NigelGatherer.com
 Home Teaching Tunes Resources Forum Museum Store Contact


 The Northern Fiddler, a book about the music and musicians of Donegal and Tyrone, was first published in 1979. As far as I know it is not currently in print, nor are there plans to reprint it. This list is a collection of annotations about the tunes in The Northern Fiddler (NF) and was started by Larry Sanger, then greatly enhanced by comments from several others (see below), mostly stemming from discussions on Irtrad-L, a mailing list dedicated to Irish traditional music.

The music from Donegal is of particular interest to me because so much of the Donegal repertoire is Scottish in origin. However, any scholar of Irish music, or traditional music in general, would find great pleasure in the tunes. We're always interested to hear more information on the tunes, especially the few nameless tunes which have not yet been identified.

I'm always interested in hearing more about these tunes, and if anyone has anything new to add, or has any other constructive criticism, email me and I'll be pleased to hear from you.

Reels Jigs Highlands Hornpipes Misc Tunes


Reels in The Northern Fiddler
Go to: B C D E F H I J K L M N O P R S T Untitled W Y
Tune Title Page Fiddler Notes
spacer.gif - 45 bytes
Black Haired Lass, The 66 John Doherty Nigel Gatherer: In O'Neill's Dance Music of Ireland 585, and in Ceol Rince na hEireann as Cailín na Gruaige Duibhe; The Dark Haired Girl; The Dark Gate Girl and An Cailin Donn (Ceol Rince na hEireann I 114).
Black Mare of Fanad, The 65 John Doherty Larry Sanger: This is the Donegal version of Nine Points of Roguery.
Boys Of the Town, The 229 John McKeown Nigel Gatherer: In O'Neill's Dance Music of Ireland 89.
Byrne's Reel 235 John McKeown
Cameronian Reel, The 67 John Doherty Caoimh地 Mac Aoidh: The Cameronian is not John's Cameronian which can be found on the CD "The Floating Bow" (Claddagh). The tune transcribed is The Mother's Delight.
Mick Brown: Mother's Delight is a Co. Clare version of this reel. Untitled Reel on p76a is a version of the same tune. Sean Frank (Ceol Rince na hEireann I, 182) is yet another version, in G. John Doherty played a similar version in G himself. The Colonel McBain (also Johnny's Wedding) found in O'Neill's is similar in first part only. The Colonel McBain found in Scottish collections relates more closely to this tune. The title Cameronian is used in SW Donegal for the untitled reel on p77c.
Nigel Gatherer: Known in Scotland as Colonel McBain or Colonel MacBean. Aka Col. McBain (O'Neill's Dance Music of Ireland ).
Con Cassidy's Reel 153 Con Cassidy Mick Brown: This tune is a reel-time version in the key of F of the three-part jig (also played by Con) and recorded by James Byrne on 'The Brass Fiddle' as Johnny Boyle's Jig.
Recordings: The Brass Fiddle
Dispute at the Crosroads, The (Dr Gilbert) 67 John Doherty
Dr Gilbert (Dispute at the Crosroads) 67 John Doherty
Drowsy Maggie 68 John Doherty
Drowsy Maggie 162 Francie & Mickey Byrne
Drowsy Maggie 235 Peter Turbit
Drunken Piper, The 236 John McKeown Nigel Gatherer: This is not The Drunken Piper (which is found in NF as Miss Johnson's Reel on p69).
Mick Brown: The first parts of this reel and 236b are quite close to the first part of the McConnell's version of The Pigeon on the Gate (as recorded by Ronan Galvin on 'The Fiddle Music of Donegal Vol II'). The second part has echoes of the second part of the tune called The Fintown Road/The Gweebarra Bridge Reel, also called The Killarney Boys of Pleasure elsewhere in the country (Ceol Rince na hEireann III, 141).
Drunken Reel, The 236 Peter Turbit
Errigal Braes 236 Peter Turbit
Ewe With the Crooked Horn, The 79 John Doherty Mick Brown: This title is used in SW Donegal for both this highland and Untitled Highland, (p174a). There are similarities in structure. One of Doherty's versions of The Heather Breeze may be related also.
Five Mile Chase, The 68 John Doherty Caoimh地 Mac Aoidh: Different entirely to that tune normally played under this name.
Mick Brown: A version of a tune sometimes called The New Mown Meadow (Em), (although this title is also used for The Silver Spear). A version similar to Doherty's was played in Teelin and Kilcar also.
Flora McDonald's Reel 187 Danny O'Donnell
Four Courts, The 237 John McKeown Mick Brown: I've heard this somewhere...?
Nigel Gatherer: The A part is very like a reel played by The Boys of the Lough; they called it The Wild Irishman. It's also in MFI as O'Rourke's. The B and C parts are a significant departure.
Back to top
Gander's Strut, The 246 Peter Turbit
Ghost of Bunglass 91 John Doherty Caoimh地 Mac Aoidh: This is more commonly known as Taibhse Chonaill (English translation = Conall's Ghost).
Mick Brown: Played exactly like this by some players in Glencolmcille, and also in a slightly different highland version sometimes called Casey's Pig (as recorded by Roisin McGrory and Damian Harrigan on 'The Fiddle Music of Donegal Vol. II'). Con Cassidy's Taibhse Chonaill (D) is the same tune.
Glory Reel, The 162 Francie & Mickey Byrne Mick Brown: This tune may be an old lilters version of parts of The Foxhunter's Reel (parts II, III and V) - Francie Dearg regarded the two as related. There is a structural resemblance. Alternatively, its first and third parts are somewhat similar to a two-part composition of John Mhosai called The Rambling Pony.
Grania's Welcome Home (March, Jig and Reel) 86 John Doherty Caoimh地 Mac Aoidh: Translation of Failte Romhat in do Bhaile a' Ghrainne.
Mick Brown: The Jig part of this piece is in O'Neill's as Johnny the Jumper (O'Neill's Dance Music of Ireland , 297).
Gravel Walks to Granie, The 161 Francie & Mickey Byrne Caoimh地 Mac Aoidh: The placename in the title is "Granny" - a deserted glen between Ardara and Meenanaery.
Mick Brown: The Gravel Walks to Granie was originally a two-part tune with a slightly different ending to the second part. The third and fourth parts originally constituted a separate tune (see p104a). It may have been Francie and Mickey Byrne who put them together.
Gusty's Frolics 58 John Doherty
Harvest Moon, The 103 Simon Doherty Caoimh地 Mac Aoidh: Not this tune at all. All of the older lads play a different tune entirely for it. It was composed by John Mhosai McGinley and appears on Paddy Glackin's second Gael Linn CD under the title John McGinley's Reel.
Mick Brown: A version of Sportin' Paddy (Ceol Rince na hEireann, 133). Not The Harvest Moon/John McGinley's Reel. This is a similar version in a different key to that found in the southern repertoire. It is played as a highland in this version, although there is also a distinctive "Donegal" version of the reel.
Highland Man Who Kissed His Grannie, The 237 Peter Turbit Mick Brown: This is a version of Upstairs in a Tent (Ceol Rince na hEireann III, 96). The tune was played in Glencolmcille.
Nigel Gatherer: Not the usual tune by this name, but this was a pipe reel originally called Jenny Tyed the Bonnet Tight, known in Ireland as Jenny Tie Your Bonnet (Ceol Rince na hEireann III, 96). Breathnach gives alternative titles: Cuir Snaidhm ar do Chaipín, a Shin; Tie the Bonnet; Down with the Mail; The Rambler's Rest (O'Neill's Dance Music of Ireland 606); Upstairs in a Tent; In and Out the Harbour; Lassie/Lassies tie your Bonnet/s; Lizzie's Bonnet; The Faraway Wedding; The Gravelled Walks to Granny, and The Cottage in the Grove.
Holly Bush, The 238 Peter Turbit Mick Brown: As far as I know, this tune was composed by Richard Dwyer, brother of Finbar.
Humours of Whiskey, The 159 Francie & Mickey Byrne
Ivy Leaf, The 103 Simon Doherty Mick Brown: Not the reel usually called The Ivy Leaf.
John McNeil's Reel 187 Danny O'Donnell Caoimh地 Mac Aoidh: The full title and correct spelling is Big John McNeilis' Reel.
Mick Brown: Also known in Donegal as Grant's Reel. The title is spelt John McNeil in the Scottish collections.
Nigel Gatherer: Known, especially in Canada, I believe, as Big John McNeill, it was originally christened plain John McNeil by its composer Peter Milne, a close friend and mentor of James Scott Skinner. At one time Milne made his money playing on the Forth ferry, but the completion of the Forth Bridge (c1890) deprived him of this livelihood. He had been addicted to opium for a great number of years, and made a meagre living teaching violin in his native Aberdeenshire. Apparently John McNeil was a famous Highland dancer at the turn of the century.
Jude's Bush 238 John Loughran Mick Brown: This tune is also called St Ruth's Bush.
Kiltyfanad, The 163 Francie & Mickey Byrne Larry Sanger: This is the same tune as JD's The Black Mare of Fanad on p65.
Mick Brown: Not the reel normally called The Coillte Fanad Reel.
Kitty Gordons 238 Peter Turbit Nigel Gatherer: This is Miss Katty Gordon of Earlston's Reel by John Riddell.
Kitty In the Lane 153 Con Cassidy Mick Brown: This tune is related to The Sword in Hand (Ceol Rince na hEireann, 144). The usual name in Glencolmcille for this reel was An Chailleach sa Chuinneog (The Hag in the Churn). It was played in both D and G, and in Teelin also in C. Francie Dearg played a four part version, and called it Tripping Up the Stairs (D). Francie Dearg also had a three part version in G, with the second part more akin to that of The Sword in Hand, which he called The Maid in the Churn. Danny Meehan plays the tune in G with two parts, his second part being similar to Francie Dearg's third part. (Kitty in the Lane is the title usually used for Ceol Rince na hEireann IV, 105)
Ladies of Tullibardee, The 70 John Doherty
Last House of Connaught, The 104 Simon Doherty Caoimh地 Mac Aoidh: This is a well known pipers reel whose name escapes me at present.
Mick Brown: This is the Paddy O'Brien composition Dinny O'Brien's Reel, apparently his very first composition.
Low Park 239 John McKeown Mick Brown: This is a version of a tune sometimes called The Hare's Paw (Ceol Rince na hEireann, 185). The tune was played in Glencolmcille. It's generally considered a Kerry tune?
Nigel Gatherer: Aka Jim Kennedy's Favourite; Hare's Foot (O'Neill's Dance Music of Ireland ) and Lowlands of Scotland (KMM).
Make Your Breakfast Early 239 Peter Turbit Mick Brown: This tune is also called Boil the Breakfast Early. The parts are sometimes played the other way around.
Nigel Gatherer: Known in Scotland as The Lasses Fashion (KMM2p8) or Haud Awa' Frae Me Donald. Found in Ireland as Boil the Breakfast Early and Court Her Along the Road (both O'Neill's Dance Music of Ireland ).
Margaret Stuart's Reel 188 Danny O'Donnell Nigel Gatherer: Found in The Beauties of Gow (c1817) as Lady Margaret Stewart.
Mary of the Wisp 164 Francie & Mickey Byrne Caoimh地 Mac Aoidh: The Tune titles The Mary of the Wisp (more commonly known in the locality under its Irish title - Maire na Sop) and Moll na Tiarna (note Tiarna is a single word and not 2 as printed) are reversed on the two tunes. They should be titled the other way around.
Mick Brown: Moll Tiarna is played in Donegal in several different versions, at least in the keys of C, G (see Ceol Rince na hEireann II, 268) and A. There is a similar reel played in the south, mainly Cork/Kerry. Mary of the Wisp (D) and Moll Tiarna (C) are correctly titled in my edition of NF. As far as I know, Mary of the Wisp is played in some shape or form in Scotland.
Miss Johnson's Reel 69 John Doherty Caoimh地 Mac Aoidh: This is in fact The Inverness Gathering.
Mick Brown: Always called The Drunken Piper in Donegal, though associated with the story of the Meenatoiteen Bull.
Nigel Gatherer: Not The Inverness Gathering, but the popular Scottish march The Drunken Piper, as Mick says.
Miss Percy's Reel 104 Simon Doherty Caoimh地 Mac Aoidh: This is the 3rd & 4th parts of The Gravel Walks (What is played as the latter, 4 part reel is a marriage of formerly two separate reels).
Mick Brown: There was a tune very like this one, before it was married to the old two part reel The Gravel Walks to Granie. The tune was called Sisti Dhuin Ailt in Glencolmcille (Sisti=kind of waves - not sure of spelling; Dun Alt=local place-name).
Nigel Gatherer: A variant of a reel known in Scotland as The Highlandman Kissed His Mother.
Miss Patterson's Slipper 71 John Doherty Caoimh地 Mac Aoidh: This is not Miss Patterson's Slipper (though Feldman & O'Doherty are correct in using the title as it is the one John always used). The tune of this title can be found on 'Ceol na dTéad' and 'The Floating Bow'. Parts 1 and 2 of this are a version of Master Crowley's Reel of Coleman fame and parts 3 and 4 are The Roscommon Reel.
Mick Brown: The first two parts of this tune are the basis for Doherty's other Miss Patterson's Slipper (on 'The Floating Bow'), and for Francie Dearg's version. The title is used in Donegal for versions of this tune.
Monaghan Switch, The 70 John Doherty Mick Brown: This tune is in Ryan's/Cole's as Our BoysIt was called Piobaire Mhaire Bhain in Teelin, where it was associated with a local story. (Lilted by Peadar O'Beirne (Peadar Johnny Johndai), Teelin, for Radio Teilifis Eireann, 1948).
Back to top
Nine Pint Coggie, The 72 John Doherty Caoimh地 Mac Aoidh: Not the same as the Scottish tune of the same name.
Ted Hastings: It appears to be a version of Scott Skinner's strathspey Davie Work from 'The Scottish Violinist' (ABC).
Mick Brown: This tune is played outside Donegal also. The first part is that of the Scotch tune The Mill Burn.
Nigel Gatherer: The first part is nearer to James Fraser's The Mill Burn than Davie Work, but it is the B part which seals it as the latter.
On the Road 167 Francie & Mickey Byrne Larry Sanger: Aka On the Road from Glen to Carrick or The Glen Road to Carrick.
Mick Brown: Probably fashioned by Francie Dearg from The Chorus Jig. It seems likely that John Doherty got the tune from Francie Dearg, although his version is slightly different. The two met on "the Glen road to Carrick" on a particular day in the 1920s or early 1930s, and there and then John Doherty learned the tune from Francie Dearg. It was that meeting that produced the title for the tune.
Paddy's Rambles Through the Park 96 John Doherty
Rakish Paddy 72 John Doherty Nigel Gatherer: An Irish version of the well-known Scottish reel Caber Feidh.
Road to Brighton, The 240 John Loughran
Sally Kelly's Reel 188 Danny O'Donnell Nigel Gatherer: Found in Gow's Repository.
Scotch Mary 168 Francie & Mickey Byrne
Sleepy Maggie 240 Peter Turbit Mick Brown: This is a Scottish reel, related to the well known Jenny's Chickens.
Larry Sanger: When I asked him to play Sleepy Maggie, Vincent Campbell played Jenny's Chickens explaining that they were the same tune.
Sporting Days of Easter 240 John Loughran
Stormy Weather 75 John Doherty Caoimh地 Mac Aoidh: Not the Donegal tune of that name but Miss Monaghan.
Temple House Reel, The 105 Simon Doherty
Toss the Feathers 168 Francie & Mickey Byrne Mick Brown: A similar version of this tune was played in Glencolmcille by John McGinley (Connchubhair).
Turniskey Lasses 241 Peter Turbit Mick Brown: See The Tirnaskea Lasses (Ceol Rince na hEireann IV, 202).
Untitled Reel 75 John Doherty Philippe Varlet: This appears to be a tune of Scottish origin which appeared in Aird (according to O'Neill) as Cameron House. O'Neill reproduces it in 'Waifs & Strays', but prints it in his other collections under different titles, The Old Grey Gander, The Humors of Schull, and the air George Gubbin's Delight. You'll also find it in Roche as Mo Ceoil Sibh a Laochra in the section on marches (its notation, however, makes one think of polka), and in Ceol Rince Vol. 2 transcribed from the playing of Junior Crehan.
Paul de Grae: Variant of Old Grey Gander (Ceol Rince na hEireann II 222; O'Neill's Dance Music of Ireland 600; MOI 1345); compare Highway to Limerick (O'Neill's Dance Music of Ireland 644; MOI 1402) and Humours of Schull/Rolling Reel (O'Neill's Dance Music of Ireland 699; MOI 1470; WSGM 260).
Mick Brown:This tune is played as a highland in Glencolmcille/Teelin. Known in Teelin as The Mullach Garbh Highland, after a local place-name. It is related to the Scottish strathspey Captain Campbell. It appears to be related to the reel The Flock of Larks (Ceol Rince na hEireann, 123), as well as others.
Larry Sanger: The highland version appears under the name Molly Gharbu (which translates as Rough Molly according to CMA), on 'ó Bhun Sliabh Liag' (Forge Brae 007), played beautifully by Dermot Byrne and (sounds like) Con Cassidy.
Untitled Reel 76a John Doherty Larry Sanger: A variant of the West Wind according to the liner notes for 'Bundle and Go'.
Caoimh地 Mac Aoidh: I'm not sure whether I'd agree with calling it a version of The West Wind.
Mick Brown: Not The West Wind. See notes for The Cameronian Reel, p67a.
Nigel Gatherer: This is the Scottish reel Colonel McBain, or Colonel MacBean.
Untitled Reel 76b John Doherty Paul de Grae: A variant of Heather Breeze (Ceol Rince na hEireann II 149; O'Neill's Dance Music of Ireland 779).
Untitled Reel 77a John Doherty Paul de Grae: Mulloy's Reel (Ceol Rince na hEireann I 138).
Untitled Reel 77b John Doherty Paul de Grae: Paddy Ryan's Dream or Tullagh Reel (O'Neill's Dance Music of Ireland 461; IFB 151, 154; MOI 1181-2).
Mick Brown: Doherty nearly always called this Mooney's Favourite. A similar version was played in Glencolmcille. It is generally accepted as a version of Paddy Ryan's Dream.
Untitled Reel (Paddy Ryan's Dreams?) 77b John Doherty Caoimh地 Mac Aoidh: Not John's version of Paddy Ryan's Dream which he actually called Mooney's Reel and is a version of the Scottish reel Miss Grant of the Laggan or Miss Lyall.
Paul de Grae: This is Old Cameronian (ER 74) (but surely older?); noted in text as Untitled reel (Paddy Ryan's Dreams?), which should refer to previous tune.
Mick Brown: This tune was called The Cameronian in Glencolmcille (slightly differently, as recorded by Ronan Galvin on 'The Fiddle Music of Donegal Vol II'). Francie Dearg played a version close to Doherty's version.
Untitled Reel 104 Simon Doherty Caoimh地 Mac Aoidh: Same tune as the Untitled Reel in the middle of page 105.
Paul de Grae: Cup of Tea (Ceol Rince na hEireann II 278; O'Neill's Dance Music of Ireland 792).
Philippe Varlet: Aka The Beauty Spot.
Untitled Reel 105 Simon Doherty Caoimh地 Mac Aoidh: Same tune as the Untitled Reel at the bottom of page 104.
Paul de Grae: Cup of Tea (Ceol Rince na hEireann II 278; O'Neill's Dance Music of Ireland 792).
Philippe Varlet: Aka The Beauty Spot.
Untitled Reel 106 Simon Doherty Paul de Grae: This is called Yellow Tinker.
Untitled Reel 154 Con Cassidy Mick Brown: Con never played this as a reel, always as a highland. In addition, it's incorrectly transcribed: the first part begins with the second group of four quavers in the fourth bar of the transcription (and thus also the last four quavers of the thirteenth bar). The second part begins with the second group of four quavers in the fifth bar. A slightly different version was played in Glencolmcille. The tune seems related to the first part of Miss Butler's Reel (Ceol Rince na hEireann IV, 153).
Untitled Reel 169a Francie & Mickey Byrne Paul de Grae: Greig's Pipes (Ceol Rince na hEireann I 96; WSGM 288).
Untitled Reel 169b Francie & Mickey Byrne Mick Brown: This tune was played in Teelin and Glencolmcille also (in D and G). Mick Carr called it Biddy na gCloch (Biddy of the Stones).
Untitled Reel 170 Francie & Mickey Byrne Paul de Grae: Lads of Leith/Laois (Ceol Rince na hEireann I 192).
Nigel Gatherer: Can be found in KMM4 as The Lads of Leith, and earlier in Riddell's Collection (18th Century) as Sir Adam Ferguson's Reel, and in Lowe's Collection (1844) as Sic a Wife as I hae Gotten.
Untitled Reel 171 Francie & Mickey Byrne Larry Sanger: These are Ed Reavy tunes: Never Was Piping So Gay and Maudabawn Chapel.
Paul de Grae: ER 3 and ER 27.
Untitled Reel 172 Francie & Mickey Byrne Paul de Grae: 1st two parts Flora McDonald's (NF 187); 3rd part from Sleepy Maggie (O'Neill's Dance Music of Ireland 661; MOI 1424; NF 240); 4th part from Master Crowley's/Miss Patterson's Slipper (Ceol Rince na hEireann II 227; Ceol Rince na hEireannIII 180; IFB 152; MOI 1407; NF 71 - played with Roscommon reel as one tune).
Caoimh地 Mac Aoidh: Note that Flora McDonald is in fact the basis of the Coleman masterpiece The Morning Dew, otherwise known as The Hare in the Heather.
Nigel Gatherer: A & B: Flora MacDonald (KMM1p5); C: Sleepy Maggie ().
Untitled Reel 188 Danny O'Donnell Paul de Grae: Aka Man with the Money (MOI 1360).
Mick Brown: Mickey Doherty played a reel something like this tune (O'Neill's Dance Music of Ireland II, 235), which he called Miss Kelly's Favourite.
Untitled Reel 189 Danny O'Donnell Philippe Varlet: The Old Dudeen (from Paddy Killoran).
Untitled Reel 242a John Loughran Philippe Varlet: Aka Paddy Kelly's (# 2).
Mick Brown: Seems related to Ceol Rince na hEireann II, 186.
Untitled Reel 242b John Loughran Paul de Grae: Shamrock Hill (SR 37).
Untitled Reel 242c John McKeown Paul de Grae: Farewell to Erin (Ceol Rince na hEireann I 139); continued on next page.
Philippe Varlet: I disagree with Paul on this one. It's Master McDermott, a Sean Maguire and Lima Donnelly composition, also known as Barrel Rafferty (after Mike's father).
Mick Brown: This tune is in Ceol Rince na hEireann IV. The notes refer to the tune as a composition (May, 1943) of Michael 'Master' McDermott, Pomeroy, Co. Tyrone. Breathnach was of the opinion that the tune is a version of The Boys of the Lough.
Untitled Reel 243a John McKeown Continuation of previous reel.
Untitled Reel 243b John McKeown Paul de Grae: Bill Harte's Reel (Ceol Rince na hEireann I 110).
Untitled Reel 243c John McKeown Paul de Grae: Trim the Bonnet/Tie the Ribbons/Big Pat's Reel (Ceol Rince na hEireann II 284; MOI 1192; WSGM 291).
Untitled Reel 244a John McKeown Mick Brown: This reel is more like a highland/strathspey in structure and feel.
Untitled Reel 244b Peter Turbit Paul de Grae: Templehouse Reel (O'Neill's Dance Music of Ireland 505; MOI 1230; NF 105; WSGM 286).
Wild Irishman, The 105 Simon Doherty
Wild Irishman, The 106 Simon Doherty Caoimh地 Mac Aoidh: The parts are reversed as always played.
You're Welcome Home Royal Charlie 89 John Doherty Nigel Gatherer: Reminiscent of Johnny Cope, but I'm now recognizing another Scottish pipe march - it will come back to me eventually! There is another, different Scottish reel by this name.
Back to top
 Nigel Gatherer, Crieff, Perthshire | nigelgatherer@mac.com