Jigs and Polkas

More tunes from the fiddle of Robin Lewando; he is serving us well! First an image:

This is a famous representation by Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528) of ‘Irish Gallowglasses and Peasants’. It was long thought that Dürer had seen this group of Irish characters while visiting Antwerp in 1521, but recent research at UCC has established that the painter worked only from a visual description supplied by a traveller who in 1518 had been swept off course by a storm and landed in Kinsale! The traveller – Laurent Vital – was secretary to Archduke Ferdinand, teenage brother of Charles V, who had recently been crowned king of Spain. The royal party spent three pleasant days in Kinsale and Vital’s diary recorded in fine detail much of what they saw, including the Gallowglasses (elite mercenary warriors – on the left in Dürer’s picture). The whole incident was the subject of a study and lecture at UCC, which our Robin attended. He has therefore recorded two jigs for us – The Catholic Boy and The Gallowglass Jig:


We are not too far from the Sliabh Luachra region – on the borders of Cork and Kerry Counties, although we are unable to go there at present because of the Covid19 travel restrictions. Robin brings the Sliabh Luachra to us, however, with some popular polkas from the area – Mrs Ryan’s, Campdown Ladies, and gan ainm (learned from the box playing of Paudie O’Connor):


Campdown Ladies (also know as Camptown Races) was learned from the playing of Johnny O’Leary (1923 – 2004), who was from Maulykeavane, in the heart of the Sliabh Luachra –

. . . It is an area that has surely produced more musicians for its size and population than any other part of Ireland. Johnny played with them all, learning tunes and passing on tunes and creating with his fellow musicians an unequalled tradition of music-making . . .

He started playing the melodeon at the age of five and in his lifetime assimilated well over 1,500 tunes, adding to numerous collections.

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