Piper's Chair (The)

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PIPER'S CHAIR, THE (Cathaoir an Phíobáire). AKA and see “Catholic Boys (1)," "Silver and Gold.” Irish, Double Jig. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The tune is played as a double jig and as a song air. It was named after the sometimes practice of leaving an empty chair at local musicians' gatherings to represent a noted player who passed away. The Piper’s Chair is also the name of a stone that is a natural chair located in a field in Luogh North, Doolin, County Clare, near the Cliffs of Moher. It is said that in times gone by a piper used to sit and play for tourists. The tune is particularly associated with musicians from the Doolin, County Clare, area. Caoimhin Mac Aoidh remembers that Doolin musician Packie Russell used to be very fond of playing there on warm summer days, and Séamus Ennis collected the tune from the lilting of Paddy Killoughery during a 1948 trip to the area. Tin whistle player Micho Russell had his photograph taken playing while seated on the Piper's Chair (see photographer Jill Freedman, A time that was: Irish moments, 1987). Russell also said that dances were held in the field where the rock was located, with the musician seated on the rock.

See note for “Catholic Boys (1)," by which name it appears in Petrie's collection. "Leg of the Duck (2)" (sometimes "The Duck's Leg") shares a similar first strain with "The Piper's Chair." A version of the tune was entered into the large mid-19th century music manuscript of County Cork cleric and uilleann piper Canon James Goodman under the title "Silver and Gold."

Sources for notated versions: Rod Miller (Antrim, N.H.) [Miller & Perron]; accordion player Sonny Brogan (County Sligo/Dublin), who had the tune from piper Willie Clancy [Breathnach].

Printed sources: Breathnach (CRÉ I), 1963; No. 9, p. 6. Miller & Perron (Irish Traditional Fiddle Music vol. 2), 1977; No. 1. Miller & Perron (Irish Traditional Fiddle Music), 2nd Edition, 2006; p. 32. Mulvihill (1st Collection), 1986; No. 57, p. 77. O’Neill (Music of Ireland), 1903; No. 18 (air setting).

Recorded sources: Ginger Jam Music, Mary Custy & Eoin O'Neill with Miko Russell - "With a Lot of Help from Their Friends" (1991). Major Minor Records, The Dubliners - "At it Again" (1968). Outlet SOLP 1010, Na Filí - "Farewell to Connacht" (1971). Shanachie 79033, Paddy Maloney & Sean Potts - “Tin Whistles.”

See also listings at:
Jane Keefer’s Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Alan Ng’s Irishtune.info [2]
Hear Treasa McCannon playing the tune on accordion in 1972 at the Comhaltas Archive [3]

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