My Former Wife

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MY FORMER WIFE ("An Bean Do Bi/Be Ceana/Ceadna Agam," "An bheann do bhi cheana againn," or "An bean do bi an tan agam"). AKA and see "Bantry Bay (Jig)," "Jackson's Coggie," "Jackson's Coggie in the Morning," "Jackson's Couge in the Morning." Irish, Double Jig. A Dorian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The tune was introduced to Chicago traditional musicians by uilleann piper Bernard Delaney in the late 19th century, wrote Chief Francis O'Neill, although he had sourced it to South Leitrim piper (and Chicago police sergeant) James Early in his first publication, Music of Ireland (1903). Chief O'Neill remembered: "The sudden popularity which ("My Former Wife") achieved became a source of no little embarrassment to its sponsor. It was one of the 'pet' jigs which he liked to play at public entertainments. When (Leitrim-born James) Early and (County Mayo-born John) McFadden (a famous Chicago pipe/fiddle duo) happened to be on the same programme and came on the stage ahead of Delaney, the mischievous pair never failed to play his favorite tune" (Irish Folk Music, p. 96). Piper Delaney (who was also O'Neill's brother-in-law) was described by O'Neill as "capable of craning or playing the Connaught staccato system of execution, the free and rolling style with a liberal sprinkling of graces and trills was his favourite." The range of the tune (to a high 'c' natural) helps it to stand out in the repertoire, and the flute-playing O'Neill must have thought it an important tune to include it in three of his collections. Another Chicago-based piper from the same era, Patsy Touhey, recorded the melody in 1919.

Bernard Delaney

Source for notated version: Chicago piper Bernard Delaney [O'Neill].

Printed sources: O'Neill (O'Neill's Irish Music), 1915; No. 150, p. 85. O'Neill (Krassen), 1976; p. 33. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 849, p. 158. O'Neill (Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems), 1907; No. 110, p. 33.

Recorded sources: Compass Records 7 4446 2,Oisíin McAuley - "From the Hills of Donegal" (2007). Drumlin Records, Brain McNamara - "A Piper's Dream." Na Píobairí Uilleann NPU CD 001, "The Piping of Patsy Touhey" (2005). Colm Gannon, Jesse Smith and John Blake - "The Ewe with the Crooked Horn."

See also listings at:
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [1]
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]
Hear the 1919 recording by piper player Tom Ennis at the Internet Archive [3]
Hear a very old cylinder recording by Chicago piper James Early and fiddler Billy McCormick (the latter all but inaudible) at Ross's Music Page [4]
See the tune in the Dunn Family manuscript collection [5]




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