Mel Bay O’Carolan book for banjo

20 O'Carolan Irish Classics - Tom HanwayMel Bay Publications has released a book of Irish harp music by Turlough O’Carolan, arranged for banjo and other stringed instruments.

20 O’Carolan Irish Classics was prepared by banjoist Tom Hanway, an American ex-pat now living in Ireland where he performs in both the three finger bluegrass and Celtic music forms. Tom has recently immersed himself in a study of O’Carolan, a prolific composer of Irish tunes and songs who lived in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Here Tom has chosen 20 popular tunes and airs, and presented them in both standard notation and banjo tablature, along with accompaniment chords and notes on each tune.

O’Carolan’s tunes remain a staple in the session repertoire for Celtic music players, and his songs are still sung as old time favorites. More than 200 such songs and tunes have survived to modern times, clever instrumentals he wrote on the harp before later adding words, often to honor various patrons who supported the blind musician throughout his life.

Bluegrass musicians have long been drawn to Celtic music – and vice versa – as the stylistic similarities are great, developing separately from the same tradition of folk dance music. Modern grassers may appreciate the fact that O’Carolan himself generated much dispute during his life from early aficionados of Irish folk music for his expanding the style to include new sounds and harmony.

Included in 20 O’Carolan Irish Classics are:

  • Beauty in Tears (Llwyn Onn / The Ash Grove)
  • Blind Mary
  • Bridget Cruise (Third Air)
  • Captain O Kane (The Wounded Hussar)
  • Carolan s Concerto (Mrs. Power)
  • Carolan s Cottage
  • Carolan’s Draught
  • Carolan s Dream (Molly MacAlpin)
  • Carolan’s Ramble to Cashel
  • Carolan’s Receipt (Dr. John Stafford)
  • Eleanor Plunkett
  • Fanny Power (Madame Trench)
  • Henry MacDermott Roe (First Air)
  • Lord Inchiquin
  • Morgan Magan
  • Planxty George Brabazon (Second Air)
  • Planxty Hugh O Donnell
  • Planxty Irwin (Colonel John Irwin)
  • Princess Royal, The (Miss MacDermott)
  • Sheebeg and Sheemore (Si Bheag, Si Mhór /The Bonny Cuckoo)
The book is offered in both a bound volume ($19.99) and an ebook ($14.99), with audio tracks online to assist in learning the tunes. Full ordering details can be found online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.