The Old Walls of Liscarroll/The Knocknagow

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This track is from our 2006 CD, Concert Tour of North America 2006.

In 1922 O’Neill published Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody in which he put to print three hundred and sixty five tunes or variants of tunes which he had not published in his other Collections. These were generally sourced from a variety of manuscripts which he had obtained. On August 28th1922,O’Neill concluded the introduction to the Waifs and Strays by writing that

‘As a sixth and final contribution to the cherished cause of perpetuating Gaelic musical tradition, the compiling of this work (i.e.Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody) – unique in many respects – was undertaken in the sunset years of a long an adventurous life, and at a time when the difficulties of publishing were most discouraging. Should the musical antiquary, or modern composer derive from the study of Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melodyas much profit as the editor did of pleasure in its compilation and publication, all is well, and the desired end has been attained.’

One can only hope that O’Neill had some glimpse of just how much musical profit has been gleamed from all his publications,but unfortunately a study of his life story reveals that,like many great visionaries,it was only after his death that the value of his work was truly realised.

The ‘Old Walls of Liscarroll’appears in the Waifs and Strays No.179 and was obtained by O’Neill from the manuscripts entitled ‘Prof.of Dancing,London and Castleisland’on donation by Prof.P.D.Reidy in 1902.The footnote to this tune includes some interesting comment by O’Neill:

… In the year 1902 a thin oblong book of Mss.Music came to hand from P.D. Reidy ‘Prof. of Dancing, London and Castleisland’. Although it included forty tunes from the repertoire of five competent fiddlers,nearly all were variants of tunes already in our possession.This jig,however,as played by Daniel J.Kelleher is one of the exceptions.There can be little doubt that Mr Reidy’s title was a well deserved, because his fame as a dancer and dancing master in early life in North Kerry was successfully maintained later in life in London,where he was esteemed as an authority on the subject. Frequent mention of his name appears in Irish Minstrels and Musicians…

‘The Knocknagow’ became popular after it was recorded by Joe Burke on the 1970 album,Galway’s Own Joe Burke.Joe had heard the tune in America and it was after this recording that the Knocknagow jig became popular in Ireland and has remained so ever since.‘The Knocknagow’is included in O’Neill’s 1850(No. 1113) and,like many of the finest of the tunes in O’Neill’s 1001 and O’Neill’s 1850 was sourced by O’Neill from Edward Cronin, a fiddler originally from Limerick Junction on the Limerick-Tipperary border. Chief O’Neill published many fine tunes that were sourced from Cronin and indeed the same fiddler composed ‘Chief O’Neill’s Hornpipe’.

5 December 2006
The Old Walls of Liscarroll/The Knocknagow
Concert Tour of North America 2006
Performers/Subjects Instruments
Ronan Greene Fiddle

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