Back to Limerick's Lamentation
LIMERICK'S LAMENTATION. AKA - "Lament for Limerick." AKA and see "Clothier's March," "Farewell to My Jean," "Irish Lamentation," "King James' March to Ireland," "King James' March to Limerick," "Lochaber No More," "Marbhna Luimní," "Orange and Green (3)," "Reeves Maggot." Irish, Slow Air (3/2 or 3/4 time). A Mixolydian: A Major: G Major (Neal, Thompson, Wright). Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB (Johnson): AABB (O'Neill, Sullivan). See the related "Lochaber No More," a Scottish lament. The melodies may have had a common ancestry, although provenance is claimed by both Ireland and Scotland. Robin Morton (1976) says the weight of evidence lends credence to the Scots claim, despite Francis O'Neill's seemingly cogent argument that a tune composed by the 17th century County Cavan harper Myles O'Reilly was the common ancestor of both (the esteemed harper Thomas Connellon has also been given credit for the tune). The air is still associated with the playing of harper O'Reilly, born in 1696. O'Neill (1922) himself says: "As far back as 1676, this melody was referred to as 'The Irish Tune'". O'Neill is referring to its appearance and identification as an Irish tune in New Poems, Songs, Prologues and Epilogues never before printed by Thomas Duffet, and set by the most eminent musicians about the Town (London, 1676). The earliest printings of a setting with title of "Limerick's Lamentation" ("Limbrick's Lamentation") was in John & Willian Neal's (Dublin, 1724) and Daniel Wright's (London, 1727) collections. Compare this setting with that published by McCullough (Collection of Irish Airs, 1821, tune #13)." Wright's version was communicated by "Mr. Dermt. O'Connor, of Limerick." Sanger & Kinnaird (Tree of Strings, 1992) identify source O'Connor as a scribe employed to copy manuscripts of Irish poetry in London in 1720 by a successful Irish lawyer named Maurice O'Connor. An almost identical setting was printed in The Hibernian Muse, published by S.A. & P. Thompson, London, 1787. Sanger & Kinnaird state that a variant of the Aria di Camera tune can be found in the Wighton Collection of English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh Airs published about 1735 (according to Alfred Moffat), where it appears under the title "Irish Lamentation." Another setting appears in Playford's Dancing Master of 1703 as "Reeves Maggot," although this version has been called "much mutilated."
The Irish version, "Marbhna Luimní," derives its title from the siege and fall of the city of Limerick to the English forces of Ginkel in 1691, at the end of the Williamite Wars. The tune is sometimes known as "Sarsfield's Lamentation" from the name of the commander of the Irish forces at Limerick. Flood also dates the melody in Ireland to the year 1691 (Flood, 1906, p. 173), when the Irish were defeated by the forces of the English monarch William of Orange. Thomas Duffet's lyrics (which had originally been set to "Fortune My Foe") "Since Coelia's My Foe" were translated from Gaelic in 1720 by Dermot O'Conor and adapted to this tune in 1730. The melody also appears in John & William Neales' Collection of the Most Celebrated Irish Tunes (Dublin, 1742, a recent revision of the date based on watermarks-see appendix to 2001 edition of O'Sullivan's Carolan: The Life, Times and Music of an Irish Harper), the first real collection of exclusively Irish folk music (Ó Canainn, 1978), and was printed by Thompson in his Hibernian Muse of 1786 (London). It appears in Edward Bunting's The Ancient Music of Ireland (1840). The air has regained some popularity among traditional musicians in the latter 20th century. O'Sullivan (1929) remarks that there is still some controversy about whether the melody is Irish or Scots in origin, however, O'Neill (1913) maintains that the air was played by the pipers of the "Wild Geese," those Irish regiments who fled to France rather than surrender to the English. The melody continued to be played in Irish encampments on the continent, and in 1746 was taught, maintains O'Neill, by one Colonel Fitzgerald to musicians in the Scottish camp before the battle of Culloden. In O'Neill's version, it entered Scottish tradition from this time, though preserved under the title "Lochaber No More."
The first sound recording of "Limerick's Lamentation" was by Sean O'Riada and Ceoltoiri Cualainn in the early 1960's. A version of the tune appears in the large mid-19th century music manuscript collection of County Cork cleric and uilleann piper Canon James Goodman (vol. 3, p. 102) as "Orange and Green (3)," where it was identified as a 'minuet'.
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Johnson (The Kitchen Musician No. 5: Mostly Irish Airs), 1985 (revised 2000); p. 17. Alfred Moffat (The Minstrelsy of Ireland), 1898; p. 352. Neal (Collection of the Most Celebrated Irish Tunes), Dublin 1724; p. 5. O'Neill (Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody), 1922. Songs and Tunes of the Boys of the Lough, 1977; p. 23. Sullivan (Session Tunes, vol. 2); No. 53, p. 23. Samuel, Anne & Peter Thompson (The Hibernian Muse), London, 1787; No. 99, p. 62. Daniel Wright (Aria di Camera), London, 1727; No. 54.
Recorded sources: Capelhouse Records, James Kelly - "Traditional Irish Music" (1996). Green Linnett GLCD 1181, Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill - "The Lonesome Touch" (1997. Appears as "Lament for Limerick"). Island ILPS 9501, "The Chieftains Live" (1977). Philo 1042, Boys of the Lough - "The Piper's Broken Finger" (1976). RCA 09026-61490-2, The Chieftains - "The Celtic Harp: A Tribute to Edward Bunting" (1993). Shanachie 97011, Duck Baker - "Irish Reels, Jigs, Airs and Hornpipes" (1990. Learned from a recording by Sean O'Riada). Transatlantic TRA 311, Boys of the Lough - "The Piper's Broken Finger."