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As a collection of Irish traditional dance music Ceol Rince na hÉireann is one of the most important of its kind. The original notes and musicians' details were in the Irish language, and here is presented for the first time a translation of these notes by Paul de Grae.

In addition, Paul has gathered together his own annotations and those of others to compile a list of alternative titles, tune histories, and background information about the musicians. This has made what was already a remarkable collection into an invaluable resource for students of traditional music.

Follow the links below to view these lists and annotations.

Translator's Note

The phrasing and the layout of the original have been adhered to as closely as possible. Use has been made of paraphrase only in a few cases where literal translation would give a misleading impression.

Interpolations by the translator are indicated by square brackets, the only exceptions being (a) the section headers ("Poirt Dúbalta" = "Double Jigs", etc.) which appear in the tune sections of the books but not in the notes; (b) the footnotes, which are all by the translator; and (c) the notes on the identification of untitled tunes, which are also by the translator.

In CRÉ IV, references to the various manuscripts, in square brackets in the original, are given in round brackets here to avoid confusion with interpolated comments.

The translation of the Preface (Brollach) to CRÉ I is Breathnach's own.

The Irish (Gaelic) title as given by Breathnach appears first, followed by a translation. In many, perhaps most, cases the tune is more generally known by the English form of the title; where this is not the case, a translation of the Irish title is given in quotation marks. Where possible, the English version used is that given by Breathnach in the index, which would have been the basis for his Irish version in most cases.

See Breathnach's "Introduction" to CRÉ III for a fuller description of his own methodology.

In the translation of CRÉ IV, the Irish title as given in the book appears first, generally followed by the English form as given in the source manuscript. For some tunes the Irish form of the title is the original and is not translated in the book; in these cases, a translation of the Irish title is given here in square brackets.

Breathnach gives the sources of the tunes in a separate list after the notes on the tunes. It was considered useful here to insert the names of the musicians, and the instruments played, after each tune in CRÉ I-III.

Regarding personal names, it is worth noting that some (not all) of the musicians would be more generally known by the English form of their name, and this has been used in the source reference given after each tune note. The Irish and, where appropriate, the English form are both given in the separate list of musicians.

Breathnach refers to individuals by surname, e.g., "an Ceallach", which is translated here as "Kelly"; this sounds more abrupt in English than in Irish, but "Mr. Kelly" was considered too formal.

The word "leagan" may be translated as "version" or "setting"; both forms are used in this translation, the choice depending on what seemed appropriate in the context.

In these notes "CRÉ", without a following numeral, refers to "Ceol Rince na hÉireann Book [Volume] I".

In identifying untitled ("Gan Ainm") tunes, I have been greatly assisted by fellow members of the e-mail discussion group IRTRAD-L, The Irish Traditional Music List, especially Philippe Varlet, Henrik Norbeck, Caoimhín Mac Aoidh and Roland Gosda. Suggested titles are shown in square brackets in the notes to individual tunes, and further details are given at the end of each "book". There are no untitled tunes in CRÉ I.

In CRÉ III, which deals with commercially recorded music, there are several minor errors in the references to recordings and musicians. Roland Gosda has very kindly checked the albums used as the sources of the tunes and, based on his work, I have made corrections to the notes on the tunes concerned; corrections to the album listing are shown separately at the end of the CRÉ III translation.

I am pleased to acknowledge the advice and help of Philippe Varlet, Nicholas Carolan and Nigel Gatherer in preparing this work. Any remaining mistakes are, however, the responsibility of the translator. Corrections and other comments are welcome at

Paul de Grae

 Nigel Gatherer, Crieff, Perthshire |