The Banshee reel

Also known as Around The World, The Bansee, Bean An Mullóga Sióg, The Bean Si, Bean Sidhe, James McMahon’s, Kilcavan Banks, The Kilcavan Banks, MacMahon’s, McMahon’s, McMahon’s #3, Miss McMahon’s, Moyasta Junction, The Moyasta.

There are 100 recordings of a tune by this name.

A tune by this name has been recorded together with The Boy In The Gap (lots of times), The Salamanca (lots of times), The Sailor’s Bonnet (a few times) and Evening Aidan (a few times).

The Banshee has been added to 2,713 tunebooks.

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Seven settings

X: 1
T: The Banshee
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:G2 GD EDEG|AGAB d2 Bd|eged BAGA|BAGE EDDE|
G2 GD EDEG|AGAB d2 Bd|eged BAGA|BAGE ED D2:|
|:ea a2 efgf|eBBA B2 Bd|eB B2 efgf| eBBA B2 Bd|
ea a2 efgf|eBBA B2 Bd|eged BAGA|BAGE EDD2:|
X: 2
T: The Banshee
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
G3D EDB,D|GFGB d2 Bd|eged BAGA|BAGE EDDE|
G2 GD EDB,D|GFGB d2 Bd|eged BAGA|1 BAGE EDDE:|2 BAGE ED D2||
eaag efge|dBBA B2 Bd|eB ~B2 gBfB|eBBA B2 Bd|
eaag efge|dBBA B2 Bd|eged BAGA|1 BAGE EDD2:|2 BAGE EDDE||
X: 3
T: The Banshee
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
eaag efge|dBBA B2 Bd|eB ~B2 egfg|eBBA B2 Bd|
X: 4
T: The Banshee
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
eaag efge|dBBA B2 Bd|eB ~B2 eBgB|eBBA B2 Bd|
X: 5
T: The Banshee
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
G2 GD EDEG | A^GAB d2 B/c/d | eged BAGA |[1 BAGE ED :|[2 BAGE ED D2 ||
|: eaag efge | dBB^A B2 Bd |[1 eB B2 eBgB | eBB^A B2 Bd :|[2 eged BAGA | BAGE ED |]
X: 6
T: The Banshee
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:G2 GD EDEG|AGAB d2 Bd|eged BAGA|BAGE EDDE|
G2 GD EDEG|AGAB d2 Bd|eged BAGA|BAGE ED D2:|
|:ea a2 efgf|eBBA B2 Bd|eB B2 efgf| edcB A2 Bd|
ea a2 efgf|eBBA B2 Bd|eged BAGA|BAGE EDD2:|
X: 7
T: The Banshee
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
DE|G2 GE EDEG|AGAB d2Bd|egdB BAGA|BAGE EDEG|ABAG EDEG|
AGAB d2Bd|egdB BAGA|BAGE ED D2||eaag efge|dBBA B2 Bd|
eB B2 eBgB|egdB A2 Bd|eaag efge|dBBA B2 Bd|eged BAGA|BAGE ED D2|]

Fifty-three comments

This is a fairly easy tune to learn and it’s a lot of fun to play, especially when it’s up to "session speed".

This tune sounds great played as part of a set of fast reels. Try coupling it with other rousing tunes like "The Merry Blacksmith" or "The Mountain Road".

Low b

instead of the second e in the firs bar,
go down to the b on your g string.
that’s the tune

Posted .

Banshee

The Wind Shakes the Barley goes well with this tune. I like the version notated in the books ‘The Session’. The opening dotted g and dotted b’s in the second part are really important to the rhythm. I hear it played without these occasionally and the tune changes out of recognition.

How does everyone else play the parts? Is it 4 xA and 2 X B? Any variations that are acceptable?

I’ve only ever heard this tune 2 As and 2 Bs. (I think four As would make a repetitive tune ridiculously repetitive…) We play it with The Swallowtail Reel and Sean Reid’s. The fun thing about The Banshee is it’s one of the best ones for beginners to learn and get up to speed, yet I’ve noticed at sessions that it’s one that the punters (and many players) adore. It always gets a big round of applause in performance or session.

I’m not sure I agree that you need to have the dotted rhythm, Susie. It’s a fun way (and one of the most common ways) to play it, but not the only way. It’s fun to change it up once or twice as a variation — try it.

Zina

The whistler James MacMahon of Co. Managhen is said to be the creator of this reel

The Banshee

I learnt this tune of the Blazin’ Fidlles album "Fire On!". I then went to a fidle course called "Blazin’ in Beuly".This is a five day course where every member of Blazin Fiddles teachs you for one day. On the course one of the fiddlers from the band Catriona McDonald told me to play the open G string with the first note in the tune which is also a G.If you would like any information on the course go to www.blazin-fiddles.co.uk , ihighly recommend it.

My favorite story about Banshee

My flute teacher told a story when we were learning this tune. He claimed that the "Banshee" was a most feared icon in his native Woodford, and that parents of young children that were, for one reason or another, constipated, were told the story of the banshee, which had the result of nearly instant relief from their condition. A TRUE Irish tale.

Banshee in a Set

My favourite set with this tune is the one by the Bothy Band (Salamanca, Banshee & Sailor’s Bonnet) - only problem is you must keep it well separated in a session from the Tarbolton set which also uses the same third reel!

James McMahon - Composer

This tune was indeed composed by James McMahon,but he was a Flute player origionally from South Fermanagh who lived out his life in Belfast.
He played an ivory flute and composed many more tunes including The Ivory Flute, Boys of Cornacrieve and James McMahon’s Jig.

Moyasta

What a great tune. I learned it from the Seamus Egan tutorial by madfortrad.com. He calls it the "Moyasta Reel." I’ve never seen it under that name anywhere else, has anyone ever seen it called that? It’s great for practicing G and E rolls. If anyone wants to see Seamus Egan play it on the flute, here is a video link: http://www.madfortrad.com/vids/flutedemo/38MoyF.mpg

Hmmm.
I actually learned this as a hornpipe, from a little blue traditional fiddle music book.

The second half is different though, more hornpipe-suited.

At last !!

I’ve been looking for this one for ages! Finally I’ll be able to work out how to play it. I know this one as Moyasta Junction - from Brendan Power’s New irish Harmonica. I’ll have to track down others’ versions, but to me his rendition is fab. How does he do it??

Brian Finnigan

Brian Finnigan calls it the Moyasta Reel on his Mad For Trad tutorial also. I have only heard anyone else call it the Banshee. He has a different setting of it though.

Great tune.

The Banshee

I learned this tune as The Moyasta reel, local to Kilrush.

This reel is certainly the one composed by Fermanagh flute player James McMahon and I’m puzzled by the reference to Moyasta - perhaps it was a favourite of some Clare musician which connected it to that area!

I used to hate this reel as a cheesy tune and consciously avoided learning it. In a session around one month ago, I tried moving my fingers just to pretend to know it while all the other musicians were playing, and found it’s actually a very fun tune.

The version I have heard in many places and eventually learned myself is a bit different from what Jeremy posted.

K: Gmaj
G3D EDB,D|GFGB d2 Bd|eged BAGA|BAGE EDDE|
G2 GD EDB,D|GFGB d2 Bd|eged BAGA|1 BAGE EDDE:|2 BAGE ED D2||
eaag efge|dBBA B2 Bd|eB ~B2 gBfB|eBBA B2 Bd|
eaag efge|dBBA B2 Bd|eged BAGA|1 BAGE EDD2:|2 BAGE EDDE||

Taím ag foghlaim é!

I just started learning this one out of Peter Cooper’s book published by MelBay. It’s a great little tune that was easy to play the first time through. I still need to fine tune things a bit before I’m truly up to session speed though1

Superb tune for a relative beginner!

i’ve heard a rumor that star of munster sounds good before it.

Whilst Slainte’s version is the one I most often hear in sessions, it doesn’t strike me as a natural flute tune, since it contains a low B, which seems integral to (this version of) the tunes. Flute players, pipers etc., can of course play the next B up (as Matt Molloy and Paddy Keenan do to great effect on the Bothy Band recording of this tune), but it seems odd that a flute player would compose a tune that he couldn’t play himself in its basic form. I wonder, therefore, whether the version posted by Jeremy (which I have also heard on occasion in sessions, but find to be a weaker version) is not the ‘original’ as written by James McMahon.

Perhaps the more common version, as posted by Slainte, is a variation originating from some South Clare musician, the alternative title of ‘Moyasta’ being applied by or in reference to that musican.

The Second Part

I often hear it played a bit differently, and this is how I play it now:

eaag efge|dBBA B2 Bd|eB ~B2 egfg|eBBA B2 Bd|…

The transcription of the reel on "Hidden Farmanagh Book" is basically the same as what I transcribed, and has the low B in the first part. Not sure if that’s the original version, though. The book informs James McMahon was from Roslea.

Funnily enough, Joe Burke recorded this reel on the flute with together Mike Rafferty. In the sleeve notes, he write the tune is from East Galway.

"Hidden Farmanagh Book" has the second part like this:

eaag efge|dBBA B2 Bd|eB ~B2 eBgB|eBBA B2 Bd|…

It has a few notes different. By the way, something is wrong with my English….

Aghh, I mean Fermanagh.

"….something is wrong with my English…"

It must be your pronunciation, Slainte, as your written English looks fine. Anyway, it doesn’t matter - this is an *Irish* music site.

Slainte - The discrepancy you refer to in the B-part seems to me like part of the continuum of variations that people play without thinking about it - I might play it both ways within the same rendition of the tune.

The difference in bars 1&2 between your version and Jeremy’s is more drastic - there would be a noticeable dissonance if the two versions were to be superimposed - somebody, at some point, must either have learned the tune ‘wrong’ or consciously changed it. The question is, which version came first, yours or Jeremy’s?

The Banshee

As it says on the page quoted above, that version is as played by the Canadian group Barde.

The Banshee

…and as for it being a slide, that’s nonsense! That was a slip, and I apologise.

“At last !!” (Posted on March 3rd 2005)

This is not the "Moyasta Junction" played by Brendon Power on his CD ‘New Irish Harmonica’ His tune is "The Lilting Banshee" also known as "The Moyasta" and found through this link: https://thesession.org/tunes/60
a superb jig.

Posted by .

Nigel Gatherer

The reason the gatherer version has 4 parts is because he lists the first part as only 4 bars as they are so similar throughout . He doesnt list is a slide as far as i can see.

Clip of Liz Carroll Playing This Tune

I just found a *really* nice clip on YouTube of Liz Carroll playing a set of reels back in 1986, and this is one of the tunes she plays. Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Up9kKmov6Z8 It’s the 3rd tune, starting around 2:38. Enjoy!

Just got to tinkering with this: a little different than llig’s, I think I whistle/flute something like | G2GD EDGB | AGAB d2Bd | efed BAG |. Going up to the B note into the second measure and the f note in the third measure.

Year of Origin

Does anyone know the year this tune was written? Is it public domain??

Thanx!

“The Banshee” ~ R: single reel

I’ve known this reel as a ‘single reel’, meaning that the parts do not repeat.


X: 3
T: Banshee, The
C: James McMahon
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: reel
K: Gmaj
|: DE |\
G2 GD EDEG | A^GAB d2 B/c/d | eged BAGA |[1 BAGE ED :|[2 BAGE ED D2 ||
|: eaag efge | dBB^A B2 Bd |[1 eB B2 eBgB | eBB^A B2 Bd :|[2 eged BAGA | BAGE ED |]

Depends who you learned it from, "c". The first time I heard it - and I don’t know if it was ever recorded before - was on the "Boys Of The Lough"’s first album from 1972. It became better known 3 years later when the "Bothy Band" recorded it on their first album. Without going back and checking those recordings, to my ear, it was played double on both recordings.

Posted by .

Also….

to answer "fiddlette’s" queries, - composed before 1972 [ can’t be any more precise than that ], and almost certainly not in "public domain".
As to above queries about the name "Moyasta Junction". I’m not 100% certain, but I think the London / Irish group "Le Cheile" may have recorded it under that title, and any subsequent references may have come from that recording. That’s from memory of hearing that recording over 30 years ago, and could be totally wrong. What I have heard more than once is that the name "The Banshee" was attached to the tune in a not too flattering reference to the composer James MacMahon’s style of flute-playing.
When I think about it, I seem to remember that the "Boys Of The Lough" recorded it as "MacMahon’s", but it was the "Bothy Band" recording which had the title as "The Banshee".

Posted by .

The Bothy Band do indeed play it double. Excellent tune.

Posted by .

"Depends who you learned it from, "c"." ~ Kenny

It does indeed, I have heard it doubled, as given here, including as Smash has mentioned… I think the popular recordings promoted it as a double, and consequently, many session standards taken off of commercial recordings, that’s how a lot of folks play it. There are particular characteristics about single and double reels. While this one has taken on that doubled identity, the likely reasons given, the structure has that very ‘single’ presence about it. But, hey, it’s a nice air, it’s only natural that I have a slight preference to how I’d first known it… ;-)

Just curious…..

So who did you first hear playing it, "c" ?

Posted by .

I first picked it up this way, as a single, in Dublin in the 70s… I kept a notebook, including of tunes picked up while living in Dublin as well as in my travels around Ireland, and as a regular at many events, fleadhs and the early Willie Clancy Summer School, which I attended up until ‘set dancing’ became an ‘official’ part of it all in the early 80s… I was not so good as to always put down everything, but I also have a slew of recordings and it might be among those somewhere… Playing it as a single, probably because that’s how I’d learned it, just seems natural, and, it does also seem natural in the structure of the tune as well…

As always, I’d love to know more of its history, including about the composer.

When ‘at home’, in Dublin, I attended several weekly session, including at the Culturlann in Monkstown and ones that NPU held… I was also taking classes at least twice a week, and catching ceilis regularly, not counting all the trips out and about.

It’s not like it is uncommon for single reels and highland flings to be jostled about and come out on the other end as double reels…

Chord Prog, etc.

Anyone have a quick resource somewhere for a set of accompanying chords for guitar, etc. for this tune?

@The Vagabonds — here’s one really simple version: http://www.siamsa.org/sessions/banshee.htm
There are a lot of possibilities for accompanying this tune. You can put an E minor chord in place of a G at many points in here, for starters. Also, check out the book "Celtic Backup for All Instrumentalists," which will give you a lot of ideas for backing up many, many tunes. If I recall correctly, The Banshee is one of the tunes the author uses as an example.

The Banshee

Heard this from my grandfather years ago on the tenor banjo and fell in love with it since!

Hello…………

Hi Patrick, welcome to "thesession.org". The tune you’ve posted has already been here for 14 years, in fact it was number 8 of the tunes posted since the site began.

https://thesession.org/tunes/8

Always best to check that a tune isn’t here already before you take the time to transcribe it.

All the best, Kenny.

Posted by .

Yet another name for this tune

Ted Furey’s collection (DanMac Music, 1973, Vol 2) has this as ‘Willing Hands’, with a note that he thinks it comes from West Cork and that he had it from a player called Gerry MacCartney of Belfast.

Posted by .

The Banshee, X:7

This is from a recording of James McMahon, the composer. The recording was made in 1966 by John Rea the hammer dulcimer player, who plays it along with James McMahon and fiddler Tommy Gunn. There is a Facebook page for James McMahon, set up by his granddaughter Rose which has a link to this recording and several others from the same session. The Trio play this, James McMahon’s, followed by the Loon (Noon) Lasses. No idea where the name The Banshee, or any of the other names came from. It was known as McMahon’s Favourite or McMahon’s #3 (also no idea what McMahon’s #1 or #2 was). This supersedes the version in Hidden Fermanagh, the recording only having come to light a couple of years ago.

Re: The Banshee

Just to add, it is played double. The version by BorderPiper of The Noon Lasses on this site is more or less what McMahon & Co. play after The Banshee.

Re: The Banshee

Thanks, Archivist, that’s beautiful, musicians sure had their way with this tune. I could never figure out why a flute player would compose a tune with a low B, that makes much more sense.

The story I picked up somewhere was that the Banshee appellation came from a radio broadcaster who wasn’t nuts about trad music in general, and singled out McMahon’s reel for mocking.