Hughie's Cap

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X:1 T:Hughie's Cap M:2/2 L:1/8 C:Ed Reavy R:Reel N:A favorite story of Ed's tells of Hughie, an easygoing N:sort who had a fierce look when he wore a certain cap. Friends would N:take Hughie along whenever a fight was anticipated. One look from N:Hughie and his cap would silence the most quarrelsome bullies. One N:night, as it would happen, Hughie's friends found themselves in the N:worst sort of mix and quickly looked for Hughie's help. But Hughie, N:alas, had ventured out this time without his menacing capeen. "Oh God," N:one exclaimed, "somebody go fetch Hughie's cap, or there'll be hell to N:pay for all of us this night!" Z:Joe Reavy K:F FG | A2 de fedc | AF (3FEF DGGB | A2 de f2 df | ec (3c=Bc agfe | A2 de fedc | AGFE FDEC | A,DDE FGAd |1 cAGE F2 :|2 cAGE FGA=B || c2 AF A=BcA | d2 =BG =Bcdf | ec(3cBc agfe | fagf dcA=B | c2 AF A=BcA | d2 =BG =Bcdf | ec (3c=Bc agfe |1 fdcA FGA=B :|2 fdcA F2 :||



HUGHIE'S CAP. Irish, Reel. D Minor ('A' part) & D Dorian ('B' part). Standard tuning (fiddle). AA'BB'. Composed by County Cavan/Philadelphia fiddler and composer Ed Reavy (1898-1988). Hughie, according to a story by Reavy, was an easygoing character who could look particularly menacing when he wore a particular cap, and when intimidation was needed apparently Hughie was the man to call.

Interviewed by musician and folklorist Mick Moloney in 1975, Reavy explained:

Hughie’s Cap…there’s a story attached to that you know. Hughie was a fella that lived down town here you know and he used to travel around to quite a few of the parties and he was a big strappin’ fella, very muscular, and appeared like a bully…which he really wasn’t you know. But a lot of the fellas from Ireland, from certain parts of Donegal…and I guess maybe of other counties too…but particularly Donegal…if they had any little differences in the old country some of them, well, they’d take it out here with them you know. At the parties they kinda wanted to take it out on one another…say something insulting, annoy the other fella and maybe get into a little scuffle. But getting back to Hughie…there was an accordeon player here by the name of Frank Meehan…he was from Donegal, God rest his soul, he’s dead…and Hughie’s dead too…but there was a party in a certain house down town and it was in the summertime, and my brother George was at the party…So these fellas from a place called Carrigart in Donegal they didn’t like this Frank Meehan…or they had some reason to dislike him, whether it was from the old country or not, it probably did…and Frank was getting a kinda scared because he didn’t have many in there to give him any backing you know or support. So this Hughie was a brother-in-law of Meehan’s and he lived up 2 or 3 houses from where the party was…so Frank Meehan says to my brother George “go up and get Hughie”…this is the fella I was telling you looked like a bully. He wore a cap you know like they used to in Ireland. So it was a hot night and he came into the house with his hands in his pockets. He’d really scare you to look at him. So Frank figures when they’d get a good look at Hughie it would cool them down…he was very fierce looking when he had this cap on him…he had a pin in the front and he looked kinda vicious with the cap on. So it was a kind of a hot night, and it was so hot for Hughie, Hughie took his cap off see. So Frank looked over and he saw that Hughie didn’t have the cap on, so he says “for God’s sake George, go over and tell Hughie to put the cap on.” So that’s why I called it Hughie’s Cap.

Mick: When did this happen?

Ed: That happened around 1935…’36…in there. [1]



Additional notes

Source for notated version: -

Printed sources : - Reavy (The Collected Compositions of Ed Reavy), No. 26, p. 27.

Recorded sources: -



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  1. Mick Moloney, “Medicine for Life: A study of a Folk Composer and His Music”, ’’’Keystone folklore: The Journal of the Pennsylvania Folklore Society’’’, vol. 20, Winter-Spring 1975, No. 1, p. 25.