Gold Ring (1) (The)

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X:1 T:The Gold Ring [1] M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Jig C:Ennis S:O’Neill, Dance Music of Ireland. 1850 Melodies, 1903, no. 708 Z:François-Emmanuel de Wasseige K:G d|cAG GFG|cAG G2d|cAG GFG|cAG F2d| cAG GFG|cAG TA2G|FGA ~fed|cAG G2:| |:d|cAd cAd|cAG G2d|cAd cAd|cAG F2d| cAd cAd|cAG TA2G|FGA ~fed|cAG G2:|| |:(3d/e/f/|gag gdc|BGG G2d/e/|=fgf fc_B|A=FF F2d| gag gdc|BGG G2d|=fgf fed|cAG G2:| |:(3d/e/f/|gdd fdd|gdd fdd|gdd fdd|cAG G2(3d/e/f/| gdd fdd|gdd fdd|f/g/ag f2d|cAG G2:| |:D|Gdd Gdd|cAG G2A|TB2G TA2G|cAG F2A| TB2G TA2G|TB2G TA2G|FGA ~fed|cAG G2:| |:G/A/|BGB AFA|DED FED|Add fed|cAG FGA| BGB AFA|DED FED|Add fed|cAG G2:| |:G/A/|BAB DED|AFA DED|Add fed|cAG FGA| BAB DED|AFA DED|Add fed|cAG G2:|]



GOLD RING [1], THE ("Fáinne n-oir" or "Fáinne óir {Ort}"). AKA and see "Fermanagh Gold Ring," "Lasses of Limerick," "Faire! Faire! ar Aghaidh! ar Aghaidh!," "Tá fáinne air." Irish, Jig. D Mixolydian ('A' and 'B' parts) & G Major ('C', 'D', and 'E' parts) {Brody, O'Neill}. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABBCCDDEEFF (Boys/Lough): AABBCCDDEE (Brody): AABBCCDDEEFFGG (Mallinson, O'Neill): AABCC'DD'EEFG (Mitchell): AABB'CCDD'EEFFGG (Taylor). A member of a very large tune family which, as Paul De Grae says "sometimes seems to include half the jigs in the (Irish) repertoire." "The Gold Ring" is known as an uilleann piper's tune (O'Neill says it was a favorite of early 20th century piper Pat Touhey's). Caoimhin Mac Aoidh relates Seamus Ennis's story of a piper who had the courage to spend a night hiding near a fairy rath to listen to the wonderful music of the little folk. As usual they returned to the rath at sunrise to sleep, the nights' festivity over, and the piper crept out from hiding. On close investigation of the site he found a tiny gold ring on the ground, dropped by a fairy reveller. The very next evening he returned to the rath and hid in the same place to listen again to the music of the wee folk but this time he also overheard the lamenting of a fairy piper over the loss of the ring. The fairy cried that he would grant any wish to get it back, upon which he man stepped from hiding and offered to return the ring, explaining how he found it lost. True to his word the fairy granted the human one wish, and asked the piper to name it. 'The jig I heard the other night,' said the man, who added he could not quite remember it (due to the fairies blocking the memory of their tunes), and the fairy piper granted the wish on the spot-the tune that has ever since been called in memory of the incident "The Gold Ring." The Boys of the Lough relate a very similar story concerning a farmer who surprised a fairy gathering on returning home late one night. It seems the fairies were dancing to the music of a fairy piper, but ran off after being startled by the intruder. The farmer was about to continue his journey home when found a gold fairy ring, left behind after the flight of the fey folk. He managed to return it to the fairies and in exchange they gave him the tune that the fairy piper had been playing when he first surprised them.

O'Neill [1] maintains that pipers converted this jig from a nine-part melody called "Pharroh or War March (The)" (for which see "Faire! Faire! ar Aghaidh! ar Aghaidh!"), which was obtained from Dr. Petrie in 1835 and printed in Bunting's Ancient Music of Ireland, published in 1840 (the word pharaoh seems to Paul de Grae to have been derived from the Irish word faire--pronounced far-eh-meaning watch or wake). Bunting thought the tune to be "very ancient." Paul de Grae, in his Notes to the O'Neill Collections (2012) explains in detail--

O'Neill's setting is in seven parts, each of eight bars and each repeated. Bunting's setting, "The Pharaoh or War March" (EB 3:143) is in nine parts, each of four bars and each repeated; the last two parts are rather contrived-sounding minor-key riffs. Although clearly related, there are many differences between the settings; perhaps the most notable is that in O'Neill, instead of a repeated four-bar phrase for each part, a different ending has been used on the repeat to create eight-bar parts, sufficiently interesting to warrant repetition of the whole eighty bars of each part.

O'Farrell has a variant four-part setting in a minor key, "Lasses of Limerick" (OFPC 2:139); the last part is more or less the same as the last two minor-key parts in Bunting. O'Neill prints O'Farrell's tune, with acknowledgement, in Waifs and Strays (WSGM 182).

Goodman has a two-part setting, "Five Pound Jig (The)". Dia LUain's Dia Máirt" (TMP 79). Petrie has an untitled setting (SP 982, "Ancient Munster March and Jig. as set by Mr. Joyce"), in three parts , with O'Neill's first part as the second. The third part of Petrie's "Buachaillan Bruithe" or "Buachallan buidhe" (SP 96, 1258) occurs in present-day settings of "The Gold Ring," though not in O'Neill's."

"Will You Come Down to Limerick?" (MI 1121-2, DMI 415) is a slip jig variant."


The Fleischmann index links this tune to "Scots Hall," published in London by Thompson in his Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, c. 1755, although some think the connection weak. Other relatives might include (depending on how you interpret the connections) "Old Woman's Money (1) (An)," "Buachalin Bruithe," "Búachallán Buídhe," "Butcher's March (1)," "Five Pound Jig (The) (Dia Luain 's Dia Máirt: Monday and Tuesday)," "Huggerth the Puss," "Wearied Lad (The)," and untitled march collected by George Petrie (Stanford/Petrie No. 982), and, just perhaps, "Buachaill Breóite (An)."


Additional notes



Printed sources : - Boys of the Lough, 1977; p. 16. Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; p. 123. Mallinson (100 Enduring), 1995; No. 51, p. 22. Mitchell (Dance Music of Willie Clancy), 1993; No. 139, pp. 110-111. O'Neill (Krassen), 1976; p. 72. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 708, p. 132. O'Neill (Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems), 1907; No. 12, p. 19. Taylor (Music for the Sets: Blue Book), 1995; p. 12. Vallely (Learn to Play the Tin Whistle with the Armagh Pipers Club, vol. 3), No. 9.

Recorded sources : - Alia Vox AVSA 9878, Jordi Savall - "The Celtic Viol. II" (2010). Claddagh CC17, Sean Keane - "Gusty's Frolics." Claddagh CC39CD, "The Pipering of Willie Clancy, Vol. 2" (1993). Claddagh: CCF 27 CD, Conal O'Grada - "Top of the Croom" (1990). Gael-Linn CEF009, Seamus Ennis - "Ceolta, Scealta agus Amhrain." Gael-linn CEFCD 114, Tony MacMahon & Noel Hill - " "I gCnoc na Graí" ('In Knocknagree'). Leader LEA 2003, "Seamus Ennis." Mulligan 004, "Matt Molloy." Seamus Creagh & Aidan Coffey - "Traditional Music from Ireland." Chieftains - "Cotton Eyed Joe." POSCD0001, Paul O'Shaughnessy - "Stay Another While" (1999). Trailer LER 2090 (or Rounder 3006), Boys of the Lough, "Second Album" (1974). Liam O'Flynn - "The Piper's Call." Brian Mac Aodha - "Throw Away the Keys." Seamus Ennis - "Masters of Irish Music."

See also listing at :
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [2]



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  1. Francis O'Neill, Irish Minstrels and Musicians, 1913