Vincent Broderick — The Whistler at the Wake

Recently at the LVISS we learned two tunes written by the late Vincent Broderick (1920-2008) I’ve already posted about The Old Flail. This week at the session Ted taught us The Whistler at the Wake, which you hear played before the old flail quite often both in recordings and at sessions.

A bit about Vincent Broderick (from the Irish Tune Composers website)

Vincent was born in Carramore, Bullaun, Loughrea, Co. Galway in 1920. One of seven children, both himself and his brother Peter were to become interested in traditional Irish music at an early age, mainly under the influence of their mother Ann. By their early twenties Vincent and Peter were to become accomplished traditional musicians (the flute, mainly, and the pipes) and were to follow the example set for them by the musicians of ‘The Ballinakill and Aughrim Slopes Ceili Band.'” ~ they also played regularly together for events and dances in their community… Vincent Broderick passed away in 2008.

And a story about the origin of the tune:

He tells the story of coming home from a session with his friend and humming his new composition , they spotted a house in the distance with a light on, it had to be a party or a wake, so they went to investigate and it was the latter. After paying their respects they were offered a drink and sat down but the tune was in Vincent’s head and for fear of loosing it he kept humming quietly, or so he thought. He was overheard and was asked to stop as it was not the right thing to do in the circumstances. After leaving his friend said to Vincent I have a great name for your tune. “The whistler at the wake”. (posted by “murcu” on

One of my favorite versions:

and a flute version:

Brendan Tonra

This week we learned a jig from Kira called “Tonra’s Jig,” sometimes called “Tone Row’s” or “Tony Rowe’s” or various things like that. It was composed by Brendan Tonra, who emigrated to the states from Gowland, County Mayo in Ireland and spent over 4 decades as a resident of Boston, Massachusetts. Many of his tunes are collected in a book called “A Musical Voyage with Brendan Tonra.” He passed away in 2014.

Tonra’s Jig is a real jem of a tune. It has, to my ear, an easy, casual feel, and if you’re a fiddler you get to go down into the area below low D, which is always a treat!

A couple examples from YouTube:

For further reading, please see:

Brendan on the Irish Tune Composers Pages

Brendan’s obituary.