Píobaire, An, Volume 4, Issue 41, Page 19

Píobaire, An, Volume 4, Issue 41, Page 19
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periodical Publisher
Na Píobairí Uilleann
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Chairman, NPU
periodical Title
Píobaire, An
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19And that’s it, as far as sources for the air go,five performances from just two fiddle play-ers. It is a Sliabh Luachra air, and seems tohave shown up nowhere else in the country. Itdoes not appear in any of the classic collec-tions, and has only once before been pub-lished, in Tomás Ó Canainn’s TraditionalSlow Airs of Ireland (Ossian Publications1995), where it is shown as being in 4/4 time.I feel that this doesn’t quite fit the air, hencethe new transcription here.I am not aware of any associated text for theair. Its name and its Munster provenancewould support the theory that the O’Donnellbeing lamented is Red Hugh O’Donnell, thechief ally of Hugh O’Neill in the nine-yearswar against the armies of Elizabeth 1, whicheffectively ended with the the defeat of acombined Irish/Spanish force at Kinsale, co.Cork in 1601. O’Neill submitted to Eliza-beth’s deputy Lord Mountjoy at Mellifont in1603 in return for a pardon. He was obliged toembrace English forms and acknowledge thathe held the title of Earl of Tyrone atElizabeth’s pleasure. O’Donnell had died inSpain a year after Kinsale while trying toraise support to continue the campaign, andwas succeeded as chieftain by his brotherRory, who submitted along with O’Neill andwas made Earl of Tyrconnell.After several years further political manoeu-vering, during which O’Neill and O’Donnellincreasingly found it impossible to live underthe conditions imposed on them, they leftIreland in 1607, intending to travel to Spain toraise further support for their cause. Theywere accompanied by several leading mem-bers of the native aristocracy. Their plans didn’t work out and they neverreturned to Ireland. A curious consequence isthat the heads of several of the great Gaelicfamilies now reside in Spain and Portugal,where their families have lived since thosetimes.This event, which came to be known as “TheFlight of the Earls”, marked the collapse ofthe Gaelic order. As this year is the 400thanniversary of the event it seems a suitableoccasion to print the tune.Apart from O’Keeffe and Murphy I have onlyheard it played by two other musicians, box-player Breanndán Ó Beaglaoich and piperBill Ochs, who inspired me to try it myself. Ithas been recorded by Brendan Mulvihill onthe box and by Eileen Ivers on the fiddle.It should, by this stage, go without saying thatthe transcription above should be used withextreme caution. It is impossible to accurate-ly portray the style of an air without includingso much detail that the transcription becomesunintelligible. Although given in 3/4 rhythm,it should not be played as a waltz. Listen toone or other of the five recordings referred toabove, and use the transcription only toresolve any misunderstandings.Terry MoylanHugh O’Neill
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Píobaire, An, Volume 4, Issue 41

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