Maggie Pickens

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MAGGIE PICKENS/PICKIE/PIGGY. AKA and see "Hen and all Her Broth (The)," "Lea Rig (The)," "Lea Rigges (The)," "Whistle o'er," "Whistle Over the Lave O't/Whistle O'er the Lave O't," "Whole Chicken in the Soup (The)." Irish, Set Dance (2/4 time, though note in Allan's Irish Fiddler says "Single Jig Time"), Fling or Highland. Ireland, County Donegal. A Major (McDermott, Sullivan): G Major (Tubridy). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Tubridy): ABB' (McDermott): AABB' (Sullivan). Flood (1906) identifies "Maggie Pickens" as a Donegal pipe-melody popular in the late 17th century. He asserts it was "cribbed" by the Scotch between the years 1715 and 1740 and adapted to a song called "Whistle o'er the lave o't"--"so indelicate that it had to be rewritten by Robert Burns in 1790." Other writers believe the Scottish tune is the original, and "Maggie" is the derivative. Supporting this viewpoint, Caoimhin Mac Aoidh (1994) states that older Donegal players believed it to be of Scottish origin arising from the "Whistle" tune, and he himself doubts the veracity of Flood's assertion for Donegal provenance. Teelin, County Donegal, fiddler Con Cassidy remembers playing "Maggie Pickie" for dances when he was young:

...oh, they had their special reels. I once saw two people dance the 'Maggie Pickie'--the tongs would be laid out on the floor and opened out a bit. The dancer could go right over it and the secret was not to touch the tongs at all. It was wonderful how it could be done.

A simplified and somewhat distanced version of the melody was used by the Irish Volunteers (presumably those in the rebellion of 1798) as a marching tune (see "Nancy Wants Her Own Share"). Reg Hall (1995) describes "Maggie Pickens" as an Ulster country-house couple dance, as well as a tune. Donegal fiddler Vincent Campbell also remembered the dance, described as a set dance and hornpipe, from house-dances in kitchens when he was young (Blooming Meadows, 1998, p. 49), as did Con Cassidy who recalled it danced around tongs laid out in front of the fire. Kevin Danaher and Sean Ó hEochaidh recorded Donegal fiddler Mickey Doherty playing it in 1949 to Conall Mac an Luain's dancing. In the 78 RPM era, "Maggie Pickens" was recorded in 1928 by the Four Provinces Orchestra. In modern times it has been one of the most common Highlands played in Ireland (Caoimhin Mac Aoidh). Variants are "Lucy Farr's Fling" and the single jig "Whole Chicken in the Soup (The)." Hugh & Lisa Shield see similarity between some versions of "Maggie Pickens" and Canon James Goodman's "Maggie Tripping on the Shore."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: McDermott (Allan's Irish Fiddler), c. 1920's; No. 114, p. 29. Sullivan (Session Tunes) , vol. 3; No. 23, p. 9. Tubridy (Irish Traditional Music, Book Two), 1999; p. 11.

Recorded sources: 3 SCONES 2008, Dermy Diamond, Tara Diamond, Dáithí Sproule - "Seanchairde/Old Friends" (2009). Green Linnet SIF 3010, Kevin Burke - "Promenade" Topic TSCD 602, The Four Provinces Orchestra - "Irish Dance Music" (1995. A reissue of the original 1928 recording).

See also listings at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [2]




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