Biddy from Sligo / The Connaughtman's Rambles


And as we present this last selection, we come to the end of a long musical journey. It is my hope that whoever reads my stories, anecdotes, and ramblings will get some insight into the tunes' histories, and some new information about them.

Preferring to end this collection with lively, happy music, I asked my young musical friends, Kathleen Boyle from Scotland and Gráinne Murphy from Massachusetts, to do me the honour of recording the above-named tunes for this last track. These same jigs were recorded in 1937 by Kathleen's grandfather, the famed fiddle maestro Néillidh Boyle from County Donegal. The young ladies are joined by Néillidh's son Hughie Boyle, who plays piano, and together, with pride, they give us that same lift and drive associated with the wonderful music that is peculiar to County Donegal. I was thrilled when Kathleen invited me to join herself, her dad, and Gráinne in remembering her grandfather, completing an extraordinary musical circle. The torch has indeed been passed.

It so happens that the last tune on the track, 'The Connaughtman's Rambles', is the first jig I ever learned, and I did so from the 78 RPM recording that Néillidh Boyle recorded seventy-eight years ago. In a way, then, this track is symbolic of how Irish traditional music keeps coming full circle, shared back and forth between musicians across the broad Atlantic and across generations.

And lest I forget about the not-often-heard tune dedicated to a certain Biddy (a nickname for 'Bridget') from Sligo, my mind goes back in time to my grandmother sitting by the fireside listening to me trying to learn and play this fine jig. And so, in remembrance of my grandmother, Elizabeth Collins (née Rochford), a wonderful lady of tunes, songs, and stories, I hereby offer an account of the lyrics she had for 'Biddy from Sligo':

'Oh mother dear, may I go for a swim?
Yes, my darling daughter!
Mind the boys don't see your shins,
Keep them well under the water!'


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

Song & Tune Type

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Boyle, Kathleen (piano accordion) et al., “Biddy from Sligo / The Connaughtman's Rambles,” The Séamus Connolly Collection of Irish Music, accessed July 23, 2024,