Susie’s Tunes

We were treated to Oliver Nares playing his Eric Martin melodeon on an earlier post – here. Today we have some wonderful contributions from Susan Nares who is a hive of musical industry up above us in Stouke townland. I’m delighted that Susie sent in a piece by Turlough O’Carolan, the travelling Irish harpist and composer who lived from 1670 to 1738. Turlough was blinded by smallpox at the age of eighteen and was then ‘apprenticed to a good harper’. At the age of twenty-one he was given a horse and a guide, and set out on his travels through Ireland composing songs for patrons. In his life he was following the tradition of the ancient Irish bards, who travelled from family to family, using poetry and story (and sometimes song) to pass on geneaology and history. It was a much respected profession, and the bards would be given free food and lodging wherever they went. I hope we will get many more O’Carolan tunes on these posts.

O’Carolan pictured on an Irish 50 Punt banknote

Susie’s first piece is played – appropriately – on her harp – Sí Bheag Sí Mhór. The title is said to mean ‘Little Hill and Great Hill’:


According to the traditional Irish whistle player L E McCullough:

. . . This piece was inspired by the folklore that surrounds two hills in Co Leitrim said to be inhabited by the spirits of ancient warriors whose mortal bodies lie entombed within the hills. From time to time these spirits revive their quarrel . . .

Oliver has sent us some photographs taken of Susie playing – they are fascinating. He says “I was attempting to photograph the music as well as the musician”. Here’s one to go with the O’Carolan tune:

Susie’s next track contains two pieces on the flute – Christmas Day in the Morning and The Cliffs of Moher. Christmas Day in the Morning is attributed to a Shetland fiddler, Fredamann Stickle, who used to play this tune to the laird every Christmas. Susie’s version is very individual – and graceful. The Cliffs of Moher is a jig we hear in the Ballydehob Session quite often and we should all have it under our belts. Thank you, Susie, for these great tunes – and for your performances!


Susie on flute, by Oliver Nares