Yellow Horse (1) (The)

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YELLOW HORSE [1], THE. Irish, Air (6/8 time, "lively"). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. "In Stanford Petrie and Bunting are several airs called 'The Yellow Horse' and An Bearran Buidhe (same meaning): but this tune is different from all" [Joyce]. The title is among those mentioned as a dance tune in Patrick J. McCall’s 1861 poem “The Dance at Marley,” the first three stanzas of which go:

Murtagh Murphy’s barn was full to the door when the eve grew dull,
For Phelim Moore his beautiful new pipes had brought to charm them;
In the kitchen thronged the girls - cheeks of roses, teeth of pearls -
Admiring bows and braids and curls, till Phelim’s notes alarm them.
Quick each maid her hat and shawl hung on dresser, bed, or wall,
Smoothed down her hair and smiled on all as she the bawnoge entered,
Where a shass of straw was laid on a ladder raised that made
A seat for them as still they stayed while dancers by them cantered.

Murtagh and his vanithee had their chairs brought in to see
The heels and toes go fast and free, and fun and love and laughter;
In their sconces all alight shone the tallow candles bright -
The flames kept jigging all the night, upleaping to each rafter!
The pipes, with noisy drumming sound, the lovers’ whispering sadly drowned,
So the couples took their ground - their hearts already dancing!
Merrily, with toe and heel, airily in jig and reel,
Fast in and out they whirl and wheel, all capering and prancing.

“Off She Goes,” “The Rocky Road,” “The Tipsy House,” and “Miss McLeod,” “The Devil’s Dream,” and “Jig Polthogue,” “The Wind that Shakes the Barley,” “The First o’May,” “The Garran Bwee,” “Tatther Jack Welsh,” “The River Lee,” - As lapping breakers from the sea the myriad tunes at Marley! Reels of three and reels of four, hornpipes and jigs galore, With singles, doubles held the floor in turn, without a bar low; But when the fun and courting lulled, and the dancing somewhat dulled, The door unhinged, the boys down pulled for “Follow me up to Carlow.”

See also Bayard's (1944) note for "Cottage By the Sea." See also the Bunting/O'Neill tune by the 'Yellow Horse' name (albeit a different tune), under the title "Yellow Garron (The)]."

Source for notated version: copied from manuscripts lent to Joyce by J. O’Sullivan in 1873.

Printed sources: Joyce (Old Irish Folk Music and Songs), 1909; No. 237, p. 115.

Recorded sources:




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