Folktrax-170: Neil Boyle, Fairy Fiddler Of Donegal

By Néillidh Boyle

  1. Neil Boyle Talking About The State Of Irish Music (in 1953)
  2. Talk
    Lord Of Mayo
  3. Talk
    A Plague On The Sea
  4. Talk
    The River Roe
  5. Talk
    The Pretty Girl Milking Her Cow
  6. Talk
    Miss McLeod’s
  7. Talk
    The Harvest Home
  8. Talk
    The Moving Clouds
  9. Talk
    The Pigeon On The Gate
  10. Talk
    Sean Sa Cheo
  11. Talk
    Farewell To The Green Hills
  12. The Song Of The Boxty
  13. Burke Street
  14. The Loughanure Tune
  15. Caoinead
  16. The Blackbird

Five comments

Folktrax-170: Neil Boyle

[Non-commerical field recording recorded by Peter Kennedy, Dunloe, Co. Donegal 23rd August 1953. Edited by Peter Kennedy and first published on Folktrax Cassettes 1977. Available to libraries, academics and traditional musicians at - www.folktrax.org, Folktrax & Soundpost Publ., 16 Brunswick Square, Gloucester GL1 1UG Tel: +44 - (0)1452-415110 - peter@folktrax.freeserve.co.uk]

From the Liner Notes:

"Neil Boyle (1889-1961) born 26th. November, 1889 to Paddy Boyle and Nancy Sweeney at Easton, Pennsylvania; died at Dungloe on the 8th. August, 1961. It was another family of Donegal fiddlers, the Dohertys, who insisted that Peter Kennedy should do everything possible to make a recording of "Neily" because of his quite exceptional style. In the first place, he learned much from his grandfather, the famous Padraig McSweeney; secondly, because he claimed to have learned from "the little people", and thirdly, John, Michael, and Simie Doherty told us that he had written a number of his own compositions [including The Moving Clouds on this recording], which were now sought after by other fiddlers but jealously guarded by "Neily" himself. Although he had previously made a number of 78 rpm records for Regal Zonophone and many broadcasts, in the first place Neily refused to record. However he finally agreed to talk about "The Present State of Irish Music", and learning from the "wee folk", and in so doing, started to illustrate his talk. In this way Peter succeeded in making this remarkable recording. Because the house had no raod access, Peter needed to use nearly half a mile of microphone cable in order to operate his tape machine from the car batteries, using the car horn as a signal. On playback, Neil was pleased with the result and gave his permission for publication…."

A Man of Strong Opinions, to say the least

First I should observe that despite the half-mile of microphone cable, recording quality is great.

Neily is a man of strong opinions to say the least, and without doubt a fiery fiddle player. It is amusing to hear him decry the traditional playing he hears on the wireless and the grammophone on the one hand, and on the other to include "chording" effects in his own playing which sound, well, "unusual" to my relatively untutored ears. However as he says he got the effects off of two fairy fiddlers at a fairy wedding (he names the fiddlers, by the way), perhaps his "chording" is Very Traditional Indeed. After all, his "blackbird imitations" in the middle of the air "The Blackbird" he quite plainly got from the birds themselves….

Some of Neily’s 78 side are available in compilations like The Milestone at the Garden and Past Master of Irish Fiddle Music.

= FTX-170 - Neil Boyle: The Moving Clouds

http://www.folktrax.org/

The enchanted fiddle music of Donegal. A remarkable documentary recording of a very unique character and performer. Neil believed that he learned his style of melodic embellishment from the "wee folk", and describes the occasion when this happened. As well as demonstrating a variety of styles of fiddle music, including his "fairy" music, and some samples of "keening" for the dead, Neily gives an "Account of the Present State of Irish Music", with particular reference to today’s "Pop" or what he calls "Jungle Music".

1. Talking about Irish Music - 7’19"

2. TIGHEARNA MHUIGHEO (The Lord of Mayo) (talk/ song-tune on fiddle) - 4’54"

3. PLEOID AR AN FHARRAIGE (A Plague on the Sea) (talk/ song-tune) - 1’59"

4. THE RIVER ROE (talk/ song-tune) - 2’34"

5. CAILIN DEAS CRUIDHTE NA MBO (The pretty girl milking her cow) (talk/ song- tune) - 2’06"

6. MISS Mc LEOD’S REEL (talk before about embellishments) - 2’43"

7. THE HARVEST HOME (talk before about exercises, wireless & gramophone) - 2’51"

8. THE MOVING CLOUDS (reel comp 1942) (talk before) - 3’22"

9. THE PIGEON ON THE GATE (talk before about "chording" & IRA soldier) - 6’00"

10. SEAN SA CHEO (John in the Mist) (talk before about pipe-tune) - 2’49"

11. FAREWELL TO THE GREEN HILLS (talk before about bagpipes being inferior to the fiddle & sadness of emigrants leaving home) - 3’47"

12. THE SONG OF THE BOXTY (Potato bread) (talk before) song in Gaelic - 2’00"

13. RATHAD NA MBURCACH (Burke’s Street) (talk/ verse of a poteen song in Gaelic/ tune on fiddle) - 1’47"

14. THE LOUGHANURE TUNE (talk before about man crying over his wife’s grave, with his two sons away in Scotland and how two boys hear his song and make a dance-lilt out of his sadness/ sings song/ lilts tune/ fiddle) - 2’45"

15. CAOINEAD (KEENING) SONG (talk/ imitation of women’s moan/ fiddle) - 2’59"

16. THE BLACKBIRD (talk about song air/ tune incl bird imitations) - 4’06"

Recorded by Peter Kennedy, Dunloe, Co Donegal 23rd August 1953. Edited by Peter Kennedy and first published on Folktrax Cassettes 1977.

NEIL BOYLE (1889-1961) was born 26th. November, 1889 to Paddy Boyle and Nancy Sweeney at Easton, Pennsylvania. He died at Dungloe on the 8th. August, 1961

It was another family of Donegal fiddlers, the Doherty’s, who insisted that Peter Kennedy should do everything possible to make a recording of "Neily" because of his quite exceptional style. In the first place, he had learned much from his grandfather, the famous Padraig Mc Sweeney; secondly, because he claimed to have learned from "the little people", and thirdly, John, Michael and Simie Doherty told us that he had written a number of his own compositions, which were now very much sought after by other fiddlers but jealously guarded by Neily himself.

Although he had previously made a number of 78 rpm records for Regal Zonophone and many broadcasts, in the first place Neily refused to record his fiddle-playing. However he finally agreed to talk to the tape-recorder about "The Present State of Irish Music", and learning from the "wee folk", and, in so doing, started to illustrate his talk on the fiddle. In this way Peter succeeded in making this remarkable recording. Because the house had no road access, Peter needed to use nearly half a mile of microphone cable in order to operate his tape machine from the car batteries, using the car horn as a signal. On playback, Neil was pleased with the result and finally gave his permission for publication, assigning his arrangements and recording rights to Folktrax.

Folktracks ~ FSA-60-170: “Neil Boyle: The Moving Clouds” ~ 1977

THE MOVING CLOUDS
The Enchanting Music of Ireland. A Documentary of the outstanding Irish fiddler
NEIL BOYLE

A remarkable recording for all those interested in Irish music containting an account of ‘The Present State of Irish Music with particular references to Popular or Jungle Music’ and examples of many types of music: Slow Airs, Dance tunes, Pipe tunes, Mouth music, Keening at Funeral Wakes and his encounters with fairies.

* The above is from an earlier release of this recording, where the tracks are in a different order to start ~

A1. TALKING ABOUT IRISH MUSIC - 7’ 20"

A2. PLEOID AR AN FHARRAIGE (A Plague on the Sea) talk & song-tune on fiddle - 1’ 59"

A3. TIGHEARNA MHUIGHEO (The Lord of Mayo) talk & song-tune on fiddle - 4’ 55"

A4. Talk about embellishments & MISS McLEOD Reel played on the fiddle - 2’ 45"

A5. THE RIVER ROE talk & tune - 2’35"

A6. CAILIN DEAS CRUIDHTE NA MBO (The pretty girl milking her cow) talk & tune - 2’ 10"

A7. THE HARVEST HOME HORNPIPE talk & tune played on the fiddle - 2’ 50"

A8. THE MOVING CLOUDS Reel composed by Neil Boyle played on the fiddle - 3’ 25"

9 = B1. Talk about previous item and this item THE PIGEON ON THE GATE - 5’ 55"

10 = B2. SEAN SA CHEO (John in the Mist) Pipe-tune played on the fiddle - 3’ 00"

11 = B3. FAREWELL TO THE GREEN HILLS Slow Air played on the fiddle - 3’47"

12 = B4. THE SONG OF THE BOXTY Talk and Song sung in Gaelic - 2’ 00"

13. = B5. RATHAD NA MBURCACH (Burke’s Street) One verse of Pteen Song in Gaelic & tune played on the fiddle) - 1’ 50"

14. = B6. THE LOUGHANURE TUNE Talk; song; tune lilted & on fiddle - 2’ 35"

15. = B7. KEENING SONG Talk; song & tune played on the fiddle - 3’ 00"

16. = B8. THE BLACKBIRD Talk about song air and tune on fiddle with variations - 4’ 10"