Knackers of Navan (The)

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X:1 T:Knackers of Navan, The C:John Doherty (1900-1980, County Donegal) M:4/4 L:1/8 K:D D2F2A2d2|D2 FD AFEF|D2F2 (3ABc de|fdBd AFEA|...



KNACKERS OF NAVAN, THE. Irish, Hornpipe (whole time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. The tune is sourced to the playing of County Donegal fiddler John Doherty [ [1] (1900-1980). Doherty researcher Conor Caldwell explains that the name is a corruption of the title "The Knackers of Narin," which is a place-name near Gweebarra [1], the west coast of Donegal. Caldwell quotes the liner notes of Harry Bradley and Michael Clarkson's 2009 recording "The Pleasures of Hope", where it is observed:

Doherty initially introduces the tune as "The Knockers of Navan." The sound of this name provokes an audible embarrassed bemusement among the assembly. When John Doherty refashions the 'knockers' to be 'knackers' the grunts of agreement and reassurance are as audible as the previous reaction. This tune's title may tell as much about sociolinguistic sensibilities over the past half-century as it does about the reel itself.[2]

The first strain of "Tailor's Wedding (The)", a jig, and Doherty's "Knackers of Navan (The)" are similar in melodic contour and are likely cognate, despite the difference in rhythm.

Additional notes

Source for notated version: -

Printed sources : -

Recorded sources: -

See also listing at:
See a standard notation transcription of John Doherty's entire version, by Conor Caldwell, in his PhD. thesis "‘Did you hear about the poor old travelling fiddler?’ - The Life and Music of John Doherty", 2013, p. 183 [2]



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  1. Conor Caldwell, "‘Did you hear about the poor old travelling fiddler?’ - The Life and Music of John Doherty", PhD thesis, 2013, p. 184 [3]
  2. ibid