Mild Mabel Kelly waltz

By Turlough O’Carolan

Also known as Mabel Kelly.

There are 16 recordings of this tune.
This tune has been recorded together with

Mild Mabel Kelly has been added to 2 tune sets.

Mild Mabel Kelly has been added to 30 tunebooks.

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Sixteen comments

Mild Mabel Kelly- O’Carolan

I’m hoping this isn’t a duplicate, as I wasn’t able to find it here.

I’m familiar with this tune from a Dorian Recordings release of an album called ‘The Reel of Tulloch’, performed by Chatham Baroque with Chris Norman (see Recordings). It’s the first tune of a set called ‘The Kelly Set’ arr. by Chris Norman, followed by ‘Daniel Kelly’, ‘Castle Kelly’ and ‘Captain Kelly’. The first two are credited to Turlough O’Carolan. The third, already on this site, can be found here-

And appears to be one of the first few submittals to this site. I’ll submit the second and forth, ‘Daniel’ and ‘Captain Kelly’, respectively, assuming they aren’t already here.

Any historical reference to ‘Mild Mabel Kelly’ would be welcome.



Apparently a planxty, here are the words written to go with the melody:


(From the Irish of O’Carolan)

Whoever the youth who by Heaven’s decree
Has his happy right hand ’neath that bright head of thine,
T ’ is certain that he
From all sorrow is free,
Till the day of his death, if a life so divine
Should not raise him in bliss above mortal degree.
Mild Mabel Ni Kelly, bright coolun of curls!
All stately and pure as the swan on the lake.
Her mouth of white teeth is a palace of pearls,
And the youth of the land are love-sick for her sake.

No strain of the sweetest e’er heard in the land
That she knows not to sing, in a voice so enchanting,
That the cranes on the sand
Fall asleep where they stand.
Oh, for her blooms the rose, and the lily ne’er waiting
To shed its mild luster on bosom or hand.
The dewy blue blossom that hangs on the spray
More blue than her eyes human eye never saw.
Deceit never lurked in its beautiful ray.
Dear lady, I drink to you, slainte go bragh! (1)

To gaze on her beauty the young hunter lies
’Mong the branches that shadow her path in the grove.
But alas, if her eyes
The rash gazer surprise,
All eyesight departs from the victim of love,
And the blind youth steals home with his heart full of sighs.
O, pride of the Gael of the lily-white palm!
O coolun of curls to the grass at your feet!
At the goal of delight and of honor I am
To boast such a theme for a song so unmeet.

(1) Slainte go bragh, your health for ever!

“Irish Literature, Vol. III”; McCarthy, Justin. John D. Morris & Co., Philadelphia: 1904.

Mabel Kelly

A beautiful O’Carolan air, this version in E dorian is whistle and pipe friendly.

Mild Mabel Kelly

With the low note in the second part raised to E, rather than low B - this version in B minor is perhaps more consistent with whistle/flute/pipes, especially when accompanied by fiddle or harp.

Nice on Mr. K. Is this a transcription of how you play it or one following the recording? Also consider, if you’ve your own take on “Castle Kelly”, or one with some differences transcribed from the playing on the recording, please, don’t hesitate to contribute ABCs for that too. On key signatures Jack has it, like ‘Dorian’ Recordings, this too is Dorian, just check the concluding notes, the tonic… ~ c ~ a friend in the digital miasma 😉

If I can bare to bring the whole of the tune to mind, as opposed to digging up the sheet, it’s roughly as I play it. I’m sure JACKB is quite a bit more accomplished, though I noticed the beginning of the 2nd part up at the B note and thought that I had heard a better approach to rearranging that part somewhere - maybe even on something from Dorian Recordings!

As for key - the lead in notes to the final phrase, F>E DF AF, almost force the ending phrase, E2 EF E2, to have a “sustained” harmonic sensibility. Sort of different from mixolydian endings, I would have guessed that because of the overall harmonic structure, this tune is just sort of all turned around and actually is in Bmin, though with a Edor ending. Most dorian tunes actually resolve better than this one, is that is the case, though, in this case, I’m sure that was quite the point of it.

“if”, “if that is the case”.

No real take on ‘Castle Kelly’, though I like what JACKB added-

It’s a little busy at first to try to add those type parts when still learning the tune, I’ll still forget that I know how to do that, but it’s important- theme and variance is part of what it’s about.

It’s in the mood Mr. K, and this, in minor, would need a C natural, which would make it E minor. It lakes that extra bit of blue that makes for a minor tune, in any of its guises, including harmonic and melodic minor. However, it will still play on any instrument with the required accidentals. The mood in my ears, skin and bones is dorian… I look forward to your promised transcriptions for the other two. I suspect, no, I know I have old transcriptions somewhere around here and if they are significantly different, for comparison’s sake, I’ll follow your lead, if not necessarily in agreement with your choice of key. 😀

* meaning your later transcription - X: 3, a C natural there to make it E minor…

X: 1 “Mable Kelly” ~ ‘poco andante’

Your transcription is note-for-note the same as that in Donal O’Sullivan’s excellent work: “Carolan: The Life and Music of an Irish Harper” this transcription is in volume 1 of 2, page 203, tune #73: “Mabel Kelly”, with exception that he notates for the concluding fermatas:
~ | D2 DE !fermata!D || & ~ | D2 DE !fermata!D |] - and, as shown here, neither part repeats.
Also, for bar 12 of the A-part (1st part) he gives one trill: ~ | Te3 d c2 | ~

I have vague recollection that there’s another way in ABCs to notate for fermata, but !fermata! works here.

‘H’ = Fermata ~ ~ | D2 DE HD || & ~ | D2 DE HD |] ~ at least this time I didn’t have to wait days for that to surface… 😀

Re: Mild Mabel Kelly

could someone tell me what key this is in please the first version says amin but finishes on a d some modal key?

Re: Mild Mabel Kelly

Rob, I think your instinct is right here. See the discussion above: it seems to be one of those tunes that different folks hear differently but essentially it’s in the dorian mode. Designating the key as Amin is just a way of saying “no sharps or flats”. It’s in D dorian.

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Re: Mild Mabel Kelly

right that makes sense the third version says b min
or but finishes on e