Kitty O'Mahony's Jig Tune Notes

Named after Captain Francis O'Neill's mother Kit O'Mahony (c.1812-1900), this four-part jig (and two-part hornpipe of the same name) was read from O'Neill's 1001 Gems by the musically literate Hughdie Doohan and learned aurally by Paddy Murphy and his peers in the late 1930s.

Paddy recorded this jig on the Topic/Free Reed label L.P. Irish Traditional Concertina Styles (12 TFRS 506), which was recorded in 1977 by Neil Wayne. There is a version of the same tune in O'Neill's Music of Ireland (N'. 1021) with minor differences. Paddy's playing is mainly along the centre rows of the concertina (with the low F sharp on the bottom row left hand side— henceforth referred to as l/h/s—as far as the top E and continues up above the top octave from the F sharp on the bottom row right-hand side—henceforth referred to as r/h/s.

(I) CUTTING:

Cutting is a technique common to most, if not all, instruments playing Irish traditional music and on the concertina most of the cuts are done by slightly tipping the key along the dominant note without changing the direction of the bellows.

In the first part of Kit O'Mahony's Jig, the cut on the drawn B is done by slightly tipping the top D, while the cut on the drawn top F sharp is done by slightly tipping the top A. In this instance, both cutting notes are exactly two notes above the main dominant notes; the reason being that the direction of the bellows cannot be changed off the direction of a dominant note for a cutting note. In each case, the dominant notes (B and F sharp) are played with the index finger, while the cutting notes (D and A) are played with the second finger. The cut on the A, (which is made by the index finger on the left hand) is done by tipping the B with the index finger on the right hand; while the bellows is on the draw for both notes. The cut on the top G (bottom row r/h/s) in Part II and Part IV is done by tipping the key above G with the second finger. Therefore, the cutting note is B because the bellows does not change direction in the process.

(II) DOUBLE-STOPPING:

Although predominantly a fiddle technique, double-stopping was used often by older players on the two-row German concertina. These were mainly pitched in the key of C and it was possible to play the lower part of tunes on two octaves simultaneously. This was generally referred to as double-noting or doubling it by some of the older players, who used the technique extensively in tunes for the old West Clare Plain Set. Mrs. Crotty of Kilrush, who may be heard on the RTE 50th Anniversary Commemoration L.P., used this technique a lot, as did players like Sonny Murray and John Kelly. In fact, John Mc Mahon, a young concertina player from Ennis, is now using this technique to fine effect.

The double-stopping on the bottom G (in the middle row l/h/s bars 2 and 4) is done by pressing G with the index finger and the bottom D with the third finger simultaneously. The double-stopping at the ends of parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 is done by pressing the dominant G (l/h/s) with the index finger and the low G (an octave lower) with the small finger together. All the G/D and G/G double-stops in this jig are done on a press bellows.

(III) RUNS:

The run of notes in bar 5 Part I is executed by playing the B with the index finger and tipping the D as the cutting note with the second finger, back on to B and over to A on the left-hand side which is played with the index finger. All these notes are played with a drawn bellows. The A draw key is then pressed with the index finger for the G which is the most dominant note of the five, and on to B for the A cut. This run is a very useful exercise on using the first and second fingers on grace notes and dominant notes alike.

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