Tune of the Day: Sí Bheag, Sí Mhór
“Sí Beag, Sí Mór” (“Small Fairy Mound, Big Fairy Mound”, from the word Sí for ‛fairy mound’ or ‛fairy hill’ in Irish Gaelic) is usually attributed to the famous blind harpist and singer Turlough O'Carolan (1670–1738) as his first composition, which he wrote based on an old tune titled “The Bonnie Cuckoo”. The collection Fiddlers Philharmonic describes the tune as a “beautiful old Irish air, usually played simply and leisurely, and occasionally played as a waltz”. Sí Mór (Sheemore) and Sí Beag (Sheebeg) are also two ancient pagan burial sites situated close to each other in south County Leitrim, Ireland.
In modern times, the tune has been recorded by many artists, initially by Planxty on their 1973 debut album Planxty, and by The Chieftains in 1975, on their The Chieftains 5 album (as part of their suite “The Humours of Carolan”). It was performed live on numerous occasions by Fairport Convention, who also recorded it as a single in 1985, and whose fiddler Dave Swarbrick used to showcase it live in his touring partnership with Simon Nicol. It is commonly played on the fiddle and is also a favorite of various fingerstyle guitarists, including Tony McManus and Pierre Bensusan.
Thanks to Francisco for suggesting this tune!