Crystal Bailey and Patrick Cavanagh

We’re going to be playing a bunch of music from the region of Ireland known as Sliabh Luachra. It is roughly located where the River Blackwater flows between Counties Kerry and Cork, and the area boasts its own distinct musical style and repertoire.

Find out more about Sliabh Luachra music at

HORNPIPES: Quinn’s (An Tri is a Rian) / Bird’s

The first is from Patrick O’Keeffe, which he named for his Glountane neighbor Sean Quinn; the second is from Cuz Teahan also of Glountane and later Chicago. Named for a Glountane neighbor who infamously trapped small birds using a sticky paste called bird-lime. Our concert fortuitously coincides with the annual Patrick O’Keeffe festival of Sliabh Luachra music in Castleisland, Kerry, which is taking place online this year. We raise a glass to our friends there and hope to be with you again next year.

Visit the Castleisland festival at

POLKAS: Johnny O’Leary’s One Pound Note / Barrett’s Green Cottage / The Four Posts of the Bed

The first polka was penned by Duhallow musician Tim Browne, named after a memorable birthday present from the famed Sliabh Luachra accordion player. Now we’ll stray momentarily northward from Sliabh Luachra. The next polka is a nice setting we got from Tom and Kerry Barrett of North Kerry. The last tune, which was played by Micho Russell of Clare, we got from the playing of Seamus Wade, a local fiddler of repute, currently studying in Dublin.

JIGS: Clifford’s Cliffs / Connie the Soldier

Both are taken from recordings of Julia Clifford. We were inspired to play this first one by Aoife ni Choimh who gave a beautiful rendition of it at the fiddle recital at Castleisland last year.

WALTZ: Port na bPucai / The Valley

An air from the Blasket Islands off the coast of West Kerry, lilted as a waltz on a field recording of Muiris Ó Dálaigh, a musician from Inis Mhic Uibhleáin, and recently played by Clíodhna Ní Bheaglaoich and Sean Hughes for a fascinating project they undertook in partnership with the ITMA. The tune has a spooky story behind it, told this way by fiddler Seán Cheaist Ó Catháin, who was born on the Great Blasket:  “There were people from the Great Blasket who were living in Inis Mhic Uibhleáin [a.k.a. Inishvickilaune, one of the smaller Blaskets] many years ago, about eighty years ago, and they were herdsmen looking after stock for a landlord who was living in Dingle, and they went to stay on the island every year. Then one winter’s night they were in bed, asleep, and the old woman was the first to hear the sound and she thought it was the sound of birds or something like that, that the sound … the sound was coming nearer all the time until at last she realised that it was music and she woke the old man beside her and both of them listened to the sound for a long time until they were able to remember it and it has been on the Blasket ever since, ‘The Fairies’ Lament’. That has been on the Blasket ever since that time.”

The second waltz is Crystal’s own invention.

Read about Clíodhna Ní Bheaglaoich and Sean Hughes’ project at

OK, time to dance!

POLKA Sliabh Luachra Set, 2nd figure: (96 bars) The Devil’s Tower

This means something. We came up with this tune together, with perhaps some help from above.

SLIDE Sliabh Luachra Set, 5th figure: (112 bars) I’d Rather Be Wrong Than Wet / Slide of the Ozarks

Crystal penned the first tune which was named for a rainy afternoon in Castleisland. The second is by Patrick and is dedicated to Aaron, Autumn, Tim, Rob, Eileen, Sasha, Mickey, and George!

Whew, that was fun!

SONG: Mary’s Dream / TUNE: Autumn Child

A spooky Halloween song written by Scottish poet John Lowe. [from the Traditional Tune Archive: The eldest son of a gardener, Lowe improved himself and attended the University of Edinburgh as a Divinity student, and eventually found employment as the tutor of the children of Mr. M’Ghie of Airds, where he wrote a number of works of poetry, many lost. Mary was one of the daughters of the M’Ghie’s, engaged to Alexander Miller, a surgeon, who was lost at sea. This sad event inspired the song “Mary’s Dream”. Lowe emigrated to America in 1778, in the midst of the American War of Independence, where he became the tutor to the brother of George Washington. He later became a minister in the Church of England and married a woman from Virginia, “whose gross misconduct broke his heart, and caused his untimely death, in 1798, in the forty-eighth year of his age.”]; The bookending tune is written by Brendan O’Regan of Kinvara.

(guitar) REELS: The Flower of the Flock / Quinn’s / Now She’s Purring

Three reels from the playing of Padraig O’Keeffe and Denis Murphy. These are dedicated to our dear friends, Sasha and Dan, The Rushy Mountaineers.

JIGS: Julia’s mysterious Am jig / Graddy’s

This first jig came from a recording of Julia and Billy Clifford, and we have no name for it; the second jig we learned from the performance of the Bruach na Carriage Summer School in Rockchapel (right where Cork meets Kerry and Limerick). They learned it from the manuscripts of Dan Curtin, Rockchapel which date back to 1850, before the passing fad for polkas and slides took off in Sliabh Luachra. Graddy was a travelling fiddle master who lived around Sliabh Luachra a generation or two before O’Keeffe.

View the Curtin manuscripts at

BARNDANCES: PJ’s Barndance/The Honeymooners

These two tunes were written by PJ Teahan of Scartaglin. The second one he dedicated to us after meeting us on our honeymoon in Castleisland. PJ organizes the World Fiddle Day celebrations in Scartaglin every year. There is a wealth of fascinating material at their website.

Find out more about World Fiddle Day in Scartaglin at

JIGS: Charlie Mulvihill’s / The Slopes of Sliabh Luachra

The first tune can be heard on a recording of Charlie Mulvihill and Denis Murphy; the second we learned from a recording of Paudie O’Connor and his sister Noeleen–it’s a version of Follow Me Down to Carlow.

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