The Pinch Of Snuff reel

Also known as Old Pinch Of Snuff, The Old Pinch Of Snuff, Pinch Of Sniff.

There are 18 recordings of this tune.

The Pinch Of Snuff has been added to 19 tune sets.

The Pinch Of Snuff has been added to 207 tunebooks.

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Six settings

Sheet Music33
Sheet Music3
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Sheet Music1323
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Seventeen comments

Some people play the 1st few notes as “afge d…”

I learnt this from hearing it lots at Sydney sessions.

Often played as the last part of Pinch of Snuff submitted 2002

In Oslo we usually start this off as the 2002 version with all the modal changes, with the B part of this setting being the last (and missing )part, and the A part as an interim play before starting it all over again.

How do you play it Down Under?


And sometimes called “Punch of Sniff” by certain participants of our little crowd……….eller hva Halldor 🙂

Pinch Of Snuff 2002

Halldor, I think if the 2002 tune were to be played in Sydney it would be the full-on 9-parter with the high D section and the bridging part that leads back to the beginning, but I haven’t heard that tune played in years. It simply doesn’t get played here anymore. The tune I’ve posted is obviously related, but over here it’s treated as a completely separate tune, and it gets played every week.

That unknown Ennis tape was recorded by Pat Sky, who released the whole shebang in the 80’s under the title “Seamus Ennis: Master of the Uilleann Pipes,” including the Lark’s March, which was on the 40 Years record. You can tell Pat from the very thick Georgia drawl, asking Seamus where he learned such a WEIRD old TUNE?
The cassette was on Sky’s own Skylark label, and is long out of print. The audio was pretty hideous, too. Ennis’s setting of this is the best if you ask me.

The grunts, wheezes, creaky bellows are great! But the audio itself on the tape sounded like some kind of prototype transistor radio - the later half had this throb, like there was a lot of sunspot activity when it was mastered. Not so hot. The Ennis “Irish Uilleann pipes” on Folktrax has similar problems - this is where the first cut on the 40 years album comes from, there must be better dubs around.

The Fire Aflame

Am I nuts or do I hear these guys go into this tune starting with the B part first?


They’re allowed to do that, you know. How do you know they’re not right ?

Liam O´Flynn´s version

T:Pinch of Snuff, The
D:Sean Keane, Liam O’Flynn, Matt Molloy: The Fire Aflame
D:Tommy Keane: The Piper’s Apron
afge d2dB|ADFD EFGB|AGAB =cBcd|eA (3B^cd efge:|
|:f2df afdf|~f2df efge|1 f2df afdf|eA (3B^cd efge:|2 ~f3a afdf|eA (3B^cd efge||
|:a2ge fd (3Bcd|ADFD EF~G2|~A3B =c3d|1 ed (3B^cd ef~g2:|2 ed (3B^cd efge||
|:f2~f2 afdf|~f2df efge|f2df afdf|1 ed (3B^cd efge:|2 ed (3B^cd ef~g2

The crushing of the twigs

Check out this tune as well, it might be the definitive version you were looking for:
Muilleann Na Maidí (The crushing of the twigs)

Manus McGuire setting

Here’s a setting from Manus McGuire of Sligo, now residing in County Clare. He taught this at a workshop at the 2013 Dublin Irish Fest in Dublin, Ohio, along with the other reel that’s also entitled The Pinch of Snuff

X: 1
T: The Pinch of Snuff
R: reel
M: 4/4
K: D
|: ADFD EFGB | A^GAB =cBcd | eA (3Bcd efge |1 fage d3 B :|2 ~f3 d fafd ||
|: ~f2 df efge | ~f2 df agfg | eA (3Bcd efge |1 ~f2 df afdf :|2 afge d3 |]

Re: The Old Pinch Of Snuff

It is the tune recorded by Malachy Bourke on ‘Draw the Bow’. He calls it ‘The Old Pinch of Snuff’ and plays it in G. I refer to the the initial setting by Dr. Dow and the close settings by joe fidkid and JACKB.

The Pinch Of Snuff, X:6

I took down this version of ‘The pinch of snuff’ from track 06(c) from John Carty & Brian Rooney’s 2011 album with the aim of learning it specifically.
It is basically the same as X:2 and X:4 here above (viz.; a two part version of the reel) but I prefer their way best. John Carty and Brian Rooney play together and vary the lines quite a bit so I had to make some choices (this notation is based on the first utterance of the tune); so here you are (