Whistler of Rosslea (The)

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X:1 T:Whistler from Rosslea M:C L:1/8 C:Ed Reavey S:APB Martin Hayes R:Reel K:Cm CDEF G2FD|G2FD E(3CCC|B,CDE F2EF|GAFG EFDE| CDEC DEFD|G=ABG cBGF|EFGE FADF|ECDB, C4:||

c2Gc EcGc|c2dc cBG=A|B2FBDBFB|B=AGF ECB,C|

GccB cBGF|EFG=A B3c|cBGF EFFE|FB,DB, C4:||



WHISTLER FROM ROSSLEA, THE. Irish, Reel. D Mixolydian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AA’BB’. Composed by fiddler and composer Ed Reavy (1898-1988, County Cavan/Phila., Pa.). The tune is titled after a fish-selling whistler seen by Reavy at a fair in Rosslea. The whistler had the range of a fiddle or flute and ornamented his melodies in the traditional style. Martin Hayes transformed the tune on his recording to a slower-tempoed, C Minor setting.

Interviewed by musician and folklorist Mick Moloney in 1975, Reavy explained:

There used to be great Fairs in Rosslea you know…we used to buy cattle there and I went with them a few times to Rosslea to the Fairs there…that’s in the County Fermanagh…incidently, that’s where this Johnnie McAloon, the piper lives…he lives near Rosslea. So there was a fella there, a street fiddle player …he was a whistler…he would stand there playing the whistle for money…a beautiful whistler, never heard anything like him here…or anywhere else…he was like a professional whistler and I’m telling you you’d stand out in the snow listening to him. So that’s why I called The Whistler of Rosslea. [1]



Additional notes

Source for notated version: -

Printed sources : - Reavy (The Collected Compositions of Ed Reavy), No. 36, p. 38.

Recorded sources: -Green Linnet GLCD 1127, “Martin Hayes” (1993). Outlet SOLP 1033, Josephine Keegan - "Irish Traditional Music" (1977). Popcorn Behavior – “Journeywork” (1997).

See also listing at:
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [1]



Back to Whistler of Rosslea (The)


  1. Mick Moloney, “Medicine for Life: A study of a Folk Composer and His Music”, ’’’Keystone folklore: The Journal of the Pennsylvania Folklore Society’’’, vol. 20, Winter-Spring 1975, No. 1, p. 25.