Category Archives: Misc Goodies

Links to pages or articles of interest

A few Originals

Well, there’s only so much woodshedding one can do, so I thought I’d post a couple of original tunes I’ve written recently. The first one, the Praha Polka (Prague Polka) goes nicely with Ned Kelly’s that I learned from the Crawford/Farrell/Doocey CD – Music and Mischief (highly recommended). I have yet to make it to the session in Prague, but hope to one day to join in with my friends Tomas and Veronika. Here’s the notation along with a short video clip of it.

The second tune is a single reel that was inspired by a composting project. Hence the strange name. But it also works well both visually and musically with Eels in the Sink. I think it has a bit of an old time feel to it as well (kind of appropriate given the title).

The third tune is an aptly named jig called Flatten the Curve. I’m sure lots of folks are writing tunes around this topic and I’m thinking this one might go well with Scatter the Mud (use your imagination). Note in the B part the visual of the coronavirus curves being flattened. Let me know what you think of any of these and if you have any suggestions (or corrections).

Jerry Crilly

A few weeks back at the Paddy Keenan show, my friends Kevin Donleavy and Alex Davis were invited up on the stage to play a few tunes and they introduced the audience to a tune that Kevin wrote in honor of his friend, Jerry Crilly, whom Paddy also knew. Since Paddy has asked Kevin to send him a recording of the tune, it seemed like an interesting idea for a blog post, so I asked Kevin to provide a little background on Jerry and the tune. Here’s what he had to say:

“In the early 1970s, among the best-known ballad singers in Dublin town were Lenny Duff, Eric Fleming, and Jerry Crilly. They often performed together in venues like Slattery’s or Toner’s or the Labour Club. They hooked me on the poignancy and power of Irish trad music, both the songs and the tunes.

Among the songs that I learned from Jerry were such fine ballads as “Where Is Our James Connolly,” “The Streets of Derry,” “Avondale,” “Bridget O’Reilly,” “No-Man’s Land,” “Admiral Nelson” (written by fellow Dub, Joe Dolan), ” and “Only Our Rivers Run Free.” Jerry’s first wife Betty sang along as these fellas gave forth, and she was one to prod me whenever I missed a line or two; her favorites were “Avondale” and “Where is Our James Connolly.”

I wrote this jig in the early 2000s as a way to honor Jerry for his commitment to the music and for his kindnesses to me. Paddy Keenan and Jerry have known each other in Dublin from the 1970s. With luck, Paddy and others in Ireland and the States can help popularize this wee jig in honor Jerry Crilly.”

A little more background on Jerry w/picture

Jerry singing the ballad, “Blood Upon the Grass”

Kevin (on right with whistle) and Alex (fiddle) playing Kevin’s tune, Jerry Crilly’s Jig with Paddy Keenan

Paddy Fahey’s Jig and Reel (#20)

Mainly just plunking these up here for my own reference. I’m long overdue to learn a Paddy Fahey tune, and these are the two in the running right now. Both are really nice tunes and the Evelyn Healy version was just too sweet not to post. And reel is Martin Hayes. Can’t top that.

Oh gee, the next set that came up was too good not to include (Paddy Fahey Reel). Maybe some of my students remember Banks of Lough Gowna – seriously hot version! Be sure to check out Caitlin’s variations on that one. Great example of a set of different rhythms.

Addendum Sept 8, 2016

Came across this site with many of the Paddy Fahey tunes in one place. Yay!

Phillip Doddy’s Collection of Paddy Fahey Tunes

Trad Tune Challenge

Have you been noticing some of your friends and teachers posting Irish tunes recently? Similar to the ALS ice bucket challenge, Tommy McCarthy started this Facebook campaign to raise awareness about the growing problem of mental health difficulties and depression among young adults in Ireland. For more information on work of St. Patrick’s Mental Health Foundation and the campaign, please visit their “Walk In My Shoes” website.

If you’re feeling generous, please make a donation!

Thanks to Zak for nominating me and since our daughter was home over Thanksgiving, she gladly raised the level of musicianship in the video. So here’s our contribution to the cause.

The tune we’re playing is called Tommy Mulhaire’s Jig, but also known as Castletown Connor’s. We learned it on our most recent BRIMS trip to Ireland from Breda and Claire Keville. Sweet tune and is still one of my favorites.

What’s so compelling about the Irish Musical Tradition?

Having recently witnessed an amazing concert by the Teetotalers (Martin Hayes, Kevin Crawford, John Doyle), I am once again astounded by both the soul and technical prowess of Irish musicians. Granted, these three are at the top of their craft as individuals and together are over the moon (in my opinion, the greatest band performing today not to have a website or a CD!). But is there something unique to Irish music tradition and culture that fosters a level of musicianship beyond the ordinary? Perhaps so.

What Ireland Can Teach the World about Music

How do you play that tune, anyway?

I’ve noticed that people have various reactions to what constitutes the “right” way to play a tune and I always struggle with handing out a piece of written music to my session class (or particular chords to my guitar class for that matter) for fear the tune becomes “fixed” in someone’s mind. Traditional tunes are malleable and we should be open to (or dare I say welcome?) interesting variations on how a tune is played. Here’s a quick take on the subject from Martin Hayes.

Also, here is a link to a somewhat related article and video from the Irish Times about The Gloaming, an on-going experiment in music, whose new CD will soon be released (featuring Martin among others).

Free on-line Course on Irish Identity Starting in April

In this rapidly changing world, is it any surprise that we can now join a MOOC (Massive Open On-line Course) on Irish Identity? Here is the link and below that is a description from their website. Looks like it will be an interesting 8 weeks – anyone care to join me in a virtual study group?

Explore Irish Identity MOOC

This year, the year of the Gathering, communities throughout Ireland are showcasing and sharing the very best of Irish culture and tradition. Hibernia College, in association with the Gathering, is taking this online by launching the first Irish massive open online course (MOOC) on the theme of Irish identity in April 2013.

The Exploring Irish Identity MOOC is available to everybody completely free of charge, no matter where you are in the world. All you need is access to the Internet and a desire to find out more about Ireland’s culture and heritage. Designed and created by Hibernia College, Ireland’s leading online educator, with contributions from prominent Irish academics and cultural icons, this course seeks to discover the threads of identity that weave through Irish history, culture and society.

Through an exploration of Irish history, literature and poetry, theatre and film, language, art, sport and landscape, this open online course aims to start a conversation that will continue in cities, towns and villages across the globe. Each week of the 8-week course will embrace one of the themes above. You can discover how each aspect is permeated through Irish identity; how they are interpreted and perceived.

Sessions from the Shop

While looking up a few items for friends who are traveling to Ireland this summer, I stumbled upon this YouTube channel with several recordings from the inside of Mazz O’Flaherty’s record shop in Dingle. If you’ve been insider her shop you might wonder how she managed to fit 2 or 3 musicians in there… I did!

I’ve stopped by there several times in my trips to Ireland and have always asked for a local music recommendation from Mazz and I have yet to be disappointed in the CDs she’s chosen.

So please take a listen at sessions in the shop channel. Unfortunately, I now have a craving to have a Guinness down at her brother’s pub, and can’t do a darn thing about it.


Yesterday was a good day. A day of friendships, of music, of sunshine, of appreciation. A full day. A day full of blessings. Wedged among planning trips to Clare and Dingle, of appreciating the just right instrument for you, of aromas of chocolate and tea, of scholarships to Swannanoa, of tunes with friends new and old, were the mundane tasks of buying salt and withdrawing cash. Fortunately, thanks to my favorite driving companion, NPR, I stumbled upon a gem of an interview with John O’Donohue, a poet from County Clare. He was new to me. But as I listened to him talk of the landscapes of the Burren, of Anam Cara, of music and poems, of beauty and mystery, and even of corporate leadership, the mundane became the sublime.

If you have a few moments, I invite you to listen to his poem, Beannacht. The words are also provided below.

If you have an hour or more, enjoy the entire interview. You may need to stop now and then to fully savor a few of his comments. Or perhaps, just hearing his lovely Irish accent will suffice.


On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.

And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The grey window
And the ghost of loss
Gets in to you,
May a flock of colours,
Indigo, red, green,
And azure blue
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
In the currach of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak to mind your life.