This is the very first tune I learned by ear in the beginners’ session in Edinburgh. Pretty simple tune, but a fun to play with others.
It sounds like a Shetland tune, but my tutor told me Johnny McIljohn was an Irish man.
Lunasa recently recorded a great version of the tune in their new album "Redwood."
Tune o arigatou gozaimasu
This reminds me of the version of that tune in G.. what is it called again..?…….
"The Primrose Lass" that was it, the version that has the parts swapped round so that it goes up to high B in the 2nd part and not the 1st. I wonder if there’s a connection…
Yeah, the two tunes sounds similar and may have the same origin. The name I have for this reel is J. Mciljohn’s. I’ve just found it’s also called Cape Breton Reel and Johnnie Macclejohn in other databases.
I don’t know who popularized this tune in Edinburgh. I’ll ask my tutor in the near future.
Sorry, Mark. I thought it was the Australian language.
Be careful, everyone. thesession.org is getting multilingual.
As far as I know, this tune was first popularised by Cathal McConnell, when he recorded it on an early "Boys Of The Lough"LP. Johnny McIljohn, I believe was a Northern Irish musician, and that’s the source of the tune. I’ve always found it a fine tune to teach to beginners. There is another simple reel which bears his name, and is also popular with Northern musicians. I might even try posting it , if no-one else does - that would be a first!
A friend of mine learned this tune at camp from Eileen Ivers, who called it The Plagiarist. So I’ve added that name to the "details" page. I’m curious if anyone can correct that (I’ve never run across another tune called the Plagiarist).
"The Plagiarist"? Rather a high-falutin’ title for a very simple, but dynamic little tune. Dopey tune titles are a pet peeve. Anyway, let me throw in what fragments of information and bits of past conversations I have about the tune. As far as I remember (and that chronological distance is getting shorter by the day), Johnny McIljohn was not actually Johnny’s last name. He was simply called that, for what ever unknown reason. Though I may have known this reason at one time. I recall (or do I?) being told he was a lilter and don’t The Boys o T L lilt the tune on their recording of it? What I do know is that I learned the tune in the north as part of a set called Johnny McIljohn’s Reels. The second tune I can only remember when I hear it played — sorry. The second tune is fairly well-known and is also called "Lady ??".
The Plagiarist Reel
There is a modern Scottish pipe tune called "The Plagiarist," but not this one. That sounds similar to "Rathlin Island." Does anybody play it?
Since I mentioned it, I thought the least I could do is post Eileen Ivers’ setting here. It differs slightly from what Slainte posted. I like the way Ivers jumps quickly to the d2 in the 2nd bar of Part A, and the high melody line in the 3rd and 4th bars of the B part.
DE|:FA (3AAA BAFA|BAFA d2 DE|FA (3AAA BAFA|BAFD EFDE|
|FA (3AAA BAFA|BAFA d2 ED|FA (3AAA BAFA|1 BAFD EFDE:|2 BAFD EF D2||
|:f2 fe d2 dA|BAFA BAFA|f2 fe dfbf|afeg fede|
|f2 fe d2 dA|BAFA BAFA|f2 fe dedB|1 ABAF D2 ag:|2 ABAG FDDE||
Johnny McIljohn identified.
There was some debate about the identity and origin of the man whose name this tune bears. This from the sleeve notes of "The Boys Of The Lough"’s "Live" album:
"Johnny McIljohn’s " reel is a variant of the "Silver Spear". This setting comes from Tommy Maguire of Leitrim, who had it from his father John Maguire, known as Johnny McIljohn. He lilted the tune regularly at country house ceilis so his name became associated with the tune."
Slainte said, "I don’t know who popularized this tune in Edinburgh."
I have to confess it was me. I learned the tune from the aforementioned Boys of the Lough LP, and decided to teach to everybody I knew.
Hey, Nigel! This is one of many tunes I learned from your playing!
Johnny McIljohn’s Reel No. 1
Hi slainte - long time no see!
I have made a big showcase of Johnny McIljohn’s No.1, and usually when we play it at my session, it can be played up to fifteen or twenty times. After the first three or four times through, I’ll shout out "fiddles!" and only the fiddles play the tune. Then I’ll go through all the instruments there. After each instrument takes its turn, everybody plays the tune again. Occasionally we’ll have percussion (we’ve had a washboard join in!), or I shout out "humming!" or "clapping" - once we had a bunch of Spanish people in the bar and they put on an amazing display of clapping. Quite often the last couple of times we play the tune I’ll shout "Faster!" and it gets ridiculously fast.
I wouldn’t be surprised if people roll their eyes whenever this shenanegans starts, but most people enjoy it, players and punters alike. I haven’t tired of it yet…
I have only heard this played as a fling, with the ending | BdAF E2D2 |.