Fiddling Away!

Ballydehob Session member Robin Lewando is keeping busy sending in the music! Thanks, Robin. Others please take note: it’s relatively easy to get a few tunes recorded and sent through. Doesn’t matter if it’s repertoire that some of us already know: there are plenty who could be reminded or benefit from learning something new. It doesn’t matter either if you are not from the West of Ireland. In a normal summer we have visitors every week who swell our local group and bring in music from far, far away: it’s great! So please contribute, whoever or wherever you are – it could help us to get through these unprecedented times in good spirit…

Ballydehob, West Cork, under the Covid lockdown – April 2020. It’s a Saturday morning, and the streets would usually be buzzing!

First up from Robin is a tune that he plays by request: Up And About in the Morning. This is an unusual three part jig:


It is suggested that this tune was collected by Breandán Breathnach (1912 – 1985), a piper who learned from Leo Rowsome but also worked for the Department of Education, where he was responsible for collecting tunes from all around Ireland. In his lifetime he collected over 7,000 traditional tunes: many of these would probably not have survived if it was not for Breathnach’s work. Some are contained in the many volumes he published as Ceol Rince na hÉireann (Dance Music of Ireland). These volumes were among my earliest introductions to the Irish tradition way back in the 1970s. As a complete sidetrack, I’ll just direct you to this version of Up And About… played in 2011 by piper Mark Redmond:

And, while we are on Mark Redmond, I’ll also direct you to this post on our sister site Roaringwater Journal: in 2018 we had one of the great musical experiences of our lifetimes when we went to a concert at the National Concert Hall, Dublin (now closed because of the lockdown) and heard Mark Redmond leading the tribute to Liam O’Flynn in a performance of Shaun Davey’s The Brendan Voyage.

Sorry about those distractions, Robin! As you know, I always like to attach a story to a piece of music… Here is Robin again, playing a set of three tunes from County Cork – Ger the Rigger, a polka, and two hornpipes: one from the Johnny O’Leary book, number 17, and the last known as Walsh’s.


A great set, Robin, and a good challenge for us all to learn… I’m finishing off with a view of our village, Ballydehob, during last year’s Jazz Festival, just as a reminder of the way things should be!