Laura’s Reel / The Highest Hill in Sligo

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From the “Echoes of Erin 2008” Comhaltas Tour CD, the reels “Laura’s Reel” and “The Highest Hill in Sligo” are performed by Eibhlín Healy, Eimear Arkins, Cathy Potter and the Comhaltas Tour Ensemble.

This first reel was composed by the fiddler Philip Duffy, a highly respected fiddler from Co. Sligo. The reel featured on Philip’s 2003 album ‘Killin Clocks’ which displayed his discerning understanding of the musical legacy of the great fiddle masters of Sligo. This composition ‘Laura’s Reel’ has already become one the most highly regarded tunes in pesent-day repertoire. Philip Duffy wrote in the sleeve-notesthat he called this tune after

…..Laura’s, the location of our Friday night trad session which was originally a local shop and hostelry ran by Laura Barber (1906-1989) in Carney, Co. Sligo.

‘The Highest Hill in Sligo’ is a composition of Ed Reavy ( 1898-1988) the well-known fidder and composer who, having emigrated from his native Cavan to the US in 1912, settled in Philadelphia. Like many of the great musicians of his time Reavy played as both as a solo performer and as a member of various dance bands/grups. These bands played a variety of music for the Irish immigrant population in the dance halls of major North American cities. Reavy’s compositions- which date from the late 1920s- have been, and still are, amongst the most popular tunes in traditional repertoire. Indeed it is perhaps very appropriate that the last known recording of Michael Coleman, made in 1944 a year before he died, featured the legendary Sligo fiddler playing a Reavy Composition ‘ Lad O’ Beirne’s Hornpipe’a hornpipe been named after another Sligo ‘great’ James Lad O’ Beirne. ‘The Highest Hill in Sligo’ is included in The Collected Compositions of Ed Reavy which features one hundred and twenty six of his compositions. Reavy was anxious to ensure that the tiles of his tunes said something about his own values: his personal feelings about Ireland and the people he loved. He also stated that he wanted to share some of his life experiences with his friends- to give them something else to reflect on as they sat down to hear his tunes played. Reavy’s personal anecdote on ‘The Highest Hill in Sligo’ was as follows:

From this county came some of the great fiddlers in the tradition: Coleman, Morrison, Scanlon, O’ Beirne and others before them. It is their Sligo, the Sligo of Ballymote, Gurteen and Colooney. And it is also the Sligo of Ben Bulben, that famous hill immortalized in the verses of Ireland’s Nobel Prize-winning poet William Butler Yeats.

9 October 2008
Laura’s Reel/The Highest Hill in Sligo
Created By
Recorded by Peter Staunton
Echoes of Erin 2008
Performers/Subjects Instruments
Eibhlín Healy Fiddle
Eimear Arkins Fiddle
Cathy Potter Harp
Comhaltas Tour Ensemble

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Keywords for This Entry

Fiddle, Harp, Reel, Concert Tour