O’Neill’s March polka

Also known as Dearg Doom, Máirseáil Ui Neill, Marcshlua Ui Neill, Marcṡlua Uí Néill, O’ Neill’s, O’Neil’s, O’Neill’s Cavalcade, O’Neill’s Cavalry.

There are 40 recordings of this tune.

This tune has been recorded together with

O’Neill’s March appears in 1 other tune collection.

O’Neill’s March has been added to 28 tune sets.

O'Neill's March has been added to 289 tunebooks.

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Three settings

X: 1
T: O'Neill's March
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Emin
|:Bg fa|eg f/e/d/B/|eg fa|eg f/e/d:|
|:ee f/e/d/B/|ee f/e/d/B/:|
|:A>B G>B|Ae d/B/A|A>B G>B|Ae z2:|
X: 2
T: O'Neill's March
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
B2g2 f2a2|e2g2 gfed|B2g2 f2a2|e2g2 gfed:|
e2de fedB|e2e2 fedB|e2de fedB|e2e2 fedB|
|:A3B G3B|A2e2 edBG|A3B G3B|1 A2e2 edBG:|2 A2e2 edBA||
|:e2A2 A2Bd|eged B2d2|e2A2 AcBA|G2GA BGBd|
e2A2 A2Bd|eged B2d2|edef g2B2|A4 A4:|
|:e2a2 a2ga|b2ba g2gf|edBd g2ge|dcBA GABG|
e2a2 a2ga|b2ba g2ge|d2B2 g2B2|A4 A4:|
# Added .
X: 3
T: O'Neill's March
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Emin
|:B2g2 f2a2|e2g2 gfed|B2g2 f2a2|e2g2 gfed:|
e2e2 fedB|e2e2 fedB|e2de fedB|e2de fedB|
|:A2AB G2GB|A2e2 edBG|A2AB G2GB|1 A2e2 edBG:|2 A2e2 edBA||

Seventeen comments


This is the tune that was made (in)famous by Horslips.

I’ve shown a couple of variations here: the first two bars and the second two bars show basically the same thing except for the starting note. Personally, I like starting it on B but E fits equally well.

Likewise, in the last part, the second part shows where you can put your Horslips-style dramatic pauses. If you don’t want anything so melodramatic, just repeat the first two bars of the third part four times.

This tune is kind of hokey but it *is* fun to play. Especially at a ludicrously fast pace. Then it’s kind of like an Irish version of dueling banjos. 😉


I know this tune with a “D” and “E” part. I will try to figure out the abc and post it when I have a chance. It was fun seeing the tune here and wierd that half the tune I know is missing. The added parts lend themselves well to mandolin ornamentation.


O’Neill’s Cavalcade

Here is the version I have which includes the parts D & E referred to above. These are actually a separate tune, I think, called The Green Cockade but since they are ‘always’ played together, I suppose most people take them as one.
B2g2 f2a2 |e2g2 gfed |B2g2 f2a2 |e2g2 gfed :|e2de fedB |e2e2 fedB |e2de fedB |e2e2 fedB |:A3B G3B |A2e2 edBG |A3B G3B |1A2e2 edBG :|2A2e2 edBA ::e2A2 A2Bd |eged B2d2 |e2A2 AcBA |G2GA BGBd |e2A2 A2Bd |
eged B2d2 |edef g2B2 |A4 A4 ::e2a2 a2ga |b2ba g2gf |edBd g2ge |dcBA GABG |e2a2 a2ga |b2ba g2ge |d2B2 g2B2 |A4 A4 :|

Posted .

Damn XXXXX are always slamming tunes together like that… Grrrr… 🙁

For the love of marches

I had to learn this one as I am an O’Neill! I then put it together with the march Lord Mayo. I play the last part of O’Neills three times as a build up into Lord Mayo and then when I reach the high G of part B I go straight back into O’Neills for a couple more times. I tend to just fade it and end wherever feels good! I do love a good march on the fiddle! This is a strange one though, very short! What do other peolpe do with it?

I learnt this tune O’Neill’s March long before Horslips and the Jackie’s Army crowd got hold of it. We always played it along with Tralee Gaol and called the whole shebang O’Neills Cavalcade.

O’Neills March/Cavalcade?

Anybody know much about this tune how old it is etc?

Or any of its history?
Leaving aside Horslips and Jack Charlton! 🙂



Posted by .

Re: O’Neills March/Cavalcade?

John Doonan, All-Ireland piccolo player from Hebburn, believed that it belongs to the Ulster clan march tradition. He plays it on the 5th Irish Folk Festival LP (Intercord - INT 180.046 - 1978).

The tune Marcshlua Ui Neill, which Horslips used and called it Dearg Doom, was originally rearranged by Sean O Riada, along with Tralee Gaol on the live album O Riada sa Gaiety, which was held in 1969. Apparently, Marcshlua Ui Neill was an old tune that O Riada rescued from the vaults and placed in the setting used by Ceoltoiri Chualann on the O Riada sa Gaiety album. It`s been covered b y many since, including Horslips, but it`s hard to beat the Ceoltoiri Chualann version, with the steady, menacing bodhran beat and the build up to Tralee Goal. Not the first time that Sean O Riada has emerged behind iconic tunes.

O’Neill’s Cavalcade

In much of Ireland, it’s played as a sandwich of polkas. O’Neill’s X3, Tralee Gaol X3, O’Neill’s X3, as it was in O’Riada’s “Marcshlua Uí Néill” (O’Neill’s Cavalry) cut on the old Gael Linn recording “O’Riada at the Gaiety” (a theater in Dublin).
Perhaps the “Marcshlua” (Cavalry) is where it picked up it’s “March” name, and the translation to “Cavalry” might, over a bad phone connection, sound like “Cavalcade”. Anyway, a Cavalry can form a cavalcade, if they’re on los caballos in Spain, or anywhere as they see fit.
The Tralee Gaol was a holding cell in Tralee which was famous because it was constantly flooding and held prisoners charged with capital crimes. It was operated under English administration from Dublin Castle in the 19th century, in the pre-famine times. It was temporary home to many “Whiteboys” before their “transportation” or execution.

i suspect that sean o riada, either composed marcshlua ui neill or modernised it. nobody has ever revealed where it came from, in written form or otherwise. maybe someone will come forward with an earlier version than 1969, when o riada arranged for the legendary concert `o riada sa gaiety`….but i doubt it.
horslips made it famous as dearg doom…fair play to them.

found out that o neill`s cavalcade is not a sean o riada composition but is traditional, appearing first in edward bunting`s general collection of the ancient music of ireland 1809…an earlier version, entitled o neill`s riding was included in stanford`s complete collection of irish music,as noted by petrie 1787….. this was recorded in the december 2015 edition of an piobaire.
to be fair to o riada, he never claimed to have composed the tune, mentioned as being rescued from the vaults, just as he didn`t claim to have composed port na bpucai, which he acknowledged is from the blaskets.
o riada revived so many pieces and presented them in a restored setting, like tabhair dom do laimh, carolan`s concerto, planxties, port na bpucai, aisling gheal, marcshlua ui neill, carrickfergus etc.

Re: O’Neill’s March

Just because I had to look it up, here’s the version from C. V. Stanford’s “Complete Collection of Irish Music”—472. O’Neill’s riding.

T:472. O’Neill’s riding (From O’Neill’s collection, 1787)
I:linebreak $
A2 f e2 g | d2 f fed/c/ | A2 f e2 g | d2 f fed/c/ | d2 d edc/A/ | d2 d edc/A/ | d2 c/d/ edc/A/ | %7
d2 c/d/ edc/A/ |$ G2 G/A/ F2 F | G2 d dcA/G/ | G2 G/A/ F2 F | G2 d dcA/G/ | G2 G/A/ F2 F | %13
G2 d dcA/G/ | G2 G/A/ F2 F | G2 d dcA/G/ |] %16