The Two William Davises reel

Also known as An Beirt Uilliam Daibhis, The Two William Davieses.

There are 5 recordings of this tune.

The Two William Davises has been added to 1 tune set.

The Two William Davises has been added to 10 tunebooks.

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Two settings

X: 1
T: The Two William Davises
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Fmaj
|:AB||c3f dcBA|cA cf dcBA|BA GA FGAB|c3B A2c2|
d2df d2cd|fe fg a2ga|fedc f2A2|G4 F2:|
|:fg||a2a2 a2gf|g>f ga g2fg|a>g fd cf AB|c3B A2c2|
d2df d2cd|fe fg a2ga|fedc f2A2|G4 F2:|
X: 2
T: The Two William Davises
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:(Bc)||(c/d5/g) edcB|(dc/B/) (dg) edcB|(cB) (AB) GABc|d3(c B3/2) (c/d2)|
e2 (ef/g/) e2(de)|(fg/f/)(g/g/a) b2(ab)|gfed3/4 (f/g2)B2|(G/A7/) G2||
(Bc)||(d5/f/g) edcB|(dc/B/) (d/f/g) edcB|(cB) (AB) GABc|(c/d5/) (c B2) d2|
(d/e3/2) (ef/g/) e2(d/e/e)|(fg/f/)(g/g/a) b2(a/a/b)|gfed3/4 (f/g2)B2|(G/A7/) G2||
(ga)||b2{a}b(a/b/ b2)(ag)|(g/a/g)(a/a/b) a2(ga)|(ba)(g/d/e) (dg) (Bc)|(c/d5/) (c B2) d2|
e2 (ef/g/) e2(d/e/e)|(fg/f/)(g/g/a) b2(a/a/b)|gfed3/4 (f/g2)B2|(G/A7/) G2||
(ga)||{a}b2b(a/b/ b2)(ag)|(g/a/g)(a/a/b) a2(g/g/a)|(b3/2a/)(g/d/e) (df/g/) (Bc)|(c/d5/) (c B3/2) (c/d2)|
(d/e3/2) (ef/g/) e2(de/e/)|(fg/f/)(g/g/a) b2(ab)|gfed3/4 (f/g2)B2|(G/A7/) G2:|

Seven comments

The Two William Davises

Another instantly familiar O’Carolan tune.


“This air contrasts the characters of the two Davises, father and son: the one, Old William, a miserly skinflint, and the other, young William, a generous open-handed fellow. They seemed to have lived in Sligo; for the poet mentions, as an example of the old man’s avarice, that he sent his gander and two turkeys for sale to Templehouse Fair in that county and set a price on them of one shilling and sixpence.”

Originally found this transcription in Richard Robinson’s tunes online and couldn’t figure out where I had heard it from. The second transcription is harp style and as close to how I can remember it played.


Taid dha Uilliam Daibhis ins ait - se
Uilliam ata ro-chrionna,
Uilliam ata cliste ar dheanamh cisde,
Uilliam nach gcuirfeadh subhacas ar dhaoinibh.

Mar dtugadh se dhuit ach gas beag sgailliun
Bheadh se dha gheallabh mi dhuit,
Da dteigheadh i n-a choisde leat ’un ra Roimhe
Ni thiubhradh se boicin dighe dhuit.

There are two William Davises in this very place.
Old William is very shrewd
Old William is clever in making money
Old William won’t be cheerful with you.

If he were only to give you a little stalk of a scallion,
He would have been promisin’ it for a month
As if he was takin’ you to Rome in his carriage
And you wouldn’t get so much as a sup of a drink out of him.


Also from

“The air is a close variant of the well-known Scottish tune ‘Killiecrankie’ or it may have been composed before Killikrankie. This is a seventeenth century melody composed not much later than the battle of Killiecrankie. The battle was fought on the 27th of July, 1689 above Blair Athole, where Graham of Claverhouse (‘Bonnie Dundee’) was killed. The air was once called the ‘Irish Killiecrankie’. There are four stanzas, the first of which is given above in two parts. The air was one of nine printed by Joyce about 1873.”

“Originally found this transcription in Richard Robinson’s tunes online…”

I seem to recall Richard suggesting a Carolan set; “Separation of Soul and Body”, followed by “The Two William Davises”. He does have a wry sense of humour.

Re: The Two William Davises


Re: The Two William Davises

If you transpose the first three ascending notes of the first phrase
AB||c3f dcBA|c
one tone down, and play it in 3/4 , you get the first phrase of
Fear a’ bhata.
(GA || B2f d>cB | A3 c…)
I am not suggesting a derivation but it is an example of what stores of treasures hiding just below the surface of any piece of music can be unearthed through simple manipulation.
You may not get a whole air or jig this way but you still get nice strains. A good place to start.