The Spike Island Lasses reel

Also known as Cloichíní Beaga Na Farraige, Gearrchaile Oileán Píce, Gearrchaillí Oileán Píce, The Small Stones Of The Sea, Spike Island Lassies, The Spike Island Lassies.

There are 87 recordings of this tune.

This tune has been recorded together with

The Spike Island Lasses appears in 3 other tune collections.

The Spike Island Lasses has been added to 35 tune sets.

The Spike Island Lasses has been added to 452 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Nine settings

1
X: 1
T: The Spike Island Lasses
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|=cAGE AD (3DDD|ED (3DDD (3EFG Ad|=cAGE AG (3EFG|Adde fded|
=cAGE AD (3DDD|ED (3DDD (3EFG Ad|=cAGE AG (3EFG|Addc d3 e|
f2df efge|dfed cAAe|fedf ed{ed}cd|Addc d2{ed}cd|
eaag efge|dfed cAGG|Addc d4|Adde fded|
=cAGc ~A3d|~B3G~A3B|=cAGB AG(3EFG|Adde fded|
=cAGc ~A3 c|BGGF ~G3 B|=cAGB AG(3EFG|Addc d3e|
f2 ad faad|faaf geeg|fdAd faad|fage dcAc|
defg ~a3 b|agfa ~g2 ae|fedf edcA|d3e fded|
2
X: 2
T: The Spike Island Lasses
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmix
cAGB ADDE|FDAD FDAd|cAGB AGFG|Adde fded|
cAGB ADDE|FD (3DDD (3EFG AB|cAGB AGFG|Addc d3 e||
K:Dmaj
f2df efge|dfed cA (3AAA|fedf edcd|Addc d2cd|
e~a3 efge|dfed cAGG|Addc d2dB|Adde fded||
K:Dmix
cAGc A3d|B3G A3B|cAGB AG(3EFG|Adde fded|
cAGc ~A3 c|BGGF ~G3 B|cAGB AG(3EFG|Addc d3e||
K:Dmaj
f2 ad faad|faaf geeg|fdAd faad|fage dcAc|
defg ~a3 b|agfa ~g2 ae|fedf edcA|d3e fded||
3
X: 3
T: The Spike Island Lasses
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmix
cAGB ADDE|(3FED AD FGAB|cAGB AGFG|A^cde fded|
cAGB ADDE|EDAD FGAB|cAGB AGFG|Add^c ddde||
ffdf ed^ce|dfed ^ceA2|fedf ed^ce|Add^c dd^cd|
eaag ef (3gfe|dfed cAGc|Add^c dedc|Acde fdd2||
cAGB LAGAc|LBABG AGAB|cAGB AGFG|Adde fded|
cAGB LA3d|BGGF GFGB|cAGB AGFG|Add^c d2de||
ffad ffad|ffaf geee|f3(f f)ede|(3fga ge d^cA^c|
defg afab|agfa gfge|ffdf ed^ce|dd^ce eded||
# Added by Joel .
4
X: 4
T: The Spike Island Lasses
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
=cAGc AD D2|ED D2 (3EFG Ad|=cAGc AD (3EFG|Adde fded|
=cAGc AD D2|ED D2 (3EFG Ad|=cAGc AD (3EFG|Add^c d3 e||
f2 df efge|dfed cAAe|fedf ed (3Bcd|Addc d2 (3Bcd|
eaag efge|dfed =cAGc|Add^c d3c|Adde fded||
=cAGc A3d|B3G A3B|=cAGB AG (3EFG|Adde fded|
=cAGc A3c|BGGF G3B|=cAGB AG (3EFG|Add^c d3e||
f2 ad faad|faaf geec|Adfa dfaf|geaf d3A|
defg a3b|agfa g2 ag|fedf edcA|d3e fded||
# Added by JACKB .
5
X: 5
T: The Spike Island Lasses
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
cAGB ADDE|FDAD FGAB|cAGB ADFG|Adde fded|
cAGB ADDE|FDAD FGAB|cAGB AGFG|AddA d3 e||
f3d e3c|dFed ^cA A2|FedF eA^ce|Add^c d2 ^cd|
ea a2 efge|(3Bcd ed cAGG|AddA d3 ^ c|Adde fded||
cAGB A3c|B3A GBDB|cAGB A2 FG|Adde fded|
cAGB A3c|BGFA G3B|cAGB AGFG|AddA d3e||
fadf adfa|dfaf ge^ce|Adfa dfaf|geaf d3A|
defg a3b|agfa g3e|fafd e3 ^c|d^cde fded||
fadf a2 df|adfa dfad|fadf adfa|geaf d3A|
defg a3b|agfa g3e|fafd ege^c|d^cde fded||
# Added by JACKB .
6
X: 6
T: The Spike Island Lasses
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
=cAGc ADDE|(3FED AD FGAB|=c2Bc AGFG|Adde fded|
=cAGc ADDE|(3FED AD FGAB|=c2Bc AGFG|Addc d3 e||
f2df e2^ce|dfed cA Ag|fedf edcB|Addc dAcd|
ea ag efge|dfed =cAGc|Add^c d3 ^c|Acde fded||
=cAGc A3d|B3=d A3B|=c2Bc AGFG|Adde fded|
=cAGc A3c|BGGF G3B|=c2Bc AGFG|Add^c d3e||
f2af f2af|f2af ge^ce|f2af fede|fagf d^cAc|
defg a3b|agfa g3g|fedf edcB|1 Adde fded:|2 Addc d4||
# Added by DomW .
7
X: 7
T: The Spike Island Lasses
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
=cAGB ADDE|FDAD FGAB|=cAGB AGFG|Adde efed|
=cAGB ADDE|FDAD FGAB|=cAGB AGFG|Addc d3 e||
f2ff eefe|dfed ceAa|fddf edcd|ABcA dAcd|
eaag egge|dged =cAGc|Addc decd|Acde fded||
=cAGc A3G|B3GA3B|=cAGc AGFG|Adde efed|
=cAGc A3c|BGGF G3 B|=cAGB AGFG|Addc d3e||
f2af fdad|fdaf geea|fdad fdAd|fage dcAc|
defg a3a|agfa g2ag|fddf edcA|dcde ffed||
8
X: 8
T: The Spike Island Lasses
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
=cAGB ADDE|FDAD FGAB|=cAGB AGFG|Adde fded|
=cAGB ADDE|FDAD FGAB|=cAGB AGFG|Addc d3e||
f2df efge|dfed cAA2|fedf edcd|Addc d2cd|
eaag efge|dfed cAG2|Addc d2dc|Adde fded||
=cAGc A3d|B3G A3B|=cAGB AGFG|Adde fded|
=cAGc A3c|BGGF G3B|=cAGB AGFG|Addc d3e||
f2ad faad|faaf geeg|fdAd faad|fage dcAc|
defg a2ab|agfa g2ag|fedf edcA|d3e fded||
9
X: 9
T: The Spike Island Lasses
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmix
fdce dGGA|BGdG BGdg|fdce dcBc|dgga bgag|
fdce dGGA|BG (3GGG (3ABc de|fdce dcBc|dggf g3 a||
K:Gmaj
b2gb abc'a|gbag fd (3ddd|bagb agfg|dggf g2fg|
a~d'3 abc'a|gbag fdcc|dggf g2ge|dgga bgag||
K:Gmix
fdcf d3g|e3c d3e|fdce dc(3ABc|dgga bgag|
fdcf ~d3 f|eccB ~c3 e|fdce dc(3ABc|dggf g3a||
K:Gmaj
b2 d'g bd'd'g|bd'd'b c'aac'|bgdg bd'd'g|bd'c'a gfdf|
gabc' ~d'3 e'|d'c'bd' ~c'2 d'a|bagb agfd|g3a bgag||

Thirty-seven comments

It’s about time this mighty tune showed up. Learn this tune!!! Now!!

Spike

Is it just me or does this tune have a most unusual structure.
This is not meant as a criticism - I love the unexpectedness of the tune. I wish it got played in sessions more.
Cheers
Donough

Hello
This version of the tune is from the CD “the south west wind” of Ronan Browne and Peter O’Loughlin.
I have in a book another version more “normal”, but this one is more interesting. More i play it , more I like it.

Spike Island Lasses

In reply to Odono’s comments I find the second part almost identical to the B part of Bank of Ireland which can lead to some confusion although with enough practice I’m sure it will work out OK eventually.

Does the Spike Island refer to the on in Cork harbour.?????

Spike

That’s the only Spike Island I know of.

I take it that this tune dates back to a time when there once lasses on Spike as opposed to just interned joyriders from Dublin*. It’s known as “The Spike Island School Of Motoring” in Cobh.

*explanation for anyone who doesn’t get it: Spike Island is now a prison. It’s like a mild-mannered Alcatraz in the middle of Cork harbour.
There was a “prison break” a few years back when some workmen left a ladder near a wall and there happened to be a raft lying around on the beach.

Prison

Isn’t Spike Island famous for a prison?

Oops, didn’t read down far enough on that comment. Sorry Jeremy

I can see Spike Island out my front room window, but I never saw any lassies out there. Dont get me wrong, I am not looking at Spike from the inside by the way. Maybe we should change the name to “The Spike Island inmates” or“ The Holy Ground Hotel“.

Jaysus, you weren’t kidding about the B part, Bannerman – I’m going to have watch that once I learn this tune.

Zina

Thanks for putting this tune up, Gian - I’ve been trying to learn this at a session in a Zen-like manner; (by desiring to know it and going into a meditative trance whenever it is played.) I’ve come to the conclusion it can’t be done. At least not by me. The dots are a big help!

Dumb question

Is this tune supposed to have repeats or is there a “second ending” for each part?

No, I’ve only heard it played as posted, with no repeats, just straight through as is.

Have a listen to the way Angelina and Peter Carberry play the 3rd part on their “Memories from the Holla” album-nice setting! Also, it sounds great down in G, starting on F natural, (sorry pipers and flute players) sounds magic!
Love this tune, could never get sick of it!

Weird setting

This is very different from thge session setting played around north Clare. Is this a common setting in other parts of the world? Or just the ideosyncratic playing of Ronan Browne and Peter O’Loughlin, God bless them both?
Perhaps one more reason not to learn from the dots.

There are loads of reasons not to “learn from the dots,” and I highly suggest you find a session or recording or whatever before learning this tune. If you want to play it the way Ronan Browne and Peter O’Loughlin do, then these dots might help. Even though my version follows the same scheme basically, it’s still different enough. But a tune like this has so many recorded examples you can surely find one version that suits your instrument. Or maybe borrow from a couple of them. If you have any good players in your area you might want to get their version of it.

Spike Island Lassies

Carmel O’Dea does a great job on this tune!

I love the way the mode changes from mixolydian to major, it’s like the reappearance of the sun after a heavy summer shower.

Spike Island Lasses

I was just going over this tune and this setting didn’t jibe with what was in my head… This is more in line with how I remember it being played. The first part is a bit different that the original transcription but the other parts are more or less the same as I know them.

X: 1
T: The Spike Island Lasses
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmix
|| cAGB ADDE|FDAD FDAd|cAGB AGFG |Adde fded|
cAGB ADDE |FD (3DDD (3EFG AB|cAGB AGFG|Addc d3 e||
f2df efge|dfed cA (3AAA|fedf edcd|Add^c d2=cd|
e~a3 efge|dfed cAGG|Addc d2dB|Adde fded||
=cAGc A3d|B3G A3B|=cAGB AG(3EFG|Adde fded|
=cAGc ~A3 c|BGGF ~G3 B|=cAGB AG(3EFG|Addc d3e||
f2 ad faad|faaf geeg|fdAd faad|fage dcAc|
defg ~a3 b|agfa ~g2 ae|fedf edcA|d3e fded||

Which Spike?

Hi there, I’ve not posted a comment before but I thought I would wade on in with my thought for the day. In relation to a past query about the location of the Spike Island in question, I wondered that instead of the harbour prison ( where lasses may not have been much seen) if it might not refer to the area of Spike Island next to the River Mersey in North West England. There is a canal that passes there, built originaly in the late 1700s to supply the burgeoning indutries. And I’ld bet that there might have been lads from all over working there navvying to build it. One of them may have taken a fancy to the local females and been inspired. Just a thought and maybe a lost one. Cheers

Re: The Spike Island Lasses

In “Waifs and Strays of Irish Melody” (1922) the tune Reidy’s (#287) bears quite the resemblance to “Spike Island Lasses.”

Re: The Spike Island Lasses

Well done, McConville! Spike Island in Cork was never a womens’ prison. It was exclusively for men. On the other hand:

“John Hutchinson opened his first Alkali factory on Spike Island and, to meet the heavy demand for labour, large influxes of Irish workers descended into Widnes. Newtown, Lugsdale and Moss Bank took the highest numbers of settlers and developed rapidly, so much so that the area around Newtown was known locally as ‘Little Ireland’.”

It does sound more probable to me that The Spike Island Lasses were factory workers in that factory. They were definitely not prison inmates in Cork Harbour.

Source: https://hbcnewsroom.co.uk/what-do-you-know-about-the-area-of-marrabone-widnes/

Re: The Spike Island Lasses

Yes, I recon you have the right Spike Island there Thierry. In its heyday it was one of those ‘eastern suburbs’ of Ireland. I once lived not too far away from there.

Re: The Spike Island Lasses

Great tune in so many ways. To my ears it seems to alternate between modes. Would it make sense to think of the A and C parts as Dmix and the B and D parts as Dmaj?

Re: The Spike Island Lasses

Máire Na Chathasaigh comments..
“The source for the tune “The Spike Island Lasses” was old John Dwyer from Caolrua, near Eyeries, on the Beara Peninsula in West Cork - father of the late fiddle-player and tune-composer John Dwyer. The latter’s cousin Sean O’Dwyer tells me that he remembers first learning it from his Uncle John around 1958. He told him that he learned it from the well-known Waterford piper Liam Walsh, with whom he was interned in the jail on Spike Island in Cork Harbour during the War of Independence. However, there seems to be no record of Liam Walsh ever playing it and no references to the tune before the mid-20th-century. I always strongly suspected that old John Dwyer composed the tune himself, but was shy (like all the Dwyers were) about claiming credit for it, but his son John confirmed it to my sisters when we were playing on a TV programme together in 2019. So we have it from the horse’s mouth that old John Dwyer composed the tune!”

Re: The Spike Island Lasses

Anyone recognise the tune Yvonne Casey & Macdara Ó Faoláin play after Spike Island Lasses ?
Sounds a little Splendid Isolation ’ish or Ed Reavy maybe ?
Thanks
Love Out
Pat