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Sources for Gaelic harp music

Lee’s Carolan

A late 18th century collection of tunes by or attributed to Carolan, set with bass and treble parts. There were various printed editions under different titles by different publishers, none of them dated, and I have not been able to compare all the different copies. No complete facsimile or edition has been published. Various authors give contradictory statements as to who pirated or re-issued whom; when and where. Walker1 states that John Lee's 1780 edition was a reissue of the Carolan-Delaney book of 1747-8; Donal O'Sullivan2 disagrees. Kidson3 says that John Lee re-issued an earlier book by Manuel Lee.

The music is set on two staves, with the tune on the upper (with occasional treble 2-note chords, suggesting double stopping on the violin) and a single-line bass on the lower. Note the list of instruments given; some people, most notably Gráinne Yeats and Andrew Lawrence King, have placed much weight on these prints as preserving the only "authentic" early Irish harp basses but I rather suspect that they are standard European baroque treble and bass settings, with a rather odd Gaelic harmonic flavour, hence potentially useful for the early harper but by no means to be followed slavishly. The basses do not anyway respect the téad leagaidh / téad leagtha tuning system used on the early Gaelic harp4. Some of the settings include bass sections which carry the melody while the treble rests, which may reflect Gaelic harp idiom, and which are also reflected in some Bunting ms settings of the same tunes. Donal O'Sullivan is rather scathing about these settings - he considers the tunes to have been badly noted - though I suspect this is merely an excuse for him to tidy up rythyms and bars.

A Collection of Irish Airs by the celebrated composers Carolan and Conolan
Published by Edmund Lee, Dublin, [1778]
I have not seen this book. Sandra Joyce describes it as containing 68 Carolan tunes, and she also says that it is "devoted exclusively to his compositions" - which is curious given the title which implies that some of the tunes are by Thomas or William Connellan. A facsimile of the title page and p5, showing Mrs McDermott, Bryan McGwyer Esq. and Capt. Higgins is given in Sandra Joyce, ‘An Introduction to O'Carolan's Music in Eighteenth-Century Printed Collections’ in Irish Musical Studies 4, ed. P.F. Devine & H. White 1996, p.298.

A Favourite Collection of the so much admired old Irish Tunes, the original and genuine compositions of Carolan, the celebrated Irish Bard. Set for the harpsichord, violin, and German-flute
Published by John Lee, Dublin, [1780]
I have not seen this book. Donal O'Sullivan (Carolan, 1958) describes it as having 68 tunes on 28 pages. Pages 20 and 22, showing Mr. Patrick Kelly, Mr. Maurice O'Connor, John Drudy, Mrs Poer (aka Carolan's Concerto), and Lord Louth, are reproduced in The Complete Works of O'Carolan, Irish Harper and Composer (1670-1738) Suitable for all melody instruments, Ossian Publications 1989 (2nd edition), pp. 13-14

A Favourite Collection of the much Admired Old Irish Tunes, the original and genuine compositions of Carolan the celebrated Irish bard, set for the Harpsichord, Piano Forte, Violin and German Flute
Published by Hime, Dublin, [1798]
I have inspected this book5 and it contains the same settings of the same tunes as the pages listed above, though re-engraved. 23 pages with 68 tunes. The five tunes on the last page are without basses. Pages 18, 20 & 21, showing Carolan's Maggot, Mr Patrick Kelly, Mr. Maurice O'Connor, Mr Delaney, Mr James Betagh, Jigg, Young O'Connor, & Mervyn Spratt Esqr are reproduced in Complete Collection of the much admired old Irish Tunes The Orignal and Genuine Compostions of Carolan the Celebrated Harper and Composer (1670-1738) Suitable for Most Instruments, Ossian Publications 1984 (1st edition), pp. 12, 14 & 13.

Donal O'Sullivan also mentions other editions by MacLean, Dublin, and by Broderip and Wilkinson, London.

Gaelic harp music in this source

All of the tunes in this publication originate as Gaelic harp tunes.

Ple Raca na Rourkaugh.
Other versions: Bunting: ; Neal: Plea Rarkeh na Rourkough or ye Irish weding...;

Grecy Nugent

John Kelly

Mr.. Charles O Connor.

Mr.. Waller

John Moore.

Jigg

Major Shanly

Mrs.. Edwards

Toby Peyton

Mrs.. O Neal

Mrs.. Mc.. Dermot

Bryan Mc.. Gwyer Esqr..

Capt.. Higgins.

Jigg

Mrs.. O Connor.

Mr.. Wm.. Ward.

John Nugent of Colambar.

Mrs.. Trench.

John Staffords Receipt.

David Poer Esqr.

George Reynolds Esqr.

Mrs.. Crofton.

O Connor.

Dennis O Connor.

Mrs.. Nugent

Mrs.. Waller

Loftus Jones.

Mrs Costeloe.

Madam Cole.

Bumper ’Squire Jones.

James Daly.

Madm.. Maxwell.

Mrs.. Sterling.

Honble.. Thos. Bourk
DOSC11. This is a different tune from Burk Thumoth's Thomas Burk, according to Donal O'Sullivan.

Mrs.. Garvey.

Doctor O Connor.

Harry Mc.. Dermottroe.

Mrs.. O Donnel.

Mrs.. Garvey

Miss Murphy.

Lord Dillon.

Mr. Michl. Connor.

Young Lady Dillon.

JIGG.

Bishop of Clogher.

Elevation.
Other versions: none known

Councellor Dillon.

Mrs.. Harwood.

Col: Manus O Donnel.

Mrs.. O Connor of Balynagar.

Mr. Poer.

Lord Louth

Colonel Erwyn.

Carolan’s Maggot.

Mr.. Patrick Kelly.

Mr.. Maurice O Connor

John Drudy.

Miss Noble.

Mr.. Edmond Mc.. Dermot Roe

Docr.. Delany

Mr.. James Betagh

Jigg

Young O. Connor

Mervyn Spratt Esqr

Sir Edward Crofton.

Mr. James Crofton

Plangsty Bourk.

Plangsty Connor.

Carolans Frolick.

Planksty by Carolan.

Carolans Receipt

References

Simon Chadwick