The Fair-haired Lass reel

Also known as Ciaran Kelly’s, The Dark Haired Lass, The Fair Haired Lass, Jig Away The Donkey, Mick Hoy’s, Mick Hoy’s Jig Away The Donkey, Mick’s Jig Away The Donkey.

There are 15 recordings of a tune by this name.

A tune by this name has been recorded together with Bonnie Anne (a few times), John Blessings’ (a few times) and The Monaghan Twig (a few times).

The Fair-haired Lass has been added to 9 tune sets.

The Fair-haired Lass has been added to 111 tunebooks.

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Seven settings

X: 1
T: The Fair-haired Lass
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amix
|:ea~a2 eg~g2|ea~a2 ABcd|ea~a2 efge|afge d2cd:|
|:eA~A2 efgf|eA~A2 BAGB|ABcd efge|afge d2cd:|
X: 2
T: The Fair-haired Lass
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amix
ea~a2 g3f|ea~a2 ABcd|ea~a2 efge|agec d2cd:|:
eAfA g3f|eAcA B2GB|ABcd eg~g2|agec d2cd|
eAfA gAfA|eAcA B2GB|ABcd eg~g2|agec d2cd||
X: 3
T: The Fair-haired Lass
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amix
cd|ea ~a2 eg ~g2|ea ~a2 ABcd|ea ~a2 eg ~g2|affe d:||
ed|c2 Ac BAGB|BA ~A2 BAGB|ABcd edcd|eage d2:||
X: 4
T: The Fair-haired Lass
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amix
cd|eaa2 egg2|eaa2 ABcd|eaag efg2|afge d2:||
ed|c2 AG EFGA|EAA2 AB=cG|AB=cd edcd|eage d2:||
X: 5
T: The Fair-haired Lass
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amix
|:eaag efgf|ea~a2 ABcd|eaag efge|afge d2cd:|
|:eA~A2 efgf|eA~A2 BAGB|AB=cd efge|afge d2cd:|
X: 6
T: The Fair-haired Lass
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amix
|:e~a3 efgf|e~a3 ABcd|e~a3 efg/f/e|afge d2cd:|
e~A3 efgf|e~A3 BAGB|1 e~A3 efg/f/e|afge d2cd:|2 ABcd efg/f/e|afge d4|]
X: 7
T: The Fair-haired Lass
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amix
ea-aa efgf|ea-aa ABcd|ea-aa efge|a/g/fge d2cd:|
eeAe- efgf|eeAB- BAGB|1 eeAe- efge|a/g/fge d2cd:|2 ABcd efge|(3a2.g2.e2 d4|]

Eighteen comments

Henrik Norbeck’s and JC’s indexes have other versions of this in Ador. The Amix version is the one that gets played at my local session anyway.

Eileen Ivers plays a version of this tune on ‘Wild Blue’ (which enters a pupal phase, eventually re-emerging as Jenny’s Chickens). She calls it The Piper on Horseback, although I have come across another tune with this name, and I wonder if one of them might be an impostor. Anyway, her version (pre-disintegration) goes something like this:

ea~a2 g3f|ea~a2 ABcd|ea~a2 efge|agec d2cd:|:
eAfA g3f|eAcA B2GB|ABcd eg~g2|agec d2cd|
eAfA gAfA|eAcA B2GB|ABcd eg~g2|agec d2cd||

Fair Haired Lass

This is the tune I’ve always known as "Jig Away The Donkey", which is often played before "The Piper On Horseback". I’ve always thought that someone got the names of the two tunes mixed up when they gave the tune to Eileen Ivers. Cathal Hayden recorded an odd version of this on his "Handed Down" LP/CD, which causes havoc in a session if you have musicians who know the different versions, and try to play them at the same time.

Posted by .

The Fair-Haird Lass aka. Mick Hoy’s

I haven’t got Hidden Fermanagh CDs yet, but Mr. Ptarmigan kindly played them on the stereo while I visited him. I remember this tune appears as "Mick Hoy’s Jig away the Donkey."

If I am right, I think that Chris Stout plays this under the name "Piper On Horseback" rather than https://thesession.org/tunes/1247 which is the tune that is listed in the album details on here.

Chris Stout got it wrong. I’ll give you good odds he learned it from Eileen Ivers’ recording, or someone else who did.

Posted by .

Eileen Ivers writes: "The first reel, Piper On Horseback, is a Donegal tune I learned from the playing of New York-based fiddler Andi Leahy." Possibly she got the title from the same source.

The London Lasses & Pete Quinn also recorded this as "The Piper on Horseback." Whether it’s a plain mistake or confusion, it is now becoming a common title for this tune.

It’s still feckin’ wrong. And it’s not a Donegal tune, she got that wrong too.

Posted by .

Ciaran Kelly’s

Sorry to add more confusion but here’s another version. It’s from the Daimh album Moidart to Mabou and they call it Ciaran Kelly’s

X: 1
T: Ciaran Kelly’s
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: reel
K: Amix
cd|ea ~a2 eg ~g2|ea ~a2 ABcd|ea ~a2 eg ~g2|affe d:||
ed|c2 Ac BAGB|BA ~A2 BAGB|ABcd edcd|eage d2:||

Cathal Hayden’s version

Kenny noted that this version was about. This is our version of Cathal Hayden’s version (second part is pretty close, as far as I recall). One of our faves.

X: 1
T: Cathal Hayden’s version
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: reel
K: Amix
cd|eaa2 egg2|eaa2 ABcd|eaag efg2|afge d2:||
ed|c2 AG EFGA|EAA2 AB=cG|AB=cd edcd|eage d2:||

The Fair-haired Lass, X:5

Slight variation as taught to us by Dáithi Sproule at Center for Irish Music.

Buy Broom Besoms

This is very like a 4/4 variation on Buy Broom Besoms (the Caledonian Museum version printed as no.25 in Matt Seattle’s "Over the Hills and Far Away"). MS notes the resemblance to Dixon’s no. 24, Young and Lusty Was I.

Re: The Fair-haired Lass

|:e~a3 efgf|e~a3 ABcd|e~a3 efg/f/e|afge d2cd:|
e~A3 efgf|e~A3 BAGB|1 e~A3 efg/f/e|afge d2cd:|2 ABcd efg/f/e|afge d4|]

Re: The Fair-haired Lass X:6

As I play it on the fiddle for years. I got this version from a tape recorded in a concert of the Lorient Festival end to the 70’s or beginning of the 80’s by a friend, who didn’t remembered the name of the band, except that they were young musicians from northern Ireland. For the story, as they explained in the recording, one of the flute player and another musician were not at their best on stage with a big cold, probably a result of the crazy days … and nights … of the festival … but the music was still quite good ! I hadn’t the name of the tune of which it was the only version that I knew for long, except that on the tape we could, uneasily, guess something as "The Darkest Lass" for it, what was its name for long, before Tunepal’s arrival on computers :-D
I played also this tune with the more "modern" setting of Katrien Delavier which I post here too (X:7)
(I firstly posted this one by mistake in the The Blackhaired Lass reel settings)

The Fair-haired Lass, X:7

As played by Katrien Delavier, a french harp player, died too young in 1998, with a more "modern" setting (as she wrote in the sleeve notes) that she recorded on her fist solo CD "La Harpe Irlandaise"
(2nd reel of the track 11 "2 reels“).