An Buachaill Caol Dubh waltz

By Seán ó Seanacháin (John Shanahan)

Also known as The Dark Slender Boy, The Dark Slim Boy.

There are 67 recordings of this tune.

This tune has been recorded together with

An Buachaill Caol Dubh appears in 1 other tune collection.

An Buachaill Caol Dubh has been added to 4 tune sets.

An Buachaill Caol Dubh has been added to 136 tunebooks.

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Two settings

X: 1
T: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
G/A/ Bc|d>g g/f/d/c/ Bc/A/|B>A GF/G/ A/B/c/A/|dg g/f/d/c/ A>G|
G3 G/A/ Bc|dg g/f/d/c/ Bc/A/|B>A GF/G/ A/B/c/A/|dg g/f/d/c/ A>G|G3||
B/c/ dd|b2 ab/a/ g/f/b/a/|g>f dc dd/e/|=fa g/f/d/c/ d/g/^f/a/|
g2 (9G/A/B/c/d/e/f/g/a/ ba|ga (3b/a/g/ (3f/d/c/ Bc/A/|dg g/f/d/c/ A>G|G3||
X: 2
T: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
A|D>F G3A B>c|d2 g4 aa/g/|f<d c<A B>d c<A|B2 BA/F/ G4|
A3G F<A (=F2|=F2 ^F)>G A<B (c2|c)>A d>g g2 a>g|f<d cA3 G2|
G4 G2 A2|D>F G3A B>c|d2 g4 g2|f<d c<(B B)>d c<A|
B2 BA/F/ G4|A3G F<A (=F2|=F2 ^F)>G A<B (c2|c)>A d>g g2 a>g|
f<d cA3 G2|G4 G4|G4 G4||
B>c|d2 d2 b2 a2|a<f g2 b>a (g2|g2) f<d d2 B>c|
(d4 d4)|d>e =f2 a2 {bab}a>f|ga/g/ f<d d>c d<g|f<a (g2 g4)|
G(3A/B/c/ d2 e/f/g/a/|b3a g3a|b2 {bab}b<a g2 a<g|f<d c<A B2 d>c|
A<(B B2) A2 (G2|G2) A3G F<A|(=F2 =F2 ^F)>G A<B|(c2 c)>A d>g g2|
a>g f<d cA3|G4 G4|G4 G4||
# Added by JACKB .

Seventeen comments

Ah, I can’t say enough how much I LOVE this air, one of my most favorite airs, very beautiful indeed!

Got this from O’Neill’s Music of Ireland [1850]. Page 5, second tune, tune number 25.

I attempted to post my version but it got way too complicated since I don’t exactly play the air beat by beat. Maybe later or something.

Cheers and influx of books = Hell yes,

The Black Slender Boy?

I think it’s more widely translated as The *Dark* Slender Boy. Hammy Hamilton recorded a fantastic version of the tune on flute, but it seems impossible to transcribe. Maybe I should try. This is a beautiful tune, indeed!

It seems popular among pipers too.

Any feel for how fast/slow this ‘should’ be played? It’s not a tune I know (yet), but looks nice, so I’d like to do it on fiddle tonight at our weekly singaround/session. Thanks

I was going to put it down as an alternate name [or did I? or maybe you..] but yes, late night transcripitions ya know!

Domnull, this should be played PRETTY DAMN slow, or at least not as fast as the midi plays it =P another good version of this is Cillian Vallely’s version on “Callan Bridge” which he also plays with his brother, Niall Vallely! VERY good album.

Waltz? Ha ha ha ha ha!
This is a slow air, I guess you’re up against the deficiencies of this website here. Played very slow and various notes should be greatly “humoured” - lingered over. Listen to Leo Rowsome play it on Ri na Piobari, or Willie Clancy on Pipering Vol. 2, Jimmy O’Brien-Moran on his CD.
The title was supposed by 19th century antiquarians to refer to the slender bottle of stout that accompanied the poet on his travels. Oooohh, romantic! Another interpretation, literally darker, comes from folklore; I won’t describe in any detail, piper/historian Denis Brooks summed up the two themes as “Alcoholism or buggery.”

I love the version of this on Planxty Live 2004. Beautiful!


Any interpretation that this song is given, it remains about a man’s dark vices following him wherever he tries to flee from them (be they alcohol or the other one)

Nuair a théim ar aonach a’ ceannach éadaigh
’S bíonn an éirnis agam im láimh,
Síneann taobh liom an buachaill caol dubh,
’S cuireann caol-chrobh isteach im láimh.
Is gearr’n-a dhéidh sin go mbím go h-aerach,
Gan puinn dem chéill ’s mé os cionn an chláir,
A’ díol na n-éileamh do bhíonn am chéasa,
Seacht mí gan léine’s an fuacht am chrá.

’Sé an buachaill caol dubh fada, féileach,
Cliste, léigheanta, ’s gur mhaith é a shnó,
Do chlaoidh i bpéin mé ’s do mhill i n-éag mé,
Is d’fhág mé féinig ar beagán stóir.
Dhon Fhrainnc dá dtéinn, nó go cuan Binn Éadain,
No a’ dul don léim sin go h-lnis Mhór,
Bionn an séithleach im dhiaidh ar saothar,
Mara mbeinn féin uaidh ach uair de ló.

Do casadh Aoibhill na Craige Léith’ orrainn,
A’gabháil na sli is do ghaibh liom baidh;
Is dúirt dá ngéillfeadh an buachaill caol dubh
Go dtúrfadh céad fear dó suas im áit.
Do labhair an caol-fhear go gonta géar lé,
Is dúirt ná tréigfeadh a charaid ghnáth,
Gur shiúil sé Éire tré choillte ’s réitigh
Le cumann cléibh is le searc im dheuidh

Two distinct versions?

There seem to be two distinct versions of this - one commonly played by pipers and one favoured by singers (and nearly every other instrumentalist). Can anyone shed any light?

This John Doyle vid gives you a grasp of the singers version, but you can also here it done really nicely on Lands End by Michael Rooney.

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An Buachaill Caol Dubh

That’s basically the same tune, I was expecting something very very different like the Connemara version of Róisín Dubh, which is a distinct melody in of itself. Doyle’s melody lacks the Fnat note and florid runs pipers use; that sort of (over) ornamentation was decried about 200 years ago by the collector George Petrie, so it’s nothing new.

Seamus Tansey recorded a beautiful version of An Buachaill Caol Dubh, distinct from others’ settings, and perhaps even more showy than how pipers play it. It was originally on his Reels, Jigs, Airs tape and was reissued on some CD too.

Liam O’Flynn’s Version

Of all the dots I’ve seen for this tune, none of them have made sense when you compare them to the version Liam O’Flynn plays with Planxty. This is as close as I could get.

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Re: An Buachaill Caol Dubh

“ The Dark Slender Boy ” Sung by Sean Doyle on son John Doyle’s CD is a fantastic version!
That man’s voice is perfect for this song version along with John’s excellent accompaniment.
When I first heard it it knocked me for a six !!

Re: An Buachaill Caol Dubh

Agree 100% with the above comment.

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Re: An Buachaill Caol Dubh

None of the midi versions bears much resemblance to the tune as I know it, or indeed to a tune at all, frankly.

Re: An Buachaill Caol Dubh

It strikes me as odd that no one has noted that this air shares a solid 90% of its interval changes and, depending somewhat on the version, timing, with the great air/love poem known as Ur-Chnoc Chein Mhic Cainte.

Further, the versions I have heard of tunes called by the English translation of Ur-Chnoc Chein Mhic Cainte, i.e., Killin’s Fairy Hill, tend to be even closer to An Buachaill/Dark Slender. (Viz. Mick Maloney w Eugene O’Donnell:

For what it is worth, Ur-Chnoc Chein Mhic Cainte was written by Peadar Ó Doirnín, 1700-69 (at least according to the DIB) who lived in Ulster. An Buachaill Caol Dubh (at least according to Seán Ó Súilleabháin) is by Munster/Dublin poet Seán “Aerach” Ó Seanacháin, who, according to Ó Súilleabháin, was one half to one generation older. (And the “Aerach” there just meant eccentric back in the day - lest any should project a gay present onto a happy past).

But apart from showing they were coevals, this detail helps but little to determine whether the one air is progenitor to the other or if both were set to a melody floating on the breeze of the folk process to which every Sean, Peadar and Harry was setting his poem in the first half of the 18th century.