Fiddles (A Pub Tale)

…the best fiddling I ever heard was a reel, slashed off one day by a tramp player in William Street, Portlaw. For, though I have heard much music since, the indescribable dash and call of that reel are dancing in my ears yet. — Rev. Richard Henebry

Fiddles. They’re everywhere.

The fairies may very well have brought the harp and pipes to Ireland and gifted the population with them, but sometimes it seems that, if they brought the fiddle to anyone, it was to get rid of the pesky things — they seem to proliferate with nary a thought. Or perhaps it was the elves, living up to their reputations as nasty dudes with rather cruel senses of humor.

I can say these things, seeing as how I’m a fiddler myself; it’s me, Zina Lee, popping in from nowhere to say hello to the lads at the Neverending Session at the Pub at The Edge, soon to pop back out again, but hopefully not absenting myself so long this time. I’ve missed the session and the craic of it all.

The Pub at The Edge — more usually known as The Green Man Pub, but that’s how I first was told of the thing, so that’s the way I refer to it — is home to our motley crew of players in a session that never ends-one tune begins, ends, turns around into another, and the players change as you look up and out and in and around. But one thing remains constant almost always — fiddlers.

When I open my eyes to find myself in the Pub’s shadows, watching the session and listening to the tunes go round, sometimes playing myself, the music plan gently the same yet always different and alive, there’s always fiddlers. Possibly it’s because no other instrument quite embodies all the different moods of the music as does the fiddle.

Wait — they’re playing ‘The Baltimore Salute’, a reel I’ve just been learning to play from my friend Jason, a lovely, rambly, flowing tune from Josie McDermott of County Sligo. You can tell Josie is a flutist, the thing doesn’t sit easily on the fiddle, but it’s worth the struggle for the tune. Here, go scoot along for a bit while I have a listen!

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