Under the Willows She Was Sleeping

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UNDER THE WILLOWS SHE WAS SLEEPING. AKA and see “Under the willow tree night and day.” American, Irish; Waltz or Slow Air. Researchers Conor Ward and Fr. John Quinn find the tune originally to have been written in 1860 by American songwriter Stephen Foster (1826-1864) for his song of that name. The melody was assimilated into the local music tradition in south Leitrim where it was adapted as a waltz, they state, where it was transcribed by musician Alex Sutherland (1873-1969) of Toome, Carrigallen, Co Leitrim. "Fr. Quinn himself further adapted Sutherland's version setting it as a jig c. 1980's which he taught to his Ceili bands for Fleadh Ceoil na hEireann competitions. Members of this band helped to further assimilate Fr Quinn's adapted jig version back into the local Leitrim music tradition", notes Ward. In addition to the Alex Sutherland manuscript, the air/waltz version can be found in Walton’s Tutor and Selection of Irish Airs for the Bagpipes[1] under the alternate title. Harding’s Dublin Songster, vol. 1, reprints a 19th century ballad sheet giving lyrics for a song called “Under the Willows She Was Sleeping.”

Source for notated version:

Printed sources:

Recorded sources: Drumlin Records, Brian McNamara – “A Piper’s Dream.”




Back to Under the Willows She Was Sleeping[edit]

  1. cited in Palmer, Irish Airs for the War Pipes, Dublin, 1913.