The word ‘Rakes’ nowadays usually refers to a dissolute person and appears to be short for ‘rakehell,’ which itself stems from the Old Icelandic word “reikall,” meaning “wandering” or “unsettled.” Clonmel is an administrative center located in southern County Tipperary on the River Suir in the valley of the Sliabh na mBan, surrounded by the Commeragh and Knockmealdown mountains. The name 'Clonmel' derives from the Irish and means ‘meadow of honey.’ Its walls were begun by the Normans in the year 1298, and it was once a stronghold of the powerful Anglo-Norman Butler family. Oliver Cromwell ended his campaign by capturing it in 1650.
A two-part version of the jig appears in the large mid-19th century music manuscript collection (vol. 3, p. 135) of County Cork cleric and uilleann piper Canon James Goodman. Francis O’Neill, in Irish Folk Music (1910, p. 97), remarks regarding “Rakes of Clonmel”: “(I) memorized it (from the playing of piper Delaney) and dictated it to our scribe (fiddler James O’Neill). The latter, remembering a third strain from an Ulster setting, called ‘The Boys of the Lough,’ annexed it.” The tune was first recorded in 1923 on a 78 RPM by the Flanagan Brothers; Joe on accordion, Mike on tenor banjo and Louis on a hybrid harp-guitar.
Itinerant dancing masters in Ireland held territories or districts of ten miles or so in which they plied their trade, and had friendly rivalries with neighboring dancing masters, according to Brendan Breathnach (The Man & His Music, 1996). When they met at fairs or sporting events they would vie with each other by dancing in public, to the pleasure of the spectators and the honor of the moment. Often the outcomes of these contests were moot, however, “occasionally the event demanded a victor as when a Kerry dancing master vanquished a Cork dancing master in a contest as to who should ‘own’ Clonmel” (p. 2). Perhaps the rakes were in attendance.
...more at: Rakes of Clonmel - full Score(s) and Annotations
X:1 T:Rakes of Clonmel , The M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Jig S:James Goodman (1828─1896) music manuscript collection, S:vol. 3, p. 135. Mid-19th century, County Cork Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:Ador B|cBA GED|EAA A2B|cBc edc|BGG GBd| gfg efg|dBG Bcd|ecA GED|EAA A2:| |:e|a^ga eaa|ecA A2f|gfg efg|dBG GAB| cec dfd|ecA Bcd|ecA GED|EAA A2:|]
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