Old Head of Denis (The)

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OLD HEAD OF DENIS, THE (Sean ceann doncad). AKA and see "Meeting of the Waters (1) (The)," "Helen," "Wild Geese (1) (The)." Irish, Air (6/8 time, "with feeling"). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. The melody was used by Thomas Moore for his text "The Meeting of the Waters" (Selection of Irish Melodies, 1808), but it also was the vehicle for a number of hymns and ballads, including "The Boys of Kilkenny" and cowboy songs such as "The Dreary Black Hills" and the Catskill Mountain (New York) collected "Rock Island Line" (Cazden, et al, 1982). William H. Grattan Flood (A History of Irish Music) notes that variant forms of the air, in addition to that used for Moore's song "Meeting of the Waters," appear as "Armstrong's Farewell," "Todlin' Hame," "My Name is Dick Kelly," "Bacah Buidhe (An)," and "Cána Draigeann éille (An)." He calls Edward Bunting's version (printed in Ancient Music of Ireland, 1840) "very corrupt," although Bunting noted it from the playing of harper Patrick Quin in 1803.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Clinton (Gems of Ireland: 200 Airs), 1841; No. 46, p. 23. P.M. Haverty (One Hundred Irish Airs vol. 1), 1858; No. 42, p. 17. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 526, p. 92.

Recorded sources:

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