Eleanor Plunkett waltz

By Turlough O’Carolan

Also known as Elanor Plunkett, Nelly An Chuil Chraobhaigh.

There are 64 recordings of this tune.

Eleanor Plunkett has been added to 40 tune sets.

Eleanor Plunkett has been added to 497 tunebooks.

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Six settings

Sheet Music
Sheet Music
Sheet MusicGG/BCEmAm7D
Sheet MusicEmCEmDEm
Sheet MusicGCGAm7D
Sheet MusicGG/BCEm
Sheet MusicAm7DEmC
Sheet MusicEmDEmG
Sheet MusicCGAm7D
Sheet Music
Sheet Music
Sheet Music
Sheet Music
Sheet MusicFF/AB♭FGmC
Sheet MusicFB♭FCB♭
Sheet MusicFB♭FGmC
Sheet MusicDD/FGBm
Sheet MusicEm7ABmG
Sheet MusicBmABmD
Sheet MusicGDEm7A

Eighteen comments

Eleanor Plunkett

I really like this played as an air with lots of freedom for expression either as a solo on the harp or flute, or a combination of the two. One of O’Carolan’s loveliest praise ballads. Any one care to translate for me?

Nelly an Chuil Chraobhaigh

A Nelly an chuil chraobhaigh
Is a shuil ar dhaith an fheir ghlais
Ag eirghe dhon la,
O! nach breag dham so a radh,
’S gur [tu] do shliocht na bhfear eifeacht
O Ardmacha breige,
Fuair sar-chlu o Ghaodhalaidh
Le trean-neart a lamh.

Intriguing Story about Eleanor

Apparently the quatrain describes details about the lass “Eleanor” who was the lone survivor of her family when the castle where they lived burned, and all her family perished.

Another story has it that when O’Carolan was composing the quatrain a liveryman informed him that he thought he had heard those same words in a song before, whereupon “Terry” was said to have taken up his staff to do the lad harm, but instead said “You’ll never hear another word of this composition from my lips”. It is not known if he stopped at this point with 4 quatrains, or secretly added a fifth

Eleanor Plunkett

I’m not sure G major is right . Feels more like D mixolydian. This might be important if anyone wants to add harmonies.

D mixo? On what grounds?

Eleanor Plunkett is definitely not a waltz

The German word “walzen” to describe a form of dancing appears around the middle of the 18th century, and was in use in southern Germany, Bavaria, Austria and Bohemia. Four “Favorite Waltzes” appeared in England in 1790.
O’Carolan ever never left Ireland, and died in 1738.
One shouldn’t call “waltz” any tune in 3/4…

Moxhe, the webmaster doesn’t let us choose time signatures, only “types” of tunes. So anything in 3/4 gets posted here under the label of “waltz.” This is an air in 3/4. But there is no heading for “air” because airs come in a variety of time signatures. You’ll notice that windy baer says this tune is an air in his post at the top of this thread.

Posted .

Attempted translation

A Nelly an chuil chraobhaigh
Is a shuil ar dhaith an fheir ghlais
Ag eirghe dhon la,
O! nach breag dham so a radh,
’S gur [tu] do shliocht na bhfear eifeacht
O Ardmacha breige,
Fuair sar-chlu o Ghaodhalaidh
Le trean-neart a lamh.

O Nelly of the back of the wood
With her eye the color of the green grass
Waking with the day,
O what a lie it is of me to say,
And you with your family from a man of import (?)
O lying Ard Macha,
(Nelly? The man? Ard Macha?) Won great fame from relations
With strength of hand


I’ve been looking for some decent chords for a while and found these on a Chiff & Fipple post…

X: 1
T: Eleanor Plunkett
R: waltz
L: 1/8
K: G
GA|“G”B2 B2 AG|“G/B”G2 G2 ag|“C”e2 e2 ed|“Em”B4 AG |
“Am7”E2 A2 AB|“D”A4 ga|“Em”b2 aged|“C”e4 ef|
“Em”g2 g2 b2|“D”a2 bagf|“Em”g2 agfe|“G”d2 B3 d|
“C”e2 g2 G2|“G”B2 B2 AG|“Am7”E2 A2 AB|“D”A4||

Re: Eleanor Plunkett

Neilí an chúil chraobhaigh,
a bhfuil do dhá shiúil ar dhath an fhéir ghlais
Ag éirghe dhon lá,
Ó! nach bréagh dham seo a rádh,
’S gur tú do shliocht na bhfear éifeacht
Ó Árdmacha bréige,
Fuair sár-chlú ó Ghaodhalaibh
Le tréan-neart a lámh.

Nellie of the flowing hair, (*)
eyes the color of green grass
And always up with the day, you lovely sunny one,
O! to have to say what I must
About you from a house of such achievement
To be fallen by corrupted Armagh
Thief of the feather of the Gael
By mere force of arms.

(*) [chúil chraobhaigh = distinctive hair style?, cf. coolfin]

Re: Eleanor Plunkett

Naming this genre of music in familiar dance meter is reductive, and the general tendency in Irish music scholarship. The poem is a redress of legal complaint whilst praising the plaintiff, which became a unique form of literature. Eileen O‘Connell’s poem, similarly, is a Lament & Planxty to Art O’Leary, but it also threatens redress in the forms of law, duel & insult. Carolan takes on a similar voice in the (incomplete) words of this poem. The musical genre “waltz” for the melody woefully does not describe the piece’s mood which is ostensibly plaintive and unrestricted by metre. It occupies the “air” genre, and a sub-category, the name of which awaits scholars in one of the many beautiful books describing the inheritance of classical Gaelic music. Also, the transcription in G major & waltz metre should be translated into something more like JJ Sheridan plays here, for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGJ89KnNynA

Re: Eleanor Plunkett

I have seen the pages in Bunting’s unpublished manuscripts where Nelly An Chuil Chraobhaigh is referenced (jpg images from Queen’s). It was never published in Bunting’s books.

The tune there is called Nelly An Chuil Chraobhaigh, in both the sheet music part and the lyrics parts of Bunting’s manuscripts (as far as I can tell).

Yet, in Sullivan’s 1958 book on Carolan, he calls it Eleanor Plunkett.

Does anyone know, does this tune appear in collections published between 1700 and 1958?

If so, is it called Eleanor Plunkett or Nelly An Chuil Chraobhaigh?

Re: Eleanor Plunkett

@Dr.Dow re lissagriffin

Simon Chadwick talks about the key in their article - is this speaking to the mixolydian feel?: “If you consider the tune as a G major tune, then of course it’s odd to finish on A. But that is one of the vital things that the O’Hampsey harp transcription shows us: the tune is not in G major (or C major on the harp), it is a neutral mode tune one note higher, in A neutral (D neutral on the harp).”


Re: Eleanor Plunkett

Any clue what key Marla Fibish is playing this in on the album “The Morning Star”? Trying to learn it by ear and coming up short. Cheers

Re: Eleanor Plunkett

Awesome, thanks.