This entry into the database is, I think, for research purposes only; I don’t think many people will be inspired to play the tunes here because - and this is the point - they’re too close to one of the most recognisable Irish melodies of today, “I’ll Tell Me Ma”. However, I believe that although they are extrememly similar, they are in fact different tunes.
The first time I came across the melody in question was on a (Scottish accordionist) Bobby MacLeod LP (1971’s Tobermory Treasure), there called “Lewis Lilt” [X: 1] and played in the keys of G and A. Obviously I noticed the similarity with “I’ll Tell Me Ma”, but it was also noticably different, and I wondered how the tune had evolved on the island of Lewis.
Over the years, my ears have pricked up at various tunes from here and there which had the same characteristics, one notable Scottish Gaelic song called “Buain nan Dearcan Ris an Spreidh” (“Plucking Berries By the Fold”) [X: 2], but also a couple of Irish tunes, “My Aunt Jane” from The Tap Room Trio [X: 3], and “I Won’t Marry Her” from Johnny O’Leary of Sliabh Luachra [X: 4].
There will be those here who will simply say, “It’s “I’ll Tell Me Ma”, Nigel!” and maybe they are more connected in history, but I hear distinctions, hence my wee essay.
Lewis Lilt, X:5
Another possible relation, this setting comes from The Boys of the Lough under the title "Wren Polka No.1", although the same setting was recorded by De Danann in 1977 as "Banks of the Quay".