Fierce Traditional

By Frankie Gavin

Five comments

Recorded in 2001. Frankie Gavin ( fiddle & flute), Brian McGrath (piano & banjos), Alec Finn (bouzouki) and Sean Gavin (accordion).

Fierce Traditional

Hello, I’m looking for the name of the reel that comes after Maud Millar on Frankie Gavin’s Fierce Traditional CD. A friend of mine recorded these two tunes for me to learn but he didn’t know the name of the second. I have the CD and Frankie doesn’t reveal the name anywhere in the notes.


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Hi, Joyce !! - query answered.

Hello, Joyce,
I only noticed this query yesterday, and you may have solved the mystery by now, but if not - I had a listen to “Maud Miller” on Frankie’s “Fierce Traditional”. I was sure I’d heard the tune before and thought of John Carty. It’s on his “Yeah, That’s All It Is” CD, and the title is “Mary O‘Neill’s Fancy”, which is in O’Neill’s, #556. He even says on the sleeve notes that it’s a version of “Maud Miller”. Gian Marco has posted a “Mary O’Neill’s” but it’s not the same tune.

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Produced by - Frankie Gavin / Recorded & mixed at - LG Studios, Cahanagh, Co. Longford, Ireland / Engineered by - Paul Gurney / Mastering & Sleeve design by - Bruno Staehelin of Open Ear Productions Ltd., Ireland (
Cover Photography by - Mike Shaughnessy, Galway.
Notes based on information supplied by Orla Henihan and Nicholas Carolan of the Irish Traditional Music Archive.

Special thanks to John Carty for his encouragement and inspiration during this recording. Also to Tracy and Ron Harris for putting my website together.

Track Notes

1) The Man of the House (Reel) / The Providence Reel
The Man of the House was discovered by Captain Francis O‘Neill in a manuscript of Cavan music given to him by Philip J. O’Reilly in Chicago. O‘Neill published it there in 1903 in his highly influential collection O’Neill’s music of Ireland. In recent years it has been popularised as ‘Ginley’s Fancy’ by the master Galway accordion player Joe Burke.
The second tune, a fairly modern tune believed to have been composed as ‘The Rossport Reel’ by the fiddle player John McGrath of Rossport, Co. Mayo, who spent most of his life (1900 - 1955) in New York. Published under that title by Jerry O‘Brien in Irish Folk Dance Music in Boston about 1950, it is commonly known nowadays by the title used here. According to the late Danny O’Donnell of Donegal, the new name was given to it by Michael Coleman, Louis Quinn and others on a trip to Providence, Rode Island.

2) Maud Millar (Reel)
Noted in Chicago from the Offaly piper Barney Delaney by his brother-in-law Captain Francis O‘Neill, published by O’Neill in 1903, and popularised by James Morrison on a 1935 New York recording.

3) Miss Langford’s Reel / The Tailor’s Thimble (Reel)
The first tune owes its present popularity to a recording made in New York in 1935 by the Sligo fiddle player James Morrison. It is also known as ‘The Lass of Carracastle’ from a 1934 recording by Paddy Sweeney, another Sligo fiddle player in New York
The Tailor’s Thimble was taught by the Leitrim flute player John McKenna to James Morrison in New York, and recorded by them as a fiddle and flute duet in 1929. It was published by Breandan Breatnach in his seminal collection Ceol Rince na hEireann in 1963 from the playing of Dublin whistle player Ned Stapleton. The title is more commonly used for a jig.

4) Sliabh NA mBan (Air)
The melody of a contemporary song in Irish commemorating a battle fought during the 1798 rebellion on the slopes of Slievenamon (‘The Mountain of Women’) near Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. The Irish side was defeated.

5) Jenny Pickling Cockles (Reels) /Farewell to Connaught (Reel)
Noted in Chicago by Francis O‘Neill from Leitrim piper Sergeant James Early, a policeman colleague of O’Neill’s who made a manuscript collection of older Leitrim music, and published by O’Neill’s in 1903. The earliest commercial recording of the tune seems to be that made by the Flanagan Brothers in New York in 1923. Also recorded by the Donegal fiddle player Neilidh Boyle in 1937, it seems related to other northern tunes. This was a great favourite of the late Jimmy Cummins who played the accordion, and many’s the time he gave me a lift from Dublin in his fruit truck. A gentleman if ever there was one.
The second tune was sent in manuscript to Captain O‘Neill in Chicago by Francis E. Walsh who had written it down in San Francisco from John Kelly, a Roscommon fiddle player. O’Neill published it in 1924 in a second edition of his Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody. It doesn’t seem to have been recorded until the LP era of the late 1960’s.

6) The Primrose Vale (Jig) / Leitrim Fancy (Jig)
Published by Jerry O‘Brien in Boston about 1950 as ’Wicky Sears‘. Collected by Breandan Breathnach from the Dublin accordion player Sonny Brogan in the 1950’s and published by him in 1963. Often called ’the Lark in the Strand’ (one of several) and commonly recorded.
The Leitrim Fancy was collected in the 1950’s by Breandan Breathnach from the Dublin piper Michael Brophy and published by him in 1963. Made famous in our own day by the Bothy Band who recorded it in 1977. The title is more commonly used for a hornpipe.

7) The Mystery Reel
This tune I would like to think I wrote myself! Sadly, not the case. It has baffled the ‘experts’ as to it’s origin, but it is the type of tune Eddie Maloney would have played as my good friend Joe Burke pointed out to me.

8) Lucy Campbell (Reel)
A Scottish reel first published in the late 1700’s and known in many versions. It has long been popular in Ireland. A version similar to this one was collected in Munster in the mid-19th century by the Rev. James Goodman. An early recording was made by the Leitrim piper Michael Gallagher in New York about 1924, although the Sligo fiddle player Michael Coleman’s 1935 recording is more famous.

9) The Night Cap (Jig) / The Frost is All Over (Jig)
The Night Cap was first published by Francis O’Neill in 1903 from his own childhood recollections and first recorded seemingly by fiddle player John Gerrity in New York in 1920. This version is from a 1935 New York recording by the Leitrim banjo-mandolin player Michael Gaffney, the musical partner of John McKenna. I got this tune from Jackie Small, who got it from Harry Bradshaw and Nicholas Carolan.
The Frost is All Over also known as ‘The Potatoes are Dug and the Frost is All Over’ which is the first line of one of several songs written to this widespread air. It seems to have been first collected by George Petrie in the mid-19th century from a Co. Armagh source, and first recorded in New York in 1923 by Tom Ennis of Chicago on pipes, Tom Quigley on fiddle and John Muller on piano.

10) Wheels of the World Wheels for the World (Reel) / Delaney’s Frolics (Reel)
This version of the Wheels of the World is from a recording made by James Morrison in New York in December 1903. It was recorded in Chicago in the same month by fiddle players Francis Cashin and Tom Cawley with accompaniment by a pianist named Ford. A song of the same title is found on 19th-century ballad sheets. Henry Ford, the Cork motor car legend, was very fond of fiddle music, and Ann Savoy from Eunice, Louisiana informed me that the great Henry had fiddle players performing at all his new car launches. Clever Man was our Henry!
The second piece was first published as ‘The Dunboyne [Co. Meath] Straw Plaiters’ by P.W. Joyce in 1909 in his Old Irish Folk Music and Songs, and recorded as ‘Delaney’s Frolics’ on a privately made cylinder in the United States by the Galway professional piper Patsy Touhey about 1900. It was named after Barney Delaney.

11) Byrne’s Hornpipe / Mullingar Races (Hornpipes)
The first tune was collected by Francis O’Neill from Sergeant Early and published by him in 1903. It was recorded by the Ballinakill Ceili Band of Galway in the early 1930’s.
Mullingar Races, learned as ‘May Day’ by P.W. Joyce from his father in Limerick, and also heard by Joyce in 1853 played by miners in Glenmalure, Co. Wicklow. Published as a reel ‘The Mullingar Races’ by Francis O’Neill in 1903 and popularised by Sligo fiddle player Paddy Kiloran and Paddy Sweeney on a New York recording of 1931.

12) Maid of Mount Kisco (Reel)
Believed to have been composed or adapted from another tune by the Sligo fiddle player Paddy Killoran. It was recorded by him in New York in 1937, and published by Jerry O’Brien in Boston about 1950. Mount Kisco is in upper New York State.

13) The New Road (Reel) / Fisherman’s Lilt (Reel) / Humour of Westport (Reel)
A version of ‘The New Road’ was given to Francis O‘Neill by his policeman colleague Sergeant James O’Neill of County Down and published by Francis in 1903. Galway fiddle player Paddy Fahy has been credited with re-working this tune.
The second tune was published by Francis O‘Neill in 1903 as ’Molly, What Ails You?‘ and other other titles. This version is from a 1928 New York recording by James Morrison. The tune was recorded by Michael Coleman as ’The Kerryman’s Daughter’.
Humours of Westport was published by O‘Neill in 1903 and popularised by James Morrison as ’The Milestone at the Garden’ on a New York recording of 1935.
The three reels here are all about the life and soul of the Irish music scene in New York in the 1920’s. I have tried to capture this feeling as best I could, with the help of Brian McGrath doing special effects on the Banjo.

14) She Lived beside the Anner (Slow Air)
The original melody of the song of the same name by the Tipperary Fenian novelist and poet Charles J. Kickham (1828 - 1882). The song is a politically charged song about emigration which has retained its popularity now for more than a century.
I think the first time I heard this was in our pub in Corrandulla, Co. Galway, when I was five or six years of age. It came to my mind when we were recording, and it was a great favourite of my late father JJ. He loved slow airs, and I regret not playing them for him whenever he would ask me. So this is one of two slow airs on this album which I dedicate to him.

15) The Mason’s Apron (Reel)
An 18th century English tune which has long been popular in Ireland. This is the version of Micho Russell who learned it from a neighboring concertina player Patrick Flanagan. It seems to have been first recorded by the New York accordion player John J. Kimmel in 1915.
The late and Great Micho taught me this tune on a tour of Germany which I had the privilege of being on with him some six or seven years ago.

16) Floggin Reel / Johnny Gorman’s (Reel)
The first tune is originally a Scottish reel generally known as ‘The Flagon Reel’ but long popular in Ireland and widely published and recorded here. It was published in Dublin as early as 1842 and collected in Munster about the same time by the Rev. James Goodman. It seems to have been commercially recorded in 1917 in New York by accordion player Patrick J. Scanlon, and John Kimmel also recorded it there the same year.
Johnny Gorman’s Reel is named from a Co. Roscommon professional piper and fiddle player who died in tragic circumstances in 1917, and commercially recorded by Dublin piper William N. Andrews in 1930. A version is commonly called ‘The Beauty Spot’.

17) Wonder Hornpipe / The Foxhunter’s Reel
The first tune is an English or Scottish hornpipe in print since the 19th century. This version is from a 1956 recording by the Wexford accordion player George Ross, who may have been influenced by a 1951 recording by the Scottish accordionist William Starr.
This version of the Foxhunter’s Reel became known in the 1960s from the fiddle playing of Patrick Kelly of Cree, Co. Clare (1903 - 1975). Kelly had inherited music from George Whelan, a travelling Kerry fiddle master who had come to Clare in the 1880s. He played this melody with an unusual AEAE tuning. The Scottish reel ‘Greig’s Pipes’ is related.

18) Free and Easy (Mike Flanagan’s Banjo) (Reel)
Discovered by Francis O’Neill in a manuscript collection of music played by Jeremiah Breen, a blind North Kerry fiddle player of the 19th century, and published by him in 1922 in the first edition of Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody. It has rarely been recorded.
THE Flanagan Family gave me Mike’s famous banjo to keep and use in my music whenever possible. It is featured here in true Mike Flanaghan style by Brian McGrath.
I met Mike in Albany NY and he was so thrilled when DE Dannan brought the music of the twenties back to life with the recording of “My Irish Molly O”