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 traditional instrumental music with annotations, formerly known as
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The Battle of Oulart Hill.jpg
The wind that shakes the barley

Played by : Cló Iar-Chonnacht
Source : Soundcloud
Image : The Battle of Oulart Hill by Fr. Edward Foran

The wind that shakes the barley was cited as having commonly been played for Orange County, New York, country dances in the 1930's (Lettie Osborn, New York Folklore Quarterly). "The (Provance) version...contains a feature common enough in old country reels, but seldom encountered in American variants: namely, the 'circular' construction, which provides for the tune's going on indefinitely without coming to a complete cadence.

F.P. Provance stated that he learned this set 'among the Dutch' in eastern Fayette and western Somerset Counties an interesting evidence of how the German settlers have adopted the tradition of the Irish whom they encountered on their arrival in Pennyslvania" (Bayard, 1944). It was recorded on 78 RPM disc by Beaver Island, Michigan, fiddler Patrick Bonner, who had several Irish-style tunes in his repertoire.

Beaver Island was settled by a number of immigrants from Arranmore island, off the coast of Donegal, and the Donegal fiddling tradition can be heard in Bonner’s playing (he was the youngest son of immigrants from Arranmore).

The title appears in Henry Robson's list of popular Northumbrian song and dance tunes ("The Northern Minstrel's Budget"), which he published c. 1800.

The melody (as "Wind that Shed the Barley") was entered into Book 2 of the large c. 1883 music manuscript collection of County Leitrim fiddler and piper Stephen Grier (c. 1824–1894). "Wind that Shakes the Barley" was the vehicle for the Donegal house-dance the Barnas Mór Reel, writes Fintan Vallely in his book Blooming Meadows (1998), interviewing Donegal fiddler Vincent Broderick of the townland of Tangaveane in the Croaghs (Blue Stack Mountains).

Broderick remembered: “They would let hands to, d’you see, every other bar or so…and they done this step dance every one of them on their own and then they would join hands again, go around again.”

Several songs have been written to the melody. One set of Irish words goes:

Oh, won't you rattle me, and oh, won't you chase me,
Oh, won't you rattle me, the little bag of tailors.
Oh, won't you rattle me, and oh, won't you chase me,
Oh, won't you rattle me, the little bag of tailors.

I went up to Dublin, I met a little tailor,
I put him in my pocket, for fear the dogs would eat him.
The dogs began to bark, and I began a-wailin',
I threw him in the Liffey, for fear the dogs would eat him.

A romantic song to the tune with words by Robert Dwyer Joyce (1830–1883) commemorating the uprising of 1798 led by the Society of United Irishmen was originally published c. 1880 in Ballads of Irish Chivalry. It is also called “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” and goes:

I sat within a valley green
I sat there with my true love
My sad heart strove the two between
The old love and the new love
The old for her, the new
That made me think on Ireland dearly
When soft the wind blew down the glen
And shook the golden barley.

. . . . . . . . .


Then blood for blood without remorse
I've taken to Oulard Hollow
I've laid my true love's clay cold corpse
Where I full soon will follow
And 'round her grave I wander here
Now night and morning early
With a breaking heart when e'er I hear
The wind that shakes the barley.

Oulart Hill, referred to in the song as “Oulard Hollow,” is located in County Wexford and was the site of the United Irish rebels' first significant success. On Whit Sunday, the 27th of May, 1798, they ambushed and annihilated a body of Government troops—the infamous North Cork Militia—numbering around one hundred. There are said to have been but three survivors, despite the fact that the militia was Irish to a man.

...more at: The wind that shakes the barley - full Score(s) and Annotations


X:1 T:Wind that Bloeth the Barley [1]. WI.011 M:C| L:1/8 Q:1/2=100 B:Wm Irwin, 1838 MS, AGG's Transcription R:.Reel O:England A:Lake District Z:vmp.Chris Partington.2005 K:D A2AB AFDA|B2BA BcdB|A2AB AFDA|gefd B2d2:| |:f2fd g2ge|f2fd eAce|f2fd g2gb|aged B2d2:|

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Although we are not trained musicologists and make no pretense to the profession, we have tried to apply such professional rigors to this Semantic Abc Web as we have internalized through our own formal and informal education.
This demands the gathering of as much information as possible about folk pieces to attempt to trace tune families, determine origins, influences and patterns of aural/oral transmittal, and to study individual and regional styles of performance.
Many musicians, like ourselves, are simply curious about titles, origins, sources and anecdotes regarding the music they play. Who, for example, can resist the urge to know where the title Blowzabella came from or what it means, or speculating on the motivations for naming a perfectly respectable tune Bloody Oul' Hag, is it Tay Ye Want?
Knowing the history of the melody we play, or at least to have a sense of its historical and social context, makes the tune 'present' in the here and now, and enhances our rendering of it.
Andrew Kuntz & Valerio Pelliccioni

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