An Fonn is Déanaí–Muckross Abbey (Mulvihil’s Reel) (aka Callahan’s?)

Muckross Abbey is located in Killarney National Park, Ireland.

Muckross Abbey is located in Killarney National Park, Ireland.

Our anchor this week taught us a tune which he called “Callahan’s Reel.” This same tune is on a classic album on which Pádraig O’Keefe, Julia Clifford and Denis Murphy play lot’s of great polkas, slides, jigs and reels, as well as a few airs. Track number two is a set in which a tune called Muckross Abbey is followed by one called Mulvihil’s, both reels. One of “Muckross Abbey’s” other names is Mulvihil’s Reel–a prime example of the confusion to be found in Irish tune names!

To add to the confusion, at least my own,’s entry for this tune ( does not list “Callahan’s” as one of its names. Now, I’m pretty sure our anchor knows his stuff, so I’m just going to utter the classic “huh” and move on.

It’s a scorcher of a reel–lots of notes, lots of repetition, lots of drive. Here are a couple examples fro the “Tube of You.”

Patrick Street perform it here, third in a set. This band included one of my favorite fiddlers right now, Mr. Kevin Burke–great, great player. If the vid doesn’t do it automatically, you can find Mulvihil’s at 2:30.

Ah! Look what I found: Starts at 3:15.

And, in case you’re interested in Muckross Abbey–go HERE, and/or watch this video!

2014 Greater Hartford Irish Music Festival–July 25-27

This weekend–the 2014 Greater Hartford Irish Music Festival takes place on the grounds of the Irish American Home Society in Glastonbury, CT.

From the website:

Cead mile failte…one hundred thousand welcomes to the 2014 Greater Hartford Irish Music Festival! We welcome you to the 31st edition of our festival held on the grounds of the Irish American Home Society in Glastonbury! Thirty-one years of fine music, dancing and celebration of our Irish heritage! The Festival Committee has been hard at work all year, listening to the feedback of festival goers and volunteers as we planned this year’s event. As a result we’ve brought back the carnival by Northeast Midways. And what’s a festival without great food options? We’ve expanded your culinary choices by adding several new food vendors. Back by popular demand on our Main Stage is the ever popular Savage Brothers Band appearing both Friday and Saturday evenings. On Saturday, catch the Men in Kilts contest on the Main Stage or enjoy a whiskey tasting in our Jameson Pavilion paired with a cigar from The SmokeEasy Cigar Parlor. Don’t forget to stop by the Celtic Café for a lovely cup of tea or an iced coffee! Visit the GAA booth and demonstrate your skills in the national sports of Ireland, Gaelic football and hurling. Learn a few Irish set dances at the Cultural Tent. There is truly something for everyone!

Go to for more info.

July 23 House Concert–Conal O’Grada & Ciaran O’Mhaonaigh

 4549526The shamrock Traditional Irish Music Society presents a house concert in Monroe CT–Conal O’Grada (flute) and Ciaran O’Mhaonaigh (fiddle). Please see for tickets and directions.

From the website:

TG4 young musician of the Year 2003, fiddle player Ciarán Ó Maonaigh hails from the Gaoth Dobhair gaeltacht in Co. Donegal. He was heavily influenced by his extended family when growing up including his teacher Francie Mooney, Altan members Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and Frankie Kennedy, Derry fiddle player Dermot McLaughlin as well as the Donegal fiddle legend John Doherty amongst others. Ciarán’s first album Ceol a’Ghleanna The Music of the Glen (SPINCD1008) was released in 2004 and he has also Produced music documentary’s for TG4 including Cairdeas na bhFidiléirí and the acclaimed John Doherty ‘Ar Leirg na Gaoithe’, and in 2009 he presented, produced and directed an hour long documentary entitled ‘Francie Mooney Áit i Mo Chroí’. Ciarán is a member of the band Fidil along with Aidan O’Donnell and Damien McGeehan and they released 3 CD’s – ‘Fidil’ (FID001CD), released in June 2008, was described by Irish Music Magazine as “One of the most challanging and beautifully austere albums of the last fifty years”, ‘3’ was released in 2009 an received a 5 star review and CD of the week in The Irish Times, and in late 2011 ‘The Old Wheel of Fortune’ came out with Songlines magazine declaring it one of the finest albums to emerge from Ireland this decade.”

Born in Cork in 1961, Conal Ó Gráda has long been at the forefront of traditional Irish flute-playing and truly has one of its most distinctive sounds. A multiple All Ireland winner in his youth, Conal’s debut recording ‘The Top of Coom’ in 1990 is still regarded as a seminal recording of flute-playing. Conal takes the basic elements of traditional music and forges them into a personal style which, once heard is unforgettable. His fast, rhythmically precise flute-playing has an earthy raucous tone reminiscent of the saxophone and is driven by a spirit from the true heart of traditional music. His second solo recording ‘Cnoc Buí’ was released in 2008 to widespread critical acclaim.

Conal teaches flute privately in his native Cork and is also a regular teacher at summer schools worldwide, including The Willie Clancy Summer School, Catskills Irish Arts Week and Blas. He is a co-founder of the flute band ‘Banna Fliúit Loch a’Bhogaigh’ and is chairman of the traditional flute festival ‘Cruinniú na bhFliúit…the Flute Meeting’ which runs annually in Baile Bhúirne, Co. Cork. He is a member of the band The band Raw Bar Collective, with whom he released a new CD in February 2011 called ‘millhouse measure’s’. More recently, in 2012, Conal published a book on flute technique and styles called An Fheadóg Mhór.


Scales and Drones

There’s one thing I have learned in the few short months I have been learning to play the fiddle–proper intonation is a must. It’s a good idea to mindfully practice good intonation, rather than just sawing away at practice time and hoping it’ll work itself out. Not many folks appreciate playing with a fiddler whose intonation is off.

There are a couple bits of advice I have heard regarding achieving good intonation:

  • Practice along with recorded scales
  • Practice over a drone note

Brass_scales_with_cupped_traysWhen practicing to recorded scales you are listening to your playing and attempting to match your tone with the recording. It isn’t hard to hear when you’re a bit off. The idea is that eventually your fingers will learn where to go to play the notes accurately. Here are some links to scales that would be useful for playing Irish traditional music–feel free to download!

A major–one octave

A major–two octaves

D major–one octave

C major–one octave

C major–two octaves

G major–two octaves

dronePlaying along to a drone means that you are listening to a single note–probably the root or tonic of the scale or tune you want to practice–and listening to the relationship between your note and the drone note. You can also play tunes along to it if you want to make it a bit more musical. I find this method more intuitive–the drone becomes almost like background, in a way, and you are able to listen attentively to your own playing. This link will take you to a site where you can play along with or  download drones–every possible note is represented. (To download, click the link, then right click on the drone you want. Select “save as” in the menu and voila!)


I am not a brain scientist, but I get the sense that using these two techniques in conjunction forces you to use your brain in slightly different ways,  solidifying your ability to play in tune. It’s helped me quite a lot–try it for yourself.

An Fonn is Déanaí–An Phis Fhliuch

I love this tune. It’s a popular slip jig with 5 parts. Not at all a difficult tune on the concertina, though it sounds like a piping tune to me.

“Now, what,” you may ask, “is the meaning of the title?”

Oh ho. There you’ve opened a can of worms! Well, “pis” literally means “pea,” as in the vegetable, but adding fliuch (meaning “wet”) adds a layer of, shall we say, innuendo. click HERE to read the discussion of the tune’s title over at

Played by a Japanese piper (Irish music is pretty well loved over there–I should do a blog on that!)

Here played by yours truly:

And here played by Zoe Conway and Meabh O’Hare (& friend). (I got a chuckle out of the tune choices in this set, knowing the meaning of An Phis Fhliuch. That plus the fact that the lass has this look on her face as she says it.