Flute Tunes from Antje

Two more really lovely tunes played on the wooden flute by Antje Guest: I have never heard them played in the Ballydehob Sessions, so great for us to learn.

They are both Barn Dances – one of my favourite trad tune types – relatively neglected. First up is The Dances at Kinvarra, Composed by Ed Reavy (1897–1988). Ed was born in Barr na gCnó, Knappagh, Co Cavan and emigrated to Philidelphia in 1912, staying there for the rest of his life.


The second Barn Dance has the title Are You Maloney. I have searched high and low but cannot find any mention of this title in any of the standard tune books, or on tune sites. It’s a great tune, though! Perhaps someone can enlighten us…


Antje’s flute has a lovely sound and I was delighted to learn that it was made by Martin Doyle – who is an old friend of ours. In fact, Finola grew up with Martin in Bray, Co Wicklow. He now has his workshop near Liscannor in Co Clare. He pursues the sourcing of sustainable timber – particularly in the case of African Blackwood (Mpingo as it is known in east Africa) which is the most popular of the woods used for making flutes and wind instruments. This has led to his being involved in several African Blackwood conservation projects. Here’s some pics taken when we last visited him in Clare:

Finola with Martin Doyle in Liscannor, Co Clare and – below – raw materials taking shape in his workshop

From Uwe

Session in The Sandboat, Ballydehob 2015

We are very pleased that Ballydehob Session regular Uwe Hage has sent us some tunes on his flute!  Uwe plays a wooden instrument, hand made by Eugene Lamb in Fanore, Co Clare in the 1970s. More on Eugene Lambe in a minute, but let’s hear the tunes. First up is an air by Turlough O’carolan – Eleanor Plunkett:


…Nellie of the flowing hair,
eyes the colour of green grass
And always up with the day, you lovely sunny one…

O’Carolan, again, composed Madam Maxwell:


O’Sullivan (1983) writes that Madam Maxwell was probably Judith Barry (1699-1771) of Newtown Barry, Co Wexford, daughter of James Barry. She married John Maxwell of Farnham, Co Cavan, in 1719, who later became MP for Cavan (from 1727-1756), High Sherriff (1739), and, upon succeeding to the estate of Farnham on the death of a cousin, became in 1756 the Baron Farnham of Farnham, Co Cavan, thus transforming Madam Maxwell into Lady Farnham.

Lastly from Uwe (for now) is a tune which we do hear in the session on occasion. It’s a hornpipe: The Boys of Blue Hill:


The question is – where is The Blue Hill? Knockgorm (or the Irish An Cnoc Gorm) literally means ‘Blue Hill’, and you will find these in Co Cavan, Co Kerry (near Tralee), close by us in Bantry, West Cork (opposite Whiddy island) and even – it has been suggested – Chicago! But nobody seems to know which one, or who ‘The Boys’ were… If anyone knows for sure, please drop us a line.

Regarding wooden flutes, Eugene Lambe was one of the first to revive making traditional flutes in Ireland, beginning around 1977. In time he also turned to making uilleann pipes. Here is an archive clip from RTE in 1984. I can’t find out whether he is still making, but in 2013 the following was written about him:

…Eugene has been many things: marine biologist, consort of beautiful women, historian, singer and writer of wonderful songs, etc. He moved to Kinvarra (Co Clare), where he built a boat … and now sails the world…

Maybe that’s exactly where he is now – sailing the world. But here he is also, in 2013, talking about the responsibilities of playing Irish traditional music: