Old Time Music

Port Na Gioboige

Seamus Ennis, well known Uilleann Pipe player and folklorist of Irish traditional music, collected this from Colm O Caoidheain in the 1940s. But behind the tune is a story told by Joe Heaney to Seamus Ennis on stage sometime in the 60s. There was a widow with two sons who are in the field binding together sheaves of oats. While the mother sits indoors spinning, “the sons bring one of the sheaves up to the door of the house and dress it in a man’s suit, as if it were a suitor for their mother’s hand.” The mother spies the “suitor” and, becoming very nervous, starts spinning faster and faster, spinning “for all she is worth inside the house,” perhaps until she gets a bit “silly.” One rough translation is “Tune of the Silly Woman.” (Ennis & Heaney) Now Mark Ward, very respectable piper himself, learned it from the playing of Harry Bradley and Emmett Gill. Their translation is “The Untidy Woman’s Tune,” Probably with a whole different story behind it. Mark says, “Seamus Ennis was a great one for putting stories to tunes…” Mark and I both hear a resemblance to the song “Jolly Yankee Farmer” by Argle Kaufman and “I’m a nice old man” as sung by Melvin Wine. Uilleann Pipes arrived in America during the first major Irish famine of 1840. Twenty years later the Taylor brothers began making them in Philadelphia. Marks pipes are in the key of C. The chanter was made by Benedict Koehler, and the regulators and drones by Andreas Rogge. Mark: Uilleann Pipes.
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