Banshee (1) (The)
BANSHEE , THE. AKA and see "McMahon's Reel." Irish, Reel. G Major ('A' part) & A Dorian ('B' part). Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB (Flaherty, Silberberg, Songer): AA'BB' (Harker/Rafferty). Apparently the "Banshee" title for this tune originated with the Bothy Band, according to Philippe Varlet. Prior to that, the reel was usually known as "McMahon's," after its composer James McMahon (1893-1977) a flute player originally from Cornacreeve, Dresterian, Roslea in Fermanagh who later lived near Muckmore, County Antrim. The tune was collected from McMahon by Liam Donnelly, who included it in his self-published collection Co. Fermanagh Dance Tunes, a booklet compiled in Belfast in 1966-67.
McMahon's composition was quite likely influenced by the melodically similar schottische Sweet Flowers of Milltown, a tune recorded by north Galway flute player Tom Morrison in the 78 rpm era.
According to Crofton Croker the banshee is "a small, shrivelled old woman with long white hair, supposed to be peculiarly attached to old houses or families, and to announce the approaching dissolution of any members by mournful lamentations. This fairy attendant is considered as highly honourable." Paul de Grae suggests the McMahon's tune was derisively nicknamed after the banshee by someone not very enamoured of the melody.
Sources for notated versions: flute player Harry McGowan (b. 1937, Carrowmore, Co. Sligo, Ireland) [Flaherty]; New Jersey flute player Mike Rafferty, born in Ballinakill, Co. Galway, in 1926 [Harker].
Printed sources: Donnelly (Co. Fermanagh Dance Tunes), 1967, no. 78 (as "James McMahon's No. 3"). Flaherty (Trip to Sligo), 1990; p. 158. Harker (300 Tunes from Mike Rafferty), 2005; No. 17, p. 6. Silberberg (Fiddle Tunes I Learned at the Tractor Tavern), 2002; p. 4. Songer (Portland Collection), 1997; p. 23.
Recorded sources: Green Linnet GLCD 3011, The Bothy Band – "First Album" (1975).
X: 1 T:Banshee, The M:C| L:1/8 S:Michael Hogan, Ir-Trad, 4/97 R:reel N:this version is from Henrik Norbeck's collection Z:id:hn-reel-22 K:G ~G3D EDB,D|GFGB d2Bd|eged BAGA|BAGE EDDE| ~G3D EDB,D|GFGB d2Bd|eged BAGA|BAGE EDD2:| |:eaag efge|dBBA B3z|eB~B2 gBfB|eBBA B3z| eaag efge|dBBA B3z|eged BAGA|BAGE EDD2:|