There’s a very funny character who is a regular at one of the pubs I go to. He’s a favorite of the session players (named Gerry) and in the winter, he comes cloaked from head to foot in an otter skin coat (he does have a matching hat by the way), and the players often launch into this very tune to herald his arrival.
Hats off to Jerry
Since (really) the name of this jig is Jerry’s Beaver Hat - the question has to asked (at least by a naïve American):
Are there Beavers in Ireland?
It’s called "I Don’t Know" on the "Champions of Ireland: Concertina" CD.
I just identified this tune from a recording of a Randal Bays workshop, using the advanced abc search. I was beginning to think I might have to bug Dow, ceoloachan or Will again. Cheers, Jeremy!
Re: beavers in Ireland
(a response to ralpheym’s 2-yr old query 😉 )
Setting aside the American slang and obvious jokes for a moment, I can’t find any mention of beavers ever being native to Ireland. Archeology magazine recently ran an article about Castor fiber, the European beaver, in England, Wales and Scotland. It was hunted to extinction in Britain for its castoreum, an oily glandular secretion believed to have medicinal properties.
Giraldus Cambrensis (aka Gerald of Wales) c. 1146 – 1223, Norman Welsh churchman and historian, wrote in his Topographia Hibernica:
“Ireland has badgers but not beavers. In Wales beavers are to be found only in the Teifi river near Cardigan.”
That was in 1188.
Still, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn of beaver remains being discovered in a prehistoric midden somewhere in Ireland.
Bryony Coles argues in "Beavers in Britain’s Past" that beavers vanished from human perception but did not become extinct on Great Britain until the later second millennium AD. By 1600 or so beaver survived only in place names, ie. Beverly.
From about 1550 until 1850, felt hats became fashionable (quite a run, that) Every properly dressed man for three hundred years wore a felt hat. Beaver fur was an excellent raw material. Beaver fur holds its shape under rough wear and successive wettings more than felt made from wool. By the late 1500’s, the beaver was extinct in western Europe and was close to extinction in Scandinavia and Russia. The North American fur trade became a new source and kept the fashion going for another 200 years.
In October 2005, six European beavers were released in Gloucestershire, and there are plans for reintroductions in Scotland and Wales.
I got here via a search looking for info on a tune from the Noel Hill/Tony McMahon album which was identified as "Cooley’s". It looks like a variant of this tune, no wonder it sounded familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it.
There are only two species of beavers: the European and the American. The European being slightly bigger. Some American populations exist on European ground. But the presence of beavers in Ireland has never been proven alright -except in the form of fashionable hats! (Moles never made it either, except as moleskins)
I got this and more from Andrew Kitchener’s book ‘Beavers’, published 2001-2 in the wake of the reintroduction of the beast to Scotland. A good read that includes some myths and a receipe for beaver stew!
To shed some new light on and old topic, The Comhaltas Foinn Seisiun book 1 lists ‘Returned Yank’ as an alternative title for this jig., That might help explain how Jerry’s haberdasher was able to acquire the pelt needed to fashion the garment in question.
just downloaded an app called tunepal, and now I am finding out the names of many tunes I have played for years. I added this to a set, that no doubt I heard at a session or on a recording. Thanks to all who know how to put the dots up on the pages here. Anyway, like this tune and the name.
Re: Jerry’s Beaver Hat
There’s a Canadian album called Mandolore, by Andrew Collins and Brian Taheny, definitely worth a listen. Cut #2 is Jerry’s Beaver Hat/Tobin’s Favourite/Calliope House.
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