The Britches reel

Also known as Leather Britches.

There are 7 recordings of this tune.

The Britches has been added to 11 tune sets.

The Britches has been added to 127 tunebooks.

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Ten comments

The Britches

This is a Martin Hayes spin on a great old tune, from his self titled cd. It goes slow and lightly, wistful, if you follow Martin’s lead.

I left out the grace notes he scatters around the tune. In the first two measures of Part C, try playing |gabg a (3bag ba|. Then in the D part, Martin flicks his middle finger down to break up all those edBd’s so it looks more like |(3ege dBd…|

Give a listen to the cd for the full effect, complete with tasteful piano accompaniment.

Posted .


It’s fascinating the way so many tunes are inter-related. If you take the first two parts of this tune, tweak the rhythm a little and transpose it up to A, you get the polka, ‘The Brtiches Full of Stitches’.

Looking at it another way, the whole tune is a variant of the reel, ‘The Noon Lasses’, which according to Cathal McConnell, is a variant of ‘Lord McDonanld’s’.

Had I not come across this tune - perhaps it was partly the title that prompted me - I would never have made the connection between the said polka and ‘The Noon Lasses’, let alone ‘Lord McDonald’s’.

This one’s too much like the Noon Lassies for me to commit to memory.

Britches full of stitches

When I heard Martin Hayes play this, I just immediately took it as him applying his famous lonesome touch to the polka “The Britches Full of Stitches”. It’s interesting to me that this is considered a distinct tune. I guess he did move it to another key.

I also subscribe to this being just an interpretation of the classic polka. The polka is in fact played in G by many (as in several tunes, it is typically A for fiddlers and G for flutes, so playing in G is unusual for a fiddler, if not done to cooperate with a flute).

Matt Molloy has a powerful ‘no frills’ version. Was it recorded under a different name? It’s not listed here.

Re: The Britches

Yes, that’s the one. Thanks Kenny.