The Gates Of Derry jig

Also known as Blithe Have I Been, Geataí Dhoire, Merrily Danced The Quaker’s Wife, Old Derry March, The Quaker’s Wife.

There are 7 recordings of this tune.

The Gates Of Derry appears in 1 other tune collection.

The Gates Of Derry has been added to 5 tune sets.

The Gates Of Derry has been added to 37 tunebooks.

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Six settings

X: 1
T: The Gates Of Derry
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:D|GAB D2 B|c2 B A2 D|GAB DED|E3 G2 D|
GAB D2 B|c2 B A2 D|GAB D2 D|E3 G2:|
|:D|GAB d2 B|e2 B d2 B|GAB d2 c|B3 d3|
e2 c ABc|d2 B G2 D|GAB DED|E3 G2:|
X: 2
T: The Gates Of Derry
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|:E|ABc E2 c|d2 c B2 E|ABc EFE|F3 A2 E|
ABc E2 c|d2 c B2 E|ABc E2 E|F3 A2:|
|:E|ABc e2 c|f2 c e2 c|ABc e2 d|c3 e3|
f2 d Bcd|e2 c A2 E|ABc EFE|F3 A2:|
X: 3
T: The Gates Of Derry
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
D|GAB D2B|dcB A2G|GAB D2D|E3 G2:|
D|G2B d2B|e2c d2B|G2B d2c|B3 d2d|
e2c Abc|d2B G2D|GAB D2D|E3 G3:|
X: 4
T: The Gates Of Derry
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:A|def A2f|g2f e2A|def AFA|B3 d2A|
def Adf|agf e2A|def AFA|B3 d2:|
|:A|d2f a2f|b2g a2f|def agf|f3 a2a|
b2g efg|a2f d2A|def AFA|B3 d2:|
# Added by hetty .
X: 5
T: The Gates Of Derry
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
D|GAB D2B|c2B A2G|GAB D3|E3 G2D|
GAB D2B|dcB A2G|GAB D3|E3 G2:|
D|G2B d2B|e2c d2B|G2B d2B|A3 d3|
e2c ABc|d2B G2D|GAB D3|E3 G3:|
# Added by JACKB .
X: 6
T: The Gates Of Derry
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:A|dfd B2 d|AFA A2 B|A2 B d2 e|f2 a gfe|
dfd B2 d|AFA A2 B|A2 g fge|d3 d2:|
|:A|d2 f a2 f|b2 g a2 f|d2 f a2 f|g2 e bge|
d2 f agf|gab a2 g|fdB Ade|fda gfe|
fdB B2 d|AFA A2 B|A2 B d2 e|f2 a gfe|
dfd B2 d|AFA A2 B|A2 g fge|d3 d2:|

Twenty-eight comments

“The Gates of Derry”

This single jig was transcribed from an early recording of a nameless ceili band. The band, if the recording is correct, actually played this in Bb. The transcription given here has been transposed up to G to suit a wider number of instruments.

They played a set of two single jigs, the second in the set was this old stalwart ~

“Off She Goes”
Key signature: D Major
Submitted on November 13th 2002 by lazyhound.

Sorry, I’ve double checked and after making allowance for early recordings, like 78s, to be a half step out, they played it in A, followed by “Off She Goes” in D ~

X: 1
T: Gates Of Derry, The
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
R: jig
K: A Major
|: E |\
ABc E2 c | d2 c B2 E | ABc EFE | F3 A2 E |
ABc E2 c | d2 c B2 E | ABc E2 E | F3 A2 :|
|: E |\
ABc e2 c | f2 c e2 c | ABc e2 d | c3 e3 |
f2 d Bcd | e2 c A2 E | ABc EFE | F3 A2 :|

The Quaker’s Wife

I’ve always known this as “The Quaker’s Wife”
There are slight differences in my version but not enough to matter.
The link with “Merrily Kissed the Quaker” is also quite clear although different number of bars etc. certainly where the ‘A’ music is concerned.

Posted by .

“Merrily Kiss the Quaker’s Wife” ~ slide (single jig) ~ for comparison

Yes, it the two are often tied to one another. I had meant to add the link, so people could compare ~

Key signature: G Major
Submitted on May 25th 2001 by Jeremy.

There are actually quite a few differences between this and that transcription, which I’m very familiar with, it being considerably popular…

The A-part, similar, the B-part of this one ~ no!, the B and C part of “The Quaker’s Wife” ~ no again… So, more than half in difference…wouldn’t you say? 😏 Is there actually a relationship or is it just a quirk that a few beats are the same?

Merrily Kiss the Quaker’s Wife

ceolachan, look at the original Scottish tune “Merrily Danced the Quaker’s Wife”, which I give below. It’s usually in D, but I’ve transposed it to G for comparison purposes:

T:Merrily Danced the Quaker’s Wife
S:Kerr’s Merry Melodies Bk.1 (c.1870s)
N:Transposed from D for comparison
Z:Nigel Gatherer
D | GAB D2B | c2B A2G | GAB D2D | E3 G2
D | GAB D2B | dcB A2G | GAB D2D | E3 G2 :|
D | G2B d2B | e2c d2B | G2B d2c | B3 d2d |
e2c Abc | d2B G2D | GAB D2D | E3 G3 :|

This is rather more than a quirk, I’m sure you’ll agree!

Merrily Kiss the Quaker’s Wife

First bar fourth line in the tune above should read “e2c ABc” - sorry.

Yes, and with English and Welsh versions. I was mostly responding to the Irish version already on site here, as linked to above, the 3-parter, and the one I’ve mostly played myself… I’ll have to dig out some of those other examples now, unless someone else beats me to it…

I’ve been trying to identify the ceili band and to put not only a name on this transcription but a date. I’d been waiting, and I’d hesitated because of the ‘relationship’, but the Irish version, I’m sure you’ll agree, and this, are quite different. That said, the version given here is from an old recording of an Irish ceili band, one from Ireland rather than anywhere else… However, they may be from the North? That’s what I’d hoped to confirm before adding this, and I’m still hoping to find out more.

If it wasn’t obvious, I had started a little sparse compared to my usual rattlin’ on…

~ & as always, thanks nigel, always valued comment…as is hetty’s, but hetty, where’s your transcription? I was hoping…

Wish me luck! 😉

“There are slight differences in my version but not enough to matter.” ~ hetty

Duh! ~ right, me being particularly thick lately, lost sleep. It is particularly evident when I transpose letters… For example ~ lteters / ltteers / leetstr ~ etc… I’m now remembering something I was always good at, and can’t remember (also a problem with memory on demand) what it was called ~ where people can read completely mixed up letters. A story is written and all the letters are mixed. I also seem to be able to read the writing of the severly dyslexic, even when they can’t read their own.

That was a long about way to say zzzzzz!!! Anyway, now, last night I did get some sleep, I understand. Thanks hetty and nigel. I had and have more to add about the tune, but I’m still trying to find out about this orphan recording…

It’s not surprising that an ‘early’ recording by an Irish ceili band would jibe with Scottish and other versions. I’d really love to know what the earliest recording or transcription is for the 3-part tune? ~ the ‘slide’? ~ or title/name? Most of what I’m familiar with is from the last half of the 20th Century…

“The Gates of Derry” is also the name of a dance, which I had also planned to add a description of here, part of the reason for adding this take. It is also my understanding that the now more common title “Merrily Danced” or “Kiss” “The Quaker” / “Quaker’s Wife” was something that came about because of lyrics. It is also my experience that the ‘dance’ is usually named for the tune. So, which is the earliest, tune-wise and title-wise?

Help and ideas ~

Help and ideas ~ Help and ideas ~ Needing more of your experienced and informed input! ~ always appreciated… I had more things to offer there, but they are on hold for the moment while I chase up some other bits…

It’s another along the lines of ‘chicken or egg’…


P.S. ~ I did a lot of searching and didn’t find this take on site, this particular melody. Let me know if it is a duplicate, which is what I thought you’d meant hetty, and I’ll move this to the ‘comments’ and ask Jeremy to delete it…

I hope not ~ I still have the dance “The Gates of Derry” to add here. I’m looking for an earlier, 19th century?, transcription of it I’m sure I have…

Merrily Kiss the Quaker’s Wife

Some snippets:

* It can be found in Bremner’s First Collection (c.1751) as “Merrily Danced the Quaker’s Wife”.

* Burns got the tune from a oboe player and composer from Edinburgh called Thomas Frazer. He wrote, “Mr Frazer plays it slow, and with an expression that quite charms me - I got such an enthusiast in it, that I made a song for it.” Frazer called it “The Quaker’s Wife”.

* Burns wrote the following lyrics to the slow version of the tune:

Blythe hae I been on yon hill As the lambs before me,
Careless ilka thought, and free As the breeze flew o’er me;
Now nae langer sport and play, Mirth or song can please me;
Lesley is sae fair and coy, Care and anguish seize me.

Heavy, heavy is the task, Hopeless love declaring:
Trembling, I dow nought but glow’r, Sighing, dumb, despairing!
If she winna ease the thraws In my bosom swelling;
Underneath the grass-green sod, Soon maun be my dwelling.

The inspiration of the song above was Miss Lesley Baillie.

* Another song which Burns had to this tune, although I can’t remember if he wrote it, was “Nine Inch Will Please a Lady”.

* Burns learned from “a Highland gentleman” that it originated as a Gaelic air called “Leiger m’ choss,” and he wrote, “I remember a grand Aunt of mine used to sing [this] by the name “Liggeram cosh”. A fragment of an Anglicised version survived:

Leiger m’ choss, my bonnie wee lass,
Leiger m’ choss, my dearie;
A’ the lee-lang winter night,
Leiger m’ choss, my dearie.

* In his novel ‘The Heart of Midlothian’ Sir Walter Scott features the fiddler Wandering Willie play “Merrily Dance the Quaker’s Wife” to a group of Quakers.

“The Gates of Derry” ~ a difference in dance/title associations

I did some fieldwork back in the 20th Century that included interviewing some of the folks involved in codifying the ‘official ceili dances’ for An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha, the Irish Dance Commission, which became their core publication “Ár Rinncidhe Foirne: Thirty Popular Figure Dances”. The drive and imperative was to remove any possible association to ‘foreign influence’, which of course included the next island over, comprising England and ‘others’… This is a case where the name for the dance could have been imposed on the tune rather than the other way around, or jointly. That history does not go back as far as your listed sources Nigel, the big drive being the last decade of the 1800s forward…

One earlier publication I’ve had access to was just a load of figure dances without names, basically typed by hands ~ for example “6-Hands” (3 couples), etc… Unfortunately a ‘new’ hard drive meltdown, shortly after transferring everything to it, meant I lost all my graphic files for old dance and music tomes. Yes, sad I know, nerd you might accuse me of, I did shed some tears, but mostly I went into a sulk, for a little spell only. I miss my virtual library but am slowly trying to rebuild it. That is one of the blessings of digitization and the Internet, that some of these things are still available online… But, with the loss of graphics I also lost all my cataloguing and audio files too… I have some hard copies, but only a couple on hand, and one I’m sure has this set of figures but hasn’t yet been found…

Bitch and moan, bitch and moan… Alright, I’ll stop… 🙁

Thanks Nigel ~ brilliant!!!

Let me know if it is a duplicate,

Do not stress ‘c’ I did not mean it was a duplicate at all and here is my transcription straight from the invaluable “Fiddler’s Tunebook” EFDSS, Peter Kennedy.

T: Quaker’s Wife
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
R: Jig
K: D
A ||: def A2f | g2f e2A | def AFA | B3 d2A | def Adf | agf e2A | def AFA | B3 d2A :||
|: d2f a2f | b2g a2f | def agf | f3 a2a | b2g efg | a2f d2A | def AFA | B3 d2 :||

Posted by .

Yes hetty, as I had another shot of that Brazilian rum I realized… Funny that, I was messing with Peter’s take on it before I added this transcription, to see how it compared. It is good to have it here. It is a shame that it seems his collection is being phased out. I’ve known it since it first came out in the A5 format, and have enjoyed it as it grew to A4 and in quantity… I was trying hard to get him to consider doing a redo of it, but with his notes. A fool’s dream? 😏

“Geataí Dhoire” / “The Gates of Derry” ~ the dance

Music: Single Jigs
Examples: “The Quaker’s Wife” (“The Gates of Derry”), “Off She Goes”

Basic Steps:
Promenade, as for a jig = skip,1-,2,3- (skip, slow, quick, slow)
Sidestep = 7-step, with or without two threes = “slip sides”, where couples exchange places with a sidestep

Formation: Said to be for any number of couples but not exactly amenable to that in the form given, consequently always danced as a four couple set, longways improper, two lines of dancers facing each other, partners opposite ~

1 - 2 - 3 - 4
W- M- W- M ~ second line
M^W^M^W ~ first line
1 - 2 - 3 - 4

OPENING & CLOSING (Finish) = 16 bars

1 - 4 ~ Lines-of-4 Advance towards each other, and Retire
5 - 8 ~ Advance again, the first line raises hands to form arches, the other drops holds and dances under, passing R-shoulders with partner, ALL half turn to face partners again and take hands in your lines having exchanged sides

1 - 8 Repeat all that with the other line raising the arches this time, returning back to places


“The Gates” (‘telescope’)
1 - 2 ~ Odd couples, from the top, 1 & 3, take hands crossed, rights over lefts, and side-step down the center of the set between / the even couples, 2 & 4, sidestep up the outside

3 - 4 ~ dancing 2-3s in place, couples 1 & 3 drop L-hands and the woman turns (CW ~ I would say actually ACW rather than CW) under R-hands / even couples dance 2-3s in place

5 - 8 ~ Repeat ~ ALL back to places ~ ‘actives’ up the centre (could turn under L’s CW) / ‘inactives’ down the outside

“Circle” (“Rings”/“Hands-4”) = 8 bars
1 - 4 ~ Couples 1 & 2, 3 & 4 take hands forming two circles of 4 (hands-4) ~ ALL sidestep to the R & 2-3s
5 - 8 ~ ALL sidestep back to the L & 2-3s

“The Gates”
1 - 8 ~ Repeat: “The Gates”, couples 1 & 3 down the outside, couples 2 & 4 up the centre

1 - 8 ~ Repeat: circles (rings/hands-4), first to the L then back to the R

“The Telescope” = 16 bars
(The sidestep, except as given, without 2-3s…)

Couples 1 & 3 take uncrossed hands and sidestep down the centre / couples 2 & 4 sidestep up the outside

2 1 4 3
2 1 4 3

Couples 1 & 4 exchange places ~ couple 1 continue down the centre / 4 up, exchanging places / 2 & 3 dance 2-3s in place

2 4 1 3
2 4 1 3

Couples 2 & 1 down the centre / 4 & 3 up the outside

4 2 3 1
4 2 3 1

Couples 2 & 3 exchange places ~ couple 2 continue down the centre / 3 up, exchanging places / 4 & 1 dance 2-3s in place

4 3 2 1
4 3 2 1

Couples 4 & 2 down the center / 3 & 1 up the outside

3 4 1 2
3 4 1 2

Couples 4 & 1 exchange places ~ couple 4 continue down the centre / 1 up, exchanging places / 3 & 2 dance 2-3s in place

3 1 4 2
3 1 4 2

Couples 3 & 4 down the center / 1 & 2 up the outside

1 3 2 4
1 3 2 4

Couples 3 & 2 exchange places ~ couple 3 continue down the centre / 2 up, exchanging places / 3 & 2 dance 2-3s in place ~ ALL returning to places

1 2 3 4
1 2 3 4

“Star” (“Wheel”)
1 - 4 ~ even couples with odd couples put R-hands in to wheel/star around CW
5 - 8 ~ L-hands in and around ACW back to places

“Swing Around” (“House Around”)
1 - 8 ~ Couples, 1 with 2 & 3 with 4, swing/house around each other finishing having exchanged places

2 1 4 3
2 1 4 3

REPEAT: The dance is repeated minus the OPENING ~ the Wheels and Swing around are performed only by couples 1 & 4 without couples 2 & 3 dancing

2 4 1 3
2 4 1 3

REPEAT: ~ ALL couples, the whole dance including repeating the OPENING this time

4 2 3 1
4 2 3 1

CLOSING, as for the OPENING *

* ‘By the book’ the dance finishes here, however, the dance could be continued as above until all have returned back to original places, then dancing the CLOSING figure…

I haven’t yet chased up my earlier descriptions of this dance. Some of my own work isn’t here where I can get at it, and a huge store of graphics of old dance and music tomes went la-la when a ‘new’ hard drive decided to have a fit and meltdown… I’m curious find out if there actually is a version for ‘as-many-as-will’, either as a longways dance or as a Sicilian Circle (double circle) all around the hall… Quite a bit of the ‘official’ 30 ceili dances were rip-offs of earlier country dances, including figures from the quadrilles and cotillons, and some were a bit Frankenstein’s monsterish, some pure figments of whim, like the dreaded “Bonfire Dance”…a personal opinion based on experience and known facts…

“Ár Rinncidhe Foirne: Thirty Popular Figure Dances” (the ‘official’ manual of limitations)
An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha, 1939

One volume edition (originally three seperate volumes)
Pages 57 & 58: Gaetaí Dhoire - The Gates of Derry

“This dance, in Single Jig Time, can be performed by any even number of couples, partners facing each other, but is best suited to four couples.”

Page 2 ~ IRISH DANCE MUSIC ~ “The ideal dance player is one who understands the dancing, who can enter into the spirit of the dances, and who can communicate that spirit to those on the floor.”

Formation: (correction for spacing)

1 - 2 - 3 - 4
W-M-W-M ~ second line
M^W^M^W ~ first line
1 - 2 - 3 - 4

The North and South divide

I believe, as I’ve experienced it anyway, by ear and otherwise, that this is more the way it was (and still is?) played in the North of Ireland, Ulster & Donegal, while the 3-part slide is the more common take to the South… I’m hoping to dig out some other recordings of this to transcribe for comparison…

Great Tune

For my ears The Gates of Derry is a better tune than whats posted here as The Quakers Wife. I like the 6/8 versions and the last bars as “c” posted as— E3 G2 :| Brings about a nice “dark” feeling on the E3 and back to major on the G2. Very simple yet effective use of two notes… which I find turns up in a lot of old ballad melodys where lingering on the “dark” note before going to the “major” note is used. Ive honestly never like the Quakers Wife tune, but now that I get a different take on it, I see/hear it ina different way.

Ouch! I went all teary eyed… It has been years since I’ve seen the Gates. Thanks for the picture Sean ~ goose bumps and watery eyes ~ appreciated…

I’m still chasing up other transcriptions. I was sure I had one by Hugh Savage, County Armagh, someplace around here…

New Favorite

This is my new favorite tune… nice on the fiddle in G. Thanks for posting it. Reminds me of :

Has anyone mentioned the Chieftains version of “Merrily Kissed…” in the comments section of the more common setting? The 1st 2 parts are along the same lines. Sorry if someone has mentioned this already. I’m tired and the print is blurry on the screen.

Get some sleep Dow. You’re in as bad a shape as I am, but I’m betting your blur isn’t just about lost sleep… 😎

I’m really worried, listening to the Chieftains now are we? Go on, you know you want to transcribe it…

M a y b e - I - s h o u l d - d o u b l e - s p a c e - t h i n g s - f o r - y o u ?

Re: The Gates Of Derry

Thanks for the setting I know, Nigel G, and for all the information.

X:6 “Old Derry March”

“Allan’s Irish Fiddler” - page 30, tune #116
“A collection of popular Irish Dance Music -” collected and arranged by Hugh McDermott
Mozart Allan, Glasgow - 1930?