This is one of those tunes I find hardly anyone plays the same way as anyone else, not that it’s a tune I’ve heard played all that often, for some reason. This is probably a bit of a "mongrel" version, so if anyone wishes to add other "abc" versions, please feel free to do so.
I would associate it with the playing of Donegal fiddlers, such as Tommy Peoples and Paddy Glackin, who have both recorded it. I was reminded of it when "Ptarmigan" was reminiscing in a discussion about the Ennis fleadh in 1977 which we were both at. It was played in a duets competition on fiddle and concertina.
I should have mentioned that this reel has an unusual structure. It has 2 ½ parts – the 1st 8 bars are played and repeated, followed by 16 bars, and a 3rd part of only 8 bars,
[ which is really only a variation of the 1st part ]. Hope that doesn’t cause confusion.
Also known as Ceathru Cavan?
This lovely tune was recorded as Caher Rua by John Kelly Sr. on his solo fiddle and concertina CD. It was also recorded on a 1977 television program by Kelly along with sons John Jr. and James. This latter version appears on the Come West Along the Road DVD where it was given the title Ceathru Cavan. The structure played by the Kelly family is as Kenny transcribed, though the third part is only four bars instead of eight - after the 4 bars that begin "defd cdec" they go back to the first part. To my ears anyway. Confusing enough? As Kenny wrote — a tune "hardly anyone plays the same way as anyone else" . Great reel anyway!
After listening again, both Kelly recordings I mentioned earlier end with an 8 bar third part the last time through. The first part and the last four bars of the third part are nearly identical, so it’s difficult to tell if they are A: not repeating the 8 bar first part the second time through, or B: only playing the first four bars as the third part - until the last time through! Weird structure for sure.
Also, I have a copied recording of John Kelly Sr.’s Fiddle and Concertina Player, which includes the tune above, along with 15 additional tracks that don’t appear on the listing of the Topic record in the recordings section. Does anyone know of other solo / unaccompanied recordings by John Kelly that might include these tunes?
I’d love to know what’s going on with the structure of this reel. I heard it played at a session in Wales by our very own John Gillard and What?!!? At first I thought that they were playing that 3rd part simply as a variation of the 1st part like the Norbeck version because they were only playing the 1st part without repeats, unlike Kenny’s setting:
D:Paddy Glackin: Ceol ar an bhFidil le Paddy Glackin.
d2dA BAFB|A3B AFEF|D2FA BAFB|ABde feef|
dA~A2 BAFB|AFBF AFEF|D2FA BAFB|1 ABde fddA:|2 ABde fdd2||
|:dD~D2 dDFA|dcde fdef|g2eg fedf|~e3f edBc|
dD~D2 dDFA|dcde fdef|1 g2eg fdec|AFGE EDFA:|2 g2eg fdfa|gabg effe||
"Variation of 1st part:"
d2fd cedc|~B3d AFEF|D2FA BAFB|ABde feef|
But then at the end of the tune they played an 8 bar 3rd part to round it off as Matt Harris says above, which suggests that they interpret it as a part in its own right as opposed to just a variation.
On one of the transcriptions I found on the net, it tells you to play the whole thing AABCABC, where the A part is 8 bars long. Weird or what.
I’d be tempted to iron out the structure of the whole thing and play it like this:
d2fd cedc|~B3d AFEF||D2FA BAFB|ABde feef|
dA~A2 BAFB|AFBF AFEF|D2FA BAFB|ABde fddc:|
|:dD~D2 ADFA|dcde fdef|g2eg fedf|egfd edBc|
dD~D2 dDFA|dcde fdef|1 g2eg fcdB|AFGE D2FA:|2 g2eg fdfa|gabg efge||
Maybe I’d be missing out on the quirkiness of the tune but at least then it wouldn’t sound too much like Speed The Plough in the A-part.
Here’s John and David’s version:
T: Caher Rua
T: Red-haired Charles
d3A BAFB|AFAB AFEF|DEFA BAFB|ABde fgfe|
d3A BAFB|AFBF AFEF|DEFA BAFB|ABde fddc||
% Repeat A-part and play 16 bars 1st time through tune but play as written thereafter
|:dD~D2 DEFA|Adde fdef|~g3e fedf|(3efg fd edBc|
dD~D2 DEFA|~d3e fdef|1 ~g3e fedB|AFEF DEFA:|2 ~g3e fedf|(3efg fd edBc||
defd cdec|BcdB AFEF|DEFA BAFB|ABde fgfe|
d3A BAFB|AFBF AFEF|DEFA BAFB|ABde fddc||
Listen to Robbie Hannan and Dermot McLaughlin play this reel together: http://www.frankiekennedy.com/03robbiedermot_2pieces.mp3(From Frankie Kennedy Winter School mp3 Archive: http://www.frankiekennedy.com/mp3.html)
Id say this tune was resurected from the dots at a guess.
The last 8 bars are a ‘variation’ of the first 8 bars. so the structure is as normal. However 2nd time round they play the last 8 bars [variation of p1]and move into the wild Irishman . this could be where the confusion has arisen.
Either playing the last 8 as a 3rd part, repeating it an then repeating p1 . a 3 part reel. Or not playing the last8 before the change would bring it back into line for the dancers.
I didn’t "resurrect" it from any dots. If you read what I posted above, I told you where the transcription came from. Your "guess" is totally wrong.
I’ve just been learning this tune from the John, John and James Kelly version on YouTube from1977. The structure, at least the way *they* play it, seems clear to me - normal two part reel structure, but with the rule that when you go back to the first part, you play it (or notes to this effect)
| defd (3Bcded | BcdB AFEF | D2 etc,
and then ending on that part, played once. I know I’ve come across other tunes that do this sort of ‘mutation’ of the first part when you go back to it, but can’t bring any to mind right now …
What I *am* struggling with is the fact that it feels as if the tune’s deliberately ambiguous as to where the bar line is. Most of the time, the tune feels as if it’s half a bar out from where the bar lines have to go by reference to the ending in order to produce regular, 8-bar phrases. I keep wondering if I’m playing it right, and having to check with the Kellys and, mainly to my surprise, I am …
Scratching my head here … lovely, lovely tune though …
Sorry Ben, I think you’ve missed something here. It’s not a normal 2-part reel structure at all, otherwise why would you "end on that part, played once"? Nothing "normal" about that, seeing as it makes the whole tune 8 bars longer than dancers would expect. I think it’s extremely unusual.
Well, Dow, I did say I was scratching my head over the tune.
I suppose my point was that, so long as you are still playing the tune, over and over, the structure is entirely regular. Structure-wise, it only seems to change when you end the tune.
I totally get where you’re coming from in looking at this tune, Dow. I think I’m hearing ‘my’ feel for the structure *as well as* the structure the way you see it, both at the same time, overlaid, as it were.
Combined with the odd rhythm thing that makes it seem at times to be half a bar out, the whole thing just seems ambiguous to me. And this makes for a great tune.
Just curious about the name.
Surely if it’s Caher Rua means Red City and Cathal Rua could be translated as Red-haired Charles. Must be a mis-translation but in which direction, I wonder?
one of my favourites.
i learnt it from the kellys version on clarebannermans youtube.
for ages i could not get in sync with this, i was listening to it out of step, and was thrown when the tune switches to the wild irishman.
i get it all now, but it took me many many frustrating attempts.
i cant give any tips except to listen to it about 500 times until it sinks in.
good tune though, its worth it :-)
John Doherty - Cathair Rua
John Doherty also recorded this tune. It’s on his "The Celebrated Recordings" listed as Cathair Rua. In that version he plays an alternate B part the first time round, the second and third times it’s similar to that played on the video above.
For those in the UK, here it is on Spotify:
I’ve now been playing this tune for years and years and years. And, instead of it getting any clearer, it’s more confusing than ever. I think that’s its charm.
I love it. :-D
What a great tune! Yes, it is 40 bars in length, but not all dances are 32 bars, so fret not.
There are not so many genuine - good - 40 bar tunes (as written, rather that mucked about) - and ‘real’ 48 bar tunes can also be a problem to find - this is a good addition to the repertoire. Thanks.
If you really wanted to make this 32 bars you could leave out the first 8 bars after the repeat (and I would do this rather than just not repeat the first line, as writ):
T: Caher Rua (32 bar version)
|: d3 A BAFA | AFBF AFEF | D2 FA BAFB | ABde fgfe |
dA A2 BAFA | AFBF AFEF | D2 FA BAFB | ABde fd d2 :|
dD D2 FDFA | dcde fdef | g2 ge fefd | egfd edBc |
dD D2 FDFA | dcde fdef | g2 eg f2 df | gabg efge |
defd cdec | BcdB AFEF | D2 FA BAFB | ABde fgfe |
dA A2 BAFA | AFBF AFEF | D2 FA BAFB | ABde fd d2 ||
Not an especially nice thing to do to someone else’s tune, but it is the "folk process" and would make the tune the 32 bars that most dances (or even dancers) would expect or require. Most of the flavour (flavor, if you are in the US of A) of the tune is preserved, though.
OK for a band playing for ceilidhs, but I guess at a session you would expect to leave it as it is!
All the best
Téada, in G
Liz Knowles & Kieran O’Hare…
Lovely rendition of this mighty tune on flat (B) pipes/fiddle on Liz’ recording: https://thesession.org/recordings/3949
^First tune in track 3