The Czar Of Munster reel

By Seamus Egan

There are 2 recordings of this tune.

The Czar Of Munster has been added to 47 tunebooks.

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Two settings

X: 1
T: The Czar Of Munster
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amin
c'AAb AAaA|d'AAc' AAbA|e'AAd' AAc'A|f'Ae'A d'Ac'A|
c'AAb AAaA|d'AAc' AAbA|e'AAd' AAc'A|f'Ae'A d'Ac'A|
c'AAb AAaA|d'AAc' AAbA|e'AAd' AAc'A|f'Ae'A d'Ac'A|
c'AAb AAaA|bAAa AAgA|aAAg AAfA|Aeed eABc|
|:A2 (3AAA aAgA|(3AAA fA eABc|cBBA ^GABc|ABcd ecBc|
A2 (3AAA aAAb|AAc'A c'AaA|^gaba ageg|baa^g aAde|
fdAD FAcd|ecAF EABc|cBBA ^GABc|ABcd eAde|
fdAD FAcd|ecAF EABc|cBBA ^GABc|1 (3ccc Bc ABcB:|2 (3ccc Bc A^GAB||
c2 (3dcB cdef|g2 (3ag^f ge=fe|defg defg|eccB cGAB|
c2 (3dcB cdef|g2 (3ggg ^g2 (3ggg|a2 fe defg|eccB cAde|
fdAD FAcd|ecAF EABc|cBBA ^GABc|ABcd eAde|
fdAD FAcd|ecAF EABc|cBBA ^GABc|1 (3ccc Bc A^GAB:|2 (3ccc Bc ABcB||
X: 2
T: The Czar Of Munster
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amin
A2 (3AAA aAgA|(3AAA fA eAce|cBBA ^GABe|ABcd ecBe|
A2 (3AAA aAAb|AAc'A AaAA|^gaba egeg|baag aAde|
fdAD FA cd|ecGF EA (3ccc|cBBA ^GABe|ABcd e^cde|
fdAD FAcd|ecGF EAcA|cBBA ^GABe|1 ceBc AecB:|2 ceBc A^GAB||
c2cB cdef|fg (3ggg gefe|defg defg|ec (3BBB cGAB|
c2cB cdef|fg (3ggg g^g (3ggg|a2fe defg|eccB cdeA|
fdAD FA cd|ecGF EA (3ccc|cBBA ^GABe|ABcd e^cde|
fdAD FAcd|ecGF EAcA|cBBA ^GABe|1 ceBc A^GAB:|2 ceBc A4||

Thirty-five comments

Yes, “Czar”

I learnt this absolutely rocking tune from Zoe Conway at Meitheal Summer School this year. Apparently Seamus Egan wrote it when he was like 16 or something. I lost count of what position it goes into on the fiddle. I start the intro on my 3rd finger, and when it goes up to the high e, bring the hand up and use the 3rd finger for that too. When it gets to the ^gaba ageg|baa^g in the 1st part, I use my 1st finger for the g#, and open e.

Probably the King - sorry, Czar - of all show-off tunes.

Afraid the abc’s are a bit of a train wreck when I put them into concertina website converter. It seems that the triplets are written with the ‘3’ in the wrong place.
3(aaa should be (3aaa
Maybe you can get this cleared up before Jeremy does the conversion job


Damn, thanks.


You know that feeling when you’ve had too much to drink and you’re lying in a dark room and it starts spinning and you can’t stop it however much you try, and feel so awful that you just know that eventually you won’t be able to hold back and you’re gonna barf?

I got that from this tune.

I thought you might like it, Dow. Personally I play it in a set with Tam Lin and the Wizard’s Walk…

Czar of Munster

I thought at first I was listening to the first part of the theme from the Exorcist, but as the tune progressed I got more into it and by the time it finished I felt like smashing my Vodka glass in the fire. I like it but it’s a real challenge this one. I would really love to hear it played on an instrument.


Some listen to a tune like this and think it sounds “hard” technically and are impressed by the “composing.” In my opinion tunes like this are easily written(contrived) and easily played. I do see a challenge for fiddlers…. going into the high notes… but it’s got nothing to do with traditional fiddle music and probably wasnt written for fiddle. I get a little negative feedback for the tunes I post sometimes because they arent “Irish,” but when I think of traditional Irish music or traditional music in general, this tune doesn’t fit anywhere. However, for a stage show, new-grass, movie music or video game music, it would fit right in. (I don’t mean any of this as a slam, it’s just what I think.)

it sounds like a contrived exercise in weirdness to me. A deeply irritating tune.

Posted by .


Thanks for posting this great tune, I have listned to it many times on my mp3 player, and loved it from the beginning, BUT it sounded like it was a rather difficult tune. Well - at the intro You maybe need to have a few more ‘thumbs’ than normal, but the main tune is not as difficult that I thought.
Trad. Irish or not - hmmm…..It’s not trad. YET, but in some 100 years it will be trad. irish, because Seamus Egan is irish…..
I think there is SO many tunes that isn’t irish at all. It’s not really a sessiontune I think, but so You can play it at home for fun, or on the stage. Well - thanks again for a grteat tune.

Posted by .

In some 100 years, this tune will probably be forgotten. I wonder whether the composer himself could play it if asked.

I actually love listening to Seamus Egan play this tune on his solo recording made 10 years ago, and am willing to listen to him play it on the stage or in a session if I should have a chance. But I would go off to the loo if anyone else were to start to play it beside me.

tradpiper, of course those tunes aren’t “in traditional style”. What are you on about?



When I re-read my post, I realize that I dont say whether I like it or not. Even Joe said it was a “show off” tune. My comments reflect that very fact. Its nothing more than a show-off tune and in my opinion, show off tunes are what they are… show off tunes. I didnt slam it in any way. There are plenty of people in this world making this kind of music… Chris Thile, Bela Fleck… Each of us has a different view of what “traditional” means and in my study of tunes from the past couple of centuries, this is obviously a modern tune that has little to do with traditional music.

When I was younger I wrote pieces like this, but now have no interest in them because I dedicated myself and my energy mainly to learning (what I call) traditional tunes.

Again, I made an effort not to slam the tune and feel that I havent done so. (Theres some things I like about it… the name “Czar” and the eastern European flavor to it is clever.)
Your challenge to me to “upload my interpretations” sort of proves the original point… its a show off tune.

Whole genres of music are based on show off--- bluegrass for one. I really dont mean it as a derogatory thing. As far as it being trad. irish in 100 years because Seamus is Irish, I dont think it has to do where the composer was born and musically it sounds eastern european to me.

Do I like it? I really dont know. In my post I commented on how some of my USA tunes get a little negative feedback because they are not real trad. “irish”, but I have expressed appreciation to the session for not booting me off, but what belongs here more? My latest submission “Dandy Jim” or “The Czar…” Because the session states… “This website is one way of passing on jigs, reels and other dance tunes.” I may have to go with Dandy Jim!

Show-off tune

Yes, of course it’s a show-off tune. And that’s what I love about it! That and the fact that it’s really fun to play once you’ve got it down. No, I would not in a million years play this, or the Wizard’s Walk, or any of the rest of them, in a session (except at Folkworks, but that’s different 🙂), because I would be blatantly showing off, which is, as we all know well by now, NOT what a session is for. But there is a time and place for everything, and if I was at a concert, or an audition, or if an attractive girl said, “Oh, you play the fiddle? Let’s hear you, then!”, then I’d go, “Well, here’s a tune, it’s called the Czar of Munster…..”

The composer would respond this tune isn’t written in a traditional style.

Precisely. We might do better in defining what trad isn’t.

This isn’t.

Calm down, tradpiper. We aren’t personally attacking you.

No, I’m not in the position of giving you a definition. That’s why I wrote the composer of this tune could judge if this piece of music is traditional enough. He has a very solid background in this music and definitely knows what trad is, even though he can’t give you a clear concise definition of it.

Yes, “tradition” isn’t monolithic, but this doesn’t mean anything can be recognised as traditional in some 100 years. IMO this reel won’t be included in the repertoire of many musicians.

“Progressive” traditional Irish music? Here’s Tommy Potts:

“ITM excludes tunes regularly played in sessions that are not originally irish.”

No it doesn’t!

There are many many tunes in the Irish traditional repertoire that were originally Scottish - Tarbolton, Boyne Hunt, Bonny Kate, Kilfenora #2 to name just a few off the top of my head. When played in the context of an Irish session, they’re considered to be Irish tunes. It’s all not as black and white as you make out.

As for “ITM” standing for Irish Traditional Music, well it may well do on this site, but you’d not be understood in your average session.

Beginnings of a joke?

Dandy Jim and the Czar of Munster walk into a pub… there is a session going on….

Essential Reading

“Seamus Egan: Serendipity”
by Steve Winick
[From Dirty Linen #64 June/July 1996]

The article doesn’t mention this particular tune, but quotes Seamus Egan’s own comments on the album “When Juniper Sleeps.”

Hope this will be the end of the discussion.

“Leading lights”? And they forge the path for the rest of us to follow? In traditional music, there’s no such hierarchy.

This tune is not traditional because a) it doesn’t follow traditional structure (it has a naff specially-written intro) b) it uses treble notes that leap and accent in a syncopated rhythm, which is only found in more modern tunes (usually Scottish or Scottish-influenced ones), and c) it hasn’t been written in a traditional Irish mode, being partly in the harmonic minor. This is more common in tunes of other traditions like those of other parts of Europe and French-speaking Canada (Reel Beatrice springs to mind). That’s 3 reasons off the top of my head. I’m sure there are more.


“Traditional” - by it’s very definition, implies time. This tune simply hasn’t been around long enough to be considered traditional, and it certainly hasn’t been around for as long as a “generation” as you mention above. It would also need to be accepted by the Irish traditional community at large. I’ve never heard it anywhere other than on Seamus Egan’s recording.
Merely my own opinions - disagree if you like.

Posted by .

Yeah, but not only that, it’s not even written in a traditional style, so it’s not traditional in either sense of the word, eh Kenny? There are plenty tunes that have been written quite recently but have been accepted with much enthusiasm into the tradition. I’m thinking of tunes by the likes of Josephine Keegan etc.

I’m sorry, I don’t understand your point.

I’m not a fan of Billy Pigg’s style at all, to be honest.

I second Dow’s comments.

With this particular tune, I think it’s very clear cut. Never took to Billy Pigg’s music much, I’m afraid - maybe more to do with the instrument, but each to his/her own………………

Posted by .

Philistine is it ? Until you came onto this website, people were allowed to like or dislike tunes or musicians without being insulted for it. The relevance of Billy Pigg on an Irish music website escapes my completely, but don’t bother trying to explain. I’m not at all interested.

Posted by .


This thread reads very strangely now that someone’s posts have been completely obliterated by the moderator. Sorry Joe!


Is the ABC correct here…the midi file sounds different to the notes on the 2nd line of the main tune??then again….could be wrong🙂