Tune of the Day: Captain O'Kane
this air is thought to have been composed by blind Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan (1670–1738) for his friend Captain O'Kane (or O'Kain or O'Cahan), a “sporting” Irishman of a distinguished County Antrim family who was well known in his day as “Slasher O'Kane”. O'Carolan authority Donal O'Sullivan could find no attribution in any source to O'Carolan, but says the style is his and he generally accepts it as a composition of the bard's. Tune collector Francis O'Neill (1913) quotes Patrick O'Leary, an Australian correspondent, who wrote that the Captain of the title was “the hero of a hundred fights, from Landon to Oudenarde, who, when old an war-worn, tottered back from the Low Countries to his birthplace to die, and found himself not only a stranger, but an outlawed, disinherited, homeless wanderer in the ancient territory that his fathers ruled as Lords of Limavady.”
The song “The Wounded Hussar” was written to the melody by Alexander Campbell and appears in Smith's Irish Minstrel (Edinburgh, 1825). From its lyrics we learn that Captain Henry O'Kain died of his wounds “on the banks of the dark rolling Danube”.
Scots poet Robert Burns wrote his song “The Chevalier's Lament” (1788) to the tune of “Captain O'Kean”.