T: Lament For Charles MacCabe
AG|A2 cA AG|A2 A2 A^c|d2 d^c de|f2 f2 ed|e2 e2 ed|
cA A2 A^c|d2 ef ed|d2 d2 z^c|de f2 ed|e2 e2 ed|
c2 d2 cA|A2 A2 ag|f2 e2 ed|dc ed cA|GE D2 EG|A2 A2||
There are 3 recordings of this tune.
Lament For Charles MacCabe has been added to 5 tunebooks.
An exquisite sixteen bars of music by Turlough O’Carolan, it has a strong sense of the ‘Otherworld’ to it.
The "report" of MacCabe’s death was greatly exaggerated.
Charles MacCabe was another travelling harper, and said to have been Carolan’s closest friend.
The two harpers, however, were said to be constantly winding each other up.
The tale behind this tune (and the words to it) is a fine example.
It is said that Carolan was on his way to a gig for the Maguires of Tempo, and having heard that this was to happen, MacCabe dressed up as a "peasant" and greeted him near the churchyard at Fenagh, Co Leitrim, where Carolan would regularly pass on his way to the Maguires. After exchanging greetings, Carolan asked the "peasant" if there was any local news. The peasant told him that the only news of note was that the death of a local harper "Cathaoir an tsiansa" (Charles the pleasant). When Carolan asked if this was really the case, the "peasant" went on to show him the supposed grave in the churchyard. Carolan asked the "peasant" if he could be left alone at the grave, whereupon he composed this lament.
MacCabe then revealed his identity, and "rallied the good-natured bard on his giving such a sincere proof of his affection for one who had so often made him the butt of his wit" [Joseph Cooper Walker, ‘Historical Memoirs of the Irish Bards’].
Apparently, MacCabe outlived Carolan by at least a year.
Info from O’Sullivan.
Hmmm… Carolan was blind so it was hardly necessary for his friend to wear a disguise. Also showing a blind man a grave would hardly be proof that McCabe was dead.
And also, surely Carolan would have recognised the voice of his friend.
Nice tune all the same.