Northern Road to Tralee (The)

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NORTHERN ROAD TO TRALEE, THE (Bóthar ó Thuaidh go Trágh-Lí (An)). AKA and see "Keep Your Feet Johnny," "Northern Road (The)," "Stir Thy Feet Johnny/Stir Your Feet Johnny." Irish; March, Jig, Slide, Air (6/8 time). Ireland, Co. Clare. E Flat Major/Mixolydian (Stanford/Petrie): D Major (O'Neill). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Stanford/Petrie): AAB (O'Neill/1915): AABB' (O'Neill/1850 & 1001). "An ancient Clare march" [Stanford/Petrie]. A variant can be found in the Stanford/Petrie collection under the title "Bóthar ó Thuaidh go Trágh-Lí (An) (No. 1318). A number of lyrics, often children's or nonsense songs, have been set to the melody. One set [1], from Fionán Mac Coluim (County Kerry), published in his Cosa buidhe árda do’n aos óg (Dublin, 1916), goes:

An bóthar ó thuaidh, an bóthar ó thuaidh,
An bóthar ó thuaidh chun Trá Lí.
An bóthar ó thuaidh 's an cóngar aduaidh
'S an bóthar ó thuaidh chun Trá Lí.

An bóthar ó thuaidh, ó thuaidh, ó thuaidh,
An bóthar ó thuaidh chun Trá Lí.
An bóthar ó thuaidh 's an cóngar aduaidh
'S an bóthar ó thuaidh chun Trá Lí.
Translation
The road north, the road north,
The road north to Tralee.
The road north and the short cut south
And the road north to Tralee.

The road north, north, north,
The road north to Tralee.
The road north and the short cut south
And the road north to Tralee.

There are also slide versions of the melody.

Chicago's Irish Music Club, c. 1903. Timothy Dillon is in the back row, fifth from left, standing next to Francis O'Neill.

Source for notated version: Chicago policeman and fiddler Timothy Dillon [O'Neill]. Dillon was born in 1846 in County Limerick.

Printed sources: O'Neill (O'Neill's Irish Music), 1915; No. 202, p. 109. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 1025, p. 191. O'Neill (Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems), 1907; No. 396. Stanford/Petrie (Complete Collection), 1905; No. 448, p. 113.

Recorded sources: Denis Liddy and Elvie Miller - "Tradaree" (2011).

See also listing at:
Hear the song sung by Fionán Mac Coluim at The Doegen Records Web Project [2], where there are also excellent notes on the song and tune.




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