Frieze Breeches (1)

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X:1 T:Frieze Breeches [1], The M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Jig S:O'Neill - Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems (1907), No. 260 Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:D A/G/|FEF DED|A2d cAG|ABA GAG|F2A GEC| FEF DED|A2d cAG|FEF GEC|DED D2:| ||G|A2d d2e|fed cAG|ABA GAG|F2A GEC| A2d d2e|fed cAG|FEF GEC|DED D2G| A2d d2e|fed cAG|ABA B<cd|ded cAG| fef efe|ded cAG|FEF GEC|DED D2|| |:F|DED cBc|AdB cAG|ABc d2e|fed cAF| DED cBc|AdB cAG|FEF GEC|DED D2:| |:A|d2e f2g|a2f ged|c2d efg|fdf ecA| d2e f2g|a2f ged|faf gec|ded d2:| |:d|fdf ece|ded cAG|ABA A2G|F2A GEC| fdf ece|ded cAG|FDF GEC|DED D2:| ||F/G/|A2B cBA|c2e cAG|A2d d2e|fed cAG| A2B cBA|dcB cAG|FEF GEC|DED D2G| A2B c2B\c2d cAG|A2d d2e|fed cAG| faf gec|ded cAG|FEF GEC|DED D2||



FRIEZE BREECHES/BRITCHES [1] ("An Briste Breidin" or "An Brístín Mire"). AKA and see "Bristin Mire (An)," "Cunla," "Friar's Breeches," "Friar's Britches," "Gallagher's (1)," "Gallagher's Frolic (3)," "Gallagher's Lament," "I Buried My Wife (and Danced on Her Grave)," "O'Gallagher's Frolics," "On St. Patrick's Day I was Gay," "Trumlo (The)." Irish, Double Jig or Single Jig (Breathnach). D Mixolydian (Breathnach): D Major/Mixolydian (most versions). Standard tuning. AB (Breathnach): AABB (Russell): AA'BB' (Mitchell): AABBCCDDEE (Brody, Mitchell): AABBCCDDEE' (Harker/Rafferty, Mallinson): AABB'CCDDEE' (O'Neill/Krassen): AABCCDDEEF (O'Neill/1850 & 1001). Frieze (pronounced 'frys') is a coarse woolen cloth with a shaggy nap (usually on one side of the material). The title refers to clothing made from the material, once common in Ireland. The following passage, from a pamphlet by fiddler William Simpson, from Elgin, Scotland, entitled A Spring on the Fiddle (1915), describes frieze clothing:

In 1863 I went to Ireland, Co. Galloway, and on to Tipperary, where I
stayed for about six years, getting out of touch with all players of my
former acquaintance, meeting occasionally some very fine jig players
and dancers who could give a very interesting exhibition. The dress of
these men were kneebreeches, frieze coats of the dresscoat style,
green stockings, red vest, a soft felt hat, and a short stick a "shillelagh."

The title is often, however, rendered as "The Friar's Britches" due to the similarity of "Frieze" (pronounced frys) and "Friars" when spoken (Finbar Boyle, tongue in cheek, mentions that "Friar's Britches" is also known as "The Vicar's Knickers!"). The melody was known in the Sliabh Luachra region of the Cork-Kerry border as "Gallagher's" (see below) and accordion player Johnny O'Leary identified the title "Frieze Breeches" as coming from "the Galway crowd." North Clare tin whistle player Micho Russell remembered that "long ago" the tune was only in two parts and was known as "La San Sean, ba chraite an mhaidin i'," and that it was later used for the song "Cunla" (popularized in the 1970's by the band Planxty):

Who comes there tickling the toes of me?
There is nobody here but Cunla.


Breathnach (1963) prints these words:


"Cé hé sin thiós ag briseadh na gclaiocha?"
"Mise féin" a deir Connla.
"Chonnla chroí ná teara níos goire dhom"
"Mhaisce, tiocfad", a deir Connla.


Translated by Paul de Grae:


"Who is that down there breaking the fences?
"Myself says Connla.'
"Connla dear don't come any nearer to me"
"Wisha, I will," says Connla.

O'Neill (Irish Folk Music, p. 97) states this jig was "in some form known all throughout Munster. A strain remembered by from my mother's singing of it was added to Delaney's version, making a total of six in our printed setting. A ridiculous, although typical folk song, called 'I Buried My Wife and Danced on Top of Her' used to be sung to this air, which bears a close resemblance to our version of 'O'Gallagher's Frolics'." Russell said "Frieze Britches" was a very popular tune around Enlistment, County Clare, and related that his father had been to the fair in that city and met with one Paddy Cearnuf, who lilted the melody and, obviously enamored, called it "the first tune that was ever played in heaven" (Russell, 1989). Breathnach (1963) maintains Joyce's third part does not belong to this jig.

An interesting story, possibly even true, of how this tune entered the Sliabh Luachra region of Ireland's tune repertoire was told by piper Tim Britton, confirmed by Paddy O'Brien. It seems that the renowned regional fiddler Padraig O'Keeffe played the melody that he had learned, as he did many of his tunes, from an uncle named Cal Callaghan. Callaghan, the story goes, lived for several decades in a Scottish settlement in southern Ohio and learned many tunes there, some of which he taught to his nephew Padraig on his return to Ireland. O'Keeffe called the tune "Gallagher's" and played it in seven parts. The story is a bit of a stretch, considering the age and popularity of "The Frieze Breeches/Friar's Britches" in Ireland.


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Chicago piper Bernard Delaney [O'Neill]; Planxty (Ireland) [Brody]; piper Willie Clancy (1918-1973, Miltown Malbay, West Clare) [Mitchell]; piper Seán Potts (Ireland) [Breathnach]; sessions at the Regent Hotel, Leeds, England [Bulmer & Sharpley]; New Jersey flute player Mike Rafferty, born in Ballinakill, Co. Galway, in 1926 [Harker].

Printed sources : - Breathnach (CRE I), 1963; No. 62, p. 27. Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; p. 113. Bulmer & Sharpley (Music from Ireland), 1974, vol. 1, No. 65. Joyce (Old Irish Folk Music and Song), 1909; No. 287. Mallinson (100 Enduring), 1995; No. 42, p. 18. Mitchell (Dance Music of Willie Clancy), 1993; Nos. 11 & 12, pp. 34-35 (two versions) and Nos. 101 & 102, pp. 87-89. Moylan (Johnny O'Leary), 1994; No. 275. O'Neill (Krassen), 1976; p. 61. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 1051, p. 198. O'Neill (Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems), 1986; No. 260, p. 58. Russell (The Piper's Chair), 1989; p. 11.

Recorded sources : - Bay 203, Jody Stecher- "Snake Baked a Hoecake." Columbia 33073F (78 RPM), The Flanagan Brothers (1925. In a medley with Cook in the Kitchen (1) (The)/Lannigan's Ball). Copley DWL-9-617, Jack Wade- "Ceili Music From Ireland." Great Meadow Music GMM 2002, Rodney Miller & David Surette - "New Leaf" (2000. Appears as "Cunla"). Green Linnet 1009, Glinside Ceili Band- "Irish Music: The Living Tradition." Green Linnet SIF 3005, The Bothy Band - "Old Hag You Have Killed Me" (1981. A reissue of the 1976 Mulligan LP). Outlet 3002, Paddy Cronin- "Kerry's Own Paddy Cronin" (1977). Pathe 20550 (78 RPM), Tom Ennis (1920). Polydor 2383 397, Planxty- "Planxty Collection." Shanachie 79064, Matt Molloy - "Heathery Breeze" (1999). Topic 12T309, Padraig O'Keeffe, Denis Murphy & Julia Clifford - "Kerry Fiddles." Topic TSCD 602, The Flanagan Brothers - "Irish Dance Music" (1995. A reissue of the 1923 original). Transatlantic 341, Dave Swarbrick- "Swarbrick 2" (appears as "Friar's Breeches").

See also listing at :
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recording Index [1]
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [3]
Hear Michael Coleman's c. 1927 recording at the Internet Archive [4]
Hear piper Tom Ennis's 1920 recording at the Internet Archive [5]



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