Lannigan's Ball

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A 19th c. single songsheet of "Lannigan's Ball" (Irish Traditional Music Archive)

LAN(N)IGAN'S BALL (Feis-Rince Ui Lannagain). AKA - "Lannegan's Ball." AKA and see "At the Side of the Road," "Flannigan" (Pa.), "When I was a young man." Irish (originally), American; Double Jig. USA; New England, Maine, southwestern Pa. E Minor/Dorian (most versions): D Minor (Welling). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Howe): AABB (most versions). The title "Lannigan's Ball" [1] comes from the comic song by one George or D.K. Gavan set to music by John Candy, according to a note in J. Diprose's songster of 1865 (Cazden, et al, 1982). The song appears in several publications of the 1860's and later decades, and appears to be the most wide-spread of this stage-tune genre. Bayard (1981) gives extensive notes on this tune, which he asserts is part of "a British traditional tune-family of widely varying developments and of probable considerable antiquity." He likens this tune family to a family of languages and their cross-currents of relationships of elements, forms, and structures. This family may or may not have developed from a single air. He divides many of the variant airs in this family into groups of related versions, of which the "Lannigan's Ball" tunes resemble all the others in one or more ways. The tune groups are 1) "Lannigan's Ball" (including "Dribbles of Brandy," "Young Francis Mooney," and two untitled jigs in Joyce's 1909 collection {Nos. 824 & 837}). 2) "Lumps of Pudding," which dates from the 17th century (including "Contentment is Wealth," "I'm Content With My Lot" {Ta Me Sasta lem' Staid}, and "Day after the Fair"). 3) "Bung Your Eye" (including "Off to the Hunt," "Antrim Lasses (The)," "Tatter Jack," "Boys of Carrigallen (The)," "Mount Your Baggage (1)," and "Bonnie Strathmore"). 4) "Kitty Alone". 5) "O as I was kiss'd yestreen (1)" (including "House o' Duncan," "My Love is Lost to Me"). 6) "Muirland Willie" (including "Northern Lass (1) (The)," "Auld Maid of Fife," "Shepherd's Wife (2) (The)," "My Boy Tammy" and "Forty Miles" {In Bayard's 1944 collection he thought "Forty Miles" was similar to "Lannigan's Ball," but in his 1981 collection he reconsidered it as a version of "Muirland Willie"}). "At the Side of the Road" is given as an alternate title in O'Neill's Dance Music of Ireland (1907), while a set dance, "Hurry the Jug (1)," appears to be an earlier form. Mulvihill (1986) gives the tune as an alternate for the dance The Bridge of Athlone. There was a céilí dance called Lannigan's Ball that was once quite popular.

The title appears in a repertoire list of Maine fiddler Mellie Dunham (who also recorded it on 78 RPM as part of a medley). The elderly Dunham was Henry Ford's champion fiddler in the mid-1920's.

Sources for notated versions: Eben Patterson (elderly fiddler from Allegheny County, Pa., 1930's); Walter Neal (Armstrong County, Pa., 1952); Fred Miller & Glenn Gelnette (Jefferson County, Pa., 1949); Hoge MS (Pa., 1944) [Bayard]; Winston Fitzgerald (1914-1987, Cape Breton) [Cranford].

Printed sources: Bayard (Dance to the Fiddle), 1981; No. 541A-D, pp. 481-484. Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; p. 68. Cranford (Winston Fitzgerald: A Collection of Fiddle Tunes), 1997; No. 194, p. 76. Giblin (Collection of Traditional Irish Dance Music), 1928; 74. Howe (Musician's Omnibus, No. 3), 1865; p. 221. Jarman (Old Time Fiddlin' Tunes); No. or p. 17. S. Johnson (Kitchen Musician No. 6: Jigs), 1982 (revised 1989, 2001); p. 10. Kennedy (Fiddler's Tune-Book, vol. 2), 1954; p. 43. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 1), c. 1880's; No. 9, p. 36. Mallinson (100 Essential), 1995; No. 88, p. 38. Miller & Perron (New England Fiddler's Repertoire), 1983; No. 45. Mulvihill (1st Collection), 1986; No. 20, p. 123. O'Lochlainn (Irish Street Ballands), 1939; No. 52. O'Neill (Krassen), 1976; p. 34. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 858, p. 159. O'Neill (Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems), 1907; No. 118, p. 35. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 104. Roche (Collection of Traditional Irish Music, vol. 1), 1912; No. 105, p. 45. Ryan's Mammoth Collection, 1883; p. 99. Spaeth (Weep Some More, My Lady), 1927; p. 222. Tubridy (Irish Traditional Music, vol. 2), 1999; p. 29. Welling (Welling's Hartford Tunebook), 1976; p. 22. White's Excelsior Collection, 1907; p. 10. White's Unique Collection, 1896; No. 16, p. 3.

Recorded sources: Folkways 8826, Per's Four – "Jigs and Reels." Topic TSCD 602, The Flanagan Brothers – "Irish Dance Music" (1995. A reissue of the 1923 original). Victor 20537 (78 RPM), Mellie Dunham (appears as one of tunes in "Medley of Reels"), 1926.

See also listings at:
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recording Index [2]
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [3]
Alan Ng's [4]
Hear the Flanagan Brothers' recording at the Comhaltas Archives [5]

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