Port Athol (2)

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PORT ATHOL [2]. AKA and see "Hawk of Ballyshannon (The)," "Mr. Creagh's Irish Tune," "Mrs. O'Donnel," "O'Moore's Fair Daughter," "Seabhan na hÉirne." Scottish, Air (whole time). G Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. Originally composed for a patron by early 17th century Ulster-born harper Rory Dall O'Cahan, who traveled into Scotland and long toured, playing to the great families of that country. Francis O’Neill says he was born c. 1646, though he is also recorded as having died around 1650. Atholl is in central Perthshire.

Versions, variants and adaptations of the tune are numerous. Several (four) early versions of the melody appear in the Balcarres Lute Manuscript, compiled in 1692-1694, and the tune appears to have been well-known by lutenists of the era. The blind Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1738) 'touched' "Port Athol" into his piece he called "O'Moore's Daughter" (Grattan-Flood, 1906). The air was collected and printed by Belfast musician and collector Edward Bunting (1773-1843) as "Seabhac/Seabhan na hÉirne", whose informants (including the elderly harper Arthur O'Neill) attributed the composition originally to Rory Dall O'Kane and subsequently used by Carolan for his song. Burke Thumoth printed the tune in London as "Mr. Creagh's Irish Tune," and Dublin publisher Lee printed a version under the title "Mrs. O'Donnel.

(Forde mss: Port Atholl; The Native Music of Ireland (1841): Conchabhar ua Raghallaigh.)

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