John “Watt” Henry’s
Another fine reel from the repertoire of Sligo fiddler John "Watt" Henry. Someone asked about this tune a few weeks back. I’ve assumed it’s in G, because it has that feel about it. The only 2 recordings I have of it are in odd keys. Matt Molloy plays it on a low-pitched flute, round about Bb on the "Fire Aflame" recording with Sean Keane and Liam O’Flynn. Accordeon player Luke Daniels plays it in F# [ in the key of F on an Eb box, if that makes sense ], on a compilation CD called "Evolving Tradition".
This is the tune Calico recorded on ‘Celanova Square.’ I’ll put a link from that tune to here in case anyone’s looking for it. It’s also a slightly different setting that I’ll try to post abcs for at some stage.
This is also the tune that Claire Mann recorded on her appropriately titled "Claire Mann" CD.
Claire Mann learned it off Calico’s Celanova Sq.
Bernadette MaCarthy and Henry Benagh play the bejeezus out of this one in a fiddle duet included on the McCarthy’s "Family Album". They play it in D.
T: John Henry’s
D: Calico - Celanova Square
G2Bd dGBd|dGBd cAAB|AGBd dGBd|dBAd BGGD|
G2Bd dGBd|dGBd cAAc|B2DG dGBd|dBAd BGGd||
gd (3B^cd edeg|dGBd cAAd|gd (3B^cd edeg|dBAd BGGd|
gd (3B^cd gdeg|dGBd cA~A2|G2 (3B^cd egfa|gedc B2DE||
The Casagh Reel
Catherine McEvoy plays this reel as "The Casagh Reel" on her latest solo album. According to the notes, it’s a 1950s composition of South Sligo fiddler Johnny ‘Wat’ Henry and named after a small village near the fiddler’s birthplace, Doocastle. Not sure where this piece of information comes from, but it’s probably from a reliable source.
Compare https://thesession.org/tunes/9437 which I think might be another setting.
The original ?
I’ve been listening to "The Beauties Of Autumn" by "The Longridge Ceili Band", and the 2nd tune on the recording is a reel called "An Ugly Customer". Now that’s not a name you forget, and I remembered seeing the title in "O’Neill’s 1001". I looked it up, and I think it’s this tune, but in the key of A major. I’ll post the "abcs" from "O’Neill’s" below, and see what you think.
If it was included in "O’Neill’s" that would pre-date John "Watt" Henry, who was born in 1922.
“An Ugly Customer” - “O’Neill’s” # 623
EAcA eAcA | EAce dB B2 | EAcA eAcA | afed cABG |
EAcA eAcA | EAce dBBg | agae faec | dBed cA A2 |
agae fefg | afec dBBe | agae faec | dBed cAAe |
agae faec | dBcA BF F2 | EFED EFAB | ceBd cA A2 |
I learned it from O’Neil’s and play it that way, in A, and like that setting a lot, especially the "B" part with its three phrases only slightly but very definitely different and its separate and distinctive ending phrase. This is a good example of a tune which when you come to the end of it, you should stop playing.
Johnny Henry himself had no name for this tune
James Fraher, in Sligo, has Henry playing it (in G, Kenny!) who states he got it from John Mike Cawley (unsure about the spelling there).
Just hearing Peoples and Ryan playing "the Western Lassies" shows it to be closely related to this tune. I like the O’Neil’s version of this tune a lot, but I want to add that third part…
The “Highland Fling” of it ~ 😉
# Added by ceolachan - September 5th, 2013
The Eleventh of October
This tune appears in number of local music manuscripts of counties Leitrim and Longford from the 1860s onwards where it’s entitled "The 11th of October" and "The 9th of August". The former title is the same one used in Levey’s DMOI Vol. 2 (1873). Elias Howe published it as a "Scotch Reel" in the Musician’s Omnibus Vol. 2 Page 123 (c.1865). Apart from the last two bars, Francis O’Neill’s version (1903) entitled "An Ugly Customer" is almost identical to the version in Ryan’s Mammoth (1883) entitled "After the Hare".
An Ugly Customer, X:5
This how I hear it played by Libby McCrohan, Cormac Begley, Clíodhna Ní Bheaglaoich and Seán Hughes: