Figuring it Out


I tried as best I could to learn this tune from a tape made in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Paddy Gavin in Balbriggan, County Dublin, almost forty years ago. The tape was damaged a little but one could hear a great session of music played that night by the Gavin family and Jimmy Keane from Chicago. At one point on the tape, someone sat down at the piano and begin to pick out the melody of the reel heard on this track, as though composing, reading, or trying to remember it. I loved the tune and what I could make out of it, so I reconstructed it in my own way, whilst trying my utmost to remain faithful to what I could decipher of the original version. After all that and years later, I spoke to Kathleen Gavin, who recalls being at the piano that night sight-reading the tune from a piece of manuscript paper. The tune's origins remain a mystery. Its composer may not like my reconstruction, or how I played it on this track, nor the title that Kathleen has suggested. Please know though, whoever you may be, that we certainly like your tune or composition, and we thank you for it.

P.S. It has come to our attention that this tune is a composition of Leitrim fiddle player and multi-instrumentalist Joe Liddy. He titled the tune "The Sweat House."


Séamus Connolly
Boston College Libraries

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Connolly, Séamus (fiddle), “Figuring it Out,” The Séamus Connolly Collection of Irish Music, accessed June 13, 2024,