The Lonesome Boatman reel

By Finbar Furey

There are 17 recordings of this tune.

The Lonesome Boatman has been added to 10 tune sets.

The Lonesome Boatman has been added to 436 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Four settings

X: 1
T: The Lonesome Boatman
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
fe f4 fg|fefB B3 A|Bc d4 dd|cBAF F4|F8|
fe f4 fg|fefB B3 A|Bc d4 de|d/c/B c4 F2|A2 B6|B8:|
f2 ^g6|g8|e2 f6|f8|f2 ^g6|g8|
e2 f6|f6 ff|f/e/d/c/ d6|e/d/c/B/ c4 cB|BA F6|F8|
fe f4 fg|fefB B3 A|Bc d4 de|d/c/B c4 F2|A2 B6|B8|
X: 2
T: The Lonesome Boatman
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
fe|f4-fgfe|fB3-BABc|d4-ded/c/B|c4 F2A2|B8-|-B6:|
d6 e/d/c/B/|c4-cBBA|F8-|-F6fe|f4-fgfe|fB4ABc|
X: 3
T: The Lonesome Boatman
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Emin
e^d|:e4- e=fe=d|e A3- A2 E/G/A|c6 BA|GE- E6-|E4- Ee2^d|
e4- e=fe=d|e A3- AE/G/ A/B/c|c6 e/d/c|B4- BE2G|1 A8-|A6 e^d:|2 A8-|A6 e2||
f8-|f4- fe2^d|e8-|e6 e2|f8-|f4- fe2^d|e8-|e3e edcB|
cc2c- cdc2|B4 c3B|AE6-|E4-Ee2^d|
e4- e=fe=d|e A3- AE/G/ A/B/c|c6 e/d/c|B4- BE2G|A8-|A6||
X: 4
T: The Lonesome Boatman
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:{e}f4 e4 ^e4 f8 z2|(f4 g4 {^e}f8) z2|
{ef}e2 {ef}e2 {ef}e2 {ef}e2 {ef}e2|{ef}e2 {ef}e2 {ef}e2 {ef}e2 {ef}e2|
{ef}e2 {ef}e2 {e}e2 {f}A2|B8 (3Bce (3ddd d8 c6 {dc}B2|
z2 (3cBA F8 {e}f8 e2 f4 g4 Tf4|z2 {ef}e2 {ef}e2 {ef}e2 {ef}e2|
{ef}e2 {ef}e2 {ef}e2 {ef}e2 {ef}e2|{ef}e2 {ef}e2 {e}e4 {f}A2 B8 z2|
(3Bce (3ddd d8 c6 {dc}B2|(3cBA F8 A4 B8|
fe|f4-fgfe|fB3-BABc|d4-ded/c/B|c4 dcA(B|B)8-|-B6:|
d6 e/d/c/B/|c4-cBBA|F8-|-F6fe|f4-fgfe|fB4ABc|
d4-ded/c/B|c4 dc A2|B8-|-B6|
B4 {c}BA {FA}Bc d4 z2 B2|{c}BA {FA}Bc {d}cB d/c/B|
e/d/c d/c/B e/d/c d/c/B|{c}BA {G}FE {G}F2 de|
f/e/d {e}dc {d}cB {c}BA|B/c/d z c2 {d}cB {c}BA|
Bc d/c/B e/d/c d/c/B|{f}e/d/c {d}c/B/A {c}BA {G}FE|
Fz de f/e/d {e}dc|cB {c}BA B/c/d dc|
B2 {c}BA B/c/d dc|B8 B8||
# Added by JACKB .

Thirty-two comments

Lonesome Boatman

I feel I’ve come close to the basic tune, but I would never claim to have captured the magic of the piece. This is but a pale imitation, but I hope you will find it useful. It helps me to appreciate how good some whistle players really are!


Hi Inimicus, nice to see the tune on here.
My memeory of it is pretty vague, but I think I can add to your transcription, just try ing to find tune at the mo to listen again, bak soon as.

Not really a reel

Although you’ve transcribed this in 4/4, fair enough, I wouldn’t think of this as a reel. It’s an air, though not really a sean-nos one.

Posted by .

Inimicus - your barlines are in the wrong places. I’ve tidied up the abc for you (I haven’t changed any of the notes or time values - just the bar lines and a few ties). I suggest you cut and paste this in place of the abc you submitted (go to ‘Edit Details’). The sheet music can’t be changed, but the abc can.

X: 1
T: Lonesome Boatman, The
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
fe|f4-fgfe|fB3-BABc|d4-ded/c/B| c4 F2A2|B8-|-B6 :|
:f2| ^g8-|-^g6e2|f8-|-f6f2|^g8-|-^g6e2|f8-|-f4-fff/e/d/c/|
d6 e/d/c/B/|c4-cBBA| F8-|-F6fe|f4-fgfe|fB4ABc|
d4-ded/c/B|c4F2A2| B8-|-B6||


this might sound stupid, but i used to be able to read tin-whistle chords years ago but dont remimber now so i am looking for an easier option to reading the lonesome boatman chords, i.e. the chords with the wee holes covered over if u know what i mean. only thing is i cant find it anywhere-can someone help me and possibly send an alternative to me on

i would be forever grateful as iv been wanting to learn this tune for ages!

thank you!!

tara 🙂

Lonesome Boatman

Does anyone know what guitar chords accompany the lonesome boatman? The tune is posted on this site but I cant make head nor tail of the notes/chords …. also the guitar chords to accompany The Galway Shawl are needed. any help much appreciated …


Re: Lonesome Boatman

The chords I use (standard tuning) are Amin, Emin, C and D
I can email you my version if you like.
hope this helps.

Re: Lonesome Boatman

that would be great.
my email is
thanks for your help

Re: Lonesome Boatman

No bother longtail. Just give me until tomorrow. I’ll do it out thisevening and send it on then.

Lonesome Boatman Key Signature


This tune is not in D major, but the more melancholy B minor. Has the same scratches as D major.

I am really grateful to Inimicus for putting this tune on the net.


hello i am just wondering if any one can help me. i am finding it difficult reading the sheet music for the lonesome boatman, does anyone have an easier version. i would be very email is
Thanks so much

Posted by .

The definitive version

I’ll get down to writing it this week and I’ll post on all 3 reading notaion versions. Standard, ABC and the good old 0-6+ (D=6, G=3 etc)

about time I paid the tune back, it helped me pay my way busking in tough times and it paid at least 50 quid a night on grafton st back in the early 80’s- that was money then.


Hello B’aoibhinn liom an amhrán seo ach tá an scil chun notaí a leamh ón sheetmusic caillte agam. An bhfuil notaí simplí ag aon duine cosúil le DRM nó DEF don amhrán seo??? Is é seo mo seoladh ríomhpost. Go raibh míle.

-Looking for simplified notes??

Posted by .

Lonesome Boatman - does it work on fiddle?

I’ve only ever heard this on pipes or whistle. I’m not convinced it works on fiddle? (maybe it’s just my cr@p playing). Any views?

….on my original question, not on my c**p playing!

Lonesome boatman easy tinwhistle notes??

Finding the notes here hard to read. Could anyone please email me an easier one??New to this.Thanks a mill

Easier notes

Dia Dhaoibh, I’m heading off to the Gaeltacht to work this summer and want 2 learn the lonesome boatman before i go. I can play tim whistle but i dont the the whole “f4 b6” what are the numbers for is there any chance i could get just the notes such as F,G.B, E.

Go raibh mile maith agaibh.
my e-mail is

Probably not, but it very much depends who’s playing it. If it’s Finbar Furey - great. And if you hate it, don’t play it, or listen to it. No problem.

Posted by .

Easier notes please

hi - like Eamonn I would like to know if its possible for someone to please send me the easier notes ie F,G,B,E etc I used to be able to play the tin whistle and fiddle but want to get back into it and Im having big diffs reading the sheet music. I adore this song and would like to play it at my wedding.
Any help would be greatly appreciated - my email is

Go raibh mile maith agaibh

Which tin whistle is best?

Sorry, can i also ask, which whistle is best? Its been a while and i need a new one so red/blue/green top? Any suggestions?


It is like you are choosing a pint of milk! 🙂

Thanks : )

I was at a party last night speaking to some homesick Irish folk who suggested I look this tune up so I could play it on Tin Whistle. Had a listen to the Finbar Fury recording posted here and I think you’ve done a pretty good job of putting the notes down as they should be, thanks so much.
As far as my whistle playing goes, I have some work to do to get to that standard but I can have fun trying!

Posted by .


Funny……… but when I was reading all the stuff on the site,
I wondered why the composer wasn’t mentioned anywhere, so I decided to tell,
but Weejie came first. This is a very beautiful slow air, but I must say that
I think it’s not the best version I’ve heard Finbar play…

Posted by .

Lonesome Boatman

It’s in the Furey’s song book (if you can still find one) it’s in Bm, with chords. Beautiful playing by Finbar but I think it’s the guitar accompaniment that really makes this tune work so well. It was done to death years ago but maybe it’s safe to go back into the water now! In the same book is the notation (and whistle fingering) for a lovely tune called “Seige of a Nation”, that I love to play.

Lonesome Boatman

This is a difficult tune to put into dots, but this version is similar to Finbar’s. A beautiful tune by Finbar Furey.

Posted by .

Lonely Boatman on Fiddle

I first heard (or had forgotten) this lovely tune. If you have not checked it out already, Mickey Finn plays this on the “Mickey Finn Scratch Recording” Jason_Van_Steenwyk posted this week.

(I think this link’ll work? I font you can find it.)

Highly recommended!

Re: The Lonesome Boatman

I have a recording of Finbar playing this on a Scottish television programme from the 1980s, but the tape is damaged. I found a company in Aberdeen last week who say they can fix it. If they can, I’ll post it on “Youtube” but it won’t be before August. Watch this space……………..

Posted by .

Re: The Lonesome Boatman

Here you go - as far as I can ascertain, from 1982, which I think makes it the earliest video clip of Finbar playing this on “Youtube”, if not the internet as a whole :

Posted by .