An Chúilfhionn March polka

Also known as An Chuilfhionn, An Coolin March, The Coolin March.

There are 10 recordings of this tune.

An Chúilfhionn March appears in 1 other tune collection.

An Chúilfhionn March has been added to 2 tune sets.

An Chúilfhionn March has been added to 27 tunebooks.

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Three settings

X: 1
T: An Chúilfhionn March
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
Bd|:g>f gb ab|gG Bd|[M:3/4]g>f gb ab|
g>a gf|[M:3/4]e>f ef/g/|a/g/f/e/ d>c|Bd gd|
f/e/d/c/ BG AF|1 [M:4/4] GB GB G2 Bd:|2 [M:4/4]GB GB G2 d>c||
BA GF|GA Bc|[M:3/4]d^c de fd|g>f gb ab|
g>a gf|[M:3/4]e>f ef/g/ a/g/f/e/|d>c Bd gd|
f/e/d/c/ BG AF|1 [M:4/4]GBGB G2 d>c:|2 [M:4/4]GBGB G2||
X: 2
T: An Chúilfhionn March
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:B2d2|g4g3b a2f2|g2G2 B2d2|g4g3b a2b2|g3a g2f2|
e4e2fg agfe|d3c B2d2 g2d2|fedc B2G2 A2F2|G2B,2G,2B,2 G,4:|
|:d3c|B2A2 G2F2|G2A2 B2c2|d2^c2 d3e f2d2|g2f2 g2b2 a2b2|
g3a g2f2|e4 e2fg agfe|d3c B2d2 g2d2|fedc B2G2 A2F2|G2B,2G,2B,2 G,4:|
X: 3
T: An Chúilfhionn March
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:Bd|g>f gb|ab gG|Bd g>f|gb ab|g>a gf|
e>f ef/g/|a/g/f/e/ d>c|Bd gd|f/e/d/c/ BG|AF GB|GB G2:|
|:d>c|BA GF|GA Bc|d^c de|fdg>f|
gb ab|g>a gf|e>f ef/g/|a/g/f/e/ d>c|
Bd gd|f/e/d/c/ BG|AF GB|GB G2:|

Forty-two comments

An Chúilfhionn March

Source: …Born For Sport by Paul O’Shaughnessy And Harry Bradley
Transcription: gian marco pietrasanta

My mistake

The "c" in the 3rd measure of the "B" part should be sharp.

The Coolin

Hold on!
This is The Coolin, is it not. One of the great Irish airs - not a march .. air to a song etc.

Posted .

The brass section has just crushed the winds on and the drums are where the drummers are, the skins busted as they tripped up and went head first into their instruments. The baton twirler missed the fall and is in an ambulance being rushed to the nearest hospital… MARCH? Whoa, you must be kidding? You’d need to all be playing whistles and just sitting down in chairs rocking back and forth and smiling because you’re all p*ssed… This would even throw off those bodhran players that play the same inane BuDahBuDah for everthing whatever time signature it’s in… Sorry GM, but this is a modification too far…

Each to his/her own………………..

According to the CD sleeve-notes,the "modification", if that’s the term you want to use, came to Paul O’Shaughnessy from the playing of Johnny Docherty, as pointed out above.

Posted by .

First off ~ ‘trust’, and I have that for GM’s transcriptions, that they get close enough to the bones to satisfy, so it isn’t ‘modification’ on GM’s part I’m wondering about here. Secondly ~ I like Paul O’Shaughnessy’s take on the music. Third and maybe most important, I haven’t heard this track, not for want of trying to chase it up before comment. But, maybe that is an advantage in a twisted sort of way. So, liking twists, it would be curious to see how others can explain track two to the as yet uninitiated. For starters maybe GM will describe for his senses the experience?

TRACK 2: Marches: "An Chuilfhionn March" into "Green Grow the Rushes-O" ~ ???????????????????????

Maybe, just maybe they’ve pulled off some kind of miracle and made decent marches from these two tunes, but trusting GM’s transcript, they’ve failed with the first air. Now the second, I can’t for the life of me imagine that tune as a march, not without it sounding awful or Mickey Mouse? I can’t believe that these fine Irish musicians would want to do something so lame. I can believe that the person doing the notes for what I’m sure is a fine CD, got it completely wrong. Even the well initiated screw up. Going from the ‘AIR’, maybe in a straight flow rhythm wise, and then sliding into the skip of the ‘HIGHLAND FLING’, that I could imagine and that could be a kick, a bit of fun.

Marches aren’t just about slapping a melody into a metronomic straight jacket. They served more purposes than just marching, including dance. In Eire the most useful were not the huge multi-parat listening pieces they can sprawl into elsewhere. 32 bars were the most useful and the more common. The dances they were mated with that beautifully, but even for marching that meets well with one foot in front of the other and the senses, and the cues and potential choreographys and arrangements. This close tie in Eire with dance probably also has something to do with Scottish 2/4 marches becoming polkas. I’ve moved through dances that work for both forms and are really the same dance. Some say they were danced to ‘marches’, usually older sources, and others showed them as danced to polkas ~ one being a dance called, among other things, "The Kickin’ Polka". It belongs to the family of dances "The Military Two-Step" ~ all of which can be danced to marches or polkas, etc… They range from 8 bar to 16 bar dances, again fitting the more usual 32 bar marches in Eire. Yeah, there are always exceptions.

So, whatever they did to these two tunes, and I imagine, with appreciation for those musicians involved, it was ‘well done’, I doubt seriously they were as ‘marches’, but I’m curious to hear otherwise, and even more interesting to hear descriptions before I ever hear the actual track, devil that is in me.

Now, who wound me up this week? 😉

Hi Kenny, you were here as I was writing. You’d be a great source for a description of the treatment, that is if you’ve heard it. Tell me more.

Johnny Doherty was a great player for dances too. He had a large store of marches but reckon he counted this as one, but I’ll give it a studied listen again and see if there’s a ‘march’ in there anywhere… He played the ‘"Rushes" as a highland fling, but sometimes it is called a ‘schottische’ in some notes. Again they are of the same ‘family’, so to speak, or play… Generally the ‘Highlands’ are 16 bars and ‘schottisches’ are 32…

OOPS! ~ the above second sentence should read:
"He had a large store of marches but I don’t reckon he counted this as one, BUT ~"

Maybe someone else will transcribe some of Johnny’s marches for TheSesh? ~ some lovely playing. I am very fond of the fiddle in the hands of any of the Dohertys, as is true for just about any set of ears that has that pleasure…

Hey, maybe it’s like Alanis Morissette’s indidual interpretation and take on Bob Dylan’s classics at last night’s 2005 UK Music Hall of Fame ceremony & induction. What harmonica vituosity, eh? I’m almost half sure I used to like those songs…

Thanks slainte. Yup, as I suspected, the usual, a ‘highland fling’ and not a march. There are a lot of ‘lyrics’ to "Red Grow the Rashes Oooh!" Now that little confirmation of yours increases my suspicions that someone doing the notes for their CD was either out of it of just screwed in squiff. I suspect the first in the set is the ‘AIR’ or ‘PIECE’ most of us would be familiar with, but my curiosity remains…


Bradley & O’Shaughnessy play them as marches. There’s nothing wrong with their sleeve notes.

Posted by .

Personally, I like the way Bradley & O’Shaughnessy play those tunes.

I do not have the recording, but I have heard this set played by a good fiddler who learned them from the Bradley/ O’ S recording. As far as I remember, the "Green Grows" is quite different from the usual highland and is certainly not the version posted on this site. It is definitely more march-like and the set works very well indeed.

Hey, almost a discussion, but where’s the descriptive stuff I was hoping for ~ "played them as marches" is just emphatic. I want the writers in you lot to extrapolate, pretend you’re instructing some neophyte in how the ‘playing’ should feel, the meaning, the muscle, veins, arteries and heartbeat of this track as these musicians breath their interpretation of life into these two tunes. I still think, despite the talents involved, that ‘Rushes’ as a march sounds lame and Mickey Mouse, but convince me. I love being proven wrong. What’s their ‘substance’, what tempo, what treatment???

Interesting that a loose metered tune, taking GMs transcription as right, could be a ‘march’. I’m still hearing a ‘PIECE’, like for show, but I’m open to being influenced otherwise or marching with a limp or skip every once in awhile. Tell me what these musicians mean by ‘march’. Give it definition and form with descriptive prose, please. I want convincing… But I try to get ahold of this track someway or another and give it a listen. I confess some trepidation…

That would be an ecumenical matter ~ HALLELUJAH!

Now I’m getting results and from someone new to me with a deep breath required before speaking their alias. I’m still waiting for others to give a try at a verbal description, though this satisfies for the moment. At least there’s been development.

Yes, by ear of course, absolutely the most important sense to start with, but imagine the deaf folks I’ve worked with who only ‘feel’ the music, and are able to dance in time to that physical sensation. When we pass on or teach this music part of what makes it sing is the contexts we can weave around it, so that our ‘proteges’ can feel the music rather than mechanically mimic what we do, so they can make it sing and dance and tickle the undersides of others feet. While we are all born with ears we don’t all have the gifts required to ‘listen’, that is developed. Personally I would put the people who shared their music with me in the forefront. They gave me a 6th sense, like catching the flu off of them. You know that period in the flu when you’re giddy and you feel pretty good and life is quite comic, well, something like that. They had a heart and a humour that went beyond mere listening. Hell, if basic listening were the only thing required we wouldn’t have so many great technicians, fed on recordings and print, who somehow haven’t, as the older Cape Breton musicians used to say was a requirement, the dirt. It is something that lifts even the simplest rendition of a tune and adds spark to it.

So, let’s just say for now we’ve only the notes, as given above in ABCs and dots, and you are needing to teach this set of tunes to someone else, without the CD, how would you describe it beyond the mere playing of notes. What humour does it have? What’s it’s personality? How defined is the rhythm, in what way? How do these accomplished musicians, or yourself, phrase it? There is content around the music we pass on to others, but too often, as I’ve experienced at times, that is missed for quantity and the acrobatics. So, educate me more about this set of tunes, and not with the mundane repetition of "they are marches"… I’m asking for proof, for context, but I realize this is difficult to in this case the uninitiated, since I am for the moment avoiding the recording, and many of you may have nothing more than the recording at ear, but give it a try, give it some emotion. Just because it says its so, or you say its so, doesn’t make it so. So, tell me more, why you think it qualifiies, as so far only one person has managed to approach that, a valiant and appreciated contribution. Give it a go, prove you can be more than dogmatic. I know that’s hard, but a good teacher has understanding. Me, I often fight my dog, but I find a good bone from the butcher with blood satisfies him for a spell and keeps him from spoiling my otherwise angelic nature…
Who’s spinning tales, who’s whineding who up?

That tune that you were talking about before, it’s a fling, right, and I know it is cuz ‘c’ said so, so there.

‘c’ you know what, you’d be great to take LSD with 😀

Back on topic Dow ~ 😉

Let’s go desert Dow, Peyote, but watch those damned furry bits, just enough strychnine to amplify the senses, like hearing… But hey, you and I do not need drugs, mescaline or otherwise, to send us into shamanic ecstasy, just good company and music are enough stimuli for me, though I wouldn’t turn down a good single malt Scotch or something similar, maybe Moskovskaya, or Shlivovitz, but hold the rocks, please… On another sad point, the cacti are being destroyed faster than they can grow and personally I’d much prefer their beauty and blossoms in the wild than inside me…

It quickly became dire, asde from some work in open-door clinics. During my rock and roll years, however badly I sang or played bass, I was the den mother, the one who had to clean up the messes, from vomit to brain cells and even the ice skating rink they once made by emptying a case of vegetable oil onto the floor ~ including ‘the talk’ ~ convincing people down from the weirdness of such things, that they weren’t a cockroach or batman or the door ~ or convincing them to climb down out of that tree, with help, as it isn’t the best place to sleep, helping them to get their clothes back on and then helping them inside and preparing something to eat and a hot drink… I lost a lot of sleep without the drugs. I had plenty of examples around me to convince me it wasn’t something I wanted to emulate…

But on a related bent, one of my prized possessions is a copy of Huxley’s "Doors of Perception" that for some crazy reason was printed backwards. I’ve never heard of that since or seen another copy like that. I’d guess it was intended for being read under the influence ~ but for me Huxley was enough of an influence on his own, no need for any additives. Are you too young to remember Carlos? No, not Santana, Castanedes…

Buy seriously Dow, back on point, listen to this track and come back here and give your analysis as if you were trying to help someone to accomplish the same end…without any deleterious influences to haze the interpretation…

Without the influence of the recording I am giving the concept a go, both tunes, to try and marchify them via different ‘voices’ and means… I’m still taking any ‘guidance’ as opposed to ‘statements of fact’…

psssst…. anyone got any mushrooms?

Chantrelles and Boletes and even sh*takes, will that do. I know some great recipes for wild mushrooms. Besides, going around fields hunkered down is bad for your back and knees…and there’s all those little brown crud things that can make you sick or even kill you…

Strings ~ Winds ~ Reeds ~ & Skins ~

Alright, I’ve marched the hell out of this one and the ‘Rashers’ in various mediums and numerous levels of proficiency. I’ve marched all over the house to the set, but, while I can do that, I’ve quickly had my fill of it and aside from waiting to hear their take on it from their shiny new CD, I won’t be revisiting this experiment, however much respect I have for their skills as musicians. I will listen to it when it arrives, but can’t imagine my opinion will change, but each to his own, and as you know, I love being surprised. I’ll come back here once I’ve heard their playing of this set.

Yeah, so, as I know full well, anything can be marchified, Disneyfied or Californicated. Give me any melody or non-melody and I can put it to a steady incessant beat, and ‘march’ in time to it, but don’t take that as a challenge. While I could do it I wouldn’t necessarily want to. I would choose to call this particular treatment of an air and fling, with a steady march-like beat and tempo, a ‘PARTY PIECE’, but you can call it what you like. Maybe we should start the countdown here to when these talented lads detatch themselves from this experiment and it no longer keeps trying to nudge into sessions world wide. It’s a novelty and it’s a new CD by luminaries of ITM, no doubt their talent. I can’t see this peculiarity persisting for long anywhere, not naturally, not without some persistent sod and a conserted effort to keep it going, floggin’ it to death, which only took me a few hours here on my own.

So, anything can be made to be marchy, but some things are just better for the purpose. The phrasing of ‘Green Grocer’ s**ks this way, my personal opinion, and I’ve been in the minority before, heaven knows my brain has some peculiar wiring about it. So, a challenge, in a year’s time, to come back here and see how many persistent sods of us there are with this odd little bawble still featuring in our repertoire.

I’ll let you know when I’ve got ahold of it what I think of that track on the CD. Ive no doubt I’ll have admirable things to say about the playing, their skill and technique, but I can’t for the life of me imagine liking the clod-hopping all over two beautiful melodies to make them march. Yes, I put my biases aside, worked a couple of days on that, forgetting the air and the fling of these and letting them march for a good spell under different influences, including alcohol, but ~ YUCK! It will be nice if the lads themselves, their treatment and skill and recording can change me to the dark side… Hey, sometimes talent is wasted, and we all need to experiment. I’ve done some awful transformations of melodies in my time ~ and some folks liked what I’d done. If they’re still playing them I hope they’ve forgotten my name…

Oh yeah, almost forgot that awful lead across of the last bar taken from the Guinness add ~ "night after day after night after ~ tick tock tick tock":

4/4 | GB GB G2 ~ I did write out several other treatments of this old air as a march…but haven’t the nerve to qualify them by including them, maybe after a few stiff shots of strong drink? I quickly killed of that damned irritating GB GB GB GB GB …

I even lilted them and sang a few stanzas worth of obscene lyrics, well, soft obscenities…

3.) Seek ‘Sources’ / ‘Origins’ = John Doherty & educating the ears

Track 3: "An Chúilfhionn" into "The Flogging"
march & reel ~ 2’ 44"

Tempo: 120 beats per minute, nice and steady and emphatic…
That’s four beats to the bar for the march and two beats to the bar for the reel, measured that way had control at pretty much right on 120 bpm throughout, and with humour… Wow!, I love his way with things…

"The Floating Bow: Traditions Fiddle Music from Donegal"
John Doherty ~ Paul O’Shaughnessy is deservedly ‘in the family’…
Claddagh Records: CCF31CD ~ 1996

So the serious business begins, gladly, as I love the push and pull and lift of Johnny Doherty’s bow. Next will be the O’Shaughnessy recording, but for now, the next week or so, I’m just going to immerse myself in listening selectively to music from the North that predates the talented Mr. O’Shaughnessy. I even favour the take on Sean Nos and the Irish from that neck of the woods, the wild West of Ulster…

Oh yes, the numbering, and while some of you may think it ‘assbackwards’, that is sometimes, so I’ve been told, the way of dyslexics. We tend to approach things from squiff, off angled ways and from many different approaches. It helps us to understand a thing and to move it into the safer long-term memory, as the short one is less reliable, like the fiasco of trying to find where I’d put this recording, or even wondering if I had it at all or had given it away in a fit of generosity. As I’ve said, I’ve actually a good memory, it just doesn’t perform on demand. So, the numbering:

1.) Find current and living sources to get guidance from, even if it means winding them up. Sadly, those ‘experts’ of you out there didn’t take the bait as intended and just came back with short statements, but there’s the transcription and that got me going, and since I love being would up this way, caed mile failte…

2.) Once you’ve got something give it a go, fight any pre-conceptions and see what you can make of the available information, which again I’m sad to say, is mostly the notation and my familiarity with marches, which even includes drum and bugle, a bit of fife, and low brass in a full marching and concert band. I even love the old standards from across the globe, from early martial music to those used for dancing the sets of quadrilles to Sousa…

3.) Finding other sources, living or not, and down to the business of ‘educating the ears’, nah, that’s too limiting as this is about educating the whole damned thing, body and soul. There is a pronounced humour to Johnny Doherty’s way with this melody as a march ~ and into the reel. It has an almost Scandinavian feel to it. I will return with a ‘basic’ transcription of it for comparison with the above, and do my damnedest to do it reasonable justice and to bar it to his phrasing.

It still comes off as a ‘party piece’, which I have absolutely nothing against. It might even work well for a ‘grande marche’, the sort that used to take place in big ballrooms of Belfast and Dublin and London and New York, as a few examples. The notion of ‘party piece’ is even supported by the short liner notes for the track:

"This is an unusual treatment of one of the most popular traditional song airs, ‘An Chúilfhionn’ ( The Coolin ), played in a lively march tempo. This was sometimes played between the figures of the sets danced in Donegal. (‘Meaning’, I suspect ~ as a break between repetition of the complete set of figures.. usually, at the least, between 5 and 7 times in an average evening…) The march flows into a version of ‘The Flogging Reel’ which John makes very much his own, especially in his variations in the third part of the reel."

An Chúilfhionn March

I got this tune from Tara Bingham Diamond a few years ago and recall her mentioning, at the time, it was rewritten by fiddler John Daugherty, from the Coolin Air, as a reel. I’ve checked my tape recorder, and the playing sounds far more like a reel than a march on that particular live recording. Harry Bradley and Paul O’Shaughnessy included this tune on their excellent "Born for Sport" CD, I recently purchased. Harry is usually accurate and specific in his liner notes, and don’t question his accuracy in this case.

The tune is listed as a ‘march,’ on "Born for Sport." And, I am wondering if there is any definitive information as to whether Daugherty rewrote the tune as a reel or a march, and, particularly, if a march - does anyone know if the tune was ever actually marched to, and by whom?

Any and all information is welcome and appreciated.


As you will see above, though in all that it may not be clear, it was Johnny Doherty’s ‘party piece’, and as far as I have been able to tell, any other folks who play it take it back to him as their source. So, as musicians played around with melodies and still do, myself included, this was his take on a popular air. Unless someone else has ever used it for marching since then, for Johnny Doherty it was just as said above, a bit of play, a party piece, him playing around with the air and calling this variation on the air a march… So, yes, Johnny Doherty’s, not intended for dancing or marching ~ just a bit of fun…

I believe Tara Diamond got this from Paul O’Shaughnessy.

I suppose its a march in as much as you could march to it if you wanted to… or if the brits told you to.



If someone aimed a gun at me or was bigger than me and threatened I’d march to anything… 😏

"Dance pardner!" ~ "I mean ~ MARCH!"

The Coolin March

nice version recorded as The Coolin March by Nathan Gourley and Joey Abarta on "Copley Street". follows O’Donnel Abu