Tune of the Day: The Merry Old Woman
This jig is taken from Francis O'Neill's celebrated collection Dance Music of Ireland, published in Chicago in 1907. In Irish Folk Music (1910), O'Neill writes:
One often wonders why a popular tune passes current for years without a name among non-professional Irish musicians. Nothing is more common than to be told on making inquiry, “I never heard the name of it,” and seemingly nothing concerned them less than the name as long as they could play a tune to suit their fancy. Such was the case with the fine old traditional tune, the “Merry Old Woman.” None of our best performers had any name for this favorite jig, so it could not be permitted to remain nameless any longer. By dint of persistent investigation we eventually learned that it was known as the “Walls of Enniscorthy.” Few double jigs equal it. None excel it and I’m inclined to believe that it is one of “Old Man” Quinn's tunes preserved to us by Sergeant Early. A variant of this jig I find appears in Dr. Joyce's late work under the name, “Rakes of Newcastle-West,” but in a much simpler setting.