Rakish Highlander (The)

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RAKISH HIGHLANDER, THE. AKA and see “Mountain Lark (3) (The)." Scottish, Irish; Reel. E Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. The identification of a 'Scottish' provenance seems to have been assumed with the title in William Bradbury Ryan's Ryan's Mammoth Collection (1883). Francis O'Neill's printing of the same melody under the title “Mountain Lark (3) (The)" came twenty years later (Music of Ireland, 1903), but it was sourced to Patrolman James Kennedy, who had the tune from his father in County Leitrim. Given this, the only factual source material would argue for an Irish provenance. Uilleann piper Brian McNamara, writing of the traditional music of County Leitrim (in notes to "Letrim's Hidden Treasure"), remarks:

The inclusion of some tunes with a strong Scottish flavour will not surprise anyone interested in the evolution of Irish traditional and folk music; the interchange of tunes between the Irish and Scottish is a phenomenon that has long been recognised. Given the prominence of the fiddle in the area, it was only natural that given time these tunes began to be absorbed gradually into the Irish idiom as happened conversely with Irish tunes in Scotland.

The reel was in the repertoire of Long Island Irish fiddler and composer Larry Redican, who learned it either from Ryan's Mammoth or it's successor Cole's 1000 Fiddle Tunes and who played it under the title "Rakish Highlander". Perhaps Redican suspected and Irish provenance or merely enjoyed playing a good tune. Both Ryan's and O'Neill's titles for the tune are unique to their collections, and unless further corroborating material comes to light, then title and provenance must be treated as unconfirmed.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; p. 4. Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, 1883; p. 26.

Recorded sources:

See also listing at:
See/hear Séamus Connolly's transcription of Larry Redican's version of the tune at the Séamus Connolly collection of Irish Music [1]




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