This tune is from the renowned Donegal fiddler James Byrne who has recorded it on his albumb " the road to glendalough". altan have also recorded it on the red crow.
This story was told to me by a fiddler/guitar player, Jim Remington, who lives here in Colorado. Jim is one of the original session members of the ubiquitous Boulder session, which is based right now out of Conor O’Neill’s, but goes back far further, even before Conor’s was The James. At one point, I can’t remember if Jim said this was the 70’s or the 80’s, the members of this session decided to go to Ireland together for a holiday trip and to listen to as much music as they could.
They had heard that James Byrne was highly likely to always be playing at his local of an evening, a pub out in the middle of nowhere in Donegal, so they all rented a van, piled into it, and headed out in search of this pub.
When they arrived mid-afternoon, there were maybe three people sitting in the pub, it was very quiet, and they decided that it would probably be best to down a few and hang out for a while to wait for something to happen.
Jim went to the bar to get himself another drink, and the local at the bar, big beefy guy, looked like a farmer or a construction worker, Jim said, giant hands and fingers, looked as if he could take care of himself, struck up a conversation with him. They talked a bit about what they did for a living — turns out his man is a pig farmer. They talk about this and that, and finally his man asks what on earth brings a bunch of Yanks out to a pub in the middle of nowhere, Donegal.
"Oh," says Jim excitedly and confidentially, "we heard that this fiddler we all admire plays here of the evenings, James Byrne, and we’re desperate to see him!"
Jim says the pig farmer’s face lights up, he leaps up off his bar stool, lifts a declamatory finger into the air and announces delightedly, "Tis I! *I’m* James Byrne!"
James Byrne flies across the room to a fiddle on the wall, lifts it to his chin and begins playing while Jim is still sitting at the bar with his mouth hanging open. Byrne played for about half an hour with them hanging on every note, and then other people started trickling in, some with instruments who joined in, dancers arrived and formed up sets, and it turned into one of those magical nights that the Yank tourist dreams will happen around them while in Ireland.
I’ve heard a Gmaj version of this in sessions. The G version has a distinctive octave leap in the 1st bar, which I quite like. Otherwise it’s pretty much the same as the D version. It appears in Breathnach’s CRE Vol 4, 35, as an untitled tune, but I found this version on the net:
T: Byrne’s Quick Step
S: B.Breathnach:"Ceol Rince na hEireann" IV/35 (gan ainm)
G2g dBG GFG|EFG ABG FED|G2g dBG GFG|EFG AGF G3 :|
AFD AFD DEF|GAB Ac/d/c BAG|AFD AFD DEF|GAB cAF G3 :|
This version is very similar to what I have in my head from sessions. Maybe I’ve heard it on a recording too, but I don’t know where:
T: James Byrne’s
R: slip jig
D|G2g dBG GFG|EFG ABG FED|G2g dBG GFG|EFG AFD G2:|
|:B|AFD AFD DEF|GAB cBA BAG|AFD AFD DEF|GAB cAF G2:|