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'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)

AmyLove 15 Feb 17 - 10:03 PM
AmyLove 15 Feb 17 - 09:45 PM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 15 Feb 17 - 02:14 PM
GUEST,keberoxu 14 Feb 17 - 05:06 PM
keberoxu 14 Feb 17 - 11:00 AM
Felipa 13 Feb 17 - 07:45 PM
AmyLove 13 Feb 17 - 01:05 PM
GUEST,Felipa 13 Feb 17 - 11:28 AM
Felipa 13 Feb 17 - 07:08 AM
AmyLove 13 Feb 17 - 12:45 AM
keberoxu 04 Aug 16 - 03:43 PM
michaelr 18 Jul 16 - 10:52 PM
keberoxu 18 Jul 16 - 07:15 PM
leeneia 11 Jun 16 - 12:06 PM
keberoxu 10 Jun 16 - 02:05 PM
GUEST,keberoxu 05 Jun 16 - 07:04 PM
keberoxu 01 Jun 16 - 02:51 PM
michaelr 26 May 16 - 08:04 PM
keberoxu 26 May 16 - 06:10 PM
keberoxu 23 May 16 - 02:32 PM
GUEST 19 May 16 - 02:55 AM
keberoxu 18 May 16 - 06:54 PM
keberoxu 12 May 16 - 08:18 PM
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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: AmyLove
Date: 15 Feb 17 - 10:03 PM

I contacted Gael Linn, requesting the lyrics to the songs on Amhráin Ghrá, and Máire Harris kindly provided the ones she could find. She said it was fine to share them here on mudcat. keberoxu and others here have put so much time and effort into finding the majority of the lyrics on this album, but I figure I'll post all the lyrics Máire gave me. Included is the first verse to Mo Mhuirnín Bhán, which I couldn't find anywhere online.


An Draighneán Donn

Síleann céad fear gur leo féin mé nuair a ólaim leann,
'S téann dhá dtrian síos dhíom nuair a smaoiním ar do chomhrá liom
Sneachta séidte is é dhá shíorchur ar Shliabh Uí Fhloinn,
'S go bhfuil mo ghrá-sa mar bhláth na n-airní ar an draighneán donn.

Spailpín a Rún

A spailpín a Rún Dé 'bheathas sa chugainn
Nó car bhainis an fór chomh luath seo
'S dá mbeadh fhios agamsa fhéim cá rabhais fea an lae
Ba ghairid liom do bhéal a phógadh
Ós a chailleach bhuí chrón níor mhiste liom do phóg
Is ní ghlaofainn céad bó mar spré leat
Is go mb'fhearr liomsa póg chailín deas óg
Ná a bhfuil agat ar bhord an tsléibh' amuigh

Ó is a spailpín 'sa stór fan socair go fóill
Nó go bhfaighfead sa mo chaidhp 's mo chlóca
Do bhróga breá leathair agus búclaí 'en fhaisean
Is go deimhin duit go mbuailfead an ród leat
Ó, do raghain leat go Caiseal is go Cluain Gaela Meala
Is go Carraig na Siúire thar m'eolas
Is go brách an fhaid a mhairfead ní thriallfad abhaile
Is is cuma cé bhainfidh an eorna.

Fionnuala Mac Lochlainn
Traic 5

Éamonn an Chnoic

Cé hé sin amuigh a bhfuil faobhar ar a ghuth
Ag réabadh mo dhorais dhúnta?
Mise Éamonn an chnoic atá báite fuar fliuch
Ó shíorshiúl sléibhte is gleannta.
A lao ghil is a chuid céard a dhéanfainnse dhuit
Mura gcuirfinn ort binn de mo ghúna?
'S go bhfuil púdar go tiubh á shíorshéideadh leat
Is go mbeimis araon múchta.

Is fada mise amuigh faoi shneachta is faoi shioc
Is gan dánacht agam ar aon neach.
Mo sheisreach gan scor, mo bhranar gan cur
Agus gan iad agam ar aon chor.
Níl carad agam is danaid liom san
Do ghlacfadh mé moch nó déanach
Is go gcaithfidh mé dul thar farraige soir
Ós ann nach bhfuil aon de mo ghaolta.

Fionnuala Mac Lochlainn
Traic 6

An Samhradh ag Filleadh go hÉireann

Tá an geimhreadh caite is greim an ghairfin mhilltigh mhallaithe réabtha,
An ghrian ag taitneamh i ndiaidh na fearthainne is rian an earraigh mar aon léi,
Na mílte capallag cíoradh garraithe, síol i dtalamh dá thaoscadh,
An abha ag titim an rabharta imithe, is an samhradh ag filleadh go hÉirinn.

Tá taibhse tagtha ar choillte cheana, na crainn ag breacadh go néata,
Ná héin ag labhairt ar ghéaga glasa, le faobhar ag freagairt a chéile;
Mórchuid beach ag cur tuairisc meala, na huain ag preabadh is ag léimnigh,
Greann in ionad na dtonna d'imigh, is an samhradh ag filleadh go hÉirinn.

Is seolta sigarach glór an tsrutha, go gleoite ag fiucadh go glégeal,
Tá maidhin ag casadh gan teimheal de scamll ar mhuintir beannaith Éilge,
Grá lem anam na bánta glasa, mor ghró go dearbh na sléibhte,
Beidh greann anois ins na gleannta binne is an samhradh ag filleadh go hÉirinn.

Marjorie Courtney
Traic 9

Mo Mhuirnín Bhán

Mo Mhuirnín bhán , is dubhach mar atáim
Faoi mbuachaill báire a mheall tú uaim,
Is is tabhartha tláth le buaireamh grá
A chaithim gach lá faoi ghruaim, faoi ghruaim,
A chaithim gach lá faoi ghruaim.

Deirdre Ní Fhloinn
Traic 11

Máire Ní Eidhin

Ar mo dhul chuig an Aifreann le toil na nGrásta,
Bhí an lá ag cur báistí is d'ardaigh gaoth,
Casadh an ainnir liom le thaobh Chill Tártain
Is thit mé láithreach i ngrá le mnaoi.
Do labhair mé léithe go múinte mánla,
̕'S do réir a cáilíocht do fhreagair sí,
᾿Sé dúirt sí: "Rafterí, tá m'intinn sásta
Agus gluais go lá liom go Baile Uí Laí".

Shiúil mé Sasana is an Fhrainc le chéile,
An Spáinn, an Ghréig is ar m'ais arís,
Ó bhruach Loch Gréine go Béal na Céibhe
᾿S ní fhaca mé féirín ar bith mar í.
Dá mbeinnse pósta le bláth na hóige
Trí Loch an Tóraic do leanfainn í,
Cuanta is cóstaí do shiúlfainn ᾿s bóithre
I ndiaidh an tseoidbhean 'tá i mBaile Uí Laí.

᾿Sí Máire Ní Eidhin an stáidbhean bhéasach
Ba dheise méin agus b'áille gnaoi,
Dhá chéad cléireach ᾿s a gcur le chéile
Agus trian a tréithre ní fhéadfadh scríobh;
Bhuail sí Deirdre le breáthacht, ᾿s Véineas
Is dá n-abrainn Helen léir scriosadh an Traí –
Ach scoth ban éireann as ucht an mhéid sin
An pósae gléigeal ᾿tá i mBaile Uí Laí.

Kathleen Watkins
Traic 12

A Ógánaigh an chúil cheangailte

A ógánaigh an chúil cheangailte
Le raibh mé seal in éineacht
Chuaigh tú aréir an bealach seo
Is ní tháinig tú ᾿am féachaint
Shíl mé nach ndéanfaí dochar duit
Dá dtagfá agus mé d'iarraidh
Is gur í do phóigín a thabharfadh sólás
Dá mbeinn i lár an fhiabhrais

Agus shíl mé, a stóirín
Go mba gealach agus grian thú,
Agus shíl mé ina dhiaidh sin
Go mba sneachta ar an tsliabh thú,
Agus shíl mé ina dhiaidh sin
Go mba lóchrann ó Dhia thú,
Nó go mba tú an réalt eolais ag dul romham is ᾿mo dhiaidh thú.

Gheall tú síoda is saitin dom
Callaí agus bróga arda,
Is gheall tú tar á éis sin
Go leanfá tríd an tsnámh mé.
Ní mar sin atá mé
Ach ᾿mo sceadh i mbéal bearna
Gach nín agus gach maidin
Ag féachaint tí mo mhátar.

Gráinne Yeats
Traic 15

Airdí Cuan

Dá mbeinn féin in Airdí Cuan
in aice an tsléibhe úd 'tá i bhfad uaim
b'annamh liom gan dul ar cuairt
go Gleann na gCuach Dé Domhnaigh.

Curfá

Agus och, och Éire 'lig is ó
Éire lonndubh agus ó
᾿S é mo chroí 'tá trom is é brónach.

Is iomaí Nollaig 'bhí mé féin
i mbun abhann Doinne is mé gan chéill
ag iomáin ar an trá bhán
is mo chamán bán i mo lámh liom.

Curfá

Agus och, och Éire 'lig is ó
Éire lonndubh agus ó
᾿S é mo chroí 'tá trom is é brónach.

Nach tuirseach mise anseo liom féin
nach n-airím guth coiligh, lon dubh nó traon,
gealbhan, smaolach, naoscach féin,
is chan aithním féin an Domhnach.

Curfá

Agus och, och Éire 'lig is ó
Éire lonndubh agus ó
᾿S é mo chroí 'tá trom is é brónach.

Mary O'Hara
Traic 16


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: AmyLove
Date: 15 Feb 17 - 09:45 PM

Felipa,

I will keep that in mind for the future.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 15 Feb 17 - 02:14 PM

Just a small point

the macaronic song "Little Jimmy Murphy,"

This very rare song has a nonsense chorus-line which varies with the source - but it's certainly not a two-language song. There's a thread or two on Mudcaat about it.

Regards


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 14 Feb 17 - 05:06 PM

Thank you Thank you Thank you Felipa!
for the information on Fionnuala Mac Lochlainn. You are correct, that is she singing "O bhean a tí" with guitar accompaniment on the Gael Linn compilation.

She seems to have been particularly associated with the macaronic song "Little Jimmy Murphy," you can find YouTube videos from television broadcasts with her singing the song in the studio.

I would have to hunt again for this info, but I found some online pages that made me sit up and take notice, regarding son Colm O Lochlainn (wrong?).

A sort of Elderhostel program exists in which continental Europeans take summer courses in Ireland, I totally forget who is behind the program.
The summary for one class says that Colm teaches Gaelic to these participants in his courses, by teaching them traditional song lyrics. There are some enthusiastic comments of appreciation by graduates of the course.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: keberoxu
Date: 14 Feb 17 - 11:00 AM

Since Ollaimh is about and posting, wanted to say that I particularly value his post to this thread some time ago. His politicization is his affair, won't comment there. But he is obviously devoted to the harp and has followed the harp's revival, in the past century, with care and attention.


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Subject: reading old script
From: Felipa
Date: 13 Feb 17 - 07:45 PM

Amy, when you see a dot over a letter you should add an h in the transcription. For example
geim - read = geimhreadh (winter),ag taitneam = ag taitneamh (pleasing), i ndiaid = i ndiadh (after)
I haven't looked at the Hardebeck manuscript links though.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: AmyLove
Date: 13 Feb 17 - 01:05 PM

I discovered reading the Irish uncial alphabet is quite easy, so here are the lyrics to tracks nine and ten on Amhráin Ghrá (with the dashes which probably just line the words up with the music, and without the fadas):


An Samhradh Ag Filleadh Go hÉirinn · Marjorie Courtney

Ta an geim - read cait-te is greim an gairb - tin mill - tig mall - uig - te reab - ta,
An grian ag taitneam i ndiaid na fear-tanna is ri - an an ear-raig mar aon lei;
Na mil - te cap-all ag cior - ad gar - rai - ce,
Siol i dta - lam a ta - os - cad,
An aba ag tui-tim an rab - arta 'mig-te, san sam - rad a' fill-ead go hEir - inn.
Ta taid - bse tag-ta ar coill - te cean - a, na crainn ag brea-cad go neat - a,
Na hein ag lab - airt ar gea - ga gla - sa, le fao - bar ag freagairt a ceil - e;
Muar - cuid beac ag cur tuair__ isc meal - a, na huain ag preab-ad 'sag leim - rig,
Greann in ionad na dtonn a d'im - tig, 'san sam - rad ag fill - ead go hEir - inn.
seol - ta su - gar - ac glor an tsro - ta, go gleoi - te ag fiuc - ad go gle - geal,
Ta meidir ag cas - ad gan teimeal de scam-all ar muinn tir beannuig - te Eil - ge.
Grad lem anam na ban - ta gla - sa, mo - grad go de - arb na sleib - te,
Beid greann an - ois ins na gleann - ta binn-e, san sam - rad ag fill-ead go hEir - inn.


Seothó ló' Thoil · Marjorie Courtney

O seo - to-lo 'toil
Seo - to-lo 'to - il
Seo - to - lo__ 'toil a - gus
Na goil go foill.

Geo'ir an cap - all a - gus geo'ir an srian - o__
Geo'ir an fal-aing a - gus geo'ir an diall - ait a -gus

Seo - to lo 'toil seo - to - lo 'to -il
Seo - to lo__ 'toil a - gus na goil go foill.

Seo - to lo 'toil seo - to - lo 'to -il
Seo - to lo__ 'toil a - gus na goil go foill.

Geo'ir gan dear - mad_ tais - ce gac seod_ a__
bi ag do sin - sear_ riog - da__ rom-at a - gus

Seo - to lo__ 'toil seo - to - lo 'to - il__
Seo - to lo__ 'toil a - gus na goil go foill.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: GUEST,Felipa
Date: 13 Feb 17 - 11:28 AM

is "o bhean a' tí ..." sung by Fionnuala Mac Lochlainn on the Amhráin Ghrá album? I like her singing and I like the way she does that song, the phrasing is a bit different from the Clannad version I'd heard previously. Fionnuala and Alf Mac Lochlainn raised their children speaking Irish but in an English speaking community (Dublin; much later they moved to Galway). Alf composed some songs in English and son Colm also writes songs. Daughter Nuala plays harp competently but I have mostly heard her sing unaccompanied (she's good). So it's a musical family but they aren't professional musicians.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: Felipa
Date: 13 Feb 17 - 07:08 AM

Keberoxu, I once interviewed Máire Ní Chathasaigh and her sister Nollaig Casey about women instrumentalists in traditional Irish music. The main things they had to say was that women had long played instruments in the household, but as the music moved in to the pub and the stage it was more of a man's thing. They thought that generally men were more inclined to promote THEMSELVES - "watch/hear me play this music beautifully" - and women more to present the MUSIC - "This is beautiful music, listen to it." They thought that was because girls were taught not to make a show of themselves. They also said that in couples were one person played at session level, it was more the done thing for a man to play while the woman sat listening (or stayed home) than the other way around. Not surprising then that both Máire and Nollaig married professional musicians. To be honest I don't remember which of the sisters said what, but they seemed to concur. We also talked a bit about how certain instruments may be seen as men's instruments and women's instruments (harp and concertina have been seen as either men's and women's instruments in different times and places). I think it was Nollaig who played uilleán pipes in her youth, and there were a few girls in Cork learning pipes together at the time. But Máire never mentioned about the sitting position for playing the harp. That would have been a great line for the interview!!


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: AmyLove
Date: 13 Feb 17 - 12:45 AM

I found the sheet music, which includes the lyrics, for tracks nine and ten on Amhráin Ghrá at ITMA. I don't know how to interpret the lettering, however. If anyone who does feels inclined to do so and post the results here, wonderful.

An samhradh ag filleadh go hÉirinn / Carl G. Hardebec

Seo-tho-ló 'thoil / Carl G. Hardebec


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: keberoxu
Date: 04 Aug 16 - 03:43 PM

There is no mention of Delia Murphy, the "Spinning Wheel" song, nor of "spinning Eileens" as such, in the following article. However, the history summarized in the interview provides the context for the "Harpee" phenomenon.

Cormac de Barra interview


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: michaelr
Date: 18 Jul 16 - 10:52 PM

Good point, keb. Some people avoid listening to songs, or song lyrics in particular, because they're uncomfortable with emotional content and/or with being made to feel emotion. I suspect this is part of the reason why ballad singing remains such a niche.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: keberoxu
Date: 18 Jul 16 - 07:15 PM

This topic has developed the way that it has because it has layers, and more than one sensitive nerve is struck.

Janet Harbison's address to the first Crossroads Conference, abbreviated in previous posts, touches on perhaps two such nerves: male musicians looking down their noses at a genre associated with women; and traditional-music specialists looking askance at a genre associated more with middle-class drawing-room interiors than with public-house group music sessions.

Yet another struck nerve, I can see, is the singing of sentimental song. And how this kind of music divides people as much as it unites them. We have listeners who dodge voices and singing in general: people who honestly only turn on broadcast music stations with instrumental recordings. We have listeners who require, of singers, adherence to an exacting tradition and an unvarnished directness of technique: these listeners will listen gladly to singers of that description, and wince and cringe away from all the rest. We have listeners who favor the speaking and singing voices of men and of deep-voiced females, who stiffen and lash out at the sound of high plaintive voices whether speaking (broadcasters) or singing. So the Irish harp history is loaded in many ways, and I suspect some of this has next to nothing to do with the harp, and everything to do with singing.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: leeneia
Date: 11 Jun 16 - 12:06 PM

The piano is a good instrument for many uses - classical, traditional, ragtime, jazz. Therefore, using a piano hardly means that a singer is using a dubious accompaniment.

I have a friend who is a piano tuner, and she's involved in an exposition of new composers who call for 'prepared piano,' which involves doing things to the piano. I think putting pillows in was one form.

At which we all rolled our eyes...

I once wanted a snare-drum sound, so I placed uncooked spaghetti in a bodhran. Despite columnists, despite tradition, despite politics, musicians are going to make the music they want.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: keberoxu
Date: 10 Jun 16 - 02:05 PM

Gael Linn's "Amhráin Ghrá" compact disc anthology includes all three of the graduates of Sion Hill's Harp Room who, in their teens, were presented singing and playing harps in a Thomas Moore memorial pageant in the early 1950's, and went on to the concert hall or the cabaret: Mary O'Hara, Kathleen Watkins, and Deirdre Flynn. All three are represented on the album by recordings of singing with their harps.   

The convention of the singer accompanied by the harp rears its head in other places as well. I cannot discover if, in her long career on the concert stage and the broadcast studio, mezzo-soprano Máire Ní Scolaí ever sang with a harp. The classical-music tradition of piano accompaniments, however, furnished her with the piano imitating a harp, on some songs. Máire Ní Scolaí's recording of "Caoineadh na dTri Muire," made for HMV records in 1938, is an excellent example of this adaptation. Accompanist Duncan Morrisson accompanies this example of sean-nós with a piano arrangement composed to sound as much as possible like a harp. This puts the music firmly in classical art-song territory, since classical composers for centuries have used keyboard instruments, especially the pianoforte with its dampers, to imitate the harp.

You will not find "Caoineadh na dTri Muire," however, on "Amhráin Ghrá" or any other Gael Linn CD that I know of -- at least, not this arrangement with this singer. I could only find it on the Gael Linn vinyl LP from 1971 named "Máire Ní Scolaí."


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 05 Jun 16 - 07:04 PM

And with Reg Hall's book, one comes full circle in a sense.

This thread made much of "The Spinning Wheel," a popular song made famous by Delia Murphy, whose recording dominated the airwaves for the better part of a generation; it turns out that this song has a composer and lyricist who can be identified, as earlier posts have pointed out. However this song's popularity has nudged it into trad-music territory, or, at least, in that grey area where the two territories overlap.

Delia Murphy is one of the Irish performers given attention, in loving detail, in Reg Hall's book, which means that "The Spinning Wheel" is mentioned as well.

Hall's focus is largely, though not exclusively, on sessions, however; and it covers a fixed period of time. It is for this reason that the book says so little about the Irish harp. You have to look closely for the paragraph in which Hall considers the harp. And his statements cannot be faulted for their veracity. The harp was in a peculiar state of transition during the time covered by the book, because of the conflicting, complex factors covered over the course of the posts on this very thread.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: keberoxu
Date: 01 Jun 16 - 02:51 PM

The post for 10 May 2016 on this thread, singles out the sean-nós song "Eibhlí a Rúin" which was re-issued on the Gael Linn compact disc anthology, "Amrháin Ghrá," in 2011.

The recording of this song started out in the world as a 78 RPM vinyl single issued by HMV. Máire Ní Scolaí is the singer, Duncan Morrison the pianist.

Thanks to Reg Hall's encyclopedic book about Irish musicians in London especially in the 1900's, I have an exact date for the recording.

"Eibhlín a Rúin" was recorded in London for HMV on 20 August 1938, when Ní Scolaí would have been twenty-nine years of age.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: michaelr
Date: 26 May 16 - 08:04 PM

Are these adjudicators with Comhaltas? What amazing Victorian nonsense, to give a brilliant musician shit for not playing "sidesaddle".


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: keberoxu
Date: 26 May 16 - 06:10 PM

One of the more memorable "An Cruit" moments, in the television series promoted in earlier posts on this thread, was an interview with Máire Ní Chatasaigh. She pointed out the little question of body posture with the Irish harp. The stone-castle-banquet/cabaret singing harpists, whose accompaniments were simple and minimal, sat with both knees together and on one side of the harp: very demure and proper looking.

Along comes Ní Chatasaigh, resolved to participate in session music and dance tunes, which demand much advanced technique with regard to the Irish harp. To place the arms and hands at best advantage for access to the harpstrings, Ní Chatasaigh hugs the harp with one bent knee to either side of the harp. She declares that it is just too difficult to do what you want to do with the harp and be, at the same time, crouching with both knees together on one side.

She caught holy you-know-where from the judges and adjudicators for looking so unladylike, "astride a harp." As though that were going to stop her.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: keberoxu
Date: 23 May 16 - 02:32 PM

Helen's post of March 9 remarked on The Irish Harp Book, a tutor published and written by Sheila Larchet Cuthbert. Still alive, I believe, and of very advanced age; most of Mrs. Cuthbert's contemporaries have now predeceased her. She was one of the group of harpists who established the Cairde na Cruite, or Friends of the Harp; these musicians got tired of waiting for the Comhaltas to regard the Irish harp as something more than a cabaret/banquet, indeed "spinning Eileen," fixture, and their association promoted lessons, tutors, and teaching of the Irish harp.

The Irish Harp Book includes some printed music, some composed for the harp and some arranged for the harp. One of the arrangements is "Máire Ní Eidhín," the Anthony Raftery poem set to a very simple tune (not the sean-nós version). The arranger is Máirín Ní Shé, who taught in the Sion Hill Harp Room of the college run by Dominican nuns in Blackrock. The arrangement is easy on the ears, perhaps more demanding for the harpist's fingers.

One of the original "dear spinning Eileens," Kathleen a/k/a Caitlín Watkins, performs "Máire Ní Eidhín" on Gael Linn's "Amhráin Ghrá" compact-disc anthology. To my ears, though, Watkins does not play the arrangement by Máirín Ní Shé, who was her teacher; in fact Watkins plays something with fewer, slower notes, far simpler than the "Irish Harp Book" arrangement. A far cry, indeed, from the opinionated, adventurous Gráinne Yeats, who undertook to sing AND play the Belfast Harpers' Festival repertoire from 1792, and record same for Gael Linn. But then, Mrs. Yeats was not a "stage Irish"/cabaret/stone-castle artist.

This thread has been fascinating to research: all these prejudices and conflicts converging on one musical instrument, the Irish harp.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: GUEST
Date: 19 May 16 - 02:55 AM

Try this for Mo Mhuirnin Bán

http://old.tg4.ie/en/programmes/archive/brian-o-domhnaill/mo-mhuirnn-ban.html


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: keberoxu
Date: 18 May 16 - 06:54 PM

Elsewhere at the Mudcat Cafe, I have been adding to existing threads, or starting new threads, that are relevant to my remarks about the Gael Linn anthology compact disc, in that they are song-lyric threads.
Let me see if I can run down the "Amhráin Ghrá" list of songs.

1. An Draighnean Donn: had to open a new thread, with the lyrics as sung by Máire Ní Scolaí.
2. Seoithín Seothó has its own existing thread.
3. Eibhlín a Rún -- WHAT A MESS. Nobody before me had submitted the very antiquated Gaelic lyrics of this particular version to Mudcat, so I had to start a new thread. This, even though Mudcat's Digital Tradition has SEVEN separate entries for "Eileen/Aileen Aroon": none of the seven accurately present the original Gaelic. So now there is a new thread. This song has been recorded by Máire Ní Scolaí (two verses) and Mary O'Hara (three verses).

4. Bharr a gCnoc -- gets a mention, but not its own thread.

5. A Spailpin a Rún: opened a new thread.
6. Éamonn a gCnuic: has a thread already.
7. O Bhean a Tí: now has two threads (oops).

The eighth track is not a traditional song, and has no thread. No thread for the ninth or tenth songs I don't think.

11. Mo Mhuirnin Bán -- can't find this lyric anyplace at all at all.
12. Máire Ní Eidhín: existing thread.
13. Sí Bheag, Sí Mór: existing thread.
14. Bhear mí ó: existing thread
15. A ógánaigh : opened a new thread.
16. Ard ti Chuain: existing thread.
17. Róisín Dubh: existing thread.

Sorry I can't, if I could I would, create links/clickies to these other threads.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: keberoxu
Date: 12 May 16 - 08:18 PM

It makes me feel terribly slow-witted to have listened to the Gael-Linn anthology of Gaelic songs recorded by women singers, for over a month, and to have just now noticed a musical detail.

Of the seventeen songs on the compact disc album, the first and the last, while not musically identical, have melodies that are eerily similar.
You would never know this to look at the index of song titles, for the excellent reason that the lyrics, on Song 1 and Song 17, are entirely different.   

Máire Ní Scolaí opens the album with "An Draighnean Donn," a Gael-Linn re-release of a recording made for RTÉ broadcasts.
Mary O'Hara sings "Róisín Dubh", without harp or any other accompaniment, from her live concert recording in Ireland's National Gallery, which was released on Gael Linn in the 1980's.

These two performances make an interesting pair of bookends to the extremely diverse voices, techniques, and repertoire collected on this compact disc (titled Amhráin Ghrá).


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: keberoxu
Date: 10 May 16 - 07:39 PM

Starting on March 26, 2016, several posts of mine introduced a compact disc anthology of songs in Gaelic sung by Irish artists, all of whom happened to be women. I have disclosed much of what is in the sleeve notes -- actually a small booklet -- of the compact disc jewelbox, issued by the Gael Linn label.

There is one of the eight artists one this album about whom Gael Linn left some facts out.
The first three songs on "Amhráin Ghrá" are:
An Draighnean Donn;
Seoithin Seotho (or seo - h - o)
Eibhlin A Ruin
sung by Máire Ní Scolaí, elsewhere spelled Ní Scolaidhe.

Contrary to what is true of the other seven artists, Ní Scolaí did not record those three songs around 1971, when Gael-Linn issued a long-playing album, "Máire Ní Scolaí," nor were these songs recorded in the 1960's when the Gael Linn booklet says (which is true for several of the other artists). In fact, although Gael Linn did indeed release that long-playing vinyl album in Ní Scolaí's lifetime (she died in the 1980's, well into her seventies by then), the fact is that Ní Scolaí recorded these three songs -- and, most probably, all of the twenty-one songs on the Gael Linn vinyl LP -- for companies other than Gael Linn.

The 1971 release on Gael Linn record label was in fact a re-issue, it seems to me, of recordings which Ní Scolaí had made in the 1940's and 1950's, some as 78 RPM vinyl for HMV, and some at RTÉ, presumably on radio rather than television. "Eibhlín a Rún" was definitely recorded for HMV and issued as a 78, although I have yet to discover the year/date of the recording.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: keberoxu
Date: 08 May 16 - 03:39 PM

Just watched episode 1, "An Cruit," from the "Mna an Cheoil" television series (TG4). With headphones on, and English subtitles for the Gaelic comments.

Still no Caroline Townsend -- the show jumps straight to the harp rooms in the convent schools, to which Ms. Townsend did not go; students came to her, it is written, at her home in Dublin.

Mentioned on this thread, and paid brief attention in "An Cruit," are:

Róisín Ní Shé, Bean Uí Thuama, singing and playing the harp, surrounded by her grandchildren, in a clip from the television programme "Dílin O Deamhas."

Máirín Ní Shé, photographed alone and with her sisters at their harps.

Mary O'Hara, in concert.

Gráinne Yeats, in concert.

Aibhlín McCrann.
Janet Harbison.
Máire Ní Chatasaigh.
Cormac de Barra.
Laoise Kelly.
Caitriona Yeats.
The Belfast Harp Orchestra (they have another name today I believe)

And the brass-strung "clarseach" is represented by Siobhá Armstrong, first time I ever heard one: wow. Sounds less like a harpsichord than like a hammered dulcimer.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: keberoxu
Date: 07 May 16 - 03:38 PM

Tidying up here:

Nowhere does Janet Harbison's paper on the Irish harp mention:
"The Spinning Wheel" or Delia Murphy, although Mary O'Hara gets a mention;

"spinning Eileens," although Harbison does disclose the "Bunratty Bunnies" epithet about the stone-castle/cabaret circuit.

Janet Harbison is much in evidence on the Mna an Cheoil opening episode, An Cruit, about women and the Irish harp, on television; you can view it online.

So far, watching the show without headphones -- I'm in a public library -- I am relying on the silent images, the visual naming of each harpist who speaks on camera, and the English subtitles for remarks in Irish gaelic.   The Ní Shé sisters get their credit, as does the Sion Hill convent in Blackrock. There is no mention that I can see, however, of Caroline Townsend/Townshend, and for shame!


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: keberoxu
Date: 05 May 16 - 06:47 PM

As for the title of Janet Harbison's influential 1996 paper, it comes of splitting Irish musicians who play the harp -- specifically the Irish harp -- into three categories. I am going to word this my way instead of quoting Harbison directly.

1. Harpist: literate in the tradition of classical, academic, institutionalized, written/printed music. An example would be the late Sanchia Pielou, Irish by birth, and one of the founders of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Pielou is relevant to this Irish-music thread because, before leaving Ireland for Scotland, she was one of the more advanced harp students of Caroline Townsend in Dublin. Pielou remained anchored with her classical-music credentials: besides the Orchestra, she devoted her teaching career to what used to be called the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, where she was made a Fellow. There Pielou taught both the "clairsach," the Irish harp, and the "cruit," which is the Gaelic word inclusive enough to cover both Celtic harps and the big concert harps.

2. Harper differs from Harpist, according to Janet Harbison, in that Harpers focus on traditional Irish music in session playing, and they apply themselves to the dance music repertoire from which, in another century, they were more often than not excluded. The trailblazers here include Máire Ní Chatasaigh.

3. Finally, the Harpee! Invariably, she sings, she has had voice training, and instrumentally she is more of a three-chord wonder, using the harp to accompany her songs. From the teaching studio of Caroline Townsend (would she be limited to any one of these three categories, or would she be a combination of two or three of them?), the sterling example would be an entire generation of daughters of Seán Ó Séaghdha, most if not all of whom studied with Ms. Townsend in Dublin when this pathfinder of the Irish harp was in her seventies. From youngest to oldest, those Ní Shé sisters are, again:
Nuala, born 1923, possibly still living because I cannot locate anything about her death. Married; seems to have stayed out of music entirely once she had her own family/household.
Nuala's older sisters are all deceased now:
Niamh, performed with her sisters on the cabaret circuit until she married, then gave up music and taught home economics.
Róisín Uí Thuama, the widow of actor Seamus Ó Tuama.
Nessa Doran, who after her marriage gave up the musical performances in public, and devoted herself to Irish Gaelic philology and scholarship;
and the first-born Máirín, herself the teacher of Janet Harbison, of whom Harbison writes that she learned the harp from Caroline Townsend without ever learning to read music herself.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: keberoxu
Date: 05 May 16 - 01:52 PM

Rather than more direct quotes from "Harpists, Harpers or Harpees?", Janet Harbison's paper for the Crossroads Conference twenty years ago (1996), this post will present one of Harbison's arguments in my own words, paraphrasing her statements. I do wish to make clear, though, that the argument is Harbison's and not mine.

Breandán Breathnach is an authority with whom Harbison has a bone to pick, along with the departed Seán Ó Riada and Ciarán Carson. Harbison is indignant with these three writers because their dismissive opinions of the Irish harp were, in Ó Riada's case, broadcast on national radio (subsequently printed and published), and in the other two cases, printed and published in reference books on traditional Irish music.

Harbison accepts Breathnach's carefully researched and documented position that dances, and dance music, largely were brought to Ireland from outside, were patronized by the upper classes first, and worked their way throughout Irish society until, at last, the traditional music learned orally by working-class, labourer musicians included the repertoire of Irish tunes composed for those very same dances. But she responds with heated emotion to Breathnach's dismissal (printed in 1971) of Carolan's harp compositions: Breathnach wrote, "by definition they cannot be regarded as folk music."

Harbison counters (page 99, printed 1999):
"I pose the question: despite the often aristocratic origins of a tradition, does it only qualify as 'folk' when it has filtered through the social classes to the lowest orders? It seems that the spokespeople for Irish music are class-restrictive....Many respected [traditional] musicians have emerged from every social stratum, but fortunately for them, it was not the harp they chose to play. It seems they have become honorary 'folk', a club not evidently open to harpers."

© Crosbhealach an Cheoil/The Crossroads Conference and "the contributors," e.g. Janet Harbison 1999
The Crossroads Conference 1996: Tradition and Change in Irish Traditional Music, edited by Fintan Vallely
Dublin: Whinstone Music, 1999


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: keberoxu
Date: 02 May 16 - 07:09 PM

A further invitation:

The tracks singled out for attention in the previous post do not play on the following link; nevertheless, you can hear bits and snatches from other songs on the same disc, using this player, completely free.

http://www.allcelticmusic.com/music/efb0691e-0f90-11e1-b0f1-12313d01ceaa/Amhrain_Ghra_-_Songs_of_Love.html


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: keberoxu
Date: 02 May 16 - 06:45 PM

Back to the theme of "Kathleen Watkins, Deirdre O'Callaghan, and all the dear spinning Eileens may still be charming the blue-rinse Yanks and mead-swilling Eurotourists in stone castles...." with which the OP opened this thread. And wrapping up my comments on the "Amhráin Ghrá" anthology on compact disc from the Gael Linn recording label (dated 2011, CEFCD 201).

Without further comment, I respectfully suggest you listen, compare, and contrast two tracks from this compilation of seventeen Gaelic songs:

#12, "Máire Ní Eidhin"; Kathleen Watkins, voice and harp

#16, "Ard Tí Chuain"; Mary O'Hara, voice and harp

Opinions/critiques welcomed.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpist
From: keberoxu
Date: 26 Apr 16 - 07:01 PM

Moreover, what is she singing with that downright operatic vibrato, as though she were auditioning for a Wagner Valkyrie?

Why, the Irish Jacobite "De Bharr na gCnoc," or Over the Hills and Far Away, in which the faithful lady pining for her beloved is Éire waiting for Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Well, this is no longer Eileen at the spinning wheel, but it is the Irish cabaret in the hotels back in the day. Wonder if they still carry on in that fashion now....Sheesh, what a commotion.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpist
From: keberoxu
Date: 25 Apr 16 - 06:07 PM

Listening to all the singers on the Gael-Linn compact disc "Amhráin Ghrá" brought me one Susan Boyle moment. To remind you, I recall that moment when Susan Boyle sang "I Dreamed A Dream" to Simon Cowell and the television adjudicators -- was it the English version of The Voice, or some such? She wasn't completely groomed yet, however she had that fully finished singing technique. That was a video that went 'round the world.

Inside the booklet that Gael-Linn supplies with the compact disc, each singer has either a photograph or, in the case of Máire Ní Scolaí, a drawing of her face. Now, Máire Ní Scolaí is represented by three songs, the first two unaccompanied, the third with piano (someone else plays it). A single song follows featuring Eilidh Ní Mharcaigh as the singer, with her sister Úna playing the piano.

There is no photo of Úna; the photo of Eilidh Ní Mharchaigh recalls Susan Boyle in the unpolished phase, complete with caterpillar eyebrows. And then one cues Track Four, and hears her voice: she sounds as though she should be singing "Ah! sweet Mystery of Life, at last I've found you!" from Victor Herbert, with continental-European classical singing technique in full cry. It's a shock!


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: keberoxu
Date: 16 Apr 16 - 02:48 PM

I have almost finished listening on my CD player to the Gael Linn anthology, "Amhráin Ghrá." Have now heard all eight of the women singers. The emphasis is very much on singers and (love) songs. Barely half of the tracks have harp accompaniment.

In fact, there is piano accompaniment on a handful of songs. Two or three songs have guitar accompaniment. And finally there are songs with unaccompanied voice. As a long-time choral singer myself, dear Lord! I would be scared to DEATH to sing unaccompanied in a recording studio. Any artist who does so is braver than I!

Here are the artists on the album who accompany themselves on the harp:

Deirdre Ní Fhlóinn
Kathleen Watkins
Gráinne Yeats
Mary O'Hara

Fionnuala Mac Lochlainn is accompanied, on all three of her songs, by a man playing guitar. Her recordings come from the 1960's. Interesting to listen to this artist. This is a singer who obviously knows the business, knows how to put a lyric across and how to phrase with skill and charm. She could hold an audience anywhere, I think. However her voice is not over-polished, aggressive, or shaped by classical singing technique into an operatic instrument: there are a couple of cabaret singers on this album of whom those features are true, but Ms. Mac Lochlainn is not one of them. Her singing sounds conversational, unforced, natural. With experience I am discovering that to sing that naturally, while not showing off your technical prowess, is an art in itself.

I am delighted with Gráinne Yeats too, even though she is at the other end of the axis from Fionnuala Mac Lochlainn. My background is classical, so I feel right at home with Mrs. Yeats, because this is a masterful demonstration of classical soprano singing: she could teach that kind of singing, and teach it well.

Máire Ní Scolaí is not the same as Gráinne Yeats, yet there are some telling things in common with these two women. Ní Scolaí has got classical vocal technique, and she too is masterful, which is to say, she makes it sound effortless; but in fact it is really hard work to sing as effortless-sounding as she sings! Like listening to the so-called "crooning" of Perry Como, who schooled himself on recordings of Enrico Caruso singing opera: his diction and delivery are crafted to sound casual and relaxed, but his technique of diaphragm-abdominal breathing give him all the support and resonance of the opera singer projecting over the orchestra to the gallery. I guess I can see why some sean-nos devotees cringe at the sound of Ní Scolaí's singing, because it is so very polished; no diamond-in-the-rough spontaneity for this artist.

A fascinating time-capsule of a record album!


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: keberoxu
Date: 15 Apr 16 - 05:27 PM

Another quote from the Crosbhealach an Cheoil conference in 1996.
Copyright, however, dated 1999, and the copyright belongs to:
Crosbhealach an Cheoil, and
Janet Harbison, the author of:

"Harpists, Harpers, or Harpees?"

[quote]
My harp teacher, Máirín Ferriter (née Ní Shé), taught the harp players of Sion Hill convent by ear. She could not read music and those of us, her harp students, who also learned piano, were often called upon to sound the music which she had in books. While she enjoyed to discover this music, she taught us as she herself was taught by Caroline Townsend; and [Mrs. Ferriter's] most famous students rising to fame after the "An Tostal" post-war celebration of Irishness in 1953 were Mary O'Hara, Deirdre O'Callaghan, and Kathleen Watkins. These were still the stars of our harp room in the mid [nineteen-]sixties.
[endquote]

Page 95
Published by the Crossroads Conference; distributed by Ossian Publications, Cork, Ireland


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 15 Apr 16 - 04:52 PM

His series for television is beyond my acquaintance, however "Our Musical Heritage" was in time packaged into the form of a book


Our Musical Heritage was a production for radio. The music of the series was available as a three lp box set.


I believe RTE revisited the programs recently in connection to O'Riada's anniversary. If I am correct they should be available as podcasts from the RTE website.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: keberoxu
Date: 15 Apr 16 - 03:03 PM

The name of Seán O'Riada has surfaced a time or two on this thread. Of course he is like an apostle/evangelist for the cause of Irish traditional music, and near the end of his life he was exploiting mass media, as it was available to him, to preach his gospel.

His series for television is beyond my acquaintance, however "Our Musical Heritage" was in time packaged into the form of a book -- perhaps O'Riada was deceased by then.

O'Riada does not appear to use the term "spinning Eileens." He does, however, take note of that adaptation of the Irish harp to the convents, drawing rooms, and finally the banquet/cabaret circuit. And one name in Irish harp teaching/playing is mentioned. It's hard to pull this up online, but I will quote what I may,

from "Our Musical Heritage", Seá O'Riada.

"At the end of the [19th] century, attempts were made once more, mainly by the infant Gaelic League, to get [the true ancient harping tradition] going again, but by this time the nature of the tradition had been forgotten. It was not until the early [nineteen-]twenties, when a Miss Townsend of Castletownsend in County Cork put her mind to it, that any progress was made. To revive the true harping tradition was impossible: instead, a style of harping was developed which was based mainly on Welsh harping, quite different from the Irish style."


Funduireacht an Riadaigh i gcomhar le Dolmen Press, 1982


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 15 Apr 16 - 09:24 AM

TG4 is starting a series looking at the role of women in Irish Music:

Mna an Cheoil


The first in the series, to be broadcast this weekend (and available usually on the site after airing) deals with the female harpers.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: keberoxu
Date: 14 Apr 16 - 08:48 PM

The following quotes are from a paper which was presented in 1996 at the Crosbhealach an Cheoil/Crossroads Conference.
the copyright is dated 1999, Crosbhealach an Cheoil along with the papers' author:
Dublin-born, Ulster-descended harpist Janet Harbison.

[quote]
The harp is the most ancient, the most famous, the most romanticised, the most political, and the most dismissed of members of the family of Irish music.
[E]very century of harping in Ireland testifies to a phenomenally rich diversity in repertoire, performance, and professional situation, along with an emotionally charge romanticism and political significance, particularly from the time that the Irish harp was established as the national emblem. All these have mesmerised modern commentators who, rather than address the depth and variety within each century of significance individually, consistently generalise in the global negative (except for the glories of the early middle ages).

Perhaps it is that the tradition was too hybridised or compromised to appeal to the lesser educated nobility of the planter English and Scottish patrons of the 17th and 18th century; or was it that their tradition was too romanticised, ethereal, and poetically political when cloaked in the heady sentimentality of Thomas Moore's songs, the Celtic Twilight, and the Gaelic Revival period to the turn of the [19th/20th] century; or perhaps, is it that the tradition of the Irish harp has been too contrived, effeminised and commercialised in its association with the winsome wenches working the "begorrah" cabarets of famous Dublin hotels and the medieval castles of Southwest Ireland?

[As a young student,] I was happy to accompany or arrange for my friends and to indulge in the vast dance music repertoire which all my traditional music friends outside school were playing nightly....before long we became aware of the critics. Our first misdemeanour involved our professional engagements. It seemed that our association with the Irish cabaret scene earned us a sleazy kind of reputation. My first summer job as a self-supporting music student, was as a harp player in Knappogue Castle, the sister castle of Bunratty, in County Clare. The label of "Bunratty Bunnies" was occasionally levelled to my great amusement. But we merrily played our Aoyama Japanese harps, perhaps lying occasionally to maintain the myth....I was, in fact, all the while, a student of piano and classical music at a Dublin university, and my life as a formal art musician with the piano and as a social traditional musician with the Irish harp, were clearly defined and never intermixed.

from: Harpists, Harpers, or Harpees? by Janet Harbison, and under copyright


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: keberoxu
Date: 12 Apr 16 - 01:20 PM

I have before me a copy of Gael-Linn's "Amhráin Ghrá" compact disc album. It is dated 2011. Previous posts (late March) in this thread provide links to online info about this CD.

A nice little CD-sized booklet accompanies the album because the notes are too copious to print on the album sleeve itself. The packaging is definitely, erm, trying to please.

Plainly every track on this album is Gael-Linn label material. There are some archival tracks that were not previously released, but they were definitely in the Gael-Linn archives -- "cartlann Gael Linn 1960." These three "new" tracks are for the singer quoted in a previous post, Marjorie Courtney, another Dublin-born, convent-educated "spinning Eileen." Here are the booklet sentences on Ms. Courtney:

" Marjorie was, for many years, a leading light with the Rathmines and Rathgar Musical Society. She passed away in 2008 and, in her memory, the prestigious Marjorie Courtney Rose-Bowl for Musical Theatre is presented each year."

From another page in the same booklet:
[quote]
The singers featured were not from the native tradition of singing, but each with their distinctive style succeeded in bringing an Irish song repertoire to a wide music audience.
This album is a tribute to a style of singing which has been rather overlooked in recent times. It is hoped that this album will re-awaken an interest in, and an appreciation of, the beauty that lies in this evocative Irish singing tradition.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: keberoxu
Date: 10 Apr 16 - 05:25 PM

Nessa Ní Thuama, the daughter of one of the Ní Shé sisters (Róisín), can be heard singing with her own harp accompaniment on "An Raibh tú ag an gCarraig?" The recording dates back to a live concert in 1969, however it is the concluding track of a compact disc issued only twelve months ago.

Éamonn, Fionán and Cormac de Barra, three of Nessa Ní Thuama's sons, made the compact disc recording: recorded, mastered, produced it, made the artwork for the CD sleeve. Most of the album is trad music, sung or instrumental, with pipes, guitars, bodhrán, whistle, flute, harp, and singing. The song with their mother playing the harp and singing is a complete contrast to the tracks before it. The decision to give the performance pride of place at the end of the album, though, suggests that the De Barra brothers are proud to be descended from one of the Ní Shé sisters and from their tradition.

The album is called "An Caitín Bán."


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: keberoxu
Date: 08 Apr 16 - 01:16 PM

I don't have a date for these newspaper quotes, which are surely decades old, archive material. The paper is the Irish Independent and the journalist is Marie O'Reilly.

[quote]
All five of the Ní Sheaghdha sisters learned to play the harp, including the eldest, Máire Ní Sheaghdha, who is now Mrs. Michael Feirtear. Mrs. Feirtear had Mary O'Hara among her students in her harp classes in the Dominican Convent, Sion Hill. She has also been teaching the nuns in other Dominican colleges so that the harp tradition does not seem likely to die in our generation.

Much of the credit, for the current revival of enthusiasm for the instrument that is almost the symbol of Irish music, must go to the late Miss Caroline Townshend, a Cork woman living in Dublin. She herself studied the piano under a pupil of Wagner. She was already well into her seventies when the Ní Sheaghdha sisters joined her classes. Lelia and Moira Sheridan, both concert harpists and teachers, now married and retired, were among her pupils. So was Máire Ní Cáthain who taught Maureen Hurley. Most of the girl harpists who have been appearing on concert platforms at home and abroad, and on radio and television programmes, have been taught by Caroline Townshend or by her pupils.
[endquote]


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: keberoxu
Date: 02 Apr 16 - 03:06 PM

One of the March 7 posts to this thread, was a quote from the memoirs of Mary O'Hara, who studied with Máirín Ní Shé, and first came to attention in the Thomas Moore pageant at the Sion Hill Dominican College in 1951. Note how hard they had to look around to scrounge up three harps for the pageant! MacFall had just one harp left for sale. We know that the Ní Shé sisters themselves had harps; it is recorded that Máirín's sister Róisín possessed a Tara harp made by MacFall.

Ten years later, look at the difference. The following are quotes from the Monday, 8 May, 1961 issue, page 5, of Dublin's Irish Press (English language).

[quote]
The harp concert promoted by Cairde na Cruite in the Royal Hibernian Hotel was a most pleasant experience and showed clearly that our Irish harp is no longer in danger of extinction through neglect. Considering the limitations of the instrument, the range of items on the programme was immensely gratifying. The concert opened with a highly effective arrangement of Brian Boru's March -- for five harps -- by Mercedes Bolger, Gráinne Ní hEigeartaigh, Eileen Kane, Elizabeth Leigh, and Joan Burke.
Noted in the first half: Gráinne Ní hEigeartaigh, performing Irish songs with harp; without citing titles, the journalist remarks approvingly that certain of these songs have associations with Shakespeare which the presentation emphasized.

In the second half, we had the Children of Lir performed by mime and singer, accompanied by Máirín Ní Shé, harp. Róisín Ní Shé brought us harp music and songs from Wales and Brittany, tastefully arranged and performed. She also combined delightfully with her sister Máirín in three songs from the Hebrides: "Mairead Og" especially was moving and poignant.
[endquote]


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 30 Mar 16 - 05:50 AM

The thing about Lude of course is that they owned both the iconic harps in Scottish history (the Queen Mary and the Lamont), so it's on these very instruments that the song accompaniments would have been played.

That quote is one of my favourites! Always loved "martyr the first" and "martyr the second" and know how they feel (minus the ice in the wash bowl). How those two girls managed not to grow up hating music I'll never know. I also like the story about Mama sailing in and taking them out of Elouis' studio because there was a... a... (o dear, how shall I phrase it??)... a man present!!!! Scandalous.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: Jack Campin
Date: 30 Mar 16 - 05:35 AM

The only musical connection I knew of for Lude was the splendid strathspey "Mrs Macinroy of Lude" by Joseph Lowe, from 200 years later.

It might well be possible to fill in the gap with other music, if somebody wanted to dig out the relevant genealogies and search for tunes associated with the names therein. (Was Miss Menzies of Culdares, for whom the strathspey is named, the one who married General Robertson of Lude?)

You might like this if you haven't already seen it. (I posted it to another forum in 2002). From the memoirs of Elizabeth Grant of Rothiemurchus, about being in a big house in the Highlands under her governess at the age of 15 in 1812, getting up at 6am with her sister:

   In winter we rose half an hour later, without candle, or fire,
   or warm water. Our clothes were all laid on a chair overnight
   in readiness for being taken up in proper order. My Mother
   would not give us candles, and Miss Elphick insisted we should
   get up. We were not allowed hot water, and really in the high-
   land winters, when the breath froze on the sheets, and the water
   in the jugs became cakes of ice, washing was a cruel necessity,
   the fingers were pinched enough. As we could play our scales
   well in the dark, the two pianofortes and the harp began the
   day's work. How very near crying the one whose turn set her at
   the harp I will not speak of; the strings cut the poor cold
   fingers so that the blisters often bled. Martyr the second put
   her poor blue hands on the keys of the grand-pianoforte in the
   drawing room, for in those two rooms the fires were never lighted
   till near nine o'clock - the grates were of bright steel, the
   household was not early and so we had to bear our hard fate.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 06:10 PM

Jack's citation of lowland and continental repertoire in the Skene and other such sources puts me in mind of observations made in a major historical study of this period in Scotland which has just come out, reinforcing this cultural diversity:

The Literary Culture of Early Modern Scotland - Manuscript Production and Transmission, 1560–1625, Sebastiaan Verweij
Oxford University Press 2016, ISBN 9780198757290

Blurb sez:

This wide ranging survey of Lowland Scottish literary manuscripts devotes a complete chapter (number 7) to the background to Margaret Robertson of the Lude family and the compilation of her collection of verse. Since at that period such material would have been sung, probably accompanied by one of the family's harps, it is of interest, as its author states as an example that "both Highland and Anglo–Scottish Lowland musical traditions peacefully coexisted at Lude".

(Scroll down to near the bottom of the web page):
http://www.wirestrungharp.com/library/bibliography.html


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: Jack Campin
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 12:44 PM

I don't recall any serious problems with Dauney, but he isn't very imaginative with rhythm. There are some pieces (Adew Dundie is one) where dotted rhythms bring the tune to life.

BTW the mandour tuning of the Skene MS is relatively the same as (a tone up from) the mandolin tuning that U Srinivas adopted for South Indian music. An opportunity for some cross-fertilization there.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: MartinRyan
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 07:37 AM

@Bonnie Shaljean

Done

Regards


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 07:14 AM

And - since we're posting links:

A gold mine of info and useful reference material is to be found at WireStrungHarp, who also has a Facebook page:

http://www.wirestrungharp.com

https://www.facebook.com/WireStrungHarp/?fref=ts


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 06:39 AM

Simon is English, and moved to St Andrews some years after college. Ann is American (as am I, though I've lived in Ireland for the past quarter-century) and Brendan is Irish.

Jack: I've just been looking at the Skene and picking some tunes out to play on my Mulagh Mast replica, but I only have Dauney. What do you think of his edition?

While I'm here: Yo, MARTIN RYAN - can you PM me your email? Something I want to send you.


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Subject: RE: 'All the dear Spinning Eileens' (Irish harpists)
From: Jack Campin
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 06:21 AM

Chadwick's harp resource page:

http://www.earlygaelicharp.info/

His personal page:

http://www.simonchadwick.net/

He doesn't claim to be a Highlander and lives in a place where Gaelic has never been spoken. I've no idea where he comes from (I couldn't tell from his accent - at any rate, he isn't a Canadian like you) and he doesn't think it relevant to anything. I agree.

The repertoire he plays on that instrument is significant but it is not huge. Having seen him live, I can see why players decided that other instruments made more effect with less effort and expense.

The Skene Manuscript contains no fiddle or pipe tunes. (I've handled the original and I can read the tablature). The fiddle was pretty near unknown in Scotland at the time. Harp, maybe a few, but most of the contents are arrangements of Lowland songs or adaptations of French court music. The instrument the MS was intended for was a 5-string ukulele.


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