The Merry Sisters reel

Also known as The Crossroad, Margret O’Donnell’s, The Merry Sisters Of Fate, The Three Merry Sisters Of Fate.

There are 48 recordings of this tune.

This tune has been recorded together with

The Merry Sisters appears in 3 other tune collections.

The Merry Sisters has been added to 23 tune sets.

The Merry Sisters has been added to 392 tunebooks.

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Thirteen settings

1
X: 1
T: The Merry Sisters
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Edor
BE~E2 BdcA | B2Ed BAFA |1 BE~E2 BdcA | dD~D2 ~D2FA :|2 DEFA dfea | fdec d2cA ||
Beec dBcA | Beed BAFA | Beec dfed | BdAB dAFA |
~B3A dcdf | edef gfed |(3Bcd ec dfed | BdAB dAFD ||
Edcd BdAd | BE~E3 BAFA | B2dA BdAB | dD~D2 DEFA |
BdAd ~B2Ad | BE~E2 BAFE | DEFA dfea | fdec d2cA ||
"Last time" fdec d4 ||
2
X: 2
T: The Merry Sisters
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
|:eA(3AAA egfd|eA(3AAA gdBd|eA(3AAA egfd|BG(3GGG DGBd:|
|eaaf g2 fg|eaag edBd|eaaf g2 fg|egde gdBG|
|eaaf g2 fg|egab c'bag|eaaf g2 fg|egde gdBG||
|AGfg egdg|eA(3AAA eA~B2|egfg egde|BG(3GGG DGBd|
egfg egdg|eA(3AAA eA~B2|DGBd ~g3a|(3bag (3agf g2 fg||
# Added .
3
X: 3
T: The Merry Sisters
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Edor
dc|:BE{G}E{F}E Bd c/2{d}c/2A|{c}BE{G}E{F}E dAFA|
BE{f}ec d2cA|Be{f}ed BAFA|Be{f}ec dcdA|
B3/2{c}B/2{A}Bc dAFA|Be{f}ec d2-dA|Be{f}ec defg|
af .g/2.f/2e fded|BABc dAFA|BdcA {c}BAFA|BE{G}E{F}E BEFA|
B3/2{c}B/2{A}BA B3/2{c}B/2{A}Bc|dD{G}D{F}D ADFA|BdcA {c}BAFA|
BE{G}E{F}E {c}BAFA|D2.E/2.F/2A d2eg|fdec dAFA|]
4
X: 4
T: The Merry Sisters
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
|:eA A2 egfd|eA A2 gd (3Bcd|eA A2 egfd|BG G2 DGBd|
eA A2 gA A2|eA A2 gd (3Bcd|eA A2 egfd|BG G2 DGBd||
|:eaaf g2 fg|eaag ed (3Bcd|eaaf g2 fg|egde gdBG|
eaaf g2 fg|egab c'bag|eaaf g2 fg|egde gdBG||
|:egfg egdg|eA A2 eA (3Bcd|egfg egdc|BG G2 DGBd|
egfg egdg|eA A2 eABA|DG (3Bcd g3a|(3bag (3agf g2 fg||
# Added by JACKB .
5
X: 5
T: The Merry Sisters
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Edor
|:BE E2 BdcA|BE E2 dAFA|BE E2 BdcA|FD D2 ADFA:|
|Beec d2 cd|Beed BA (3FGA|Beec d2 cd|BdAB dAFD|
|Beec d2 cd|Bdef gfed|Beec d2 cd|BdAB dAFD||
|Bdcd BdAd|BE E2 BE F2|Bdcd BdAB|FD D2 ADFA|
Bdcd BdAd|BE E2 BE F2|ADFA d3e|(3fed (3edc d2 cd||
# Added by JACKB .
6
X: 6
T: The Merry Sisters
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Edor
|:BE E2 BdcA | BE E2 dAFA |BE E2 BdcA | dD D2 FA A2
BE E2 BdcA | BE E2 dAFA |BE E2 BdcA | dD D2 ADFA||
|:Beec d2 BA | Beed (3cBA FA | Beec dcdA | B3c dAFA |
Beec d2 BA | Beec defg |af (3gfe fdec | BABc dAFA ||
|:BdcA BAFA | BE E2 ADFA | BdcA BABc | dD D2 ADFA |
BdcA BAFA | BE E2 BEFA | D2 FA d2 eg | fdec dAFA ||
# Added by JACKB .
7
X: 7
T: The Merry Sisters
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Edor
|:BE E2 BdcA|BE E2 dA (3FGA|BE E2 BdcA|FD D2 ADFA|
BE E2 dE E2|BE E2 dA (3FGA|BE E2 BdcA|FD D2 ADFA||
|:Beec d2 cd|Beed BA (3FGA|Beec d2 (3Bcd|BdAB dAFD|
Beec d2 cd|(3Bcd ef gfed|Beec d2 cd|BdAB dAFD||
|:Bdcd BdAd|BE E2 BE (3FGA|Bdcd BdAG|FD D2 ADFA|
Bdcd BdAd|BE E2 BEFE|AD (3FGA d3e|(3fed (3edc d2 cd||
# Added by JACKB .
8
X: 8
T: The Merry Sisters
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Edor
B>E (3FED BdcA|B>E (3FED dAFA|B>E (3FED BdcA|1 d>D (3.D.D.D ADFA:|2 dfec dAFA||
Beec d2 cA|Beec dAFA|Beec d2 cA|BABc dAFA|
Beec e2 cA|Beec defg|(3agf (3gfe fdec|BABc dAFA||
BdcA BFAF|B>E (3.E.E.E BEFA|BdcA BFAF|d>D (3.D.D.D ADFA|
BdcA BFAF|B>E (3.E.E.E BEFA|DFAc d2 eg|fdec dAFA||
# Added by Moxhe .
9
X: 9
T: The Merry Sisters
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Edor
|: BE (3EEE B2 ^cA | BE (3EEE ADFA | BE (3EEE BE^cE | dDED ADFA :|
B2 e^c d2 cA | B2 ed BAFA | B2 e^c d2 cA | BAB^c dAFA |
B2 e^c d2 cA | (3Bcd ef g2 fg | (3agf g2 fge^c | BAB^c dAFA ||
Ed^cd BdAd | BE (3EEE B2 FA | Bd^cA B2 Ac | dD (3DDD ADFA |
Ed^cd BdAd | BE (3EEE B2 AF | DFA^c d2 de | fae^c d4 |]
10
X: 10
T: The Merry Sisters
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
|:eA A2 egfd|eA A2 gd (3Bcd|eA A2 egfd|BG G2 DG (3Bcd|
eA A2 gA A2|eA A2 gd (3Bcd|eA A2 egfd|BG G2 DG (3Bcd||
|:eaaf g2 fg|eaag ed (3Bcd|eaaf g2 fg|egde gd (3Bcd|
eaaf g2 fg|egab c'bag|eaaf g2 fg|egde gd (3Bcd||
|:egfg egdg|eA A2 eA (3Bcd|egfg egdc|BG G2 DG (3Bcd|
egfg egdg|eA A2 eA A2|D2 (3Bcd g3a|(3bag (3agf g2 fg||
# Added by JACKB .
11
X: 11
T: The Merry Sisters
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Edor
|:BE E2 BdcA|BE E2 dA (3FGA|BE E2 BdcA|FD D2 AD (3FGA|
BE E2 dE E2|BE E2 dA (3FGA|BE E2 BdcA|FD D2 AD (3FGA||
|:Beec d2 cd|Beed BA (3FGA|Beec d2 cd|BdAB dA (3FGA|
Beec d2 cd|Bdef gfed|Beec d2 cd|BdAB dA (3FGA||
|:Bdcd BdAd|BE E2 BE (3FGA|Bdcd BdAG|FD D2 AD (3FGA|
Bdcd BdAd|BE E2 BE E2|A2 (3FGA d3e|(3fed (3edc d2 cd||
# Added by JACKB .
12
X: 12
T: The Merry Sisters
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
dB|eA A2 A2 Bd|eafd e2 dB|gG G2 BGBd|egfd e2 dB|
eA A2 A2 Bd|eafd e2 dB|gG G2 BGBd|eaag e2 ed||
eaaB cBcd|eaag edef|gG G2 BGBd|eaag e2 ed|
eaaB cBcd|edef gfga|bgaf gfed|egfd e2|]
13
X: 13
T: The Merry Sisters
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Edor
|:BE~E2 BdcA | BE~E2 ADFA |BE~E2 BdcA | dD~D2 ADFA:||
|:Beec d2 cA | Beed BAFA | Beec d2cA | B3c dAFA |
Beec d2 cA | Beef g2fg |afge fdec | BABc dAFA ||
|:BdcA BdAc | BE~E2 BEFA | BdcA BdAF | AD~D2 ADFA |
BdcA BdAc | BE~E2 BEFE | DEFA (3Bcd eg | fdec dBcA ||

Nineteen comments

The Merry Sisters

This setting is from Donegal fiddler Tommy Peoples and owes much to his inventive style of playing.

The third part is more or less a variation on the first part, but it’s a heck of a finger-twister.

The Merry Sisters of Fate

This version is from the title track of Lunasa’s latest CD. They play it on flute, pipes, and fiddle at mind blowing speed and clarity in A dorian (it’s in the Krassen O’Neill’s as "The Merry Sisters" in E dorian).

On fiddle, the A Part is the easiest (if you’ve got your triplets working). Watch for the 2nd measure where you have to grab what amounts to a G chord all at once to get that gdBd phrase at speed.

The B Part is only a little trickier. Measures 4 and 8 feature a bunch of snappy bowings across the strings, but the result is worth a little practice to get it smooth. Then measure 6 jumps into 2nd position to get the high c. I suppose you could stay in first position and reach, but the open e strings on either end of this phrase make is easier (for me) to just shift up for 7 notes and then back down again.

Part C is a mind bender. If you can manage the first measure hop from the 3rd string G to first string f, you’ve still got to negotiate all the ins and outs of the following runs. Measures 3 and 4 may also be played |egfg edbc|dG(3GGG DGBd|. And at the very end, if the downhill triplets are jsut too much, play it: |bgaf g2 fg|.

Posted .

The tune is also a close relative of the Merry Harriers, a breed of hunting dog (not sure what this says about the beauty of those "sisters")….

Posted .

Tommy Peoples plays a slightly different version in E-dorian on his album ‘The Iron Man’.
Altan have a tune (in Bm or B-dorian, I think) called The Three Merry Sisters of Fate, which is related, but a different tune.

Matt Molloy also does this on "Shadows on Stone", under the name "The Merry Sisters".

AKA The Merry Sisters of Fate…

it’s the same tune, just in Edor (or Em?). Altan and Lunasa also do it, among many many others…

The version by Liam O’Flynn, played with (what he calls) O’Rourke’s and Colonel Fraser on "The Given Note":

X:1
T:Merry Sisters
S:Liam O’Flynn
M:4/4
L:1/8
R:Reel
K:Em
dc|:BE{G}E{F}E Bd c/2{d}c/2A|{c}BE{G}E{F}E dAFA|
BE{G}E{F}E Bd c/2{d}c/2A|dD{G}D{F}D ADFA:|
K:Edor
BE{f}ec d2cA|Be{f}ed BAFA|Be{f}ec dcdA|
B3/2{c}B/2{A}Bc dAFA|Be{f}ec d2-dA|Be{f}ec defg|
af .g/2.f/2e fded|BABc dAFA|BdcA {c}BAFA|BE{G}E{F}E BEFA|
B3/2{c}B/2{A}BA B3/2{c}B/2{A}Bc|dD{G}D{F}D ADFA|BdcA {c}BAFA|
BE{G}E{F}E {c}BAFA|D2.E/2.F/2A d2eg|fdec dAFA|]

Wait…it’s not that tune is it? :-S

The loops end before this tune.

The Merry Sisters, X:4

Here is the version published by O’Neill in Dance Music of Ireland - 1001 Gems (1907), p. 100, no. 535.

Posted by .

The Merry Sisters, X:5

This is as heard from "The Celebrated Recordings" of John Doherty, at the end of a set with Kitty’s Gone A’Milking and The Dog Among The Bushes.

The Merry Sisters Of Fate, X:7

This unusual setting of The Three Merry Sisters of Fate comes from a recording of Francie & Mickey Byrne (The Deargs) of Kilcar. It has the same name but only a slight resemblance to these other versions. They play it fast and it has a wild feel.