Tune of the Day: The Gobby O
The earliest known appearance of this tune is in the 4th volume of James Aird's A Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, published in Glasgow in 1794. Aird designated the provenance of the tune as “Irish”.
One suggestion regarding the meaning of the title postulates a progressive derivation from “Gaberlunzie Boy” (i.e. beggar boy), shortened to “Gaby Boy”, and finally morphing into “Gobby-O”. Other sources say that the title refers to a ‘gobby-stick’ (a flute or fife), the inference being that these woodwind instruments are hollow sticks played with the mouth (‘gob’ is the Gaelic word for ‘beak’ or ‘mouth’).