The Piper’s Tunes is a celebration of Irish dance tunes and the musicians who played them.
More specifically, it’s about the great Irish piper John Blake. Blake was from Tuam in Co Galway and was considered one of the finest musicians in Ireland in the early part of the 19th century.
In those days, before the advent of recordings and mass communications, live music was the only kind of music available and so good musicians were much in demand.
The Piper’s Tunes lists some of the more popular tunes of the 19th century and gives us a glimpse of how they could bring so much joy to ordinary people, whether it be at dances, drinking sessions or in people’s homes.
The song’s origins are unknown but it almost certainly was written before 1850 as Blake moved to London at around that time. He died there in 1866.
The Piper’s Tunes was first recorded as a ballad sheet in the National Library of Ireland. Colm O’Lochlainn included it in his collection of Irish Street Ballads. O’Lochlainn suggested the song should be sung the tune of Bob and Joan, one of the melodies mentioned in the lyrics.
The tune is perhaps better known today as Courting in the Kitchen, which has been recorded by numerous artists including The Dubliners and The Clancy Brothers.
AsGI roved through the townTo view the prettyDlassesTheGold maids with a frownPeeped atCme thro’ theirDglassesToGCove we will go downGTo view the lasses prettyAnd theCsaiGlor men alsoAmWhich sets forth all its beauty.D~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ChorusGRi-too-ral-oo-ral-ahRi-too-ral-oo-ral-DaddyGRi-too-ral-oo-ral-ahRi-Dtoo-ral-oo-ral-Gaddy.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~There’s Captain Burke of GroveA very famous name, sirs.He keeps the buck and doeAnd hunts the sporting game, sirs.He winds the whip and spurAnd makes the hunters rattleAnd when that home he comesHe’ll surely crack a bottle.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Chorus~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~John Blake for to promote,He plays some tunes so merry;He gave some charming notesTo banish melancholy,He’ll then blow up the pipesTo play the tune “Brave Larry,”You’d laugh until you’d dieTo hear “Sweet Paddy Carey.”~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Chorus~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~He’d play the Prussian Wars,The falls of the Boyne Water,Jeannette and JeannotAnd the March of Alexander,The blooming White Cockade,The Old Brigade is coming,O’Connell’s in for Clare,And All the bells were ringing.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Chorus~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~He played the Colleen Bawn,The banks of Kitty’s Cottage,The affermonious jig, calledMy mother’s mess of pottage.The Wexford Rakes in style,And Trip the world before him,The Sailor’s Hornpipe,And Garryowen and Glory.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Chorus~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~He played from Kitty from Athlone,With Moreen móra Glanna,Noreen on the road,And the flashy Rakes of Mallow.Aughrim’s overthrow,And the fall of Carrig Castle,Brave Sarsfield took commandAt many a famous battle.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Chorus~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~He played the Chorus jig,The ancient Ladies’ Fancy,Jack and the Jug of Punch,And the Bonnie highland laddieThe Ale-house in great glee,With the Glass of brandyThe Roving sporting wheelMy love he is a dandy.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Chorus~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Nora Creena, he can playWith all the variationsThe Rambler from Tralee,The De’il among the Tailors.The Job of journey work,And the Boy she left behind her,The song of Paddy Whack,And Tall-hi-ho the grinder.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Chorus~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~He played up Bob and Joan,With Ju Ju Joice the jokerThe famous jig Tow-row,That was kept for Captain Croker.The Ball of Ballinafad,And the Banks of BannowPlunkett’s Moll in the wad,And Shawn O’Deer a’Glana.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Chorus~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~He played of BonaparteWho crossed the Alps in winter,The Union hornpipe,And the Killinick fox hunters,The song of Patrick’s Day,And the jig of Paddy CarrollAnd each boy will Kiss the MaidBehind the whiskey barrel.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Chorus~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~So now I’ll sing no more,Because my song is endedIf I said anything wrongI hope you’re not offendedOf hornpipes, jigs and reels,I’m sure I told you many,Get up and shake your heels,‘Tis better sport than any.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~