Little Celia Connellan

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X:1 T:Little Celia O'Connellan [1] S:Hugh O'Beirne, piper, 1846, Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim, via collector William Forde M:C L:1/8 R:Slow Air B:Joyce - Old Irish Music and Folk Songs (1909, No. 586) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:Ddor AG|A2 de f2e2|d3f edcB|A3G E2D2|EGAB c2 AG| A2 de f2e2|d3c A2G2|F3A GEDE|D2 DE F2|| fe|dcAd cAAG|F3A GEDE|D3F E2 DC|D2E2F2 DE| FDFG Acde|f3d edcA|{A}d3c AGED|E2D2D2||



LITTLE CELIA CONNELLAN (Sile bheag Ni Chonnalain). AKA - "Sheala Ni Chonallain," "Sheela beg Ni Chonallain," "Celia Connellan," "Little Mary Cullinan." Irish, Slow Air (4/4 or 2/4 time). D Dorian (Joyce): F Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Joyce). There are several versions of this once-popular Irish song, composed by the great Sligo harper Thomas Connallon, in either 1650 or 1660. "[The Irish collector William] Forde took a setting from [piper] Hugh O'Beirne and another from Paddy Conneely (p. 254). I give these two settings here, as they differ considerably from Bunting's two: notably they are plainer and less interrupted by instrumental ornaments and variations...I think it likely that these two versions from two skilled native players of (the composer Thomas) O'Connallon's neighbourhood better represent his original composition than Bunting's do. There is a simple and very pretty Irish song to tis air (Sighile Bheag ni Choindealbhain: Edw. Walsh, Irish Popular Songs, p. 94: Hardiman's Ir. Minstr. I. 220), which sings smoothly to the two versions of the air given here. But Bunting's two settings are so complicated --especially the first--that it is impossible to sing the words to them" (P.W. Joyce, 1909). Bunting's 1st version is probably a harp rather than vocal version. See also O'Neill's "Celia Connellan" (Bunting version).


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - the first version in Joyce was transcribed by collector William Forde (1795-1850) in 1846 from Hugh O'Beirne, professional piper[1] (Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim); Bunting noted his from harper Arthur O'Neill in 1792, according the the index of his 1840 collection.

Printed sources : - Joyce (Old Irish Folk Music and Songs), 1909; No. 586, p. 306. O'Sullivan/Bunting, 1983; No. 49, pp. 78-79.






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  1. P.W. Joyce concluded that O'Beirne had been a fiddler in his Old Irish Folk Music and Songs (1909, p. 296). However, William Forde, the only collector who had direct contact with O'Beirne, wrote in a letter to John Windele of Cork, dated Sept. 21, 1846, that he had obtained over 150 airs from a piper, Huge Beirne. Forde was seeking to supplement his collection with music from Connaught and the north, and was glad to make the musician's acquaintance, staying on in Ballinamore longer than he originally planned. He also found O'Beirne in poor health in the time of Great Famine, writing "Stirabout and bad potatoes were working fatally on a sinking frame," and aided the piper by improving his diet ("but a mutton chop twice a day has changed Hugh's face wonderfully").