With the exception of The Maids of Mitchelstown and The Strayaway Child, the tunes on this album are grouped in sets. The first set is made up of three reels, The Morning Star. The Fisherman's Lilt. and The Drunken Landlady. The Morning Star is generally associated with the piping of the late Patsy Tuohy who recorded the tune in the States the 1920's. The Fisherman's Lilt appears twice, firstly in the key of c linking The Morning Star and The Drunken Landlady and finally in, the key of D to finish the set.
The Maids of Mitchelstown follows at a slower pace than usual for a reel, with, the flute carrying the melody.
Six tunes — a jig and five reels — form the next grouping. Thing, The Leitrim Fancy, and the first of the reels, Round the World for Sport (also called Sword in HAnd), are basically one and the same tune. This reel is generally connected with the Co. Sligo flute player, Roger Sherlock. The next tune, Rip the Calico, is played as a pipes-flute duet. Then follow thru reels, all with strong Sligo ties. Martin Wynne, himself a Sligo fiddle-player now living in America, composed the first of these tunes. The last two, The Enchanted Lady and The Holy Land, are form a recording of yet another of the great Sligo fiddle-players, the late Paddy Killoran.
Next comes a pair of double jigs, The Pipe on the Hob and The Hag at the Churn, two highly-regarded pipe tunes. The first in particular was held dearly by both Willie Clancy and Leo Rowsome; today it is often associated with Seamus
Certain dance-tunes are sometimes played as slow airs; this is the case with The Blackbird. The basic melody is treated as an air, then as a set dance, and finally as a reel. This Donegal version of the reel was heard from the playing Johnny
A six-part double fig, The Strayaway Child, comes next. This tune was composedly the late Michael Gorman, the fiddle-player from Tubercurry, County Sligo.
The final set of tunes comprises three Kerry slides, The Priest, Mary Willie's, and This Is My Love, Do You Like Her? himself a Kerryman.
The three songs are from the repertoire of Nellí Ní Dhomhnaill of Rannafast, Co. Donegal. The Streets of Derry, or Derry Gaol as it is often called, is generally believed to derive from the Child ballad The Gallows Tree, though it is sometimes felt that the song may have independent and more complex origins.
The Factory Girl has strong links with the North of Ireland, but versions of it have bun found in most parts of the country. In the one given by Sam Henry in the songs of the People, the young woman accepts the gentleman's offer to make her 'a great lady of fame and renown.' In this version, however, she doesn't. The rejection is thought likely to be the older of the two endings.
The Sailor Boy or My Boy Willie, is widely known. It is printed with two additional verses in Colm O Lochlainn's Irish Street Ballads.
Thanks to Breandán Breathnach and J.K. Partridge for help with names of tunes.