Wounded Hussar (The)
Back to Wounded Hussar (The)
WOUNDED HUSSAR, THE. AKA and see "Cailin Tighe Moir," "Captain O'Kane," "Where the Augbeg Flows.”" English, Scottish, Irish; Slow Air (6/8 or 3/4 time). B Flat Major (Howe): A Minor (Huntington, Knowles): A Dorian (Ó Canainn): G Minor (Ashman): E Minor (Skinner). Standard tuning. AB (Ashman): AAB (Ó Canainn): ABB (Huntington, Knowles). The song “The Wounded Hussar” is attributed to Scottish poet Thomas Campbell in Smith’s Irish Minstrel (Edinburgh, 1825), who is said to have penned it in 1799, and it appeared early in print around 1800 in the Musical Magazine, The German Flute & Violin Pocket Magazine, Consisting of a choice Collection of the most favourite Pieces, vol. 2. Malcolm Douglas believes the lyric was not set to the tune by Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan (1670–1738) called “An Caiptín Ó Catháin/Captain O’Kane,” until 1822. Smith notes that O’Carolan’s title refers to “Captain Henry O’Kain who died of his wounds on ‘the banks of the dark rolling Danube.’” Francis O’Neill links the melody to O’Carolans’s “Captain O’Kane” as printed by Hardiman in Irish Minstrelsy (1831), where it is given: “Captain O’Kane of O’Cahan of a distinguished family, a sporting Irishman well known in Antrim in his day as ‘Slasher O’Kane’”. There is no evidence to support Hardiman’s attribution to O’Carolan, however, premier O’Carolan scholar Donal O’Sullivan accepted Hardiman’s statement. The song had widespread popularity throughout Britain and Ireland. It reentered the relatively isolated Sliabh Luachra region of the Cork-Kerry border in a roundabout way (told by Tim Britton, confirmed by Paddy O'Brien). It seems that the renowned regional fiddler Padraig O'Keeffe learned the air, as he did many of his tunes, from an uncle named Cal Callaghan. Callaghan lived for several decades in a Scottish settlement in southern Ohio and picked up many tunes there, some of which he taught to his nephew Padraig on his return to Ireland. At some point the title was lost or changed, for O'Keeffe called "The Wounded Hussar" by the title "Banks of the Danube," from the first line of the lyric. Such was O'Keeffe's influence that the tune and others were absorbed into Sliabh Luachra repertoire and are now considered 'traditional' tunes of the region.
The piece can be found in many print and manuscript collections, including the 1837–1840 music manuscript collection by Shropshire musician John Moore and the 1800–1802 manuscript by ship’s fiddler William Litten. It was published in America in Riley’s Flute Melodies, vol. 2 (New York, 1817–1820), in Elias Howe’s Musician’s Omnibus, and on various song-sheets. In Britain it was printed in Surenne’s Songs of Ireland without words (Edinburgh, 1854). The melody was copied by musician John Burks into his music manuscript book, dated 1821. Unfortunately, nothing is known of Burks, although he may have been from the north of England.
Sources for notated versions: a c. 1837–1840 MS by Shropshire musician John Moore [Ashman]; the mid-19th century music manuscript collection of uilleann piper and Church of Ireland cleric James Goodman [Shields].
Ashman (The Ironbridge Hornpipe), 1991; No. 93a, pg. 37.
Deacon (John Clare and the Folk Tradition), 1983; No. 248, p. 374.
Howe (Musician's Omnibus, No. 2, 1862; p. 129.
Huntington (William Litten's Tune Book), 1977; p. 44.
Johnson (Our Familiar Songs), 1881; pp. 543–544.
Knowles (A Northern Lass), 1995; p. 7.
Ó Canainn (Traditional Slow Airs of Ireland), 1995; No. 47, p. 43.
Shields (Tunes of the Munster Pipers), 1999; No. 154, p. 66.
Skinner (Harp and Claymore), 1904; p. 161.
Recorded sources: Cló Iar-Chonnachta CICD 173, Brian Conway – “Consider the Source” (2008).