Book), 1995; p. 10. Treoir, vol. 35, No. 1, 2003; p. 29.

Recorded sources: CCE, Néillidh Mulligan - "The Leitrim Thrush" (learned from the playing of Seamus Ennis). Copely Records 9-116 (78 RPM), Paddy Cronin (195?). Folktrax FTX-375, Belfast Fiddle Session - "The Mason's Apron" (with Tom Turkington, Sean Maguire Sr., Sean Maguire Jr., Liam Donnelly & Bill Montgomery). Green Linnett SIF-104, Seamus Connolly - "The Celts Rise Again" (1990). Brenda Stubbert - "House Sessions" (1992). Green Linnett GLCD 1020, Brendan Mulvihill - "The Flax in Bloom." Green Linnett SIF-1098, Seamus Connolly - "Here & There" (1989). Tara 2002, Christy Moore - "The Iron Behind the Velvet" (1978. Learned from concertina player Paddy Murphy, Connolly, County Clare). WS 031703, Wendy MacIsaac - "Timeline" (2003).

See also listings at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [2]
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recordings Index [3]




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