Dominick McCarthy's Irish Barndance


The name Shand is synonymous with the traditional music of Scotland. The rock-solid rhythm and strict tempo of master accordionist and composer Sir Jimmy Shand are forever embedded in my mind. Joyous memories of Mr. Shand's music have remained with me all my life. They take me back to my youth in Killaloe, as we tuned our crackly radio to the Scottish airwaves to listen to the star of radio and television playing with his band.

Moving further along in years, my wife Sandy and I visited Sir Jimmy's hometown of Auchtermuchty, Scotland in the hope of meeting the maestro. Deciding that an unannounced visit might be intrusive, we continued on our journey.

This introduction to Dominick McCarthy's Irish Barndance may seem unusual; nevertheless, it seems appropriate to write about Sir Jimmy in order to write about his equally talented son Jimmy Shand Jr., accordionist, composer, and accordion tuner. On a recent visit to Auchtermuchty with my friends Drs. Jim and Cindy Polo, we were welcomed into the beautiful home of Jimmy Shand Jr. and his lovely wife Margaret. Jimmy had invited us, and on that trip I did not hesitate to knock on the door of the Shand residence. The kind warm hospitality that we received from Mr. and Mrs. Shand will now also be embedded in my mind. Music, stories, photographs, and holding Sir Jimmy's accordion were special treats on that occasion. 

And then our conversation turned to Jimmy Jr.'s music compositions. I told Jimmy that Dominick McCarthy from Clara in County Offaly had played the barndance for me over thirty years ago. Mr. Shand told me that he did not have any recollection of the tune. Upon giving Jimmy Jr. the sheet music, he began to whistle, and with a twinkle in his eye he smiled as the tune instantly came back to him. He was delighted to be reminded of this tune while saying it would be a welcome addition to his forthcoming book, Jimmy Shand, Jr. Music Compositions.

Unforgettable memories all around. Thank you, sir, for your composition and for the welcome that you and Margaret gave to Cindy, Jim, and myself. Jimmy, I hope you never stop playing and composing!


Séamus Connolly
Boston College Libraries
Some transcriptions are based on historical source recordings. More info.

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Murphy, Gráinne (fiddle), Murray, Alan (guitar), and Shand, Jimmy, Jr. (composer), “Dominick McCarthy's Irish Barndance,” The Séamus Connolly Collection of Irish Music, accessed June 17, 2024,