Horse With A Heart

By Altan

Ten comments

Altans reel with no name

I am learning to play on my mandolin the first set of reels on Altans “Horse with a Heart” 1989 CD. With thanks to the session I have the score and ABC notation for the Curlew, McDermott’s and Three Scones of Boxty (first question, what is the origin of that last title). But, my main problem is that the set finishes with a fourth reel that the CD cover just describes as “another northern reel” which “completes the set”. Does anyone know the name of this final reel?

Re: Altans reel with no name

Can’t help you with 2nd question (I know the set but not that title). 1st question: boxty is a potato cake or scone, made from mashed potato and flour and baked in an oven or on a griddle. The original versions were very time-consuming to make and mostly are not pursued anymore. Eaten hot, usually with lots of butter and salt.

There’s a beautiful description of boxty, its making, and its meaning in Henry Glassie’s big book “Passing the Time in Ballymenone”--maybe the greatest book about Ireland I’ve ever read.

chris smith

Re: Altans reel with no name

The tune to which you refer provoked a lengthy discussion in the Comments section, concerning its composer and title, when it was posted a couple of months ago.

The consensus seemed to be that it was composed by flute player Paddy Taylor, and is called Little Katie Taylor, after his daughter. You’ll find it here:

Re: Altans reel with no name

Incidentally, the first recording I heard of this tune, played by Scottish English-concertina player, Simon Thoumire with guitar genius Ian Carr, had, in the track listing, the title The Three Scones of Boxty.

It was not long after that, that I was having lunch in a greasy spoon in Isleworth, and I noticed that boxty was on the menu. With the said (and incorrect) tune going round my head, I decided to try it, thinking it might give me a deeper understanding of tune. It was rather disappointing, in fact. It probably needed to be accompanied by a couple of rashers to fulfill its purpose. Being Jewish and Vegetarian, that was not an option for me.

Re: Altans reel with no name

boxties are gorgeous. me nan still cooks them and they’re the perfect cure for a bad hangover. much love the cakes. yes yes yes…..

Re: Altans reel with no name

Well, thanks to you all for the information on the reel and the recipe. I now have the music and am practising. Just one more question. Why do i still not sound like Altan. ah well….
Many thanks

Quality boxty

Anyone wishing to try great boxty should try Gallagher’s Boxty House in Dublin. Man are they great! Also the music system in the resturant only seems to play quality tradition music (all supplied by the nearby Claddagh Music Shop)

The Mysterious 4th Reel

The tune is called “The Slate Roof” in the Martin Mulvihill Collection.