The West Clare Railway reel

By Junior Crehan

There are 16 recordings of this tune.

This tune has been recorded together with

The West Clare Railway has been added to 10 tune sets.

The West Clare Railway has been added to 56 tunebooks.

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Four settings

1
X: 1
T: The West Clare Railway
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
EGAB c2AB|cBcd cAGD|EGAB cBcd|1 ecde cAAG:|2 ecde cAAe||
aged c3e|aged cAAe|aged cBce|gfga gede|
aged c3e|aged cAAd|eaaa gedB|cded cAAG||
2
X: 2
T: The West Clare Railway
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
EGAB c2AB|cBcd cAGD|EGAB cBcd|ecde cAAG|
EGAB c2AB|cBcd cAGD|EGAB cBcd|ecde cAAe||
aged c3e|aged cAAe|aged cBce|gfga gede|
aged c3e|aged cAAd|eaaa gedB|cded cAAG||
# Added by JACKB .
3
X: 3
T: The West Clare Railway
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Cmaj
EGAB c2 AB|c2 cd cAAG|EGAB c2 cd|(3ege de cAAG|
EGAB c2 AB|c2 cd cAAG|EGAB c2 cd|(3ege de cAAg||
aged c3g|aged cAAg|aged c3e|g3a (3gag eg|
aged c3g|aged cAAg|e~a3 gede|cded cGAG||
# Added by gimpy .
4
X: 4
T: The West Clare Railway
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
FABc d2 Bc|d2 de dB{d}BA|FABc d2 de|(3faf ef dB{d}BA|
FABc d2 Bc|d2 de dB{d}BA|FABc d2 de|(3faf ef dBBa||
bafe d3a|bafe dBBa|bafe d3f|a3b (3aba fa|
bafe d3a|bafe dBBa|fb b/b/b afef|defe dABA||
# Added by gimpy .

Eight comments

<<…Round and round we go,
each time I hear you say:

This is the rhythm of the night
The night, oh yeah
The rhythm of the night
This is the rhythm of my life
My life, oh yeah
The rhythm of my life…>>

There’s a bit of that song in the second part, isn’t there! 🙂

First heard on a Mick O’Brien CD.
It shows groovy tunes don’t have to be crazy-groovy!
Easy to play and easier still to remember!

I like the winding feeling in it and if you play it a more staccato or 4/4 way (as opposed to 2/2) you get that train on the track feel most definitely!

“the West Clare Railway” refers to the golden age of public transport in Ireland… (A 100 years have since passed, alas!)
The Great Southern & Western connected at Ennis with the West Clare which skirted the Burren, going as far north as Ennistimon and took you to Kilkee or Kilrush through 11 other stops including Miltown Malbey. Imagine that, festival goers!
At least that’s what I gather from a 1906 map of the ’near maximum extent ’ of the network.
I guess most of the still Irish-speaking travellers would have gone East, though, down to Limerick or Cork. It might have been the first and last Irish train journey for a lot of people in those days.

… or perhaps not that easy to play if you want to put rolls on the long c’s in.
Alternatively it can be played in b, where the only f# of the tune becomes g#.
on May Morning Dew, Mick O’Brien plays it as part of a really nice set, he leaves the drones (“D”) on while chantering in “A dorian”…

The poem that goes along with it
“When going to Ennis one day by train, the sounds I heard activated the brain;
The wheels on the rails gave me a note, and “The West Clare Railway” was the tune I wrote.
Are you right there Junior, are you right? Will you have the tune composed before the night?
Sure it all depends on whether you can put the notes together, And you might now Junior, so you might!”

Re: The West Clare Railway

^ The man lived and breathed trad. It’s amazing how he could hear a train and a tune would be born in his head!

The West Clare Railway, X:3

Here’s a setting from the playing of the Mulcahy family as recorded for a TG4 tribute to Junior Crehan (starts at 1:53 and is (mis)identified as another Junior Crehan tune, The Mowing Machine):
https://www.tg4.ie/ga/player/seinn/?pid=5980950268001&title=Junior&series=Junior&genre=Faisneis&pcode=086870

As best as I can tell, they’re tuned up and fingering it in D.

To my ear, the overall feel of the tune is major, though the ending of each line favors the relative minor.

The Mowing Machine is already posted here: https://thesession.org/tunes/11111

Back in the day, mowing machines and steam locomotives might have had a similar rhythmic pulse, hence the apparent confusion over the tune name in the TG4 tribute to Mr. Crehan.

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