The Thirteen Arches reel

By Seamus Connolly

Also known as 13 Arches, The 13 Arches.

There are 8 recordings of this tune.

The Thirteen Arches appears in 1 other tune collection.

The Thirteen Arches has been added to 1 tune set.

The Thirteen Arches has been added to 16 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Two settings

X: 1
T: The Thirteen Arches
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Cmaj
CGE CG, B,DB,|:CEGc Bcd e|fd ~d2 B cdB|cBGE FD GF|EC ~C2 B, CDF|
EG ~G2 Bcd e|fed efbag|1 ^fgB dc2 GF|EC ~C2 G,B,DB,:|2 ^fgBd c2 (3ABc||
|:dGBd (3fgf df|ec ~c2G cdc|BG ~G2 (3ABc dc|BG GFD EFD|
(3EFE CE ~F3D|E G~G2 B cde|f edc Bg dc|1 B Ged c2 Bc:|2 BGFD C2 z2||
X: 2
T: The Thirteen Arches
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Cmaj
CGEC G,B,DB,|CEGc Bcde|fd ~d2 BcdB|cBGE FDGF|
EC ~C2 _B,DGF|EGcA Bcde|~f2 de fbag|^fgBd cBGF|
EG,CD A,/B,/C DF|EGcA Bcde|fd ~d2 BcdB|cBGE FDGF|
EC ~C2 _B,DGF|EGcA Bcde|~f2 de fbag|^fgBd cABc||
dGBd efdf|ecgc Gcdc|BGGA Bcdc|BGGF DdcA|
BG ~G2 DGdG|B,DG,c Bcde|~f3 d Bgdc|BGed c2Bc|
dGBd efdf|ecgc Gcdc|BGGA Bcdc|BGGF DEFD|
E/F/G EG F3D|E/F/G cA Bcde|~f3d Bgdc|BGed c2 z2||

Seventeen comments

Thirteen Arches

Seamus Connolly plays this on a few albums. I think maybe he wrote it, but not sure. I think I heard that it is named after a bridge.

I think the abc’s might need a little tweaking to make this work before the sheet music is generated. There’s a rather strange gapping of groups of 2 and 3 notes (instead of 4) in bars even though it all adds up - just makes it look a bit weird when I dropped the abc file into the concertina site:

I did a quick google as one does and it seems that thirteen arches is not an unusual number of arches for bridges. Must be that architects of bridges were not superstitious.


I grouped them that way intentionally. Rather than have 4 and 4, encouraging bad phrasing, I tried to group them closer to the way it’s actually played, although bar lines often got in the way. The notes in reels seem to come in groups of 3’s 2’s and sometimes 5’s to me. Rarely 4’s.


are a more normal way of shoing phrasing. You can also use accents. Grouping notes oddly implies a different rhythmic structure rather than a melody that counterpoints the basic structure.

Posted by .


are more or less independent from phrasing. There is a different rythmic structure, and it isn’t as “basic” as 4 notes followed by 4 notes would imply.


The last measure should be a second ending. The penultimate measure should be a first ending followed by a repeat sign.



After waiting a while and reading it with some distance, I can see how someone might sight read this and come out with a real funny idea of the tune. If you read groups of 3 and naturally accent the first and make the middle note short and weak, that would cause problems.

But I still think the grouping conveys something to me that’s important; if I could just get others to interpret it the way I do. I just feel that the notes are grouped that way.

It’s not meant to convey accents, the accents don’t fall in any pattern on this grouping. Not note length. But, I think, SPACE. The groups are meant to have space after them. Alternating between easing up on and abruptly ending the last note of each of these groups is sort of the effect I had in mind.

Ok I respect your interpretation of the music, m_gavin, but generally the way music is presented here is the bare bones. Ornaments, slurring and phrasing are to a great extent an individual thing and best left out of the main sheet music (imho) but would be appropriate to include in the discussion/comments here to show some idea of how you play the tune.

Oh just say it! The transcription’s crap.

Well, for those who know already how to play, it doesn’t matter how you write it since the written music is only a reminder and will not be relied on for much of anything. But what about those who come to this site experimenting, who haven’t played much Irish music? Shouldn’t the scribe attempt to give them some assistance? If you were teaching the tune to an ex-violinist wanting to learn fiddle, you wouldn’t say, here’s the first four notes and then the next four notes go like this, would you? But that’s what the standard transcriptions seem to do.

Or is the site to be only for the former crowd?

13 Arches

Seamus Connolly did write this tune, by the way.

13 Arches Tune Name

If I remember correctly Seamus Connolly said his Dad worked on the river shannon this is why he gave the tune this name. The bridge is Killaloe bridge


I have just added my attempt at transcribing what the Kane sisters play in that YouTube clip

Re: The Thirteen Arches

Donough’s transcript from the Kane sisters is pretty close to the “official” transcript available on the Seamus Connolly Collection of Irish Music here:
There’s also a recording clip by Kelsey Lutz available and picture of the thirteen-arch bridge connecting Killaloe and Ballina and you can read up on the backgound in the composer’s own wording…