X:1 T:Poltogue Jigg, The M:9/8 L:1/8 R:Jig O:Irish B:John Pringle – A Collection of Reels, Strathspeys & Jigs (1801, p. 16) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:C G3 (GF).E (GF).E|G3 (GF).E (AB).c|G3 (GF).E (GF).E| (AB).c (BA).^G (AB).c::~c2e gec (BA).G|~c2e gec (ef).g| ~c2e (gf).e (dc).B|(AB).c (BA).^G (AB).c::~E2 c (cG).E (cG).E| TE(FE) (cG).E (AB).c|~E2c (cG).E (cG).E|(AB).c (BA).^G (AB).c:|]
POLTHOGUE (JIG). AKA – “Pothogue Jig.” AKA and see "Humors of Ballymanus," "Jig Polthogue," “Newton Lasses,” "Pilib McCue," "Teague's Ramble." Irish, Slip Jig. C Major (Kerry, Coly/Ryan); D Major (Kennedy, Levey). Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB (Levey): AABB (Kerr): AABBCC (Cole, Kennedy, Ryan). A polthogue means a 'blow', as from a brawny fist: fighter Gene Tunney said of another heavyweight champion, Rocky Marciano, in 1952, “Like Jeffries, Marciano has the wallop to lay a man out with a single polthogue.” This jig was mentioned in an account of one of the old pipers of County Louth, a man named Cassidy, as recorded by William Carleton in his Tales and Sketches of the Irish Peasantry, published in 1845. Breathnach (1997) believes the first name of this piper was Dan, and that he was blind. Carleton, born in 1794, was a dancing master who taught in the 1820’s, and was engaged to teach the children of the ‘dreadful’ Mrs. Murphy. It seems that Carleton:
...having spent several nights at piper Cassidy’s house weighing up the local dancers …was impelled by vanity to show them how good a dancer he was himself. He asked one of the handsomest girls out on the floor, and, in accordance with the usual form, faced her towards the piper, asking her to name the tune she wished to dance to. Receiving the customary reply, ‘Sir, your will is my pleasure,’ Carleton called for the jig Polthogue. He next danced Miss McLeod’s Reel with his partner, and then called for a hornpipe, a single dance, this is, one done without a partner. It was considered unladylike for girls to do a hornpipe. The College Hornpipe was his choice for this dance. .. . (p. 59)
Carleton again mentions the tune in his Amusing Irish Tales (Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., London), published in the mid-19th century. Here he talks about Buckram-Back, the country dancing master:: The Irish dancing-masters were eternally at daggers-drawn among themselves; but as they seldom met, they were forced to abuse each other at a distance, which they did with a virulence and scurrility proportioned to the space between them. Buckram-Back had a rival of this description, who was a sore thorn in his side. His name was Paddy Fitzpatrick, and from having been a horse-jockey, he gave up the turf, and took to the calling of a dancing-master. Buckram-Back sent a message to him to the effect that "if he could not dance Jig Polthogue, on the drum-head, he had better hould his tongue for ever." To this Paddy replied, by asking if he was the man to dance the Connaught Jockey upon the saddle of a blood horse, and the animal at a three-quarter gallop.
The title is among those mentioned in Patrick J. McCall’s 1861 poem “The Dance at Marley,” the first three stanzas of which goes: :
Murtagh Murphy’s barn was full to the door when the eve grew dull,
For Phelim Moore his beautiful new pipes had brought to charm them;
In the kitchen thronged the girls - cheeks of roses, teeth of pearls -
Admiring bows and braids and curls, till Phelim’s notes alarm them.
Quick each maid her hat and shawl hung on dresser, bed, or wall,
Smoothed down her hair and smiled on all as she the bawnoge entered,
Where a shass of straw was laid on a ladder raised that made
A seat for them as still they stayed while dancers by them cantered.
Murtagh and his vanithee had their chairs brought in to see
The heels and toes go fast and free, and fun and love and laughter;
In their sconces all alight shone the tallow candles bright -
The flames kept jigging all the night, upleaping to each rafter!
The pipes, with noisy drumming sound, the lovers’ whispering sadly drowned,
So the couples took their ground - their hearts already dancing!
Merrily, with toe and heel, airily in jig and reel,
Fast in and out they whirl and wheel, all capering and prancing.
“Off She Goes,” “The Rocky Road,” “The Tipsy House,” and “Miss McLeod,”
“The Devil’s Dream,” and “Jig Polthogue,” “The Wind that Shakes the Barley,”
“The First o’May,” “The Garran Bwee,” “Tatther Jack Welsh,” “The River Lee,” -
As lapping breakers from the sea the myriad tunes at Marley!
Reels of three and reels of four, hornpipes and jigs galore,
With singles, doubles held the floor in turn, without a bar low;
But when the fun and courting lulled, and the dancing somewhat dulled,
The door unhinged, the boys down pulled for “Follow me up to Carlow.”