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from Edward Bunting, Ancient Music of Ireland (Dublin 1840)

Irish port spoken by Gráinne Yeats
Scottish Gaelic port spoken by Tony Dilworth

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Port - Time of the lessons

Click here to read more about the genre of the port and see a video demonstration of a port being played.

The English here (and on p.19: "Phurt - lesson time", equated to Allegro) is not fully backed up by the statement in col.4 (p.28): "'Phurt' frequently consisted of two parts..."; or by the tune heading on p.63 of Bunting's 1809 collection, Purth Clarsearch - A lesson for the harp; or by Arthur O’Neill’s statement that "port means a lesson in music" (O'Sullivan, Carolan, II, p.160). On p.35 Phurt is presented as an adjective, 'Spirited'.

The word port originally meant simply 'a tune', 'a melody', but in seventeenth-century harping contexts, especially in connection with Ruairí Dall Ó Catháin, it appears to have developed a more specific meaning: Francis Collinson (Traditional and National Music of Scotland, London, 1966, p.241) points out that extant tunes with port in their title are marked by a "characteristically unsymmetrical phrase construction, with a second strain several bars longer than the first." See also Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness, XLVII (1971), pp.150-151.

But it seems clear from Bunting that in the eighteenth century the meaning of port among harpers must have shifted towards 'lesson'.

The explanation also mentions Malairt phonch

Colm Ó Baoill 2002