My Name is Dick Kelly

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MY NAME IS DICK KELLY. Irish, Air (6/8 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. An Irish air dating to the 17th century, if the sometimes unreliable Irish musicologist Grattan Flood is to be believed. The melody is a version and antecedent of the what is known in America as the "Drunken Hiccups (1)" family of tunes, which includes "Rye Whiskey (1)," "Jack of Diamonds (3)," "Wagoner's Lad (The)," "Clinch Mountain," "Cuckoo (5) (The)," and others. In Scotland, where the melody also has a long history, the melody goes by the titles "Johnny Armstrong," "Robi Donadh Gorrach," and "Toddlin' Hame/Todlin' Hame," among others, as outlined in Alfred Moffat's remarks on the tune:

[The air is] From the [Thomas Moore's] Melodies No. 1, 1807; the air is there designated "The Old Head of Denis." On p. 36 of the Ancient Music of Ireland, Dr. Petrie gives an air in 9-8 time obtained from the singing of a peasant woman in 1837, in the county of Sligo, and which he considers to be the original form of Moore's air. I cannot see the slightest reason to agree with Dr. Petrie ; "The Head of Old Denis" is a setting of probably the oldest of our folk-tunes which has been common to Ireland and Scotland for many centuries; its versions are countless, and those who are fortunate enough to possess James Oswalds Caledonian Companion, 12 bks.. 1743-1764, may turn up the following tunes, all of which are different forms of the air in question : "Earl Douglas' Lament," bk. vii., " Carronside," bk. viii.. "Lude's Lament" and "Armstrong's Farewell," bk. ix., "Rennet s Dream, bk. x. Also " Robi donna gorach " in Neil Gow's Collection of Strathspeys, 1784, " Todlen Hame " in Johnson's Scots Museum, vol. ill., 1790, "My name is Dick Kelly" in Murphy's Irish Airs, 1809, and "The Lame Yellow Beggar" (erroneously stated to be the composition of O'Cahen) in Bunting's Collection, 1840, are all forms of the same tune.

Grattan Flood also writes about the origins of the air:

The flight of the Wild Geese in 1691 and 1692 afforded a theme for a really exquisite song, known as "Na Geadna Fiadaine" which Tom Moore amusingly equates as "Gage Fane," and to which he set "The Origin of the Harp," commencing, "'Tis believed that this harp which I wake now for thee." Both Glover and Mr. Alfred Moffat persist in calling it "Gage Fane," oblivious of the real Irish name, for which Holden, in 1806, was primarily responsible. This exquisite song, printed in 1745, became popular in 1772 when republished in M'Lean's Collection as "Old Ireland, Rejoice," and was a favourite with Tom Moore. Dr. Madden tells us that Moore's lyric was suggested by a visit which the modern bard of Erin paid to Edward Hudson, one of the State prisoners in Kilmainham Jail, in March, 1799, and it was printed in the third number of the Melodies in 1810. Not even Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, in his "restored" edition of Moore's Melodies, has any comment on the absurd title—"Gage Fane." However, the correct title is "Na Géadna Fiadaine," or "The Wild Geese," commemorative of the thousands of Irish who fled to France and Spain after the Treaty of Limerick. Variant forms of the air appear as "Armstrong's Farewell," "The Old Head of Denis," "The Meeting of the Waters," "Todlin' Hame," "My name is Dick Kelly," "An bacac buide," and "An Cána Draigeann éille." Bunting's setting was not published till 1840, and it is very corrupt, though he says that it is the version played by Patrick Quin in 1803.[4] The antiquity of the melody may be guessed from the fact that as far back as the year 1670, John Fitzgerald, son of the Knight of Glin, wrote a song to this air.


Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Murphy (Irish Airs and Jigs), 1809; p. 38.

Recorded sources:




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