Dark Island: A Scottish Air originally of unspecified name (Dr N's Lament?) by Ian MacLaughlin composed on the Island of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides in 1958 as a lament for the local doctor. The melody achieved widespread popularity after being renamed and used as the theme tune for the BBC TV series The Dark Island in 1963. This was set on the Island of Benbecula and actually fimed on Uist. The Air thus inherited the title Dark Island with the words penned in homage to Benbecula for the series by David Silver:
'So gentle the sea breeze that ripples the bay,
Where the stream joins the ocean, and young children play;
On the strand of pure silver, I'll welcome each day,
And I'll roam for ever more the Dark Isle.'
An alternate history of Dark Island (according to Dr Allen MacDonald) says that although Ian MacLaughlin popularized the melody through his playing of it for the popular TV series, its composition was attributed to him in error. The tune may have been composed by Allan MacCormack, nephew of the well known Benbecula piper, Lachlan Ban MacCormack.
Either way, lament or celebration, Dark Island has proven to be one of the most beautiful and enduring of recently penned Airs!
The Fox's lament: is an old descriptive piece of music probably composed by the blind piper Edward Keating-Hyland around the year 1797. It is part of a larger descriptive body of work by Edward Keating-Hyland, The Fox Chase. In the original, the lament is not quite the end of the matter as a slip-jig in 9/8, tagged at the end, helps our creature on its way to freedom!
The Fox's Lament
"The following two Airs I do not normally play at weddings unless requested. However, such is their popularity and beauty, I place them here as fine examples of the Airs genre". dd
The May Morning Dew: Another romantic and ancient Air from the Sean Nos Tradition.
The May Morning Dew
Do not waken, I sleep (Taimse im'Chodladh): The dreamer dreams of their lover and has no wish to be woken. Very old love Song and Air from the Sean Nos Tradition.
Do not waken, I sleep
The Yellow Bittern (An Buinneann Bui): Another prize Air from the Sean Nos Tradition. The subject of this Song and Air is set around Lake MacNean (between Fermanagh and Cavan) and was composed and written by Yellow Charlie Gunn (Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna). The Air concludes with the jig, King of the Pipers.
The Yellow Bittern
(An Buinneann Bui)
The Little Cuckoo of Glen Nephin (Cuaichin Ghleann Neifin): Irish Air and Love Song from Connemara in the West: 'The stars, the sun and moon are hidden, my vision is clouded so that the path is dark, because of the little cuckoo of Glen Nephin whom I can never win. O treasure, free me from this pain, your beauty overpowers me.' This Air is generally played after the ceremony and register signing.
The Little Cuckoo of Glen Nephin
(Cuaichin Ghleann Neifin)
She moved through the Fair: Popular and much loved Air and Song dating back to the Middle-Ages. Generally played after the ceremony and signing of the register.
She moved through the Fair
Women of Ireland: An extremely popular and much loved Traditional Air and Song. In this particular case the words are much older than the music, having being penned by the Irish poet Paedar O'Doirin (1704 - 1796) and eventually set to music by the composer Sean O'Riada (1931 - 1971).
Women of Ireland
Paddy O'Rafferty's Jig: Well known three-part Traditional Irish Jig, especially amongst Uilleann pipers.
Paddy O'Rafferty's Jig
O Treasure of my Heart (A Stor mo Chroi): An emotional and evocative Irish Air drawn from the Sean Nos (Old Style) tradition. The Air to this song, Bruach na Carriage Baine, is much older than the words which were penned more recently by Brian O'Higgins (1882 - 1949) to create this song-masterpiece of migration and love:
'The Strangers land may be bright and fair,
And rich in its treasures golden.
You'll pine, I know, for the long long ago
And the love that is never olden.'
O Treasure of my Heart
(A Stor mo Chroi)
The Princess Royal: Composed by O'Carolan for the eldest daughter of the McDermott Clan of Coolavin, known as The Princes of Coolavin.
The Princess Royal
The Coolin: This air is characterised as one of the most beautiful from the Irish Traditional repertoire. There is dispute as to its origin with some declaring it to be one of O'Carolan's compositions and others giving it to Thomas Connellan (1640 - 1698).
O'Carolan's Welcome: Turloch O'Carolan (1670 - 1738) was one of the last of the travelling Bards and an era and way of life was fast coming to an end. O'Carolan always received a warm welcome throughout his long(ish) and creative life. Another stately melody in similar vein to Mrs Judge.
Mrs Judge & Planxty Judge: These two stately compositions (always played together) from Turloch O'Carolan (1670 - 1738), were written for Abigail Judge, wife of Thomas Judge of Grangebeg, Co. Westmeath, whom she married in the year 1707.
The term 'Planxty' is given to a composition in honour of a patron. The blind harpist O'Carolan composed many Planxty's throughout his long life, travelling, composing and performing. He was one of the last travelling Bards of the old era.
Uilleann piper, Dicky Deegan, has over 30 yrs experience playing for weddings and, consequently, has an healthy array of appropriate Airs and Melodies in his repertoire that have proven the test of time. In fact, several hundreds of years with many of them!
In addition to all these wonderful Airs and Melodies from antiquity (including the fairy-tale compositions of the blind Irish Harpist Turloch O'Carolan 1670 - 1738), all so naturally suited for weddings, quite a number of more recent compositions have caught the public’s imagination, and heart strings, through the medium of theatre, film and the concert hall. These recent, sensorous compositions (by request now a part of your piper’s repertoire and available for you) include music such as: the Air, Cu Chulainn (Riverdance); The Brendan Theme (The Brendan Voyage Suite); For the Love of a Princess, The Secret Wedding, A gift of a Thistle (Braveheart); The Kiss (Last of the Mohicans).
In addition to the popular Airs mentioned above, feel free to click and listen in advance to a few of the Celtic Traditional Airs and Melodies performed by Dicky Deegan and presented below. These are a small sample from his traditional repertoire (there is less audio on the mb site as loading was taking too long):