The Curly Headed Ploughboy reel

Also known as The Flaxen-Headed Ploughboy, The Ploughboy.

There are 8 recordings of this tune.

The Curly Headed Ploughboy has been added to 2 tune sets.

The Curly Headed Ploughboy has been added to 25 tunebooks.

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Two settings

X: 1
T: The Curly Headed Ploughboy
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
ag|:f2a2 d2f2|B4 A2d2|cdef g2f2|f4 e2ag|
f2a2 defd|B4 A2d2|cdef g2c2|1 d4 d2ag:|2 d4 d2a2||
|g2gg gefg|a2aa a2a2|g2gg gefg|a2aa a2a2|
g2gg gefg|a2e2 f2d2|c2e2 d2B2|A4 A2a=g||
|f2a2 defd|B4 A2d2|cdef g2f2|f4 e2ag|
f2a2 d2f2|B4 A2d2|cdef g2c2|d4 d2ag||
# Added by jakep .
X: 2
T: The Curly Headed Ploughboy
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:dc|B2 d2 G2 B2|E4 D2 G2|FGAB c2 B2|B4 A2 dc|
B2 d2 G2 B2|E4 D2 G2|FGAB c2 F2|G6:|
|:d2|c2 c2 cABc|d2 d2 d4|c2 c2 cABc|d6 d2|
c2 c2 cABc|d2 A2 B2 G2|F2 A2 GF E2|D6:|

Sixteen comments

Harveston Castle

This was composed by Jimmy Shand Snr. I learnt it from the playing of Jimmy Shand Jnr.

Posted by .

So why post it here?

Posted by .


Posted by .

Jake - I think you are mistaken about the composer. I know this as a traditional English tune, The Curly Headed Ploughboy
It may be played in Scotland as well, and known by the name you have given, but I think it was around a long time before Jimmy Shand Sr..

I think what Kenny is saying is, this site is intended to be for *Irish Traditional* music. If this tune were, as you say, composed by Jimmy Shand Sr., then it would be neither Irish nor Traditional.

Well, I checked for composer information on and it stated Jimmy Shand as the composer. On the CD I learnt it from, it is labelled as ‘Harveston Castle’, but the tune after it on the CD is labelled as ‘The Ploughboy’. So perhaps there is a mix-up on the CD.

Also, if site is intended only for Irish traditional music, why is there a separate tune category for strathspeys?

And there are hundreds of other tunes on the website that are neither Irish or Traditional, and nobody has complained about them.

Posted by .

I have looked at other sources and found out that this is ‘The Curly Headed Ploughboy’. The listing on the CD is wrong.

Posted by .

Sorry everybody. I am so embarrassed.

Posted by .

"Also, if site is intended only for Irish traditional music, why is there a separate tune category for strathspeys?"

Well, the lines are fuzzy. Strathpeys are popular in parts of Donegal and The North. Anyway, Jake, no need to be embarrassed (Is there an ‘embarrassed’ emoticon? :-ß ) - you wouldn’t be the first to post a tune with little or no relevance to Irish music. It’s just that some people are concerned that this site is being swamped by non-Irish tunes. If not for these people, perhaps it would be.

The Curly-Headed Ploughboy

Way back in the 1950s, the BBC used traditional tunes to introduce programmes, to avoid having to pay royalties to composers. This particular tune was used to introduce an early morning market report for farmers - on the equivalent of today’ s Radio 4 (then called the "Home Service"). This being the case, it wouldn’t have been written by Jimmy Shand. It’s also known as the Flaxen-Headed Ploughboy, so I’ve added this name as an alternative. I believe it to be an Engish tune, and if this is the case, no doubt someone will complain that it shouldn’t be here at all. But where’ s the harm, I say. If you don’t like it (for whatever reason) no-one’s forcing you to play it!

If no English tunes are allowed either, then what about the category for 3/2s?

Posted by .

"If no English tunes are allowed either, then what about the category for 3/2s?"

That’s a fair point, Jake. That category wasn’t there from the start - it was added later at the request of a few members. Perhaps they caught Jeremy in a moment of weakness - or perhaps he just thought that these tunes were too good not to be submitted, even if they were not Irish. 🙂

But the fact remains, this site is about Irish music and things relating to it. You can post non-Irish tunes if you like, but don’t be surprised if they’re not well-received by some members. I am just explaining Kenny’s reaction, not expressing my own view.

Strathspeys and other ‘foriegn’ tunes

Strathspeys were popular dances in 19th centuary Ireland. See the popularity of the Caledonian. And take the trouble to read the preface to the Roche collection regarding the damage done to the music by idealistic ‘Nationalists’

The Ploughboy

Benjamin Britten composed his very famous arrangment of this song in 1945. Discussions on Mudcat list it as a song as early as 1787, though not necessarily with the tune we are now familiar with.

unhealthy nationalism

the fact is the Irish, Scots and English have borrowing tunes off each other for centuries [not to mention
the Americans and Quebecois] so that its often difficult to put an exact origin to a tune. is ’ Haste to the Wedding’ English or Irish? is ‘St Annes ’ Irish or French Canadian? Should the ‘High Level Hornpipe’
be discounted because it was written by a Scotsman in Newcastle on Tyne? Or ‘Calliope House’ because it was
written by an Englishman [well Geordie anyway] living in Edinburgh? And what about all the Highlands and Strathspeys played by Altan? Someone, sorry cant remember who, wrote that all the nations of the North
Atlantic shared a common heritage of folk music that was individual yet interconnected. Absolutely.

Re: The Curly Headed Ploughboy

Great version of this tune on The Yetties’ album, The Fiddler Knows, with a classical feel to it, titled The Plough Boy.