Tóstal, An


Leo Rowsome, known as 'The King of the Pipers', wrote this lovely reel. It is played on this track by fiddle player John Daly. 'An Tóstal', according to my good friend Helena Rowsome, Leo's daughter, means 'a pageant or assembly of ordinary people'. Here Helena describes 'An Tóstal' in her own words. Thank you, dear friend.

'I well remember when An Tóstal was held in Dublin. The entire city was cleaned up and flower baskets, flags and bunting of all colours placed on O'Connell Bridge. I recall thinking that Dublin must be the best place on earth. It provided a great incentive to tidy the city and instill civic pride again in its people. It was from An Tóstal that the current well-known 'Tidy Towns' competition came.

On one designated Sunday during An Tóstal (which would last for a couple of weeks), the GPO would be decorated with more flags than usual and a big platform placed outside for dignitaries of the State... I recall seeing the President, Seán T. O'Kelly, on the platform addressing the people during his presidency in 1954. I was eight then and daddy lifted me up to see the goings on...

Dad played at many events during An Tóstal, including a Céilí at the Mansion House. He composed the reel for obvious reasons: his celebration of a great festival. An Tóstal lasted from 1953 into the 1960s when it sort of phased out.'


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

Song & Tune Type

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Daly, John (fiddle), Brehony, Kevin (piano), and Rowsome, Leo (composer), “An Tóstal,” The Séamus Connolly Collection of Irish Music, accessed June 25, 2024, https://connollymusiccollection.bc.edu/document/647.