O’Donnell Abu march

Also known as The Clan Connell War Song, Irish National Anthem, Marcslua Uí Ḋoṁnall Abú, Ó Domhnaill Abú, Ó Doṁnall Abú, O’Dhomnaill Abdhu, O’Dhomnaill Abhu, O’Dhomnaill Abú, O’Donal Abhu, O’Donal Aboo, O’Donal Abu, O’Donnel Abu, The O’Donnell Abú, Our Land Shall Be Free, Proudly The Note Of The Trumpet Is Sounding.

There are 29 recordings of this tune.

This tune has been recorded together with

O’Donnell Abu appears in 2 other tune collections.

O’Donnell Abu has been added to 10 tune sets.

O'Donnell Abu has been added to 76 tunebooks.

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Five settings

X: 1
T: O'Donnell Abu
R: march
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
D2 FG A2 FA|f2 dB A2 GF|E2 E>F G2 FE|D2 FG A4|
D2 FG A2 FA|f2 dB A2 GF|E2 e>d cA/A/Bc|d2 d>c dA/B/ c/d/e/=f/||
|:f2 fe dB A2|d2 dB AF D2|G2 BG F2 AF|E2 E>F EGFE|
D2 FG A2 FA|f2 dB A2 GF|E2 e>d cA/A/Bc|1 d2 d>c dA/B/ c/d/e/=f/:|2 d2 d>c d4||
X: 2
T: O'Donnell Abu
R: march
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
G2 Bc d2 Bd|b2 ge d2 cB|A2 AB c2 BA|G2 Bc d4|
G2 Bc d2 Bd|b2 ge d2 cB|A2 ag f2 ef|g2 g2 g4||
b2 ba ge d2|g2 ge dB G2|c2 ec B2 dB|A2 de d4|
G2 Bc d2 Bd|b2 ge d2 cB|A2 ag f2 ef|g2 g>g g4||
X: 3
T: O'Donnell Abu
R: march
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
G2 A/B/c d2 Bd-|db ge de/d/ cB|A2 A>B c2 BA|G2 B>c d/e/d/c/ BA|
G2 Bc d2 Bd|b2 g>e d2 cB|Aa- a>g fdef|g2 g>a g3||
a|b2 b>a ge d2|g2 g>e dB GA/B/|c2 ec B2 dB|A2 d>e dc c/B/A/F/|
G2 Bc de/d/ B/c/d-|db ge d2 cB|Aa- a>g fdef|g2 g>a g4||
X: 4
T: O'Donnell Abu
R: march
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:D2 EF/G/ A2- AF/A/|f2 dB A/B/A/F/ G/A/G/F/|E2- E>F GA/G/ FE|D2 D/E/F/G/ A3 F/E/|
D2 FG AB/A/ F/G/A|f/g/f/e/ d>B AB/A/ GF|Ee e>d cABc|1 d2 d>c d2 FE:|2 d2 d>c dAde||
|:f/g/a/g/ f/g/f/e/ dB AF/A/|d2- dB AF DE/F/|GD/G/ BG FD/F/ AF|E2- E>F E2 A/G/F/E/|
D2 F/G/A AB/A/ FA|f3 d A2 A/G/F|Ee e>d cAGE|1 D2 d>c d2 A/B/c/d/:|2 D2 d>d d4||
X: 5
T: O'Donnell Abu
R: march
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
G>G Bc|d>d Bd|b>b ge|d>d cB|A2 A>B|c>c BA|G>A Bc|dc BA|
G>G Bc|d>d Bd|b>b ge|d>d cB|Aa a>g|fd ef|g>a g>f|gd ga||
b2 b>a|ge d2|g/a/g/f/ ge|dB G/G/A/B/|c>c ec|B>B dB|A2 d>e|dc BA|
G>G Bc|d>d Bd|b>b ge|d>d cB|A2 a>g|fd ef|g2 g>a|g2 BA||
G>G B/G/B/c/|dd/d/ B/B/d|b>b ge|d>d c/c/B/B/|A2 A>B|cc/c/ B/B/A|G>A B/B/c/c/|dc B/B/A/A/|
G>A B/G/B/c/|d>d B/c/d|b>b ge|d>d cB|Aa a>g|fd ef|g>f g>a|gf ga|
b2 b>a|ge de/f/|g/f/g/a/ g/d/e/g/|e/d/B G/D/B/G/|c(3c/c/c/ e/c/G/c/|B(3B/B/B/ dB|A2 d>e|d/d/c BA|
G>G Bc|d>d Bd|b>b ge|d>d cB|Aa- a>g|fd ef|g2 g>a|g4||

Twenty-two comments

“O’Donnell Abú” ~ I can’t believe this wasn’t already here 😏

For one because I thought I’d added it ages back, and in the two keys. I’ve danced to this old march, including, as one example, the Gay Gordons at a ceili in Cashel, County Tipperary, and another in Thurles, and in Dublin, and ~… Anyway, it isn’t uncommon, it even regularly shows up in method books for the likes of Irish whistle and fiddle and you name it… It also has other names and I’ll be back to add those and maybe a couple of other takes on it. I have also seen it transcribed in 2/4… But it still niggles my mind that I was sure I added this way, way back to this site, but I haven’t been able to find it.

Anyway, back to specifics, the first transcription, with the repeat for the B-part is as it was played in a set of other such tunes, by Joe Derrane and Jerry O’Brien. The second includes some of the fun I’ve learned to have with it over time, under endless other influences, but let’s just consider most of those were other musicians… 😎 This is undoubtedly what Dow and others might call ‘dag’, but it is fun to play and to dance to…

P.S. ~ it is also to make restitution for a future contribution that is blatantly ‘orange’, since we were recently ‘chatting’ about ‘politics’… 😏

Note: a lot of the ‘for dance’ sets I remember, using this sort of tune, a march, were often just the one tune played in two keys, as given here. Using this as the example, it could start low or high, go to the other key, then finish as it started. That could be a few times through in D, then a few times in G, then finishing back in D, or the other way around ~ D / G / D…

Repetitions ~ I have heard this played mostly played AB, but I’ve also known it to be played AABB…

“O’Donnell Abú” ~ just a bit less and a bit more and t’other way round

X: 1134
T: O’Donnell Abu
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: march
K: G Major
G2 Bc d2 Bd | b2 ge d2 cB | A2 AB c2 BA | G2 Bc d4 |
G2 Bc d2 Bd | b2 ge d2 cB | A2 ag f2 ef | g2 g2 g4 |]
b2 ba ge d2 | g2 ge dB G2 | c2 ec B2 dB | A2 de d4 |
G2 Bc d2 Bd | b2 ge d2 cB | A2 ag f2 ef | g2 g>g g4 |]
K: D Major
|: D2 EF/G/ A2- AF/A/ | f2 dB A/B/A/F/ G/A/G/F/ | E2- E>F GA/G/ FE | D2 D/E/F/G/ A3 F/E/ |
D2 FG AB/A/ F/G/A | f/g/f/e/ d>B AB/A/ GF | Ee e>d cABc |[1 d2 d>c d2 FE :|[2 d2 d>c dAde ||
|: f/g/a/g/ f/g/f/e/ dB AF/A/ | d2- dB AF DE/F/ | GD/G/ BG FD/F/ AF | E2- E>F E2 A/G/F/E/ |
D2 F/G/A AB/A/ FA | f3 d A2 A/G/F | Ee e>d cAGE |[1 D2 d>c d2 A/B/c/d/ :|[2 D2 d>d d4 |]

“I can’t believe this wasn’t already here”

What’s is this so-called, “march”? Is it like a reel?


Come over here lad and lay yourself out there on the warm asphalt. Now relax and close your eyes. Trust me. Don’t let the sounds rouse you, we’ll give you a full physical experience of a ‘march’, with some boom - boom - boom - boom, and a steady pattern of bruising across your backside… 😎

I’m still worried about this ‘orange’ tune… 😏

The one I’m trying to make up for with this contribution… Will I, won’t I?

You’re right, this is kinda daggy, but in more of a fun way than something like Scotland The Brave. Nothing wrong with dag in small doses.

Dunno why you’re worried about the orange tune. Nobody who regularly gets their knickers in a twist over in the discussions section ever actually bothers visiting the tunes section anyway. They’re too busy listening to the sound of their own voices ranting and raving 🙂

O’Donnell abu

Can’t for the life of me see this old march classify as a barndance. Must have missed something along the way. We used to sing the words to this at school in the forties, and all the bands played it as a march. I seem to remember it was the signature tune for the Garda Ceili Band in the forties, and for years Radio Eireann as it was then, used the first eight bars repeated as a ‘test’ for checking the sound levels for about five minutes before the station went on air at 6am every morning.

A March by any other name ~

In case you hadn’t noticed, there isn’t a category for ‘march’. Part of that problem is all the flavours marches come in, and by that I’m mainly meaning time signatures, all varieties. As well, which I seem to keep finding myself repeating, the dances danced to marches have a close correlation with the family of barndances, so, with the options in 4/4 including reel, hornpipe, strathspey ~ I think ‘barndance’ is the best choice of those available, don’t you? 😏 But then, maybe you’re among the unfortunate that have never had the pleasure of dancing to the beat of a march? I highly recommend it… 🙂

Yep. Not to mention the fact that if you wanted to, you could rewrite this as a barndance pretty easily.

“O’Donal Abhu” ~ doesn’t he run a shop in Springfield?

Alright, some American ways with this tune, as played for New England contra dance, longways dances, more usually improper and minor… That means couple after couple down the length of the hald, hands 4 from the top, and if the band is at the tope, the couples facing them cross over, so we have in a circle of four, couple-facing-couple, her partner on her left, his on his right… Whew! Let’s get graphic ~ M for man and W for woman:

Top ~ MW MW MW MW MW MW MW MW MW ~ bottom
Top ~ WM WM WM WM WM WM WM WM WM ~ bottom

Anyway, for dance, and for a dance form that can last a long time, couples with their backs to the band progress down till they reach the bottom, and then cross over and face up to wait out once through the dance before coming back in. While those facing the band progress up to the top where they also cross over and wait once till they rejoing the dance. Some choose to call those heading away and toward the bottom 1s, and those heading the other way 2s… I you look at that illustration up there, and we just use the numbers for couples, it ends up something like this:

Top ~ 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 ~ bottom

Anyway, enough waffle, here’s that take I’d promised, twice through the tune, mad eh?

X: 1134
T: O’Donnell Abu
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
R: march
K: G Major
G>G Bc | d>d Bd | b>b ge | d>d cB | A2 A>B | c>c BA | G>A Bc | dc BA |
G>G Bc | d>d Bd | b>b ge | d>d cB | Aa a>g | fd ef | g>a g>f | gd ga |]
b2 b>a | ge d2 | g/a/g/f/ ge | dB G/G/A/B/ | c>c ec | B>B dB | A2 d>e | dc BA |
G>G Bc | d>d Bd | b>b ge | d>d cB | A2 a>g | fd ef | g2 g>a | g2 BA |]
G>G B/G/B/c/ | dd/d/ B/B/d | b>b ge | d>d c/c/B/B/ | A2 A>B | cc/c/ B/B/A | G>A B/B/c/c/ | dc B/B/A/A/ |
G>A B/G/B/c/ | d>d B/c/d | b>b ge | d>d cB | Aa a>g | fd ef | g>f g>a | gf ga |]
b2 b>a | ge de/f/ | g/f/g/a/ g/d/e/g/ | e/d/B G/D/B/G/ | c (3c/c/c/ e/c/G/c/ | B (3B/B/B/ dB | A2 d>e | d/d/c BA |
G>G Bc | d>d Bd | b>b ge | d>d cB | Aa- a>g | fd ef | g2 g>a | g4 |]

I’ve given it in 2/4 because 32 bars fits this dance form best, two steps to the measure, though I remember seeing some old folks in that area of the world doing a light and low 3s, akin to gentler versions of Irish dancing for the sets of quadrilles, or sets, square sets….

That was harvested from fiddles and piano accordion…

Oh yeah, one added graphic, the longways after once through and a couple either end crossed over and waiting ~

Top ~ M - MW MW MW MW MW MW MW MW - W ~ bottom
Top ~ W - WM WM WM WM WM WM WM WM - M ~ bottom

There are other possibilities…

A possible set, one that has shown up in many places ~

“O’Donnell Abú” / “O’Dhomnaill Abú”

“The Old Crossroads” / “Doon the Brae”
Key signature: e & a minor
Submitted on October 7th 2004 by ceolachan.

“The Meeting Of The Waters”
Key signature: D, A & G Major
Submitted on July 6th 2005 by FiddleMeThis.

Marches ~ Marching ~ the Grand March or Polonaise

Marches were also used for the grand opening of the dances in the big houses, and in the city and village halls ~ “The Grand March” ~ in these isles and the rest of Europe, in North America, Australia, South Africa ~ and many other places where the dance found itself, usually in the company of the sets of quadrilles and/or cotillons and other social dancing…

O’Donnell Abú

C….I appreciate what you’re saying. it is possible to turn many march tempos into Barndances. In the ceili dance the ‘Bridge of Athlone’ the band played marches and jigs. In one band I played with we used to play the ‘Belphhegor March’ before changing to the jig. The Belphegor March as a barndance….interesting, and the thought of lovely marches such as O’Kane’s No 1 and No 2 played at barndance tempo………….(Ian Paisley’s favourite expression comes to mind here)……?.

Watch it FR, such quotes can damn you… 😉 I still like them as marches… Good contributions by the way…but please don’t quote Paisley, that would be oppening up one awful can of maggots…

O’Donal Abhu (sp), Doon the Brae, Meeting of the Waters…

That’s just the set we play, ceol. How did you know? We thought it was original to put those three together! Another set of it’s ilk is Jamie Allen, Peat Fire Flame and Scotland (Ireland) the Brave. Sorry if they all offend anyone…
Anyway, some people we play O’Donal with tell us it was up for being the national anthem of Eire before “Soldier’s Song” took the honors. Is that true?

“O’Donnell Abu”

For those that have listed O’Donnell Abu as a barndance…..it is not! It’s a very important March. Written in the mid 1800’s about the 9 year war (1504-1603) when O’Neill & O’Donnell rose up against Elizabethan English Rule in Ireland. Sadly, they lost that battle (war) and had to leave the country (known as the Flight of the Earls). They never returned.

Re: “O’Donnell Abu”

Yes, we know. Please add your comment to ‘the comments’ for the tune…


In case you hadn’t noticed, there is NO category for marches here, the reason is that they come in all kinds of time signatures. If you do a ‘search’ in ‘Tunes’ and just enter ‘march’ and nothing else, you’ll see what I mean.

Also, it would be good to read the FAQs, as a newcomer to The Sesh. Failte / Welcome!