The Providence Reel
The story goes that Michael Coleman & Lad O’Beirne came up with this tune on a train ride to Providence, RI from New York City. They were coming to play for a wedding for the Kane family (related to Coleman somehow) Josh Kane is about 16 & is shaping up to be quite a flute player. I believe the wedding was of his grandparents. Josh’s father tells me the story of the Providence reel everytime I play it for him.
Thanks for passing along this great tune Brad! I’m having trouble wrapping my brain around the way the A Part puts the emphasis in the middle of the bar, like it wants another two beats at the end before repeating. But that’s part of its charm. And the B Part just sparkles. Good story to go with it, too.
Providence Reel in Ireland
In addition to hearing it played here in Providence all the time (which one would expect), I heard it in two Dublin sessions and it was played at three different sessions while I was at the Cooley-Collins Festival in Gort, Galway. Pretty popular over there.
Good ol’ uncle Mike!
Played ad nauseum here in Portland, despite never having been recorded by K. Burke it seems. Lovely tune - didn’t know the title.
Composer - John McGrath
Several sources list this as a composition of one John McGrath, of Rossport, Co.Mayo, a fiddler who lived most of his life in New York.
He is thought to have named it the "Rossport" reel, but Coleman allegedley re-titled it "The Providence" while on a trip to Providence in Rhode Island, and the name stuck.
According to the liner notes of "O Bheal go Beal" (Marcas O Murchu), the composer is indeed John McGrath (from Ros Dumhach, Co. Mayo— is that the same as Rossport?). He also wrote "Sean Se Cheo" and "Joe Cooley’s Reel". At the time the liner notes were written (1997), his nephew Vincent from Drogheda, Co. Louth was preparing a collection of his music. Whether or not this collection came to fruition, I don’t know.
An alternate name ?
Na Fili, via Matt Cranitch, recorded on "Farewell to Connacht" a tune named "Miss McNamara" that ressembles strangely to "The providence".
The same Matt recorded a version of "The Providence"on "Take a bow" that I don’t know.
"Miss McNamara" / "The Providence" ~ duplication
Key signature: D Major
Submitted on September 17th 2007 by alcofribas.
T: Miss McNamara
|: EDCE DEFA | d2 fd gdfd | ed (3Bcd AdcA | (3Bcd AF EGFD |
E3 F DEFA | d2 fd gdfd | ed (3Bcd AdcA | (3Bcd AGFD D2 :|
|: fddd fdad | fddd ec A2 | fddd fdad | ceag fd d2 |
fggf gfec | cBAF G2 FG | AA^GB ABde | (3fga ea fd d2 :|
This version is taken from Matt Cranitch’ interpretation as played in "Na Fili - Farewell to Connaught". This tune is followed by "The Musical Priest" that suits delightfully well.
# Posted on September 17th 2007 by alcofribas
Miss McNamara is Matt’s name for the Providence.
# Posted on September 17th 2007 by cos
From Al’s original contribution of ABCs, the A-part, he notated it in the following way, which seemed clumsy and confusing, so, the correction made above ~
E3F DEFA |: d2 fd gdfd | ed (3Bcd AdcA | (3Bcd AF EGFD |
E3 F DEFA | d2 fd gdfd | ed (3Bcd AdcA | (3Bcd AGFD D2 |1 EDCE DEFA :|
It could have been written this way ~
E3 F DEFA | d2 fd gdfd | ed (3Bcd AdcA | (3Bcd AF EGFD |
E3 F DEFA | d2 fd gdfd | ed (3Bcd AdcA | (3Bcd AGFD D2 | EDCE DEFA | d2 fd gdfd | ed (3Bcd AdcA | (3Bcd AF EGFD |
E3 F DEFA | d2 fd gdfd | ed (3Bcd AdcA | (3Bcd AGFD D2 ||
But, rather than writing it out twice for just the one bar, since all it is ~ is a variation on the first bar, so that could just be included as I did above, or added in the notes, that bar 1 or 5 could be played either way ~
|: E3 F DEFA | ~ or ~ |: EDCE DEFA | ~
John McGrath certainly composed "John McGrath’s," a great reel that was printed (and credited to McGrath) in an early 1950s tunebook published in Boston by Joe Derrane’s accordion teacher Jerry O’Brien. "The Providence" appeared in the same book under the title "Rossport Reel," but was not credited to McGrath. As McGrath was from Rossport, he is very likely responsible for that title, and may well have composed the tune. But there is no proof. Vincent McGrath believes that his uncle composed many now-common tunes, including some (such as "Lad O’Beirne’s" and "Cooley’s") that are also credited on better evidence to other musicians. John McGrath was a great musician and influential music teacher in New York, but it does not serve his memory well to make exaggerated claims of authorship for him.
But there’s no proof someone else composed it, or it’s a very old traditional tune.
This says he also composed The Humours of Lissadel,Sean sa Cheo and the Old Dudeen.
Dearbha Lennon learning to play it in 6 months…
X:3 from the Mulvhill Collection, accredited to Paddy Reynolds; Paddy may be heard playing it exactly as written here on the old LP Sweet and Traditional Music of Ireland. He was friends with Lad O’Bierne and John McGrath, note.
Re: The Providence
From 02:51 https://youtu.be/Bm7lpGhprvY?t=2m51s
Re: The Providence
00:00 Over the Bog Road
01:18 The Providence
Played by Ernestine Healy (concertina) and Fionnuala Rooney (harp)
The Providence, X:4
From the playing of The Irish Descendants.
Re: The Providence
A couple years ago I had the pleasure to play a session in Carrick-on-Shannon. This tune showed up and so I was telling those assembled about how I live near the place that it references (Providence). Then the Rossport Reel title came up. Flute player Sean Gilrane relayed to me that yes, John McGrath was from Rossport and did write this tune, but that the Rossport Reel wasn’t his name for it; he called it Oats in the Bag.
True or not, who knows?, but another layer to the story.