Nervous Man (The)

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NERVOUS MAN, THE. Irish, Reel. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. One of the better-known compositions attributed to Nenagh, County Tipperary, fiddler and accordion player Paddy O'Brien [1] (1922–1991). "The Nervous Man" (according to O'Brien's The Compositions of Paddy O'Brien, 1992) was accordion player Willie Fogarty, a pupil of O'Brien's, who later won three All-Ireland championships, one for the Sr. accordion, another for duet playing (with O'Brien's daughter, fiddler Eileen O'Brien), and a third for trio playing (O'Brien, Fogarty and flute player Michael Harty). Fogarty was also a member, along with Paddy O'Brien, of the Ormond Ceili Band, who also won several All-Ireland titles.

Paddy O'Brien

However, the reel bears a striking similarity in the first strain to a reel composed by O'Brien's first cousin, Seán Ryan, called "Bill McEvoy's (1)" or "Bill McEvoy's No. 1." Ryan's tune was published, sans title, in the periodical Treoir in Sept./Oct 1971, transcribed from the playing of concertina player Sonny Murray (Ennis, Co. Clare).[Information supplied by (Rev.) John Quinn in a personal communication, who also writes: "I have a similar version, again untitled, in an undated manuscript from among the papers of the Reilly family, possibly in Micheál Reilly’s handwriting, more than likely from the 1970s, but not copied from the version in Treoir."]

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: O'Brien (The Compositions of Paddy O'Brien), 1992; p. 40. O'Brien (The Definitive Collection of the Music of Paddy O’Brien 1922–1991), 2009; p. 85.

Recorded sources: Nimbus NI 5350, Liz Carroll & Billy McComiskey - "Dear Old Erin's Isle: Irish Traditional Music from America" (1992).

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