Stirling Castle

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STIRLING CASTLE. AKA - “Sterling Castle.” AKA and see “Gray Day Light,” "Gray Day-Licht," "Harvest Home (2)," "Kirn (1) (The)," “Marquis of Hansley's.” Scottish (originally), Irish; Highland or Strathspey. Ireland, County Donegal. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (most versions): AA’B (Martin, Skinner). Composed by Professor Bannatyne, Aberdeen, this tune is in both bagpipe and fiddle repertories. According to Bill Hardie (1986), North-East Scottish fiddlers "of two or three generations ago" knew this strathspey by the title "The Grey Day-Licht." The reference to "Harvest Home" as an alternate title comes from J. Scott Skinner's Harp and Claymore collection (1904), where “The Kirn” is also given as an alternate. Bill Hardie notes that the similarity between "Stirling Castle" and the popular hornpipe "Harvest Home" is a tenuous one, however, there is considerable similarity to "Harvest Home (2).” "Stirling Castle" is popular today as a Highland in County Donegal, and it was one of the several Scottish tunes recorded by the great Sligo/New York fiddler Michael Coleman. It was recorded several times in the 78 RPM by Irish and Scottish musicians, including Peter Wyper, Colin Boyd (Cape Breton), Michael Coleman, Hector MacAndrew, Donald Davidson, Jimmy Shand and others.

Stirling Castle, c. 1790's

Stirling Castle is a spectacularly restored castle in Stirling, Scotland, and is located on the top of a plain of an extinct volcanic hill surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs. The site had been fortified since ancient times, but the main surviving buildings date from the 15th and 16th centuries, along with a few structures from the 14th century. Stirling Castle was the childhood home of Mary Queen of Scots and was the permanent crown residence for many of the Stewart kings.

Additional notes

Sources for notated versions: - Bill Hardie (Aberdeenshire, Scotland) [Hunter]; MacDonald (1887) in his Skye Collection notes the tune is "According to Doig”; Winston Fitzgerald (1914-1987, Cape Breton) [Cranford]; “Willie Blair’s Set” [Skinner].

Printed sources : - Cranford (Winston Fitzgerald), 1997; No. 121, p. 50. Giblin (Collection of Traditional Irish Dance Music), 1928; 58. Hardie (Caledonian Companion), 1986; p. 22. Honeyman (Strathspey, Reel and Hornpipe Tutor), 1898; p. 8. Hunter (Fiddle Music of Scotland), 1988; No. 114. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 1), c. 1880; Set 2, No. 1, p. 4. Kohler 1881. MacDonald (The Skye Collection), 1887; p. 55. Martin (Traditional Scottish Fiddling), 2002; p. 128. Moffat (Dance Music of the North), 1908; No. 22, p. 9. Skinner (Harp and Claymore), 1904; p. 78.

Recorded sources: - Beltona 1501 M12495 (78 RPM), Donald Davidson (). Culburnie Records CUL 121D, Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas – “Fire and Grace” (2004). HMV 3-7939 (78 RPM), Horace Fellows (1911). Nimbus NI 5320, Ciaran Tourish, Dermot McLaughlin, Seamus Glackin, Kevin Glackin - “Fiddle Sticks: Traditional Music from Donegal” (1991). Parlophone F 3392 (78 RPM), Jimmy Shand and His Band (). Parlophone F3466 (78 RPM), Hector MacAndrew (). RC2000, George Wilson – “Royal Circus” (2000). Regal G 6959 (78 RPM), Peter Wyper (1915). Regal Zonophone ‎– G21638 (78 RPM), Duncan McMillan (). Topic 12TS381, The Battlefield Band - "At the Front" (1978). “Melodeon Greats” (1978).

See also listings at:
Alan Snyder’s Cape Breton Fiddle Recording Index [1]
Jane Keefer’s Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]
Alan Ng’s [3]
Hear Hector MacAndrew's 78 RPM recording at the Internet Archive [4]
Hear harmonica player Donald Davidson's 78 RPM recording at the Internet Archive [5]

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