The mazurka is a highly distinct rhythmic metre. In Ireland it is found most prominently in County Donegal. The tune type originated in Poland during the 1500s. It spread both east and westwards eventually reaching virtually all corners of the globe. It was enthusiastically absorbed into the classical and folk genres alike. The text of this work documents the origin and transmission of the mazurka noting its arrival in Ireland and its uniquely popular absorption into the Donegal fiddle tradition.

The collection documents the full repertoire of traditional Donegal mazurkas as well as a number of recently composed mazurkas by traditional Donegal fiddlers. This collection presents 32 transcriptions of the known mazurka repertoire of County Donegal. It is accompanied by an audio CD of all the tunes with performances by Tommy Peoples, Séamus Gibson, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Martin McGinley as well as Caoimhín and Niall Mac Aoidh. The collection also contains a DVD illustrating the performance of a Polish mazurka as performed by Tomasz Sadlakowski and Malgorzata Szylko as well as the Shoe the Donkey, the Old Mazurka and the New Mazurka as danced and taught by Connie McKelvey and Ann Connaghan. Music for the Irish forms of the mazurka on the DVD is provided by the legendary Croaghs fiddlers Vincent, Jimmy and Peter Campbell the former two of whom were raised playing for house dances along with the famous Doherty brothers, John and Mickey. This package provides the user with the ability to learn the melodies, hear them performed by seminal players from the Donegal fiddle tradition as well as learn and practice the traditional couple dances as they are done in Donegal.

This work is an excellent example of how in the past, the great artistic genius of one region of Europe could be successfully transmitted across nations while being absorbed and adapted by new cultures resulting in the production of a new body of musical beauty. – His Excellency, Witold Sobkov, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Ireland.

Price: €25.00 including post and packaging



The highland is one of the hallmark rhythms of the dance repertoire in Donegal. The tunes mostly derive from Scottish strathspeys which were picked up by seasonal migrant workers from Donegal while in Scotland. The strathspeys were adjusted both in melodic and rhythmic terms so as to be used for the performance of the couple dance associated with the tunes.

This collection contains 325 transcriptions including 261 various highlands and 64 strathspeys as played by a wide number of source musicians from Donegal. The sources extend back as far as the fiddlers who were members of John McGettigan’s Three Leaf Shamrock Orchestra of the 1920s up to the present day. Transcriptions can be found from such well known seminal players as John and Mickey Doherty, Tommy Peoples, Danny Meehan, Francie Dearg and Mickey Ban Ó Beirn, Proinsias and Mairéad Uí Mhaonaigh, the Campbells, Neillidh Ó Baoighill, Con Cassidy and Dermot Byrne to lesser known but significant source musicians as Jim Doherty, Francie McHugh and Jimmy Lyons.

The text traces the current repertoire from the origin of the strathspey in the Spey valley in Inverness-shire and its first appearance in print in James Oswald’s 1745 collection to the present day.

It outlines significant traditional links with Scotland and notes the more recent linkages with Cape Breton. A number of newly discovered pieces of evidence concerning the transmission of the strathspey in Ireland are also presented. This work is the culmination of over three decades of collecting by Caoimhín Mac Aoidh and a seven year transcription collaboration with Jack Schroevers.

Highlands and strathspeys were always enthusiastically played by the old and great players when I was growing up. When I went to London and heard the players there from all over Ireland, I could immediately tell the highlands and strathspeys and our way of playing them set us Donegal musicians apart. They were our hallmarks and we played them proudly and full of life. This is a tremendous collection of an important part of our music. – Danny Meehan

This present ground-breaking collection and study of the highlands and associated strathspeys of Donegal by Caoimhín Mac Aoidh and the late Jack Schroevers is a welcome addition to the growing literature on the local and regional traditions of Irish music. It stands as a remembrance of the generations of migrant Irish farm-workers for whom this music mitigated the hardship of life, and those emigrant musicians who took the music with them to the recording studios of Irish America. Importantly, it makes a body of old local traditional music available to the present generation of musicians for their own pleasure and creative use. – Nicholas Carolan, Director, Irish Traditional Music Archive, Taisce Cheol Dúchais Éireann.

Price: €29.00 including post and packaging


Some other works by Caoimhín Mac Aoidh:
• Between the Jigs and the Reels – The Donegal Fiddle Tradition (Drumlin Publications 1994)
• The Scribe – The Life and Works of James O’Neill (Drumlin Publications 2006)
• An Ceol- The Tutor tunes from the Scoil Samhraidh d’ Fidléireachta Thír Chonaill (vols I, II, III). (Cairdeas na bhFidléirí)
• The Winding Banks of Erne – The Traditional Music of the Ballyshannon Area. (Winding Banks Publications)


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