Trebling Tracks Liner Notes

Trebling Tracks / O’Festival da Dansa: Treble Reels – The Title Track was written listening to and
thinking about the train tracks that were being laid down for the new Tuam-Limerick Railway Line across
the fields in Athenry, Co. Galway. The second tune’s arrangement was inspired by a dance drama team
from Brazil who were competing at the 2013 Boston Worlds. The Brazilian “a-go- go” instrumentation
and rhythms give this new reel a sense of Festivale.

Lilting Eamon / Yard 401 (Trad on the Titanic): Slow Heavy Jigs – My father was always lilting or
humming a happy tune. If we would ask him what tune it was, he would just laugh. I realize now that he
was the tunesmith in our family. The second tune was written after I had finished playing my rotation at
Worlds 2012 in Belfast. The Opening night of the Titanic Museum at Harland and Wolff was about to
commence, and while I would have loved to have been there, I was scheduled to start recording
sessions the next morning in Galway. While I missed the gala at the museum, as the revelers danced, I
was back in Galway writing this tune. Yard 401 was where Titanic was built at H+W and rumour has it
there was quite the spirited hooley (Trad on the Titanic?) on board before her launch.

The Commander’s Cortege / I Certainly Will Be Back in the Springtime: Slow Heavy Hornpipes – I was
watching the history channel and the funeral of the late US President, John F. Kennedy, was being aired.
As I watched the funeral cortege pass down Pennsylvania Avenue, I could not help but notice that the
rhythm of the horse hooves and the military drumming was in hornpipe time. Through the magic of
digital sound, we were able to take the actual sound from the video footage. I listened to the Rotunda
Eulogy of JFK, to note that it was a man of Irish heritage, US House Speaker and Representative John W.
McCormack who was the speaker. From his words, I found a single sentence that summed up a
country’s loss. Those words and his voice begin this tribute. The second tune commemorates the 50 th
Anniversary of JFK’s trip to Ireland. Those three days in June of 1963 were magical. I have always been
hauntingly moved by his parting last words in Ireland before boarding Air Force One: “While not the
land of my birth, it is the land for which I hold the greatest affection. I certainly will come back in the
springtime”. Tragically, that was never to be. At the end of the medley, you will hear the voice of JFK as
he says these words of farewell to Ireland. The arrangements of these tunes are intentionally brassy and
military. JFK loved Ireland’s music, and was very much impressed by the Irish Military Band’s welcome
and departure from Shannon, and had remarked that to Jackie. When state funeral arrangements were
being made, at Jackie’s request, Irish Defense Force Cadets were commissioned to perform silent drill
and charged with the placement of the eternal flame at JFK’s burial in Arlington National Cemetery.
Along with Pipers of the Scottish Black Watch, it is the one and only time a foreign military band has
performed on US soil at the funeral of a US President.

The Golden Ghillies / Stirabout Smiles: Slip Jigs – Both of these tunes were written a few months prior
to playing at the 2010 Worlds held in Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall. The first tune can be heard in the
footage of the motion picture “Jig” which was filmed at those Glasgow Worlds.

The Gates of Knockmaroon: Hornpipe Set Dance – This tune is a tribute to my Auntie Moll and Uncle
Frank McGuinness. In his youth, Frank participated in the fight for Irish freedom. In his later years, he
was the gatekeeper and lived in the gatelodge at Knockmaroon Gates, which are at the entrance of The
Phoenix Park in Dublin. Often, the President of Ireland would pass through the gates travelling to and
from his/her residence in the park, Áras an Uachtarán. As a respectful nod to the presidency, and to
Frank McGuinness, if you listen closely, you can hear the strains of Amhrán na bhFiann during the

The CharLady (Eamon’s Theme): Instrumental – Like “Whispering Door”, this collection features a
dance drama as well, but not played out in soundtrack form. The CharLady as a musical score has been
transformed in this arrangement to a theatrical soundtrack-free rhythm instrumental and waltz, to
reflect another dimension of “The CharLady”.

Knock’in Sparks / The Right Thing: Reels – Back in my competitive dancing years, whenever we got new
hard shoes with the hob nails on them, we would often dance on concrete to roughen the nail’s surface
so they wouldn’t be so slippery on stage. The hobnails hitting the concrete would make sparks, and that
was as much fun as getting the new shoes themselves. The second tune I named after guitar great
Jimmy Conway of Brendan Boyer and the Royal ShowBand. My favorite of his expressions is: “That
would be the right thing to do”. While he was visiting with me in Galway, I wrote this tune, and just had
to call it “The Right Thing Reel”.

The Latin(esque) Lady / My First Song (Singing Agnes): Slow Heavy Jigs – The first tune was written
thinking of a Brazilian friend of mine, who in conversation, used this term Latin-esque to describe her
ethnicity. I played the tune at the 2010 Worlds, and it was used along with a small film clip of me playing
it in the movie “Jig”. After recording this tune, Gabriel donated the acoustic guitar he played on this
track to an American Soldier being deployed overseas. Sadly, he never got the chance to use it. This
tune is dedicated to Lieutenant Colonel Todd Clark, United States Army, who gave all on a battlefield in
Afghanistan. The second tune evolved from thoughts of my mother. If Dad was the lilter, Mother was
certainly the singer. I was always impressed with how many songs she knew all the words to. She taught
me my first song at the age of 4 called “I Don’t Mind If I Do”. The tune itself has an I Don’t Mind If I Do
swing to it, and a nice cadence to dance to.

The High King’s / Danny’s Christmas Suit: Slow Hornpipes – I was thinking of my elder brothers, Eamon
and Martin, as this tune came to mind. They paved the way for me in so many ways throughout our
childhood years. While Ireland had their High Kings, these were mine, hence the regal name. The second
tune I was writing at Christmas time, when my neighbor Danny came by to show us his new suit. It was
beautiful! A true gentleman, and a bit of an accordion enthusiast and player himself, I thought it fitting
to name this tune after him and the suit.

The Glasgow Goddess / The Soprano’s Stiletto: Slip Jigs – These tunes were written specifically for
Worlds 2010 in Glasgow. I was thinking of all who work so hard to qualify to reach the world stage. This
is their time to shine, to become a goddess of the Glasgow Worlds. The second tune has 64 stuttering
notes, which reminded me of an opera I had seen where the Soprano is doing a flamenco styled dance with these stuttering beats tapped out from her stiletto shoes. The shoe and soprano fit the tune, and as they say… if the shoe fits………!

The Cattle Jobber: Hornpipe Set Dance – This tune made its first appearance in The Marie Duffy
Foundation Set Dance Composition Contest in the autumn of 2011. It went on to be a top ten finalist,
on the final night of competition at The University of Limerick. It was the hornpipe twin of my Jig Set
Dance entry, The CharLady. The title describes a person who in rural Ireland would bring your cattle to
market to sell them. Often times, a good farmer was not a good salesman, so he would hire The Cattle
Jobber to bring the cattle to market to sell them at the highest price, and the Cattle Jobber, in return,
would get a “luck penny” for handling the sale. I present the tune as it was originally recorded and
presented to the Marie Duffy Foundation.

The Silent Sleepers: Air / Jig Instrumental – The first film I ever went to see in the theater was "The
Godfather". There was something about that musical score that I loved, as well as the language and the
culture. Many have teased me about the big old cars I like to drive. I would laugh and reply “The trunk
sleeps 4”,….a subtle reference to my first movie’s storyline. Then I got to thinking about that new
railway line being built behind the house and the way the old wooden railway ties were torn up and the
new concrete ones put down. When I asked my neighbor, who worked his entire life for Iarnród Éireann
why that was being done, he simply said the concrete sleepers (railway ties) are a lot quieter. It dawned
on me that they were “Silent Sleepers”, and I felt it was a great name for a “Godfather” inspired tune.
The HollyBirds / Smokey Quartz: Reels – Lately it seems, at Christmas, it is harder to find a holly bush
with the red berries. That is because the birds eat all the berries. I think that makes them HollyBirds!
Smokey Quartz is a type of gemstone that I have only heard about. It supposedly has a mystical quality. I
liked the name and attached it to this reel.

The Loitering Dog / The Waterfront Fish Market: Fast Heavy Jigs – The first tune was written in the key
of “B” just because it sounded so traditional, but wasn’t. It then modulates up to the key of “C” with a
little more ornamentation. Have you ever noticed that many dogs in Ireland just hang around their front
gate loitering? The second tune was written after playing for Worlds 2012 in Belfast. The ceilí
competitions were held in Saint George’s Fish Market, and it was a unique experience for the dancers at
a world event. While the venue may not have been ideal, the acoustics for a button accordion, banjo
and a piano in there were excellent. I thought I would write a tune to commemorate the event even if
there are many still trying to forget about it. This tune has a 3 rd part that I only play live!

My Little Petal / Give Me The Flowers: Fast Heavy Jig – My Uncle Frank Fitzpatrick, and his wife, Auntie
Phil would always use this term of endearment, sometimes shortened to just “Petal”. This tune is for
them! The second tune is dedicated to a most kindred spirit, my Uncle Frank Fitzpatrick. God, I loved
that man! He had great charisma, wit, charm, style, and a twinkle in his eye that was more than just a
subtle hint of devilment. It suited him well throughout his lifetime career with Aer Lingus-where he
served in Public Relations and later as managing director of Cara, the in-flight magazine. He would often
say… “Give me the flowers while I can still smell them”. He lived his life that way, and I do my best every
day to follow in those footsteps.

Down the Pound Road / Medals and Marks: Fast Hornpipes – Athenry is a market town, and the road
that leads to the market has always been called by the locals (especially Josie Callanan) the pound road.
I can still hear her giving me directions to go “Down the Pound Road”. I thought it would be a fun name
for a tune. Medals and Marks are what happen at the end of your day when you are competing at the
feis. Especially for beginners, this is a big deal, so they get a tune named for them.

The Blue Haven BellyDancer / Hopscotch: Slip Jigs – Many years ago, I went to visit a friend in Kinsale,
Co. Cork. The meeting place was The Blue Haven and I was told there was entertainment. While I was
expecting music, or singing, or perhaps a recitation, I was surprised that the performance was
bellydancing! The night…… and the performance…… was brilliant! My sisters Mary and Theresa’s
favorite dance was the Slip Jig. As kids, they used to play hopscotch and those hopscotch skills came in
handy when it came to the Slip Jig. This tune is for them, and remembering when they were just kids
playing Hopscotch and dancing their Slip Jig steps.

The CharLady: Jig Set Dance – This tune was originally written for The Marie Duffy Foundation Set
Dance Competition Contest. I had the tune complete in my head, and had made a rough recording of it
at The Pillar Box in Athenry, but really needed to lay it down properly with some accompaniment. The
tune was recorded in a mad dash and sent off to the Foundation as an entry along with The
CattleJobber. The CharLady went on to win 1 st runner-up, and was subsequently selected by An
Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha to be included on their official list of Set Dances. To me, this is the highest
lifetime honor a former dancer, and active feis musician could ever achieve. I am forever grateful to The
Marie Duffy Foundation for hosting this event, and to the event’s adjudicators and subsequently
members of An Coimisiún who felt “The CharLady” worthy to be included on this most exclusive list of

Red Rose Rinceorí / The Ural Hurdy Gurdy: Light Jigs – I wrote these two tunes specifically for my trip to Russia in February of 2013. I was honored to have been invited there to teach music, lilting, and Irish
dancing, as well as to play music for the First Ural Mountain Feis. This is a tribute to the very pleasant
and enthusiastic students I met there, as well as the event’s sponsor, Darya Markosyan.

A Mother’s Twilight: Air – After my youngest sister passed away, on a quiet night, I got to thinking
about my mother, and the heartbreak she has experienced in the latter years of her life. With my father
having gone on to his heavenly reward, my own heart was breaking knowing the loss she must have felt
to see now the youngest of her children pass on. I started to think about how often women outlive their
husbands, and the years spent alone, watching those that they love go before them, and how the
twilight years of their lives, which should be their happiest, are often times their darkest and loneliest
hours. I played long into the night in that garage, and by daybreak, I had written this tune. I wanted to
name it something special and appropriate, and after several months of reflection, I realized it was really
about life’s twilight….. A Mother’s Twilight….. and the love and the loss that comes to so many mothers
in those twilight years. While this tune goes out to mothers everywhere, this one is most especially for
my most beloved Mother, Agnes.

Caledonia Pottery: March – On a get-a- way trip out to Connemara, I spent a night in Cashel House, a
country home in Cashel, Co. Galway. On the staircase, was a corner dresser, and on the dresser, what
appeared to be a moonshine jug. I gave the jug a couple of breathes and was amazed at how deep the
bass tone was off of it. I have heard Cajun music with moonshine jugs playing bass and thought this
would make a great instrument in a ceili band. The bottom of the jug said Caledonia Pottery. I wrote it
down and thought I would be able to find more jugs just like it, only to find out that the company closed
down almost 100 years ago, and their old jugs are impossible to come by. We did our best to emulate
and emphasize the bass in the studio when we created the virtual ceili band, and even though the sound
was not quite jug–like, the tune could only be called one name, and that was Caledonia Pottery.

Return to Trebling Tracks track list and credits


See also the original Official List CD with 30 tunes, The Official List II, The Whispering Door, and Irish Set Dances: Anthology.