Hawk of Ballyshannon (The)

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HAWK OF (LOUGH EIRNE OF) BALLYSHANNON, THE (Seabhac na h-Eirne). AKA and see "Port Athol (2)/Atholl," "Hawk of Lough Erne" (Seabhac na hEirne), "Miss Moore," "O’Moore’s Daughter," "O'Moore's Fair Daughter," "Katherine O'More." Irish, Slow Air (4/4 time). A Minor (Joyce): F # Minor (O'Sullivan/Bunting). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Joyce): AA'BB (O'Suliivan/Bunting). Joyce (1909) says "The Hawk of Ballyshannon" was a well-known air which was also known as "O'Moore's Fair Daughter," according to his source, and by others as "Miss Moore." He notes that the Irish collector William Forde gives half a dozen settings, including that of Bunting, but that O'Beirne's version (which he prints) is more simple and flowing, and less interrupted by instrumental ornamentations than Bunting's (1840). Bunting and Joyce both state the air was composed by the great Ulster harper Rory Dall O'Cahan (whose period was roughly 1550-1650) which he called "Port Athol (2)," and was somewhat varied by O'Carolan. Bunting (1840) notes: "It was uniformly attributed to its proper composer by the harpers at Belfast." Little is known of Rory Dall except that he was born to a noble County Derry family, but lived and composed mainly in Scotland where he found patronage for his music (which consisted of tunes he called "ports") among the nobility of that country.

O'Carolans' "Ode to Miss Moore" (Katherine O'More) is sung to this air (see Hardiman's Irish Minstrelsy, vol. i., p. 32). Grattan Flood (1906), explains that the song was one of several composed by O'Carolan for the MacDermot family; in "Hawk's" case, in honor of the marriage of Charles O'Donnell (d. 1770), the son of Colonel Manus Roe O'Donnell of Westport (or Newport, Co. Mayo), to Katherine O'More, daughter of Colonel Lewis O'More of Ballyna House, Moyvalley, Co. Kildare. {the bridegroom, Charles O'Donnell, was the brother of Nanny O'Donnell. Nanny herself was married to Henry, the only son of MacDermot Roe (see notes for the airs "MacDermot Roe" and "Edward MacDermot Roe"). Nanny and Henry MacDermot Roe had a daughter, Eliza, who married Robert Maguire of Tempo, for whom O'Carolan composed "Planxty Maguire."} O'Sullivan (1983) notes that both the O'Donnell and O'More families belonged to the Irish Catholic gentry and suffered by the Penal Laws imposed by the English.

Caoimhin Mac Aoidh (1994) states that "The Hawk of Ballyshannon" is a title that cryptically refers to the Fermanagh Chieftain Philip MaGuire.

Source for notated version: fiddler O'Beirne (Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim) [Joyce]; harper Arthur O'Neill in 1792 [Bunting].

Printed sources: Bunting (Ancient Music of Ireland), 1840; No. 13, p. 13. Joyce (Old Irish Folk Music and Songs: The Forde Collection), 1909; No. 563, p. 298. O'Sullivan/Bunting, 1983; No. 13, pp. 19-21.

Recorded sources:




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