The Red Haired Boy reel

Also known as An Carrowath, An Giolla Ruadh, The Auld Rigadoo, The Beggar Man, The Beggarman, Danny Pearl’s Favorite, Danny Pearl’s Favourite, Gilderoy, Guilderoy, Injun Ate A Woodchuck, The Jolly Beggar, The Jolly Beggarman, The Jolly Beggerman, The Journeyman, The Little Beggar Man, The Little Beggarman, The Little Beggerman, The Old Rigadoo, The Old Soldier With The Wooden Leg, The Red Haired Lad, The Red Headed Irishman, The Red-Haired Boy, The Redhaired Boy, The Rigadoo, Thy Redhaired Lad.

There are 103 recordings of a tune by this name.

A tune by this name has been recorded together with The Wise Maid (lots of times) and Drowsy Maggie (a few times).

The Red Haired Boy has been added to 15 tune sets.

The Red Haired Boy has been added to 1,245 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Seven settings

X: 1
T: The Red Haired Boy
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amix
|:"A"EAAG ABcd|efec "D"d2 cd|"A"eAAA ABcA|"G"B=GEF "G"G2 FG|
"A"EAAG ABcd|efec "D"d2 cd|"A"eaaa afed|cA"E"BG "A"A4 :|
|: "G"g2 g"G"a gfef|gfec "D"d2 cd|"A"eAAA ABcA|"G"B=GEF G2 FG|
"A"EAAG ABcd|efec "D"d2 cd|"A"eaaa afed|cA"E"BG "A"A4 :|
X: 2
T: The Red Haired Boy
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amix
AG|E2A2 AB cd|ef ec d2cd|e2A2 AB cA|BA EF G2 GF|
E2A2 AB cd|ef ec d2cd|e a2 b ag ed|c2A2A2:|
|:ef|gf ga gf ef|gf ec d2cd|e2A2 AB cA|BA EF G3F|
E2A2 AB cd|ef ec d2cd|e a2 b ag ed|c2 A2 A2:|
X: 3
T: The Red Haired Boy
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amix
A>G|E2A2 AB cd |ef ge d2cd|ed cB AB cA|BG EF G2 A>G|E2A2 AB cd|ef ge d2cd|ea ab ag ed|c2A2A2:|
ef |g2 ga gf ef|gf ge d2cd|ed cB AB cA|BG EF G2 A>G|E2A2 AB cd|ef ge d2cd|ea ab ag ed|c2A2A2:|
X: 4
T: The Red Haired Boy
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amix
E>A-A>^G A2 (3Bcd | (3efe e>c d2 c>d | e>A (3AAA A>B (3cBA | B>cB>A G2- G>=F |
E2 A2 A>Bc>d | e2 e>c d4 | e>a (3aaa a>ge>d | =c2 A2 A3 :|
g2 g>a g>fe>f | g>fe>c d>Bc>d | e>A-A>^G A>Bc>A | B>^GE>F G2 F>G |
E>A (3AAA A>Bc>d | e2- e>c d>B (3Bcd | e2 a2 a>ge>d | =c>AA>^G A3 :|
X: 5
T: The Red Haired Boy
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amix
|: E | D>GG>^F G>A_B>c | (3ded (3dcB c>AB>c | ~
X: 6
T: The Red Haired Boy
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmix
A,DDC DEFG|ABAF G2FG|ADDC DEED|ECA,B, C2B,G,|
A,DDC DEFG|ABAF G2FG|Addc dcAG|1 FDEF D3C:|2 FEDF D3z||
|:c3B c2AB|cBAF G2FG|ADDC DEED|ECA,B, C2B,G|
A,DDC DEFG|ABAF G2FG|Addc dcAG|1 FDEF D3z:|2 FEDF D3C||
X: 7
T: The Red Haired Boy
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amin
A^GAB cBcd|{cd}e2 dc d2 cd|{cd}e2 G2 cAGE|G5 cB|
A^GAB cBcd|e2 dc d2 e2|c2 BA AGEG|A5||
g3 a g2 fe|fedc d2 cd|{cd}e2 G2 {AB}c2 GE|G5 cB|
A^GAB cBcd|e2 dc d2 e2|c2 BA AGEG|A5||

Sixty-seven comments

The Red-Haired Boy

In memory of Danny Pearl

Firstly, sorry for duplicating the alternative name - I didn’t notice somebody had already posted it.

This tune can played as a hornpipe, in G mixolydian, with a simple B2G2G2 in the last bar of each strain. I’ve also heard it played (as a hornpipe in Gmix) with the first F in the 4th bar of each strain played as an F#, whilst the second F is natural.

Here in Rhode Island (At Patricks Pub, actually), we play it a little slower than the sound sample. We then go into, at a slightly quicker pace, the Merry Blacksmith. It sounds pretty neat, me thinks.

Red Haired Boy

I recently heard this tune played by a solo fiddler at a session in Bristol (England) as a hornpipe in Amixolydian, with a rather attractive snap in the penultimate bar of each half.
The fiddler was of the opinion that there may have been a Scottish origin for this tune, and that the "Red Haired Boy" may have been a local brigand or general trouble-maker. The version I heard is as follows:
T:Red Haired Boy
R:hornpipe
M:4/4
L:1/8
K:Amix
AG|E2A2 AB cd|ef ec d2cd|e2A2 AB cA|BA EF G2 GF|
E2A2 AB cd|ef ec d2cd|e a2 b ag ed|c2A2A2:|
|:ef|gf ga gf ef|gf ec d2cd|e2A2 AB cA|BA EF G3F|
E2A2 AB cd|ef ec d2cd|e a2 b ag ed|c2 A2 A2:|

True Story

This one should actually be attributed to muddflat, Andy (Mcbear), Carl Conn and Manfred (Bloomfield), I guess, as at https://thesession.org/discussions/371 — but I had a bit of a kicker to it about a month ago, which I forgot about until Emily posted her story.

When journalist Daniel Pearl was savagely killed by terrorists who had taken him hostage in Pakistan, the papers and other news organizations discovered that Danny Pearl was also a fiddler — bluegrass and oldtime, mainly, but he loved playing all kinds of music. His favorite tune was said to have been "The Red-Haired Boy." Quite a few players got the idea all at the same time: what if we started spreading another name for the tune? Danny Pearl’s Favorite. Many tunes, of course, have more than one name, and many of those tune names are ****’s Favorite.

So I suggested it to The Session, and many players wrote to say that they’d start spreading the usage of the new tune name to honor Danny Pearl. And then I more or less forgot about it, because you really don’t hear Red-Haired Boy at Irish sessions, at least around here, very often.

But I was at an unfamiliar session recently, one where they played some old time as well, and someone started playing Red-Haired Boy. "Oh, yes, Red-Haired Boy," I said, picking up my bow.

"Danny Pearl’s Favorite," corrected the young fiddler across from me, picking up the tune.

I had to do some blinking for a bit to get the tune out.

Zina

Red Haired Boy…mines going grey

Just a miniscual thing Iv’e spotted … you may think haven’t I got anything better to do? Anyway … i,ve been playing red haired boy for a while . . the version I’ve learned came out of "The Fiddlers Fakebook", but i downloaded the Sessions copy today, and I actually prefer it to the fakebook. Its got 2 sharps but its actually in A. In the last measure. . the 8th bar of each section it shows a G# in the left hand piano part, but a G natural in the right melody part … is this mistake? I told you I lead a sad life didn’t I ! !

Re: Red Haired Boy…mines going grey

I don’t see any G#’s??? I don’t see any piano part????

Re: Red Haired Boy…mines going grey

The version in the Fiddler’s Fakebook has melody and guitar chords, not a piano part. Even though the tune is in A, there happens to be no Gs (which would have to be played as G#) in the melody.

Posted by .

Paddy Doran’s Roving Journeyman

I believe Paddy Doran does this one on "Celtic Mouth Music" as "Roving Journeyman"
He sings and lilts it. I like his setting a bunch.

…and as a barndance….

Tom Doherty recorded this ( on Take the Bull By the Horns) as a barndance called "The Auld Rigadoo". Still sounds like a reel, though.

Chicken or song?

“The (me) auld rigadoo” is a phrase from the Little Beggarman song. Is there any historical evidence to suggest which came first – the tune or the egg?

This tune comes up a lot in oldgrass/bluetime sessions I’ve been in, usually from a guitar player who learned it from Doc Watson. I learned it from a movie, I think it was The Canterbury Tales (Pasolini), where a woman sang The Little Beggarman.

This is the version played by my favorite band https://thesession.org/recordings/display.php/1808

X:1
T:The Red Haired Boy (The Beggarman)
R:hornpipe
M:4/4
L:1/8
K:Amix
A>G|E2A2 AB cd |ef ge d2cd|ed cB AB cA|BG EF G2 A>G|E2A2 AB cd|ef ge d2cd|ea ab ag ed|c2A2A2:|
ef |g2 ga gf ef|gf ge d2cd|ed cB AB cA|BG EF G2 A>G|E2A2 AB cd|ef ge d2cd|ea ab ag ed|c2A2A2:|

Miki

Gilderoy

The alternative title of Gilderoy which you give is (Scots) Gaelic for "red-haired boy" - said to be Rob Roy McGregor. The Scottish original (?) which is often published as a reel (but sometimes played, and more effectively to my mind, as a slow hornpipe) is different and attractive enough to warrant inclusion here somewhere.
The "Red-haired boy" is still quite popular among traditional Irish fiddlers in Ireland and England.

Gilderoy versions

There are 17th century song versions of Gilderoy — Scottish and English — that pre-date Rob Roy McGregor, as well as later versions. Rather than being rollicking drinking songs, they are laments, from the woman’s point of view, and are in different modes than the usual Red Haired Boy/Little Beggarman versions.

Red Haired versions?

Tracie and pipheath, do you have pointers to, or ABC’s for any of those versions? The Red Haired Boy is the only tune I’ve ever learned form an X-rated movie (Pasolini’s “The Canterbury Tales”). Before that, I had heard mostly bluegrass versions, but in the movie, one of the characters sang a more modal version of the tune, which is pretty much the way I play it today.

“Bonaparte Crossing The Rhine” ~ another melody used for the songs

Key signature: A Dorian or Mixolydian
Submitted on May 17th 2001 by Jeremy.
https://thesession.org/tunes/7

“The Red-Haired Boy” ~ hornpipe

This is also played as a hornpipe, swung ~ >…

Me, I like it as a reel. I’ve also heard it in Dmix. So c’mon ‘c’, are you gonna give us a hornpipe setting just so you can taunt Jack with yer arrow signs again? :-)

> “”The Red Haired Boy” / “An Giolla Ruadh” <

K: A Mixolydian
|: =F |
E>A-A>^G A2 (3Bcd | (3efe e>c d2 c>d | e>A (3AAA A>B (3cBA | B>cB>A G2- G>=F |
E2 A2 A>Bc>d | e2 e>c d4 | e>a (3aaa a>ge>d | =c2 A2 A3 :|
|: f |
g2 g>a g>fe>f | g>fe>c d>Bc>d | e>A-A>^G A>Bc>A | B>^GE>F G2 F>G |
E>A (3AAA A>Bc>d | e2- e>c d>B (3Bcd | e2 a2 a>ge>d | =c>AA>^G A3 :|

Alright, go ahead, play those last c’s as c#’s. I don’t know why I want to play them as natural, it just happens… :-/

Also played in K: G Mixolydian
|: E | D>GG>^F G>A_B>c | (3ded (3dcB c>AB>c | ~

So, where’s your D Mixolydian version ‘D’?

No, you can play the B as =B, it doesn’t have to be flat… That’s just there as a teaser…

The Dmix version is, surprise surprise, pretty much the same as the Amix version, but it’s in Dmix :-) I heard it at a session last Sunday and decided I quite liked it in that key.

X: 1
T: Red Haired Boy, The
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: reel
K: Dmix
A,DDC DEFG|ABAF G2FG|ADDC DEED|ECA,B, C2B,G,|
A,DDC DEFG|ABAF G2FG|Addc dcAG|1 FDEF D3C:|2 FEDF D3z||
|:c3B c2AB|cBAF G2FG|ADDC DEED|ECA,B, C2B,G|
A,DDC DEFG|ABAF G2FG|Addc dcAG|1 FDEF D3z:|2 FEDF D3C||

It don’t mean a thing…

Hey Dow… don’t tell me you play that reel flat-out now. Where’s the swing? You’re disappointing all of your fellow swingers in cyberspace.

Yeah, nice one, I like it down low…

Careful, "c"… this is a family website.

So the picnic is still on… Yeah, you caught Dow fair and square. He plays it and prefers it without any swing in it, as a reel… But that might mean he plays it the way you do, who knows for sure? I’d love to hear it from both of you, but for comparison it would be a kick to hear it both ways on a the concertinas. Which instrument do you prefer it on ~ flute or tina?

Equal opportunity then…

Gilderoy

Gilderoy was one of the titles still being used in the Allegheny region of the US up until the 1950’s and maybe even 1960’s for this tune… the other title was "Injun Ate A Woodchuck."

You got me there, Buttonman. I do swing this as a reel. But then, unlike ‘c’, I notate my hornpipes without arrow signs even though I do swing them. Which goes to prove that it’s not that I disagree with you as such - it’s that I’m arguing for ‘c”s "right" to notate it as he sees fit. Note for ‘c’ - have you noticed that Jack swings more on his ‘tina than on his flute? Strange, that.

The joy of the anglo… ;-)

He’s pretty damned good too don’t you think?

“Injun Ate A Woodchuck”

Sorry to put you on hold MH, I like the title and had to stop laughing first… Do you know any lyrics for it?

I have eaten possum and squirrel, but not woodchuck as yet. I expect the type of wood it chucks affects the flavour, in which case I’d rather a hardwoods woodchuck than one that has the hint of retsina about it… :-/

Woodchuck? That’s “groundhog” to us Suthenahs. I don’t *think* I’ve eaten any, but I know some things were passed off as "chicken" when i was growing up.

Damn, universal ~ everything is ‘chicken’… The best sweet and sour dish I ever had turned out to be dog… So watch your puppies folks if I’m around…mmm, mmm, good… ;-) Rat ain’t half bad either…served with the right sauce of course…

So Bob, any red spruce in North Georgia?

You know Dow and Button, and I kind of expect you won’t be back, but, come to think of it, maybe it’s my criminal past that has me all affectionate toward them arrows? > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > :-(

Words

Injun ate a woodchuck and ate it in a minute
Injun ate a woodchuck darned if he didnt in the woods….ate wood chuck
Injun ate a woodchuck darned if he didnt.

I call woodchucks groundhogs also…
Squirrels are very tasty… where you from anyway Ceolachan? You have good taste in food.

We play this one after Mason’s. It is crowd favorite at our session— it is one of those tunes kinetic in intensity and it seems to drive itself.

Boswell

James Boswell, Dr Johnson’s biographer, was held hostage by Corsican bandits in 1765. He played An Giolla Ruadh to the bandit chief on his german flute. The bandit was so enchated that he released Boswell.
This is an old tune,

Wrong link

Why does "The Jolly Beggar" from Planxty’s self-titled album redirect here? It’s a completely different tune.

RHB/Gilderoy=Maj/Min

I’m from the Allegheny region of the USA, and I’ve always heard the song referred to as Red Haired Boy when played in a major key and as Gilderoy when played in a minor key.

Swaggie

I’m from Australia, and there’s a great recording I have by a now-sadly-defunct group that sings words to this and calls it "Jolly Swaggie"

Swaggie

I didn’t say, but they have words with it and all.

Red Haired Boy

There is a version with lyrics sung here in Scotland - The Roving Journeyman. Almost identical tune and the hero wanders from town to town impressing the ladies he meets!

The Little Beggarman -Lyrics

…sounds good…Why not send us the words, John K?

Here’s a version sung by Sarah Makem and made famous by her son Tommy. A recording of their classic spirited duet is available commercially. You gotta hear that!

-The Little Beggarman-
I am a little beggarman and begging I ha’ been, (aye)
For three score or more in this little isle of green
I’m known from the Liffey down to Segue
And I’m known by the name of old Johnny Dhu
Of all the trade’s that’s going now sure begging is the best
For when a man is tired, he can sit down and rest
(He can) beg for his dinner, he has nothing else to do
Only cut around the corner with his old rig-a-doo.

I slept in the barn way down at Caurabawn
A wet night came on and I slept ‘till the dawn
With holes in the roof and the rain coming through
And the rats and the cats, they were playing peek-a-boo
When who should awaken but the woman of the house
With her white spotty apron and her calico blouse
She began to frighten and I said ‘boo
Arrah, don’t be afraid mam it’s only Johnny Dhu’.

I met a little flaxy-haired girl one day
‘Good morning little flaxy-haired girl’ I did say
‘Good morning little beggarman, a how do you do
With your rags and you bags and you old rig-a-doo’
I’ll buy a pair o’ leggings and a collar and a tie
And a nice young lady I’ll fetch by and by
I’ll buy a pair of goggles and colour them blue
And an old fashioned lady I will make her too

Over the road with my pack on my back
Over the fields with my great heavy sack
With holes in my shoes and my toes peeping through
Singing skinny-me-rink a doodle o and old Johnny Dhu
I must be going to bed for it’s getting late at night
The fire’s all raked and out goes the light
So now you’ve heard the story of my old rig-a-doo
It’s good-bye and God be with you says old Johnny Dhu

You can also see a kick ass (you’ll see what I mean if you watch til the end!) televised performance -with didling and a hornpipe step!- by Tommy and Liam and Paddy Clancy at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeewJyEbxEQ

An early published version - from Thomson’s Orpheus Caledonius, Vol 2 - 1733, p. 106.
Quite different, but obviously a variant.

X:1
T:Gilderoy
M:C
L:1/8
K:Am
A^GAB cBcd|{cd}e2 dc d2 cd|{cd}e2 G2 cAGE|G5 cB|
A^GAB cBcd|e2 dc d2 e2|c2 BA AGEG|A5||
ef|\
g3 a g2 fe|fedc d2 cd|{cd}e2 G2 {AB}c2 GE|G5 cB|
A^GAB cBcd|e2 dc d2 e2|c2 BA AGEG|A5||

The first verse goes:

Gilderoy was a bonny boy,
When he came to the Glen,
With Silken stockings on his legs,
And roses in his shoon,
He was a comely sight to see,
My dear and only joy,
But now he hangs high on a tree,
My poor pale Gilderoy.

The Old Soldier With The Wooden Leg

I have heard this done as a song. I can only recall this much:

There was an old soldier and he had a wooden leg
And he had no tobacco so tobacco he would beg

I’ve heard Jamie Snider sing The Old Ragadoo to this tune as well:

I’m a hearty Newfoundlander, Michael Chaser is my name
I was born on Green Island, I’m a fisherman by trade
I was born on Green Island at a quarter after two
With my hands in the pockets of my old ragadoo

The Old Soldier Lyrics

I found these on Mudcat Cafe:

THERE WAS AN OLD SOLDIER

OH, I had a little duck and he had a web foot,
And he built his nest in a mulberry bush,
And he ruffled up his feathers to keep himself warm,
Another little song wouldn’t do us any harm.

O, there was an old soldier and he had a wooden leg,
He had no tobacco, but tobacco he could beg;
Another old soldier as sly as a fox,
He always had tobacco in his old tobacco box.

Said the one old soldier, won’t you give me a chew?
Said the other old soldier, I’ll be danged if I do;
Just save up your pennies and throw away your rocks,
And you’ll always have tobacco in your old tobacco box.

Wel the old old soldier was a feelin’ very bad,
He says, I’ll get even, I will, egad;
Then he goes to a corner, takes a rifle from his peg,
and stabs the other soldier with a splinter from his leg.

O there was an old hen and she had a wooden foot,
and she made her nest by a sycamore root,
and she laid mere eggs than any hen on the farm,
Another wooden foot wouldn’t do her any harm.

Well, of all the darn songs I ever heard made
The one I’m a singin’ puts them all in the shade;
If you don’t like it you can run along hum’
‘cause I’m singin’ this song for myself, by gum!

Hornpipe?

Isn’ it an Hornpipe?

Yes and no.

"Red Haired Boy" can be played as either a reel or hornpipe. If you switch the final measure of the A part from the first setting to c-a-a, it’ll be a hornpipe. I don’t play it as a hornpipe, but do whatever works for you.

The Little Beggarman -Lyrics

So…. where is Segue? Can’t find any reference to it as an Irish place name. And segue-ing on from that: Where is Caurabawn? There’s a Carrabawn in Mayo, but it’s a long way from the Liffey. The only Caurabawn references I can find on the web are to this song’s lyrics.

You’re assuming that the transcription of the lyrics above is accurate, which is not necessarily the case.

Posted by .

As Kenny says, the lyrics are not necessarily accurate, but it seems they are those from Sarah Makem.

It is common to find "Currabawn", of which there are several possibilities, including, perhaps, a farm by that name (though there are larger tracts of land under the title.

As for "Segue", well, if you follow the way the text scans, you’ll see that rather than the word being pronounced "segway", it would more likely be pronounced "see goo". This, as a guess, could be "Seagoe" in Armagh - and, yes, it is "up" from the Liffey, but it’s not unique to go "down" when the conventional map portrays it as "up". Sarah Makem was from Armagh, as it happens.

http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/Seagoe-Saint-Gobhans-Portadown-Craigavon-P14765

It’s anybody’s guess, really.

Reel or Hornpipe?

Is this tune really played more often as a reel these days? Except for the recording "New Irish Harmonica", I’ve almost exclusively heard it as a hornpipe, at least as played in ITM. I think it might be worth changing the tune type…

Re: The Red Haired Boy

We always play it as a hornpipe: fair gets people jiggin’ and boppin’ aboot!
And it has another set of words as in Matt McGinn’s "Lots of Little Soldiers" - not trad, but food for thought!