From Ryan’s Mammoth Collection
This tune was published in the early 1880s in Boston in Ryan’s Mammoth Collection (later issued as "1000 Fiddle Tunes"). Minnie Foster, for whom it was named, was an actress and dancer who performed throughout North America in the mid-19th century. Sean McGuire most probably got the tune straight out of the book, but he called it "The Black Swan," under which name it appeared in one of Bulmer and Sharpley’s "Music from Ireland" collections in the 1970s. Joe Burke’s recording also helped popularize it in those years.
The tune also appears, in the key of D, in ‘Allan’s Irish Fiddler’ (undated, probably 1920’s) under the title "Down the Glen".
X: 2 “The Glengesh Hornpipe” ~ from the bow of Danny O’Donnell
Note on this from the CD of fiddler Danny O’Donnell, "Bean Ag Baint Duilisc":
‘The Glengesh Hornpipe’ was the title Danny gave for the second tune at the time of recording, but it was also titled ‘Dr. Peter’s Hornpipe’, after Dr. Peter Carr, who was a renowned step dancer from the Glen of Kilcar. The tune occurs in certain American and Canadian traditions, appearing in various printed collections as ‘Minnie Foster’ or ‘Minnie Foster’s Clog’. A version in the key of F titled ‘The Black Swan’ was recorded by Sea’n Maguire.
X: 4 “The Black Swan”
Music from Ireland, Volume 2
Dave Bulmer & Neil Sharpley, 1974
page 15, tune #52
With minor adjustments… 😎
I’ve simplified the endings to agree, as the mostly do, but here’s another way that Bulmer and Sharpley give 1st and 2nd endings to the B-part:
[1 (3fgf e>g f2 :|[2 (3fgf e2 g>f |]
X: 5 “Down the Glen”
"Allan’s Irish Fiddler"
Mozart Allan, Glasgow, 1930s
page 20, tune #80
Minnie Foster’s hornpipe
Danny O’Donnell’s version can also be found in The Northern Fiddler (1979, p194) as "Dr Peter’s Hornpipe". In Luke O’Malley’s Collection it’s called "The Comet Hornpipe" (in F) and he says, "The late Paddy Killoran gave me this tune. I have seen it in collections as ‘Minnie Foster’."
X:6 — “Minnie Foster’s Clog” as played by Mike MacDougall
As played by the late Mike MacDougall on his "Tape for Father Hector." It’s the first tune in an Fmaj set of two clogs and a reel – this tune going into Fred Wilson’s Clog ( https://thesession.org/tunes/412 ) before closing with Archie Menzie’s Reel ( https://thesession.org/tunes/10689 ).
There’s some pretty sneaky harmonic motion that MacDougall has applied to the contours of his setting, especially in the B part. Also gotta love those consistently applied cadential snaps.
Some other recordings of this tune from Cape Breton artists include:
— Joe Cormier, on "Old Time Wedding Reels"
— Angus Chisholm, on "The Early Recordings" ( https://thesession.org/recordings/3285 ) – Chisholm also goes into Fred Wilson’s Clog.
— Howie MacDonald, on "Auld School" ( https://thesession.org/recordings/4948 )
From Alan Snyder’s Cape Breton Fiddle Recording Index:
Re: Minnie Foster’s
Played by Sharon Creasey at the 2017 "FluteFling" in Aberdeen :