X:1 T:Lady Carbry's Fancy Reel M:C| L:1/8 R:Reel S:Leonard-Kernan MS (1844-c.1850) of Abbeyshrule, Co. Longford Z:Transcribed by Conor Ward K:A ed|(cA) A/(A/A) (A/B/c) AF|(EF)Ac (dc)BA|(d2 c)B cBBd|(ce)fg afed| (cA) A/(A/A) (A/B/c) AF|(EF)Ac (dc)BA|(dc)de (fa)gf|(ed)cB A2 (Ad):| |:(c/B/A) eA (fA)eA|(c/B/A) eA (fe)dc|d2 fd (ad)fd|d2 fd afed| (c/B/A) eA (fA)eA|EFAc dcBA|dcde fagf|edcB A2 (Ad):|]
LADY CARBURY. AKA and see "Mason's Apron," "Mason Laddie (The)," "Miss Carbery's Reel," "Carton's Reel (1)," "Gallagher's Reel (1)," "Wake Up Susan (1)." Irish, Reel. A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. Originally a Scottish reel under several titles. See note for "Mason's Apron" for more on developments in that country. In nearby Ireland it was popular under an entirely different set of similar titles: “Carton's Reel (1),” “Miss Carbery's Reel,” "Miss Carbury," “Lady Carbry’s Fancy Reel” and “Lady Carbury,” all musically cognate with each other and unquestionably derived from “Mason's Apron.”
The origin of the “Carbury” titles is obscure. There were Irish peers called Lord/Lady Carbery, descended from a family originally from Wales who settled in the city of Limerick in the early 17th century. George Evans was created Baron Carbery of Carbery, County Cork, in 1715, with the title continuing eventually through to George Patrick Evans Freke, 6th Baron, in 1845. In the early 1850’s (when the Carbury/Carbery tune titles were first collected) Baroness Carbery, George’s widow, held land in the parishes of Athneasy, Kilbreedy Major, Uregare, baronies of Smallcounty, Coshma and Coshlea, county Limerick, and in the parish of Athnowen, barony of East Muskerry, county Cork. However, any connection between the various “Lady Carberys” and the tune is unknown. The “Lady Carbury” reel was obtained by Irish historian, writer and music collector P.W. Joyce (1827-1914) from Mr. M. Flanagan, “of the Hibernian Military School, Phoenix Park, Dublin, a good player of the Union pipes.” Flanagan learned to play the pipes in North Kildare, and perhaps “Lady Carbury” was part of the local repertoire, but that is speculation. The tune was present in the local repertoire of musicians from County Longford and Leitrim in the 19th century, finds Irish researcher Conor Ward, who finds it in the Leonard-Kernan MS (1844-c.1850) of Abbeyshrule, Co. Longford (as "Lady Carbry's Fancy Reel" ), the Patrick O’Farrell MS (c. 1860’s) of Aughadowry, Ballinamuck, Co. Longford (as “Lady Carbery's Reel”), the Stephen Grier MS (c. 1883) of Gortletteragh, County Leitrim (as “Miss Carbrey”), and the Larry Smyth MS (c. 1900) of Abbeylara, County Longford (as “Lady Carbrey”).
How curious that “Miss Carbery's Reel” appears in the music manuscript collection of ship’s fiddler William Litten, dating to his sea voyage to the East Indies during the years 1800 to 1802. There is very little known about Litten, his origins, or his playing, and his manuscript contains an eclectic mix of tunes from Ireland, England and Scotland. The handwritten collection was obtained by an American whaler who brought it back with him to his home on the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard. The ‘Carbury’ titles as a group do suggest that Irish musicians may have absorbed the melody independent of published collections and that it was in aural transmission on the island as an indigenous tune by the mid-19th century. Influential Piper Séamus Ennis (1919-1982) recorded the reel in 1948 as “Lady Carbury,” and, while his source is unidentified, he probably retrieved it from Joyce’s collection. “Carton's Reel (1)” is named by researcher Brendan Breathnach as an alternate title for “Mason's Apron,” albeit without further explanation (also citing a similarly un-sourced alternate title for the tune, “Gallagher's Reel (1)”).