Black Black Black  sleeve notes


Reels • The Abbey Reel

            The West Clare Reel     

The first of these tunes is also called ‘Larry Redican’s Reel’ after the Irish fiddle player living in America and the second is known as simply ‘The West Clare Reel’.  CRAN are joined here by fiddle player Kevin Glackin and Triona Ní Dhomhnaill.

Song • Raithineach, A Bhean Bheag!

A song from the banks of the River Inny in County Kerry.  Also known as ‘Amhrán a' Staimpí’  (‘The Song of Stampy’).  Stampy is a type of potato-cake, complicated to prepare and regarded by many as a great delicacy.  The title of the song roughly translates as “Quick, little woman!” – the anguished cry of the husband as he howls for “Staimpí agus ím air!” (Stampy with butter on it!)  The tune played by Desi and Ronan in the middle of the song is a Breton An Dro from the 'Pays Vannetais' in southern Brittany. 

Air • Farewell to Nigg

Originally a tune intended to be played on the highland bagpipes, Farewell To Nigg is well suited to flute and uilleann pipes.  It was composed by piper Duncan Johnstone of Barra  to mark the launch of an oil rig from Nigg Point near Inverness.

Reels • Dunmore Lasses

             Dublin Reel

These reels are played on Indian Bansuri and an Olwell bamboo flute in the key of F.  The Bansuri is a bamboo whistle, said to have been invented by the Shepherd Krishna to gather his flock.  The soft natural tones of these instruments are ideal for Ronan and Desi's relaxed approach to these popular reels.

Song • Coleraine Town

Collected by Seán from Mrs. Annie McKenzie, Boho, Co. Fermanagh and adapted by him.


Jigs •  Brendan Tonra’s

           Banks of Lough Gowna

           Banks of Lough Gowna

The first of these jigs is commonly known as ‘Tone Rowe’s Jig’ which is a misinterpretation of ‘Tonra’s Jig’.  Lough Gowna (The Lake Of The Calf) is in County Cavan, where this tune was collected in 1904.  Apart from their different key signatures, these two settings are almost identical.

Air • Black Black Black

The melody of this English Love song lends itself readily to the Irish tradition of slow air playing.  Blues singer and pianist, Nina Simone recorded a powerful version of this song, using the same melody.  

Song • Willie Taylor

Broadside ballad of English origin, very popular among Irish traditional singers. This version was collected by Seán from ninety-year old Pa Cassidy, from Ardpatrick, county Louth.  CRAN's treatment of the song captures its forceful vitality, often lost in more lyrical treatments of it.

March and Jigs • Return from Fingal

                    Corny Mc Daid's Jig

                    Tom Busby's Jig

"The wild and inspiring martial air "The Return From Fingal" which George Petrie learned from the Munster pipers is evidently of much earlier origin.  It was supposed to have been the march played or sung by Brian Boru's Munster troops on their return home from the glorious but dearly bought triumph at Clontarf in 1014 and was expressive of the mixed feelings of sorrow and triumph which had been excited by the result of that memorable conflict."

                                                                                        (O Neill - Irish Minstrels and musicians)

‘Corny Mc Daid's Jig’ comes from the playing of flute player Cathal McConnell.  The last tune is associated with Tom Busby who has extensive knowledge of the old pipers of the American tradition.  These musicians, when they emigrated, brought tunes with them which, having subsequently died out in Ireland, are now being re-established in the Irish repertoire.

Song • Seacht Suailce Na Maighdine (The Seven Joys Of Mary)  

A religious song from Ulster.  There are no hymns as such in the Irish language but sacred songs like this one were sung in the home on specific occasions.

Jigs • Humours of Ballyloughlin   

        Liz Kelly's Slip Jig

        Kerry Jig

        Fraher's Jig

The ‘Humours of Ballyloughlin’ is one of the great four-part piping double jigs which have been adopted into the repertoire of other instruments.  The second tune, from fiddle player John Kelly was named after his mother Elizabeth.  The melody of the ‘Kerry Jig’ exists also as a popular Irish reel.  The great piping tune, ‘Fraher's Jig’ was a favourite of Clare piper Willie Clancy.