Finbar and Eddie Furey come from a musical family. Their father, Ted, is a well-known fiddler who for many years played in one of Dublin's music centers, O'Donahue's Bar in Merrion Row. Finbar's arrival in Britain was preceded by his reputation as a youthful phenomenon. The pipes have always been considered an instrument to be mastered only in maturity. Finbar Furey's precocity at age 23 is dramatized by the old saying, "Seven years learning, seven years practicing, seven years playing, to make a player.
ALEXANDER BLACHLY with acknowledgement to Bill Leader
The Spanish Cloak (pipes, guitar, whistle & bodhron). There is quite a body of music with courtly overtones still current in the Irish traditional repertory, much of it the work of the harpist O'Carolan. The Spanish Cloak is just one of the many titles by which this very un-Irish-sounding piece is known.
Sliabh na mBan (The Mountain of the Women) (pipes, guitar). The words of this fine old air relate to an incident in the rebellion of 1798, when a hastily mustered and poorly led band of country people from Tipperary were defeated on Sliabh na mBan.
Oh bitter the fight
and bitter the taste of defeat that night,
when the strangers had us in disorder thrown.
But more bitter still,
as we scattered in retreat from the hill,
were the taunts and jeers of the invaders of our home.
Graham's Plat (whistle, bodhron). A jig ; Finbar's own composition.
Piper in the Meadow Straying (pipes, guitar). This hornpipe is one of some thirty tunes for each of which there is a specific set dance.
Rocking the Baby (pipes, guitar). The lament of the housebound cuckold "rocking a baby that's none of my own" is widespread in the English-speaking world. Here Finbar transposes the Irish version of the song into 6/8 time.
Colonel Eraser (pipes, guitar). This reel shows the characteristic break in the voice of the pipes that is achieved by quickly lifting the chanter from the apron the piper wears on his knee.
Pigeon on the Gate (pipes, guitar). This is a fine example of a reel—the Irish musician's favorite form. Here Finbar displays his unique driving accompaniment on the regulators, an effect that has been likened by his old friend Johnny Keenan to "a fast mail train."
Eamonn an Chnuic (Ned of the Hill) (whistle, guitar). The "Ned" of the title is said to be Edmond O'Ryan, a Tipperary supporter of James II who was dispossessed after James's defeat by William III in 1691.
Tattered lack Welch (pipes, guitar). Finbar tackles this jig in the same manner as the reel that opens this side.
The Fox Chase (pipes, guitar). Traditional program music is a rarity. Nevertheless, the sights and sounds of the hunt have inspired many musicians, and not just in , Ireland. Sonny Terry's Fox Chase on the mouth harp is well known. In this recording, Finbar precedes his performance of this little masterpiece with an explanation of its dramatic content.