The Otter’s Holt reel

Also known as The Aughdara, The Otter’s Lair, The Otter’s Nest, Pol An Madra Uisce, Poll An Madra Uisce, Poll An Mhadra Uisce, Take Her In Your Arms, The Waterdog’s Hole.

There are 53 recordings of a tune by this name.

A tune by this name has been recorded together with Music In The Glen (a few times), Bobby Casey’s (a few times), John Nee’s (a few times).

The Otter's Holt has been added to 834 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Four settings

X: 1
T: The Otter's Holt
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Bmin
e|:fBBA FEFB|(3ABA FB ABde|fBBA FEFA|
|(3Bcd cA Bcde|fBBA FEFB|(3ABA FB ABde|
|faaf effe|1 dBBA ~B3e:|2 dBAF B3c||
|:d2 fd Adfa|bfaf effe|(3ddd fd Adfa|
bfaf egfe|defd Adfa|bfaf efde|
fBBA FEFA|1 (3Bcd cA B3c:|2 (3Bcd cA ~B3e||
"Burke's Variation B Part"
|:~d3f a2 fa|(3baf af effe|d2 fd adfa|
bfaf effe|dcdf a2 fa|(3baf af effe|
fBBA FEFA|1 (3Bcd cA B3c:|2 (3Bcd cA ~B3e||
# Added .
ABC
X: 2
T: The Otter's Holt
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Bmin
e|:fBBA FEFB|A3F ABde|fBBA FEFA|BdcA Bcde|
fBBA FEFB|A3F ABde|fbaf efde|1 fBBA B3e:|2 fBBA B3c||
|:d2 fdAd f2|a3f edBc|d2 fdAd f2|a3f egfe|
d2 fdAd f2|a3f efde|fBBA FEFA|1 BdcA B3c:|2 BdcA B3e||
# Added by JACKB .
ABC
X: 3
T: The Otter's Holt
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Bmin
e|:fBBA FEFB|(3ABA FB ABde|fBBA FEFA|
|(3Bcd cA Bcde|fBBA FEFB|(3ABA FB ABde|
|faaf effe|1 dBBA ~B3e:|2 dBAF B3c||
|:d2fd Adfa|bfaf effe|d2fd Adfa|bfaf ~e3f|
~d2fd Adfa|bfaf efde|fBBA FEFA|(3Bcd cA ~B3c:|
ABC
X: 4
T: The Otter's Holt
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Bmin
E' | F'BBA FEFB | ABFB ABD'E' | F'BBA FEFA | BD'=C'A BD'C'E' |
F'BBA FEFB | BAFB ABD'E' | F'2A'F' E'G'F'E' | D'BAF B3 ||
C' | D'2 F'D' AD'F'A' | B'F'A'F' E'G'F'E' | D'2F'D' AD'F'A' | B'F'A'F' E'2 F'E' |
D'2F'D' AD'F'A' | B'F'A'F' E'F'D'E' | F'BBA FEFA | BD'C'E B3 ||
ABC

Thirty-eight comments

The Otter’s Holt

This is a fiddle-ish setting of the Otter’s Holt, particularly the B part variation based on the playing of Kevin Burke (sorry Manfred, it’s ingrained in me!).

There are lots of opportunities for cut notes in this tune, between those doubled-up B’s (like in measures 1, 3, 5, and 8 in Part A), and the double f’s in measure 7 of the A part. The same cut notes appear in the B part.

I slur the (3ABA triplets in the A Part, but usually single-bow the (3baf and (3Bcd triplets in the B Part.

Holt, btw, is another word for an otter’s den, coming from old words for "wood," "woods," and "wooded hill" (Icelandic "holt" and German "holz" both mean wood). The den in this case is a small pile of sticks and branches, similar to a beaver lodge but smaller.

Posted .

Killer tune! Always was curious about the title.

Composer

This tune has been attributed to the late Junior Crehan. First made popular (at least outside of Ireland) after appearing on Matt Molloy’s 1st solo recording.

Posted by .

The Otter’s holt

The melody here in the A part is also the melody of an Andy Stewart song called (I think)
"Take her in your arms" (At least that is the start of the refrain)
Nice song!
Jack

Otter’s holt same as Take her in your arms?

I have the cd with Andy Stewart singing that song (love that man’s voice). Odd, I don’t remember it sounding like this at all. Now you’ve made me curious, by tomorrow, I should be able to answer this with authority!

Yep, take her in your arms it is.

I pulled out the cd and sure enough, the A part of Otter’s holt, if you change the rythmn in a few spots and drop it by 4 or 5 whole steps (I wish I knew how to figure out key changes).

I found a reference on the Net the other day to "the third part of Otter’s Holt" (in a truly weird place, too, it’s amazing what’s out on the Net) but have been unable to find any settings with a third part. Does anyone know of one?

Zina

I’m learning this tune at the moment. It follows on very well from The Drunken Landlady, and I’m being taught both tunes in hornpipe rhythm, which is an alternative brought back from Ireland by my teacher.

Origin of the title

This tune was definitely composed by Junior Crehan. He told me himself that he was annoyed that Matt Molloy had not credited him on the album. Here’s the story Junior told about the origin of the name: Junior’s mother used to play the concertina in the back yard when the weather was fine. There was a stream in the field behind the house and the otters would come out of the stream when they heard the music and lie basking as if they were listening to it. Perhaps they were!
BTW Junior played this tune a tone below the transcription given.

What a great story, miles. I love this reel, one of my favorites for sure, although I’ve still never been able to find a third part. Interesting that Junior played it a tone below…when I’ve time, I’ll have to try it.

zls

Well bumping it down into Am takes the shrill edge off the tune…I like it there. Thanks for the story and the key change suggestion!

Posted .

Wonderful tune. Brad, I’ll put some light into the title: The name in Irish is Poll Madra Uisce, literally The Waterdog (otter) Hole. For some reason it corrupted into The Otter’s Holt.

Toni

Lets get it right!

Would also like to add my bit to the discussion on the title of this tune. I would be in favour of linking "Poll" to "Madra" with the article "an", allowing for the genitive ("Mhadra") to suggest that the hole belongs to the otter, otherwise it simply reads (as in comment above) "Hole otter". "Poll an Mhadra Uisce" (pronounced in the Ulster dialect "Poll a waddie ish-ka", or in southern or central dialects as "Poll an wadra-a ish-ka" reads correctly as "The Otters Holt". Care must also be taken in the preservation of the tune names, complacency will only allow (if i may use imagery from a well known poem) the plaque of English to tarnish our language to an extent where the meaning is lost. It’s to be witnessed all over Ireland. Had the title of this tune been a placename, it would probably be known today as Pollinisk. Care please care!!!

The Second Part

The variation of the second part Will transcribed from Kevin Burke’s playing works very well when we play the tune very slowly. I think nobody knows her yet, but very promising Scottish fiddler Patsy Reid recorded the very similar version with a harper on her debut recording. Absolutely beautiful.

Junior Crehan & Chris Corbett

I am trying to contact Chris Corbett directly concerning his commentary regarding Junior Crehan and "The Otter’s Holt." I am one of the co-editors of the tune book The Portland Collection. Chris has already communicated with my editorial partner, Sue Songer, but I would like to talk to him directly. Chris, if you’re out there, please get in touch with me. Thanks so much.

Clyde Curley

Otter’s Holt Advice

Hi,
Desperately seeking a tune to follow ‘Otter’s holt’ - How can it be topped?

Re: Otter’s Holt Advice

McFadden’s Handsome Daughter. As per ‘Music at Matt Molloy’s’.

Re: Otter’s Holt Advice

How about Humours of Tullah?

Re: Otter’s Holt Advice

You can hear on the BBC virtual session a rather muddy example of the Otter’s Holt followed by High Road To Linton.

Posted by .

Otter’s Holt Advice

Thanks to everybody here. Most of the ideas as well as most recorded sets go to a reel either Bmin or a Gmaj standard. I would prefer something more special ;-)

Some bad advice?

Try going into Mahler’s second Symphony.

Another Version

X: 1
T: Otter’s Holt, The
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: reel
K: Bmin
e|:fBBA FEFB|A3F ABde|fBBA FEFA|BdcA Bcde|
fBBA FEFB|A3F ABde|fbaf efde|1 fBBA B3e:|2 fBBA B3c||
|:d2 fdAd f2|a3f edBc|d2 fdAd f2|a3f egfe|
d2 fdAd f2|a3f efde|fBBA FEFA|1 BdcA B3c:|2 BdcA B3e||

Posted by .

Otter’s nest - patsy reid

came across this on YouTube - some po-faced folk in the uni audience but nice tunes anyway - I’ve always enjoyed Otter’s Holt

This tune is sooooo amazing…..

I love the otter’s holt!!! It is indeed possibly one of my favourite tunes (though, of course, I have quite a few favourite tunes….)

This goes really well as the finishing piece a set after Jennie’s Chickens and the Musical Priest…..

Joanie Madden does a very nice Air Whistle version followed by Richie Dwyer’s on songs of the Irish Whistle 1995. Along with Brian Keane with thumps, bottles, spoons , slaps and keys!!

In England a holt is what it’s called (an otter’s den that is)

Re: Otter’s Holt Advice

I also enjoy playing Musical Priest after Otter’s Holt. Good stuff!!!

Bothy Band

X: 1
T: Otter’s Holt, The
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: reel
K: Bmin
e|:fBBA FEFB|(3ABA FB ABde|fBBA FEFA|
|(3Bcd cA Bcde|fBBA FEFB|(3ABA FB ABde|
|faaf effe|1 dBBA ~B3e:|2 dBAF B3c||
|:d2fd Adfa|bfaf effe|d2fd Adfa|bfaf ~e3f|
~d2fd Adfa|bfaf efde|fBBA FEFA|(3Bcd cA ~B3c:|

Another title

This tune shows up in Bulmer & Sharpley’s "Music from Ireland" (book 4, tune 12) as ‘The Aughdarra’. Anyone know the background on this particular title?

Posted by .

Source in "B&S 4" is given as Charlie Lennon - see "Acknowledgments" opposite page 32.

Posted by .

Otter’s Holt

Wow, that’s a great doc, hafta thank Pat D’Arcy for putting that one up. Note how Junior would move the fiddle itself to change strings, instead of the usual moving the bow around, a very old way of playing the instrument.

I always got this tune mixed up with the Old Dudeen: http://thesession.org/tunes/3168 Someone with no username showing - probably Will Harmon - pointed out this similarity in the comments there.

The Otter’s Holt

Really love this tune. Just learned it last week at a session in the Cobblestone, Smithfield, Dublin 7 from Jacqui Martin.