Maidrín Rua (An)

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MAIDRIN RUA(DH), AN (The Little Red Fox). Irish, Air (2/4 time). E Flat Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). ABB. A macronic song, with verses in both Irish and English. The earliest known printing of the tune is in Robert A. Smith's Irish Minstrel of 1828 set to a text by James Hogg called "There's Gows in the Breast." Thomas Moore used the melody for his song "Let Erin Remember the Days of Old." "Maidrin Ruadh" was recorded early in the century from the playing of blind Uilleann piper Michael O'Sullivan, of Castlecove, Kenmare Bay, Kerry, who emigrated to America while a young man and located at Worcester, Mass. O'Sullivan, however, was an exceedingly superstitious and simple individual, and, after playing some of his best tunes into the phonograph, "a scowl instead of a smile overspread his handsome features when he heard the machine reproduce the tunes. Evidently regarding this as another instance of the devil's handiwork, he aimed several whacks of his cane at the enchanted box before he could be restrained" (O'Neill, 1913). The air retains some currency among traditional musicians today, especially after Mary O'Hara's influential recording of it in the 1960's. It is related to part of the old pipers' and fiddlers' showcase "The Fox Hunt."

Source for notated version: the index to the Irish collector Edward Bunting's 1840 collection gives the Irish collector "G. Petrie, Esq., London 1839" as the source.

Printed sources: Hannagan (Londubh an Chairn), No. 28. O'Sullivan/Bunting, 1983; No. 129, p. 187. Walsh (Ceol Ar Sínsear), p. 41.

Recorded sources:




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