The Maids Of Mitchelstown reel

Also known as The Chicken In The Saucepan, Gearrchaile Bhaile Mhistéala, The Maid Of Mitchelstown, The Maids Of Michelstown, The Maids Of Mitchellstown, The Maids Of Mitchelltown, Ogmhna Bhaile Mhisteala, Ógṁná Ḃaιle Ṁisteála.

There are 73 recordings of this tune.
This tune has been recorded together with

The Maids Of Mitchelstown appears in 3 other tune collections.

The Maids Of Mitchelstown has been added to 144 tune sets.

The Maids Of Mitchelstown has been added to 828 tunebooks.

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Twenty comments

This is one to play nice and slow.

The Bothy Band do a wonderful version of this with a countermelody running throughout.

Pay this one slow and beautiful

Jeremy has it right. Matt Molloy of the Bothy Band playing this one makes you want to weep. Beg or buy ‘Old Hag You Have Killed Me’ or the BBC ‘Live In Concert’ for an unforgettable rendition.

Maids Of Mitchelstown, The

T:Maids Of Mitchelstown, The
|EGA=B c2BG|Adde f2ed|cAGE F3G|AcGE EDD2|
|EGA=B cEGc|^FAde =f2ed|cAGE F3G|A/B/c =B/c/d cAGE|

Just listen to Kevin Burke play it on Up Close

I’m familiar with the Bothy Band live version - it’s a tune which just ‘blew me away’ when I first heard it : The interplay between the Matt Molloy melody, the Kevin Burke counter melody and the (?) harpsichord was just fantastic and the speed - slow reel - just right. I think I looped through it about 15 times to just soak up what they were doing.

Well I’ve just heard Kevin Burke’s later version on Up Close (in a set with Tuttles - another favourite of mine - and The Bunch of Green Rushes) and it is amazing too. Brings out a whole different set of qualities from the same tune. Kevin Burke is without doubt a genius.

Bothy Band counter melody

I think I’ve got this right but I’m open to corrections…


E2BA FA~A2 is the tune played as you’d play Irish music.


In what key is it played in sessions?


Dmin - as originally posted.


I think it sounds better in Dmin too - which means half-covered holes for the F-naturals when playing keyless flute or whistle. For a solo though, I can be reliably smoother in E dorian.

Bothy Band counter melody (slightly different version)

Hi cferrie,

I listened carefulyl and came up with slighty different notes in the second part of this counter melody. Sounds almost like a separate tune to me …


X: 1
T: The Maids Of Mitchelstown (2nd voice, as played by the Bothy Band)
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: reel
K: Dmin

From the youtube archives

played grandly by PJ and his son Martin with Dennis Cahill here, second in the set:

To be honest, I like the swing and speed of their manner of playing rather than the Bothy’s slower interpretation - you may now commence with the stones and such… 😉

What key/mode is this in?

For the version(s) above that begin and end (or at least resolve) on D, what key/mode are they in? Most show D minor which generally has plays each B as flat. But here each B is played as a natural. Would this make the tune in D Dorian? Would Dmin and Ddor have differing chordal accompaniments?


key/mode - my analysis

The version in O’Neill’s has one sharp, making it D-Mixolodian! I quite like that version.
The first version posted here omits the f# (or f) entirely. To answer Steve,

Is the 7th flatted? - then Mixolodian
Is the 3rd also flatted? - then Dorian
Is the 6th also Flatted? - then Aeolian (natural minor)

Assuming a tonal centre of D here, and looking at the first version posted,
plays C, not C#, so it’s a flatted 7th
There is no 3rd (F), here, so we don’t know if that would be flatted or not
The 6th is B-natural, so it is not flatted.

Appropriate chords (the slash chords are instead of diminished chords)
Dmin (same scale notes as F) - Dm C/E F Gm Am Bb C
Ddor (same scale notes as C) - Dm Em F G Am G/B C
Dmix (same scale notes as G) - D Em D/F# G Am Bm C

Since the first version of the tune posted here, has a flatted 7th and no third, you can play it
in either D-Mixolodian or D-Dorian, and as you see above the chords are slightly different.
D-Aeolian would not work because the B is always natural.

Of course this is folk music with different permutations, and the key can be somewhat fluid, but yes that makes the chordal accompaniments different too.

Re: The Maids Of Mitchelstown

Excuse me, John, but the first version posted here most definitely does NOT omit the F, or 3rd scale degree… I’m not sure where you got that idea from…

The Maids Of Mitchelstown, X:7

This setting is similar to X:6 but it’s in D dorian (which is probably a better way of notating X:6, as the sharpened
F in the key signature is absent in the first part, and naturalised throughout the second, apart from twice in bars 1 and 5). Taken from ‘A Fine Selection of Over 200 Irish Traditional Tunes for Sessions’, compiled by David Speers with a Forward by Matt Cranitch.

Re: The Maids Of Mitchelstown

Has anyone ever heard of this tune being called the Chicken in the Saucepan outside of the context of Kevin Burke’s Sweeney’s Dream?