Na Ceannabháin Bhána slip jig

Also known as An Ceannabhan Ban, Bog Cotton, Cannabhan Ban, Ceannabhan Ban, The Cotton Grass Flowers, The Cottongrass, The Little Fair Canavans, Little Fair Cannavans, The Little Fair Cannavans, Na Ceannabain Bana, Na Ceannabáin Bhána, Na Ceannabh, Na Ceannabhain Bana, Na Ceannabhain Bhana, Na Ceannbháin Bhána.

There are 74 recordings of this tune.

This tune has been recorded together with

Na Ceannabháin Bhána appears in 2 other tune collections.

Na Ceannabháin Bhána has been added to 140 tune sets.

Na Ceannabháin Bhána has been added to 672 tunebooks.

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Seven settings

X: 1
T: Na Ceannabháin Bhána
R: slip jig
M: 9/8
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
Bd/d/d edB BAG|Bd/d/d edB A3|Bd/d/d edB BAG|GED DEF G3:|
X: 2
T: Na Ceannabháin Bhána
R: slip jig
M: 9/8
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
A|:Bdd edd BAG|Bdd edB A2c|Bdd edd BAG|GED DEF G2A|
Bdd edd BAG|Bdd gdB A2c|Bdd edd BAG|GED DEF G2|
X: 3
T: Na Ceannabháin Bhána
R: slip jig
M: 9/8
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
Bdd edd BGG|Bdd edB A2 c|Bdd edd B2A|GED DEF G3:|
c|Bdd edd BGF|GBd gdB A2 c|Bdd egd B2 A|GED DEF G3||
X: 4
T: Na Ceannabháin Bhána
R: slip jig
M: 9/8
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
cee fee cBA|cee fec B3|cee fee cBA|AFE EFA A2B|
cee fee cBA|Ace aec B3|cee fae cBA|AFE EFA A3||
# Added by JACKB .
X: 5
T: Na Ceannabháin Bhána
R: slip jig
M: 9/8
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|f2d edB dBA|BdA ABd e3|fdd edB dBA|BdA ABc d2e|
fdd edB dBA|BdA ABd e3|fdd edB dBA|BdA ABc d2e||
faa baa fed|faa baf e3|faa baa fed|dBA ABc d2g|
faa baa fed|dfa baf e2 g|faa baa fed|dBA ABc d3||
# Added by JACKB .
X: 6
T: Na Ceannabháin Bhána
R: slip jig
M: 9/8
L: 1/8
K: Cmaj
e2c dcA cAG|AcG GAc d3|ecc dcA cAG|AcG GAc c2d|
ecc dcA cAG|AcG GAc d3|ecc dcA cAG|AcG GAc c2d||
egg agg edc|egg age d3|egg agg edc|cAG GAc c2d|
egg agg edc|ceg age d3|egg agg edc|cAG GAc c3||
# Added by JACKB .
X: 7
T: Na Ceannabháin Bhána
R: slip jig
M: 9/8
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:Bdd edd BAG|Bdd edB A3|B2d edd BAG|GED DEF G3:|
# Added by JACKB .

Thirty-four comments

I’m not one for repetitive tunes but this one has something going for it. I have no idea what the title means. My guess is something along the lines of the “First Woman” or the “Well-Mannered Woman” but as I said those are just guesses. I picked this up from the Paul McGratten & Paul Shaughnessey Album “Within a mile of Dublin” but rarely get to play it with others.

My knowledge of the Irish language is shamefully limited. However, I have been, I think, reliably informed that the title refers to the ‘cotton grass’ or ‘bog cotton’ - a group of species of grass which grow abundantly on the bogs of Ireland, bearing little white fluffy cotton-like flowerheads. The ‘ban’ or ‘bhan’ bit means ‘white’ or ‘fair’ (light-coloured).

That would make sense David, I had asked an Irish speaker about the title & he thought the title refered to what I had mentioned, but he wasn’t sure.

Na Ceannabhain Bhana does indeed refer to “White Bog Cotton” according to my Irish English Dictionary. What threw me of was that it was spelled differently in the dictionary. Thanks David I was always curious about what that title ment.

White -headed Cannavans

In the liner notes for Cran’s great CD, Lover’s Ghost, this tunes is identified as a popular Connemara nonsense song. There are words to it though:

Good for you, Mical and Maire!
They are the white headed Canavans.

I will send you up to Sean’s Sive
And she will put a spancel on you in the glen.

Evidently the Canavans were a family with very fair colored hair.


Canavans, revisited

One more thing - the words are in Gaelic, so it might be a bit frustrating to try to set those lyrics to the tune!

Canavans, English title

I recently heard this tune on a cd by a group called Shantalla, called Seven Evenings, Seven Mornings. The call it The Little Fair Canavans. The sleeve notes on the cd say the group ’s piper, Michael Horgan, heard the tune played many years ago by Seamus Ennis, so I suppose he must have called it the same.

Seamus Ennis collected the tune from a woman who used it as a dandling song for her newborn twin boys - she sang it to put them to sleep. “The Little Fair Cannavans” is Seamus’s own more elegant translation of Na Ceannabhain Bhana.

BTW I love the Cran rendition of the song, and the version of “The Black Rogue” which follows it on the flat pipes. That whole album just gives me goose bumps.

Source: Sean Kane, Matt Molloy, Liam O’Flinn : “the fire aflame”
Transcription: g.m.p.

It is similar to The Swaggering Jig ( ),
but there are enough differences to make it a discinct tune.

Fair Cannavans

just by the Irish name “Na Ceannabaine Bainne” (spelling may not be totally correct)

This is a lilting tune from Connemara, Seamus Ennis made it popular with pipers.

Cathy and Seamus do a very nice version of this on Spirit.

I think this is among the most common slip jigs in sessions and concerts. It’s actually much more beginner-friendly than The Butterfly. I often hear it played with double jigs, but you should be careful not to confuse this with Willie Coleman’s.

Some London musicians play this tune in A.

The lyrics ‘as gaeilge’

i learnt this as a song before i ‘learnt’ the tune.
here are the lyrics

gairm fhéin,gairm fhéin,gairm fhéin,
gairm fhéin Micil is Máire
gairm fhéin,gairm fhéin,gairm fhéin,
Seo iad na ceannabháin Bhana

Cuirfidh mé,Cuirfidh mé,Cuirfidh mé,
Cuirfidh mé suas ag sadbh Sheáin thú
Cuirfidh mé,Cuirfidh mé,Cuirfidh mé,
Is Cuirfidh sí buirín sa ngleann ort

Patrick Street’s version

I just learned this from the new Patrick Street CD “On the Fly”

X: 2
T: Na Ceannabhain Bhana
M: 9/8
L: 1/8
R: slip jig
K: Gmaj
Bdd edd BGG |Bdd edB A2 c|Bdd edd B2A |GED DEF G3 :||
“variation last time through B part”
c | Bdd edd BGF | GBd gdB A2 c | Bdd egd B2 A | GED DEF G3 ||

First tune

Tommy keane taught this to me as my first proper tune on the uilleann pipes.. Lovely little slip jig and im still doing it a great injustice!!!

Bothy Band version

This is, surely, the slip jig the Boithies play after the kesh in that very famou set.

Ceannbhán: Bog standard!

As pointed out elsewhere, the name refers to a patronym.
It is also applied to the Bog cotton, a class of grass that graces many an acre of Irish bogland in spring or early summer time.

Cannabhan Ban - The jig version?

So I f was looking around on iTunes and found an album called “Absolutely Irish”. I am normally a bit sceptical of albums with these sort of names, but it had a lot of well known musicians on it, so I thought “why not?”

On the 10th track, after “Lark In the Morning” and before “The Humours of Ballyloughlin” is a tune called “Cannabhan Ban”. I think this is a jig version of this tune. Seamus Egan is listed as one of the musicians on it, so maybe they played around with it a bit for this set.

Google didn’t help me on how to pronounce “Na Ceannabhain Bhana”, some help please

Most common key and version……….

I love this slipjig. It may be a “how long is a piece of string?” question - but I wondered if there is a more common version/key played at sessions from the versions above (and the other submission: I am in the UK btw.
Thanks in advance - and if it is stupid question please don’t be too hard on me.
Keep the music strong ……. Rob

Try this…..

Version #1 above would be pretty close. Anytime I’ve heard it played, it’s been in “G”, but that might not hold true for every session you go to.
You won’t go far wrong with this version :

Posted by .

Most common key and version……….

Thanks Kenny - I really appreciate that. I find that slip jig have a way of spiraling into my head - and this tune is there now. Need to get it under my fingers now. This seems like a nice straight version to pick up in G:

Thanks for you help. Rob

Re: Na Ceannabhain Bhana

A belated answer to Fliúiteadóir’s comment above, but:

“This is, surely, the slip jig the Boithies play after the kesh in that very famous set.”

Nope, that one is the Swaggering Jig (aka Drink Of Water). They’re extremely similar, but different enough to be called different tunes:

The Little Fair Cannavans

[ From English Wikipedia: ]
“Na Ceannabháin Bhána” = “The Fair Canavans” is a song in slip jig time from Carna in Connemara, County Galway, Ireland.
It was collected by Séamus Ennis from Colm Ó Caoidheáin who is thought to have written it for his two fairhaired (“bán” = “white” or “fair-haired”) grandchildren whose surname was Canavan / Ó Ceannabháin.
The title of this piece of music when played without lyrics has been mistranslated as The White Cotton Flowers or The Fair Cotton Flowers , due to the similarity :
- to the Irish word for bog cotton i.e. Ceannbhán
- to the surname Ó Ceannabháin which actually derives from the earlier Ó Ceanndhubháin (a branch of the Uí Bhriúin Seola), meaning the descendent of Ceanndhubhán “blackheaded” i.e. “blackhaired”.
One story of the song’s meaning is of a grandparent calling out for the two fair haired children, who are hiding amongst the bog-cotton of their namesake.
The second verse relates the frustration of their refusal to reveal themselves, with the threat of being put up to the local witch “Sadhbh Sheáin” who will put a curse upon them.

Goirim fhéin, goirim fhéin, goirim fhéin
Goirim fhéin Micil ’s Máire
Goirim fhéin, goirim fhéin, goirim fhéin
Siúd iad na Ceannabháin Bhána

Cuirfidh mé, cuirfidh mé, cuirfidh mé
Cuirfidh mé suas chuig Sadhbh Sheáin thú
Cuirfidh mé, cuirfidh mé, cuirfidh mé
’S cuirfidh sí buairthín sa ngleann ort

I summon you, I summon you, I summon you
I summon you Michael and Mary
I summon you, I summon you, I summon you
The little fair Canavans

I’ll send you, I’ll send you, I’ll send you
I’ll send you up to Sadhbh Sheáin’s
I’ll send you, I’ll send you, I’ll send you
And she will put a curse (lit. a small worry) on you in the glen