Tune of the Day: Drimen Duff
The earliest known appearance of this tune in print is in Book 8 of Oswald's Caledonian Pocket Companion (c. 1760). Tune collector Francis O'Neill wrote, in his Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody (1922):
In former times it was much more common to find a white stripe along the spine of brown or black cows, and this coloration was called “Druim-fionn”, or white-black. which became “Drimmin” or “Drimen”. Thus we have “Drimmin-fionn-dubh” or White-back black cow, etc. In poetical literature those titles are allegorical. “Drimmin Dhu” was a political password among the Irish Jacobites, and all “Drimmin” songs breathe a spirit of fealty to the Jacobite cause.
The Scottish national poet Robert Burns used the melody for his song “Gloomy Night is Gath'ring Fast” in 1786.