Annotation:Terry Alt's Jig

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X:1 T:Mountain Brow, The T:Terry Alt’s Jig M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Jig K:G D|DGG Gdd|edB (d2 B)|DGG Bdd|edB AFD| DGG Bdd|edB gfe|dBG AGA|BGG G2:| |:B|def gfg|agf edB|eef gfg|agf (e2d)| def gfg|agf gfe|dBG AGA|BGG G2:|

TERRY ALT’S JIG. AKA and see “Mountain Brow (The).” Irish, Jig (6/8 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. 'Terry Alt' was the name for a secret agrarian reform movement of 1828-1831 in Ireland, one of the pre-famine rural revolts. According to one account the members took their name from an actual person named Terry Alt, from Corofin, County Clare, an ordinary man who had the misfortune of being miss-identified as the perpetrator at the scene of a local assault. Although he was a pensioner and a loyalist he was dressed similarly to the attacker, and subsequently he was accused of other assaults in the area. John Barstow, a traveller writing in 1836, though that the name was chosen "...perhaps (more) out of sport that malice, when on their predatory attacks, being in the habit of crying out, "Well done, Terry! Well done, Terry Alt!"[1]. Dr. George MacNamara, in his article "Inchiquin, County Clare"[2] records:

At the eastern end [of Inchiquin], in the townland of Anneville, quite close to the road from Corofin to Kilfenora, under a large and spreading ash 4 (and another smaller one) is a holy well dedicated to St. Inghen-Baoith, patroness of the parish of Kilnaboy. A few yards from the well, on the other side of the road, once stood the cottage of the famous Terry Alt. He was a most harmless and inoffensive individual, a protestant and a great admirer of the Government, and had nothing whatever to do with the secret organisation called after him, which for so long convulsed the district, except in so far as, through the joke of one Richard Ensko, a shoemaker of Corofin, he involuntarily, and much to his annoyance, gave the society his name.

The movement was fueled by a combination of a disastrous harvest in 1829 and difficult recovery period, all due to poor weather, rising land values and subsequent increase in rent burden, and a great deal of political activity.

The 'depredations' of the Terry Alts, like other agrarian reform groups like the Whiteboys, Rockites and others, were undoubtedly exaggerated although did include beatings and intimidation, house-robbery for guns and ammunition, burglary, and five or six deaths. What was striking to contemporary observers, however, was not the clandestine nocturnal activity but the daytime gatherings of wall-breakers, diggers and sod-breakers who left their mark on pastureland, cheered on by large enthusiastic crowds. Military and judicial intervention suppressed the movement in County Clare, which peaked in the Spring of 1831 and also effected parts of south Galway, much of Limerick and a smaller portion of Tipperary. The movement was a dramatic example of class-solidarity and class conflict in the pre-famine period.

Frank Roche printed the tune as "“Mountain Brow (The)" in 1912.

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Kennedy (Traditional Dance Music of Britain and Ireland: Jigs & Quicksteps, Trips & Humours), 1997; No. 182, p. 43.

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  1. Quoted by James S. Donnelly Jr., 18th-19th Century Social Perspectives, 18th-19th Century History, Features, Issue 4 (Winter-1884), vol. 2 [1].
  2. The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland Fifth Series, Vol. 31, No. 3, [Fifth Series, Vol. 11] (Sep. 30, 1901), p. 207)