O'Neill Cylinders: 1 - 8

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Cylinders 1 - 8

The Monaghan Jig

2:39 Patsy Touhey

Tune Type: Jig
ON 1903, # 1033; ON 1907, # 245.

Touhey’s performance of this jig is a dazzling feat of virtuosity. Some of the outstanding stylistic features are the unusual crans on the second-octave E, and the fluent use of notes at the top of the upper range of the uilleann pipes chanter, including the rarely heard top D.

Touhey’s version contains four parts; three parts are given in O’Neill’s collections. The popularity of this tune today is due to the fact that the tune was recorded by the fiddle player Michael Coleman on a commercial 78rpm disc in New York in 1921. Coleman played four parts, and it has long been assumed that the fourth part was composed (or at least added) by Coleman himself; Coleman’s fourth part is regarded by traditional musicians as quite challenging. This recording reveals that Touhey played that fourth part, in a version even more elaborate than Coleman’s.

Governor Taylors March

2:24 Patsy Touhey

Tune Type: March
ON 1903, # 1813, as "I Wont Be a Nun;" PPT, # 33, with O’Neill’s title.

The Shaskeen Reel

2:10 Patsy Touhey

Tune Type: Reel
ON 1903, # 1703, as "The Shaskeen Clog" in the hornpipes section; ON 1907, # 802 (as a reel); O’Neill 1922, # 327 (as "The Shaskan Reel"); PPT, # 10.

In ON 1922, Francis O’Neill described this tune as "a best seller among phonograph records" without specifying who the bestselling performer was or whether the term "phonograph" referred to a cylinder or gramophone recording. However, in all likelihood O’Neill was referring to the version on 78rpm commercial disc by the fiddle player Michael Coleman, released in the year before the book was published.

Touhey’s performance here is a major find and a rather mysterious one. Long before Coleman’s successes with "The Shaskeen Reel," Touhey’s playing of the tune was one of the most extravagantly praised performances in Irish music. O’Neill wrote the following about a recording that was sent to the musicologist Richard Henebry:

“As a Christmas present which was sure to be appreciated, I forwarded in 1907 to Rev. Dr. Henebry, at Waterford, Ireland, a box of Edison phonograph records which Sergeant Early generously permitted me to select from his treasures. Among them was “The Shaskeen Reel,” played by Patrick Touhey. The clergyman’s comment is best expressed in his own words:

“The five by Touhey are the superior limit of Irish pipering. One of his, especially "The Shaskeen Reel," is so supreme that I am utterly without words to express my opinion of it. It has the life of a reel and the terrible pathos of a caoine. It represents to me human man climbing empyrean heights and, when he had almost succeeded, then tumbling, tumbling down to hell, and expressing his sense of eternal failure on the way. The Homeric ballads and the new Brooklyn Bridge are great, but Patsy Touhey’s rendering of "The Shaskeen Reel" is a far bigger human achievement. Why, there is no Irish musician alive now at all in his class! If things were as they ought to be, he should be installed as professor of music in a national university in Dublin. And that is what I think of Patsy Touhey and his pipering.”

The original that was sent to Henebry was transcribed for PPT and included on its accompanying cassette and CD.

In his spoken introduction on the version on this publication, Touhey states that this recording was made for Fr. Henebry. However, this recording does not appear to be a copy of the original Henebry recording that is already familiar from PPT, though (judging from the sound quality) it is a copy of another cylinder, rather than an original.

The Ladies Pantalettes

2:23 Patsy Touhey

Tune Type: Reel
ON 1903, # 1235; ON 1907, # 509; PPT, # 12.

This tune was popularised by the fiddle player Michael Coleman on a 78rpm disc in 1927, where the tune was the second of two in a selection titled "The Duke of Leinster and his Wife."

Brian the Brave & The Gardeners Daughter

2:13 Patsy Touhey

Tune Type: Air & Reel
Air: ON 1903, # 255; PPT, # 31. This tune is related to the hornpipe "Poll Ha’penny" and to "Hawk’s Hornpipe" (Cylinder 18).

Reel: ON 1903, # 1538, as "The Maid in the Cherry Tree;" ON 1907, # 754 (with the 1903 title).

The Duke of Leinster

2:02 Patsy Touhey

Tune Type: Reel
ON 1915, # 294, where it is titled "The Duke of Leinster, or Dandy Reel;" PPT, # 15.

Taylors Hornpipe

2:20 Patsy Touhey

Tune Type: Hornpipe

This tune does not appear in the O’Neill collections. It appears as "Phillips’s Hornpipe" in a nineteenth-century English manuscript collection.

The Maid on the Green

2:19 Patsy Touhey

Tune Type: Jig
ON 1903, # 853; ON 1907, # 114; PPT, # 36.

This tune, played by Touhey, was issued on a 78rpm commercial disc in 1924 (after Touhey’s death).

Cylinders 1 - 8

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RMC = Ryan's Mammoth Collection, edited by William Bradbury Ryan (Boston, 1883)

SP = The Complete Collection of Irish Music as Noted by George Petrie (1789—1866), edited by Charles Villiers Stanford (1903)

Kerr 4 = Kerr’s Fourth Collection of Merry Melodies for the Violin (Glasgow, date unknown)

ON 1903 = O’Neill’s Music of Ireland, edited by Francis O’Neill (Chicago, 1903)

ON 1907 = 1001 Gems – The Dance Music of Ireland, edited by Francis O’Neill (Chicago, 1907)

ON 1915 = O’Neill’s Irish Music — 400 Choice Selections, edited by Francis O’Neill (Chicago, 1915)

ON 1922 = Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody, 2nd edition, edited by Francis O’Neill (Chicago, 1922)

PPT = The Piping of Patsy Touhey, edited by Pat Mitchell & Jackie Small (Dublin, 1986)


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