If your anything like me, you choice of favourites from Carolan probably changes over time but I'm interested in starting a list going amongst the members to gauge some idea of individual tune popularity amongst us. By default, it could also give us some idea of the relative unpopularity of some of his work. I have a feeling that there are several underplayed gems that we should be dusting down and bringing out more often. From a collection of over 200 tunes I'm guessing that no more than 30 or 40 get a regular "airing".


Please feel free to add links to your favourite versions - so we can enjoy them all !!!!


So, to kick things off, here is my current top 5 (in order) together with a few notes


1/  Planxty Irwin - OK, so its probably "done to death" but its still a fantastic little tune

2/ Planxty Fanny Poer - another frequently played piece - but I would argue that its played a lot because its good!!!

3/ Carolans Quarrel With The Landlady - A real "top draw" tune that deserves more frequent playing IMHO

4/ Blind Mary - I first heard this done on recorder with guitar accompanyment and have loved it ever since.

5/ Si Bheag Si Mhor - I think there is some argument that he actually only wrote the words for this tune, but I'm including it anyway!



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Replies to This Discussion

Carolan's welcome

Lovely tune, my grandda's favourite, had i been able to do it justice i would have played it at his funeral..

Hi Lars and Mike,

A lovely idea - O' Carolan has some beautiful tunes including this one (Carolan's welcome) but I feel that a good many of his tunes were nonentities in that the melody was not clear or 'singable' and therefore forgettable. But that is consistent with most composers - I heard it mentioned the other day on the radio that there are a lot of Bob Dylans' songs quite forgettable and of course many of them absolute hits!

I will watch this discussion carefully as it will be great to have his more beautiful melodies listed somewhere.

O' Carolan's concerto was one of my additions to the above list when I was starting out as a child. Tricky though to make it sound nice on an instrument other than a harp! I still enjoy playing it now and then. Love Sí Beag and Sí Mhór, Planxty Fanny Power and Planxty Irwin.

Thanks again Mike.

Lars - I meant to say that I'm sure you would have done justice to Carolan's Welcome - did your Grandda play? Is this where you got your love of Irish music?


Lars, Aine and the rest who have - Many thanks for joining the group and contributing!

There is a whole host of discussion material we can have around Carolan - I'm looking forward to that evolving over time. Part of the thing that sparked me off on this idea for a group is that I keep discovering absolute gems of tunes that nobody seems to be playing. OK, so they are'nt standard "session fodder" but they do deserve to be aired more often than they are.

The works of Carolan seem to sit just inside several different branches of music. They are played by us "traddie" folk, Classical musicians, Rennaisance / Early Music buffs, Baroque enthusiasts. That last one worries me a bit but I'll not be swapping the whistle for a recorder any time soon!! Thats another thought too - whilst they sit very much under the harping tradition, these tunes stand up well on a huge variety of instruments and arrangements. Aine, you reminded me of that by mentioning Dylan - So many people have had success with "covers" of his material.


Well, grandda played some fiddle but not ITM.. What i meant by "doing justice" in my own ruthless criticism of my own playing is like being able to play it 110% clean after 5 pints in the middle of the night :)

Hi Lars, of course, sorry!

Under such circumstances I know it is very hard - especially playing flute or whistle - to play through strong emotions(and after 5 pints!!!), I wasn't thinking when I wrote.


Hi Mike,

I agree that O Carolan's music fits into several styles and indeed it does sound beautiful on nearly any instrument.

Looking forward to hearing some of those arrangements of his music that people might upload...


Hiya Aine,

If you have'nt already check out the extra pages I've added to the group "Carolan on Tradconnect" and "Carolan from around utube" - I've kind of kicked things off! - well, I did'nt want the cupboard to be empty! You'll find links for them on the right side of the main page for the group ie 1 page "back" from here and underneath the list of members. Feel free to throw me as many links as you like and I'll add them in on that page. I'm attempting to build an archive but it will take ages!



Always used to be Eleanor Plunkett, Lament for Owen Roe O'Neill, Si Bheag Si Mhor and Planxty Fanny Power (I like to be predictable!), but to this list I'd add a current favourirte - can't think who's to blame for that(!) - which is The Fairy Queen.

OK Martin, I have my hand up! - thanks for joining up and contributing - I must add that young lady into the archive. I think were going to find a lot more gems as this group progresses! - feel free to chuck me any Carolan links that tickle your fancy, I'll add them in.

Hi Mike,

Thanks for starting the group and best of luck with it.  I have to admit that off the top of my head, the only O'Carolan tune I could identify is his Concerto, made popular by the Chieftans!  However, having had a look around here I recognise quite a few tunes which I didn't realise he'd written.  Every day's a school day I suppose!!


Hi Paul,

It's amazing how many you recognise isn't it? - and I am learning loads myself by doing this. In fact I've just started learning Mervyn Pratt. This is one of many gems that I never new existed !



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