Killiecrankie (2)

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KILLIECRANKIE [2]. AKA - "Battle of Killiecrankie/Battle of Killicrankie/Battle of Kilicrankie." AKA and see "Planxty Davis." Scottish, Irish; Slow March (2/4 time) or Set Dance (cut time). D Major (Kerr, Morrison, Roche); C Major (Cranford/Holland). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Kerr): AABB (Cranford/Holland, Roche). A much elaborate version of the air, it is this Paul Roberts calls the Gaelic/Jacobite version of "Killiecrankie." The original tune, "Planxty Davis" (by which name it is known in Ireland), is, according to 19th century antiquarians, the product of the ancient Sligo-born harper Thomas O'Connellan (who is supposed to have composed seven or eight hundred tunes), who died near Lough Gur, County Limerick, in 1698. Sometimes his place of death is given as Bouchier Castle along with the information that he was buried at Temple Nuadh. In fact, there is much contradictory information about Connellan in the historical record, and much of what exists is rather vague. O'Neill, in Irish Minstrels and Musicians (1913), says of him:

This bard and musical genius whom Arthur O'Neill called 'Tom Conlan, the great harper', was born in Cloonmahon, (anciently known as Clonymeaghan), County Sligo. The date of his birth is variously given as about 1625 and 1640. His celebrity in Ireland was very great although it would seem he is no less popular in Scotland where according to Arthur O'Neill he attained to city honours as 'ballie' in Edinburgh. After a sojurn of a score of years in Caledonia, he returned to his native land in 1689 and died while a guest at Bouchier Castle near Lough Gur in County Limerick in 1698. "His remains were reverently Interred in the adjoining churchyard of Temple Nuadh," Grattan Flood says, "and over His grave a few pipers appropriately played by way of a funeral dirge the introductory And concluding phrases which O'Connellan had added to Myles O'Reilly's 'Irish Tune'; The version being known as 'The Breach of Aughrim'." A banshee we are told wailed from The top of Carraig na g-Colour while his funeral procession was passing to the burial ground. The mournful cooing of the wild pigeons from which the rock takes its name, may account For this quaint fancy. The 'Great Harper' was the composer of 'The Dawning of the Day', Also known as 'The Golden Star', 'Love in Secret', 'Bonny Jane', 'The Jointure', 'Molly St. George', 'If to a Foreign Clime I go', 'Planxty Davis' and seven or eight hundred others Now forgotten. The last named, 'Planxty Davis', is known in Scotland as 'The Battle of Killiecrankie'.

Allison Kinnard (The Harp Key, 1986) and Sanger & Kinnaird (Tree of Strings, 1992, p. 110), however, write the "Planxty Davis" title seems to have been attached to the tune by mistake, and instead belongs to a melody to which the Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1738) wrote words called "Two William Davises (The)." After Thomas Connellan's death his younger brother Laurence, also a harper who it is said affected a different style, travelled to Scotland and popularized several of this dead brother's pieces, including "Battle of Kilicrankie."

Sanger and Kinnaird find the tune associated to other tunes throughout the British Isles which date at least to the early 17th century. In Ireland it is related to "Star of the County Down (The)," and the Henry Atkinson Manuscript (1694-95, Northumberland) includes it under the title "Irish Gillycranky (The)." William McGibbon printed it as "Gilliecrankie" in his Scots Tunes, Book 2 (c. 1746). In England it is related to "Clean Country Way (The)," "Gilderoy (1)" and "Miller o' Dee," all common in instrumental and vocal collections. The late Cape Breton fiddler and composer Jerry Holland (1955-2009) remembered Angus Chisholm playing this tune in a medley (in 'C' major) with the march "General Robertson of Lawar's."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Cranford (Jerry Holland: The Second Collection), 2000; No. 308, p. 111. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 1) c. 1880; No. 23, p. 49. McGibbon (Scots Tunes, Book 2), c. 1746; p. 37 (as "Gilliecrankie"). William Morrison (Collection of Highland music, consisting of strathspeys, reels, marches, waltzes & slow airs), c. 1813; p. 13-15. Roche (Collection of Traditional Irish Music, vol. 2), 1912; No. 282, p. 34.

Recorded sources:




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