The Wexford Carol waltz

Also known as Carúl Inis Chárthaigh.

There are 12 recordings of this tune.

The Wexford Carol appears in 1 other tune collection.

The Wexford Carol has been added to 7 tune sets.

The Wexford Carol has been added to 101 tunebooks.

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Eight settings

X: 1
T: The Wexford Carol
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Fdor
C2 F2 F =E| F6 |G2 =A2 B2 |c6 |=A2 B2 =A2|F2 C4|D2 E2 F2|E6|
C2 F2 F =E| F6 |G2 =A2 B2 |c6 |=A2 B2 c2 |=A2 F4|G2 F2 F2|F6|
F2 F2 e2|c2 B4|G2 _A2 B2 |_A6|cB _A2 G2|F2 C4|D2 E2 F2|E6|
C2 F2 F =E|F6|G2 =A2 B2|c6|=A2 B2 c2|=A2 F4|G2 F2 F2|F6|
C2 "F"F2 "F"F =E|"F"F6|"Cm"G2 "F"=A2 "Bb"B2|"F"c6|"F"=A2 "Bb"B2 "F"=A2|"F"F2 "F"C4|"Bb"D2 "Cm"E2 "F"F2|"Cm"E6|
"F"C2 "F"F2 "F"F =E|"F"F6|"Cm"G2 "F"=A2 "Bb"B2|"F"c6|"F"=A2 "Bb"B2 "F"c2|"F"=A2 "F"F4|"Cm"G2 "F"F2 "F"F2|"F"F6|
"F"F2 "F"F2 "Cm"e2|"F"c2 "Bb"B4|"Cm"G2 "Fm"_A2 "Bb"B2|"Fm"_A6|"F"cB "Fm"_A2 "Cm"G2|"F"F2 "F"C4|"Bb"D2 "Cm"E2 "F"F2|"Cm"E6|
"F"C2 "F"F2 "F"F =E|"F"F6|"Cm"G2 "F"=A2 "Bb"B2|"F"c6|"F"=A2 "Bb"B2 "F"c2|"F"=A2 "F"F4|"Cm"G2 "F"F2 "F"F2|"F"F6|
X: 2
T: The Wexford Carol
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Fmaj
C FF/E/| F3G AB | c3 A BA | F C2 D _ED | _E3 C FF/=E/ |
F3 G AB | c3 A Bc |A F2 G FF|F3 ||
F F_e|c B3 G _AB | _A3 c/B/ AG|F C2 D _ED |_E3 C FF/=E/|
F3 G AB | c3 A Bc |A F2 G FF|F3 ||
X: 3
T: The Wexford Carol
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
D GG/F/| G3A Bc | d3 B cB | G D2 E =FE | =F3 D GG/^F/ |
G3A Bc | d3 B cd | B G2 A GG | G3 ||
G G=f|d c3 A =Bc | =B3 d/c/ BA|G D2 E =FE | =F3 D GG/^F/ |
G3A Bc | d3 B cd | B G2 A GG |G3 ||
X: 4
T: The Wexford Carol
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Amix
E AA/^G/| A3B cd | e3 c dc | A E2 F GF | G3 E AA/^G/ |
A3B cd | e3 c de | c A2 B AA | A3 ||
A Ag|e d3 B =cd | =c3 e/d/ cB|A E2 F GF | G3 E AA/^G/ |
A3B cd | e3 c de | c A2 B AA | A3 ||
X: 5
T: The Wexford Carol
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Edor
A2 d2 d ^c| d6 |e2 ^f2 g2 |a6 |^f2 g2 ^f2|d2 A4|B2 c2 d2|c6|
A2 d2 d ^c| d6 |e2 ^f2 g2 |a6 |^f2 g2 a2 |^f2 d4|e2 d2 d2|d6|
d2 d2 c'2|a2 g4|e2 =f2 g2 |=f6|ag =f2 e2|d2 A4|B2 c2 d2|c6|
A2 d2 d ^c|d6|e2 ^f2 g2|a6|^f2 g2 a2|^f2 d4|e2 d2 d2|d6|X
X: 6
T: The Wexford Carol
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Gdor
E2 A2 A ^G| A6 |B2 ^c2 d2 |e6 |^c2 d2 ^c2|A2 E4|F2 G2 A2|G6|
E2 A2 A ^G| A6 |B2 ^c2 d2 |e6 |^c2 d2 e2 |^c2 A4|B2 A2 A2|A6|
A2 A2 g2|e2 d4|B2 =c2 d2 |=c6|ed =c2 B2|A2 E4|F2 G2 A2|G6|
E2 A2 A ^G|A6|B2 ^c2 d2|e6|^c2 d2 e2|^c2 A4|B2 A2 A2|A6|
X: 7
T: The Wexford Carol
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Cmaj
G, C>B,|| C3D E<G|G3E F>E|C2G,A, _B,>A,|_B,3G, C>=B,|
C3D E<G|G3E F>G|E<C- CD C>B,|C3C C_B||
||G3G/2F/2 _E>D|_E3F G>F|E/2D/2C- CG,/2A,/2 _B,>A,|
_B,3G, C>=B,|C3D E<G|G3E F>G|E<C- CD C>B,|C3|]
X: 8
T: The Wexford Carol
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
D|:G G/F/G3A|Bcd3d|cB GD2E|=FGF3D|
G G/^F/G3A|Bcd3B|cd BG2A|GFG3G||
G=f dc2A|_BcB3d/c/|_BA GD2E|=FGF3D|
G G/^F/G3A|=Bcd3B|cd BG2A|GFG3D:|

Nineteen comments

Christmas Spirit

I heard this on Sunday at a carol service. I was surprised that I hadn’t heard it before, given that it’s been recorded by Loreena McKenitt and the Voice Squad among others. Seems to be a traditional air or song; makes me wonder what might have happened to the original words, if there were any.

There’s a good arrangement of it here:

and the words are here:


This was sung by Nanci Griffith on "Chieftains Celebration". I’ve been having a dreadful time finding it online and I am happy that it’s found its way to the session. Too bad it starts with a low C, gonna have to mess with it or something to play on my flute.

For flute/ whistle

I always played this in A mix, I think. Anyway whatever, start it on a low E and follow to finish on an A - couple of sharps/flats on high part. Lovely air.

Posted .

A flat or nat?

Is the A in measure 13 (and other reiterations of the phrase) supposed to be natural or flat? The key signature says flat, but as all other A flats are marked and as the indicated chord has an A natural, I’d be grateful for clarification.


Posted by .

It surely sounds like a mistake. I’ve heard a few versions and I’ve never heard it that way.

Yes, that should be an A natural. Prob. just a ‘typo’ by whoever wrote it down.


Anybody know the Gaelic lyrics?

Woodwind friendly key?

3 flats is a perfectly crappy key for diatonic woodwinds in D. Is there a transcription anywhere in a more accessible key?

Setting#2 is exactly the same version as setting#1, but I have made some alterations to the notation, which, I think, make the tune easier to read.
1. I have halved the note values, to make the phrases scan better within the 3/4 time signature (the whole first bar of setting #1 is treated as an anacrusis).
2. I have changed the key signature to F major (one flat) and shown the other flats as accidentals. This seemed more fitting, since the tune resolves onto F major and more of the tune is in the major than in the minor.

My placing of the bar lines is open to dispute: some might argue that they should be shifted forward by one crotchet.

Setting #3 is transposed into G for the benefit of D whistle players, pipers etc. and anyone not comfortable with playing in flat keys.

Setting #4 is transposed into A, for the benefit of those than don’t like playing F-naturals.

…As an afterthought, I changed the key signature of setting #3 to two sharps, lest a G# in the key signature be a deterrent to whistles and flutes.

The Wexford Carol, X:5

My friend sent this to me. We both live at an ashram in Kerala, India ( with a world-renowned humanitarian and saint - Amma. People from all over the world live here, and at Christmas we’ll be performing our Celtic set : )

Re: The Wexford Carol

The Wexford Carol as named in the Oxford book of carols published in 1928 and edited by Percy Dearmer; Ralph Vaughan Williams and Martin Shaw is carol No. 14. This beautiful melodic Christmas Carol is known in County Wexford as the Enniscorthy Christmas Carol. It was collected c.1911 by Dr. William Henry Grattan Flood in the Coolamain area of Oylgate just approx. 7 miles from Enniscorthy. Dr. Flood transcribed the melody and the lyrics from an elderly lady living in the area. Initially sung by the children of St. Aidan’s National School, Enniscorthy it was quickly taken up by many singers in the area spreading its popularity both locally and abroad by missionary priests from Enniscorthy. The carol is deemed to have medieval origins and is simple in construction. The lyrics of the carol give the full Christmas story in its verses. William Henry Grattan Flood D. Mus., musician and author was organist at St. Aidan’s Cathedral Enniscorthy. Liam Gaul

The Wexford Carol, Chieftains

From The Chieftains, featuring Nanci Griffith singing, from The Bells of Dublin album.

Tin whistle opens in C. Nanci sings also in C. The Chieftains later play the entire in G but they play measure 11 with 4 beats. Below is the instrumental in G.

T:The Wexford Carol
D G>F|| G3A Bc|d3B c>B|G2DE =F>E|=F3D G>^F|
G3A Bc|d3B c>d|B<G- GA G>F|G3G G=f||
||d2 dc _B>A|_B3c d>c|
M: 4/4
_BA G2DE =F>E|
M: 3/4
=F3D G>^F|G3A Bc|d3B c>d|B<G- GA G>F|G3|]

The Wexford Carol, X:8

I was surprised to see that none of the previous settings correctly show the beat hierarchy of this lovely melody. Of course, it is a bit deceptive if you’re hearing it for the first time, and it can be played with varying amounts of freedom; however, one need only google search Wexford Carol and look at the millions of settings and arrangements to see that the beat structure as I present it here should be considered by far and away the standard. Accompanying players need no longer scratch their heads in confusion about where beat one of the measure truly is!

Re: The Wexford Carol

A beautiful, haunting video of this tune available on You Tube with Allison Krause, Yo Yo Ma and several Irish musicians. It has helped me settle down to the tricky timing and the sharps and flats that are under question.