Merry Old Woman (1) (The)

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MERRY OLD WOMAN [1] (An Sean Bean Sultmar). AKA and see "Ballai Lios Chearbhaill," "Boys of New York (The)," "Mouse in the Cupboard (The)," "Rakes of Newcastle West (The)," "Repeal of the Union (2)," "Tumble the Tinker," "Walls of Enniscorthy," "Walls of Liscarroll (2)," "Wollop the Potlid (1)." Irish, Double Jig (6/8 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB (Cranitch, O'Neill/1915): AABB (Roche): AABB' (O'Neill/Krassen & 1001). Irish collector P.W. Joyce [1] (1827-1914) printed the tune as "Rakes of Newcastle West (The)," although Francis O'Neill points out it is a "much simpler setting" than his. "The Merry Old Woman" is probably O'Neill's title, for in Irish Folk Music (1910, p. 100) he says:

None of our best performers had any name for this favorite jig, so it could not be permitted to remain nameless any longer. By dint of persistent investigation we eventually learned that it was known as 'Walls of Enniscorthy.' Few double jigs equal it. None excel it, and I'm inclined to believe that it is one of "Old Man" Quinn's tunes preserved to us by Sergeant Early.

Early recordings of the tune are by Frank Lee's Tara Ceilidh Band, who consisted of Frank Lee (piano), possibly Richie Tarrant (fiddle), possibly Paddy Tarrant (fiddle), probably Joe Hann (piccolo), possibly Bill Smith (drums), recorded in Hayes, Middlesex, September 1932.

O'Neill also was sent a portion of the 1890's music manuscript collection of London dancing master Patrick Reidy, originally from Castle Island, Co. Kerry, who was employed by the Gaelic League in that city to provide instruction on Irish dancing. It contains a tune called "Boys of New York (The)" which is a version of "The Merry Old Woman," and is so identified by a penciled remark (possibly in O'Neill's own hand) on the MS page. Reidy attributed the tune to Daniel Kelleher of Clonogh, Castle Island, Kerry. See also the related "Scully Casey's Jig (3)."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Cranitch (Irish Fiddle Book), 1996; No. 10, p. 128. O'Neill (O'Neill's Irish Music), 1915; No. 172, p. 95. O'Neill (Krassen), 1976; p. 24. O'Neill (Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems), 1907; No. 72, p. 28. Roche (Collection of Traditional Irish Music vol. 1); 1912; No. 80, p. 37 (appears as "Repeal of the Union" 1st Setting).

Recorded sources: Topic TSCD 602, Frank Lee's Tara Ceilidh Band - "Irish Dance Music" (1995. A reissue of the original 1932 recording).

See also listing at:
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [2]
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [3]




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