The Jockey At The Fair jig

Also known as Gary Owen, Jockey To The Fair, The Jockey To The Fair, Jockie To The Fair, Jogging To The Fair, Setdance.

There are 32 recordings of this tune.

This tune has been recorded together with

The Jockey At The Fair appears in 3 other tune collections.

The Jockey At The Fair has been added to 4 tune sets.

The Jockey At The Fair has been added to 89 tunebooks.

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Four settings

X: 1
T: The Jockey At The Fair
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
D|:G2A B2c|d2g d2c|BdB GFG|cBc A2c|
d^cd efg|a2 f d2g|fed AB^c|1 d3 d3:|2 d3 dfg||
|:afd afd|c2c B2d|dgd dgd|c2c B2d|
e2f gfe|d2c B2 d|edc BAG|B2G E2F|
GGG GBd|e2f g2e|dBG GAB|E2F G2A|
Bg2 B2A|1 G3 Gfg:|2 G3 G2D||
X: 2
T: The Jockey At The Fair
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:D|G2A B2c|d2g d2c|BdG GFG|A/B/cB A2d|
d^cd efg|faf e2g|fed Ad^c|(d3 d2):|
|:d|afd afd|c2c B2c|dgd dgd|dcB A2A|
G2G B2d|g3 e3|dBG AcA|(G3 G2):|
X: 3
T: The Jockey At The Fair
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:D|G2 A B2 c|dge d2 c|BdB {A/}GFG|AcB A2 B|
G2 B def|g2 e d2 f/g/|afd AB^c|d3 d2:|
|:f/g/|afd dcB|c2 c B2 d|egd dcB|cBA B2 d|
e2 f gfg|ede B2 g|edc BcA|G/A/BG E2 F|
G2 G GBd|e2 f gfe|dBG A2 B|E2 F G2 A|BgB TB2 A|G3 G2:|
X: 4
T: The Jockey At The Fair
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:D|G2 A B2 c|d2 g d2 c|BdB GAB|c2 B A2 d|
d2 d efg|a2 f d2 g|fed AB^c|d3 d2:|
|:d|g2 d g2 d|cdc B2 d|g2 d g2 d|cdc B2 d|
e2 f gfe|d2 c B2 d|edc B2 A|G2 F E2 D|
G2 G GBd|e2 f g2 B|G<g z B2 A|G3 G2:|

Eighteen comments

Jockey At The Fair

Submitted because someone requested it.Transcribed from Ashley Hutching’s album “Son Of Morris On”

Set dance

This is a set dance in jigtime.


How do you know which came first ?

Posted by .

I don’t know if this jig has its own place in ITM, but it’s more familiar to me as the tune for a popular English Cotswold morris dance (“Son of Morris On” and its predecessor and recently released sequel being a collection of such tunes) often known as “Jockey _to_ the Fair.”
To be pedantic about it, in the morris context the B part for “Jockey” is usually played _three_ times, because it’s a “corner dance.” The typical morris set is arranged this way:
1 2
3 4
5 6
So, the “corners” -- dancers 1 and 6, 2 and 5, 3 and 4 -- each take a turn dancing as a couple to the B part.

Posted by .

Always thought it was typically English - but it IS in O’Neill’s, so ……

It certainly sounds English - perhaps Northumbrian (The name Jockey or Jock - a local diminutive of John, equivalent to Jack, not a rider - appears in a number of Northumbrian tune titles). But if it appears in O’Neill’s, then it was obviously played by Irish musicians some time ago. My guess is than it was taken to Ireland by English dance masters in the 18th(?) century - hence its use as a set dance tune.

Set dance

well even if it is english, we still dance it in irish dancing

‘Jockey to the Fair’ is also the tune that shepherd/farmer ‘Gabriel Oak’ plays more than once in Thomas Hardy’s novel ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’. Given Hardy’s attention to detail, and the fact he describes it as ‘well known’, it was probably pretty common around Dorset in the mid nineteenth century. Extracts…

Chapter VI
Gabriel’s hand, which had lain for some time
idle in his smock-frock pocket, touched his flute which he
carried there. Here was an opportunity for putting his
dearly bought wisdom into practice.
He drew out his flute and began to play “Jockey to the Fair”
in the style of a man who had never known moment’s sorrow.
Oak could pipe with Arcadian sweetness and the sound of the
well-known notes cheered his own heart as well as those of
the loungers. He played on with spirit, and in half an hour
had earned in pence what was a small fortune to a destitute

Chapter VIII
While the cup was being examined, the end of Gabriel Oak’s flute became visible over his smock-frock pocket, and Henery Fray exclaimed, “Surely, shepherd, I seed you blowing into a great flute by now at Casterbridge?”
“You did,” said Gabriel, blushing faintly. “I’ve been in great trouble, neighbours, and was driven to it. I used not to be so poor as I be now.”
“Never mind, heart!” said Mark Clark. You should take it careless-like, shepherd, and your time will come. But we could thank ye for a tune, if ye bain’t too tired?”
“Neither drum nor trumpet have I heard since Christmas,” said Jan Coggan. “Come, raise a tune, Master Oak!”
“Ay, that I will,” said Gabriel, pulling out his flute and putting it together. “A poor tool, neighbours; but such as I can do ye shall have and welcome.”
Oak then struck up “Jockey to the Fair,” and played that sparkling melody three times through accenting the notes in the third round in a most artistic and lively manner by bending his body in small jerks and tapping with his foot to beat time.

It appears in Volume 2 of Aird’s Airs (c1780), “A Selection of Scotch, English, Irish, and Foreign Airs, adapted for the Fife, Violin or German Flute”, Glasgow (about 600 tunes in three volumes)

They’re all online at Leeds University courtesy of Richard Robinson:

(scroll up a bit for the frontpiece image)

There is an (English) song to this tune, it’s also an Irish Set Dance

Jockey to the Fair - Lyrics

And here are the lyrics of the song: “Jockey to the Fair”:

’Twas on the morn of sweet May-day,
When nature painted all things gay,
Taught birds to sing, and lambs to play,
And gild the meadows fair;
Young Jockey, early in the dawn,
Arose and tripped it o’er the lawn;
His Sunday clothes the youth put on,
For Jenny had vowed away to run
With Jockey to the fair.

The cheerful parish bells had rung,
With eager steps he trudged along,
While flowery garlands round him hung,
Which shepherds use to wear;
He tapped the window; ‘Haste, my dear!’
Jenny impatient cried, ‘Who’s there?’
‘’Tis I, my love, and no one near;
Step gently down, you’ve nought to fear,
With Jockey to the fair.

’My dad and mam are fast asleep,
My brother’s up, and with the sheep;
And will you still your promise keep,
Which I have heard you swear?
And will you ever constant prove?’
’I will, by all the powers above,
And ne’er deceive my charming dove;
Dispel these doubts, and haste, my love,
With Jockey to the fair.

‘Behold, the ring,’ the shepherd cried;
’Will Jenny be my charming bride?
Let Cupid be our happy guide,
And Hymen meet us there.’
Then Jockey did his vows renew;
He would be constant, would he true,
His word was pledged; away she flew,
O’er cowslips tipped with balmy dew,
With Jockey to the fair.

In raptures meet the joyful throng;
Their gay companions, blithe and young,
Each join the dance, each raise the song,
To hail the happy pair.
In turns there’s none so loud as they,
They bless the kind propitious day,
The smiling morn of blooming May,
When lovely Jenny ran away
With Jockey to the fair.

The Jockey At The Fair

Thanks, it’s Derby day in Kentucky.
Horses, burbon and music.

Jockey At The Fair

I’m playing Irish music for a KY-day benefit this afternoon, I should print that out and sing it for the occasion. Had no idea it was a song.

Jockey to the Fair

I first heard this tune from the playing of Jimmy Power. I used to hear him play at regular sessions at The Favourite, down the bottom end of Hornsey Road, North London, during 1976/77. Then I learned it off his LP “ Jimmy Power - Irish Fiddle Player” and have always played it this way, as a set dance tune followed by Miss Brown’s Fancy, ever since.

A propos Gabriel Oak playing this tune on his flute in Far from the Madding Crowd, I have just seen the new re-make of the film: no hint of him playing his flute there, nor do I recall Alan Bates playing a flute in the 1960s film. Can anyone else remember whether he did?