Video: Willliam’s Favourite

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Video: Willliam’s Favourite

One Jig and two reels: “The Blarney Pilgrim”, “Father Kelly” & “Pinch of Snuff”

“The Blarney Pilgrim”:This jig is a popular tune at Irish sessions. It seems to be especially popular under fiddle players, but is equally nice to play on tin whistle or any other instrument. The title of this jig is referring to The Blarney stone, a block of limestone built into the walls of Blarney Castle, located close to Cork, Ireland. The legend goes that kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of the gab, meaning giving the ability to speak freely and in a way people want to listen to you and believe you. The stone attracts people from all over the world.

“Father Kelly’s Reel” in G is yet another tune that is played in sessions around the globe. Father P. J. Kelly (1926 – March 25, 2006) named this tune “The Rossmore Jetty” after the pier on the river Shannon near his hometown of Woodford in East Galway. This tune is also called “Father Kelly’s #1.” He was an accordionist, composer, and missionary in Fiji, Australia and Pakistan.

“Pinch of Snuff”: Known as a northern Irish reel, and especially one from County Donegal where it is particularly popular. Caoimhin Mac Aoidh (1994) recounts the origins of the tune in the faerie folklore of Donegal (Seamus Ennis appears to have told the same story). It seems that the fairies were trying to abduct a bride at a wedding in the Teelin, southwest Donegal, area by trying to trick her into uttering the magic words which would bind her to them and seal her fate. As luck would have it, hiding in the rafters was a young man who had been her suitor, but whom had lost in the bid for her hand. He saw what was about to happen to his still-beloved (who was dancing below), and from his high hiding place he thought to shake down some snuff upon her. The bride breathed it in, sneezed, and was greeted with a polite chorus of “Dia agus Muire dhuit” (God and Mary bless you) from members of the wedding party. This was anathema to the fairies, who took flight. The tune the fiddlers were playing while the bride was dancing at the time of her rescue was dubbed “The Pinch of Snuff.”

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