The Fermanagh strathspey

Also known as The Fermanagh Fling, Fermanagh Highland, Fermanagh Highland Fling, The Fermanagh Highland Fling, The Fermanagh Highland.

There are 12 recordings of this tune.

This tune has been recorded together with

The Fermanagh appears in 1 other tune collection.

The Fermanagh has been added to 6 tune sets.

The Fermanagh has been added to 117 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Three settings

X: 1
T: The Fermanagh
R: strathspey
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
dB|:A2 FA AddB|A2 FD EFGB|
dAFA (3fff fe|dAFA Beec|dAFA (3fff fe|
GFEF GABc|dAFA (3fff fe|dAFA Beec|
d2 cd (3Bcd A2|(3Bcd ec d2 dB||
# Added .
X: 2
T: The Fermanagh
R: strathspey
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
dB|:A2 FD AddB|A2 FD EFGB|
dAFA fffe|dAFA Beec|dAFA fffA|
GFEF GABc|dAFA fffe|dAFA Beec|
d2 cd BcA2|(3Bcd ec d2||
X: 3
T: The Fermanagh
R: strathspey
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
dAFA f3 e|dAFA Beec|dAFA f3 A|G>FEF GAB>c|
dAFA f3e|dAFA Bddc|d2 c>d B>c A2|(3Bcd (3edc d4||

Twelve comments

Fermanagh Highland

This setting is based on Altan’s from Island Angel (though I have it on their “First Ten Years” CD).

The liner notes say:
“We heard this first highland in County Fermanagh played by Mick Hoy, Gabriel McArdle, and Seamus Quinn. It seems to be a variant of the better known Moneymusk.”

As a highland, it should be played more deliberately and much slower than a typical reel, with a heavy emphasis on the first and second downbeats: “Ooomph da da da Ooomph da da da”

Altan does this in a set with a second highland, which they list as a Donegal Highland but is more commonly known as Charlie O’Neill’s, and then two reels, John Doherty’s and King George IV.

As for playing the tune, the A Part is pretty straightforward. You can drone those A2’s with D2’s at the start of the first and second measures (also listen to the recording to hear Altan’s twin fiddle harmony drones the second time through the tune).

The B Part is a little trickier, particularly jumping from 3rd to 2nd to 1st string and landing on that triplet in the 1st, 3rd, and 5th measures. And hopping back down to the G on the 3rd string from the 1st string in measure 4. A good exercise for string crossings and bow control….

Posted .

Highlands versus Reels

I am curious why Will lists this as a reel, but notes in his comments that it is a highland. A highland played as a reel ends up going too fast and sounding mushy because of the repeated notes where the tune changes direction. Rhythmically, the highlands don’t have the off-beat syncopation of a reel but more stompy 1st beat similar to a polka. Newer players need to recognize the differences if the types are to be discernible from each other.

Posted by .

AOG, we had this discussion on another thread. Jeremy uses the tune types (reel, jig, polka, etc.) to designate a time signature for the sake of posting a tune in abc. It’s a mechanical issue with posting in abc notation as it’s set up here. Rather than have six different tune categories all in 4/4, he asked that we post highlands etc. under “reel” and then explain the difference in the comment section, which is exactly what I did above.

I agree that it’s not an ideal solution, but it works for me as long as what we’re trying to do here is share tunes through the dots because we live too far apart to share them face to face on our instruments. The dots are a poor excuse compared to learning a tune by ear, live. I suppose you could argue that the confusion created by Jeremy’s choice of tune categories only makes it harder to learn accurately from the dots, but that’s what the comment section is for. And you’ve added nicely to explaining how this Fermanagh Highland should be played.

Posted .

P.S. The real reason I posted it as a reel is because “highland” isn’t an option on the menu when submitting a tune. 🙂

Posted .

I think it would have been better to include this with Strathspeys instead of Reels. Highland are played different than Strathspeys but they seem to have more rhythmic similarities to Strathspeys than with Reels.


I don’t know if anyone else uses it, but I’ve ABCmus to be a great tool for working with ABC. It has an extremely good midi playback that can be changed to include chord backing and different voicings. It also has rhtym options for every imaginable type of tune not just Irish. Its a Hienrik Norbeck creation which alows for file searchs by tune name, type, or first measures of ABC.It does not print sheet music, but for $10.00 its an invaluable addition to ABC2win. Perhaps Jeremy could check with Mr. Norbeck to see if any of the ABCmus features would be adaptable to this application.

Posted by .

Fermanagh Highland?

Altan call this a ‘Fermanagh Highland’, but it has been played in north-west Donegal for a long time. My great uncle said he was playing this tune (a slightly different version) in the late 1930s. We don’t have a name for it though.

Altan ~

Link to Moneymusk above and in the ‘comments’ Doc Dow has made a different transcription of the Altan take on this, from their album “The Blue Angel”…

Another reel ~ “~ also allegedly a variant ~”

This tune is also allegedly a variant of the same tune, although the similarities are not as obvious:

“Michael Queally’s/Josephine Keegan’s/Connie O’Connell’s”
Submitted on April 8th 2004 by Dr. Dow.

# Posted on February 1st 2012 by Dr. Dow

The Fermanagh, X:3

This version was collected with the title Fermanagh Highland. Taken from ‘A Fine Selection of Over 200 Irish Traditional Tunes for Sessions’, compiled by David Speers with a Forward by Matt Cranitch.