Sheet Music: The Old Grey Goose

TitleThe Old Grey Goose
Alternate titlesWe'll All Take a Coach and Trip it Away
The Rakes of Kinsale
ComposerTraditional Irish
InstrumentationFlute solo
KeyE minor
Time signature6/8
Tempo100 BPM
Performance time1:55
Difficulty levelintermediate
Download printable scorePDF Sheet Music (62 kB) (preview)
Download audio tracksMIDI (change tempo/key) MP3 (940 kB)
Date added2024-06-19
Last updated2024-06-19
Download popularity index☆☆☆☆☆ 1.2 (average)
Jigs, Traditional/Folk


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Wednesday 19 June 2024

Tune of the Day: The Old Grey Goose

Traditional Irish jig

The jig, taken from Chicago Police Captain Francis O'Neill's Music of Ireland (1903), is a composite melody, made up of two separate tunes grafted together. O'Neill himself identified an old time jig named “We'll all take a Coach and Trip it Away”, a five-part tune printed in O'Farrell's National Irish Music (1797–1800), as the precursor to his “The Old Grey Goose”.

O'Neill's story is that the version he printed came about in a rather circuitous fashion, beginning in the 1880s when a renowned Irish piper by the name of John Hicks played a venue in Chicago. On that occasion several of his tunes were memorized by local musicians and subsequently entered Irish-American tradition in that city. Hicks's tune is the 1st and 3rd parts of “Old Grey Goose”. O'Neill himself heard the 1st and 2nd parts as a jig played by County Leitrim fiddler James Kennedy, who called it “The Geese in the Bogs”, and when he dictated the melody to his collaborator, fiddler James O'Neill, he discovered James had a manuscript version with six parts. Somewhat arbitrarily, they decided to use the last three parts of James O'Neill's manuscript version, together with the three obtained from Hicks and Kennedy, and, since they already had a tune by the name of “Geese in the Bogs” they decided to call the piece “Old Grey Goose”.