I Buried My Wife and Danced on Her Grave

Here's a couple jigs the Thursday night Celtic Group Class is working on.  If you would like to join the group class, the only requirement is that you be actively taking private lessons either through the Studio, or with another teacher!  The group meets Thursday nights from 7-9pm here in Granby, MA.

The first is called "I Buried My Wife and Danced on her Grave".  Also known as I Buried My Love, I Buried My Wife, I Buried My Wife And Danced On Top Of Her, I Buried My Wife And Danced On Top Of Her Grave, I Buried My Wife And I Danced On Her.  It's a double jig in D Mixolydian with two parts of 8 bars.  The earliest source for this tune is 1927, which indicates that it's a relatively modern tune, probably written for the first Irish Feis in 1929 as established by the Gaelic League. 

The second tune is Connachtman's Rambles.  Also known as Bean Ag Baint Duileasc, The Connacht Man’s Rambles, The Connachtman’s Rambles, The Connachtmann’s Rambles, Connaght Man’s Rambles, The Connaught Man’s Ramble, The Connaught Man’s Rambles, The Connaughtman Rambles, Connaughtman’s, Connaughtman’s Ramble, The Connaughtman’s Ramble, The Connaughtman’s Rambles, The Duck From Drummock, Gathering Dilisk, Mickey The Moulder, Mooney’s.

 Here’s an anecdote from the dancing side of things: “Connaughtman’s Rambles” seems to be the most popular jig among sean-nós dancers in Connemara. If they’re going to dance a jig, then nine times out of ten this is what they’ll want. The jig is also one of the most commonly played pieces in the Irish repertoire, and has even spread to other genres. It is, for example, one of the commonly played jigs for English rapper sword dancing (along with “The Blackthorn Stick” and “The Ten-Penny Bit”). It comes up at most sessions most of the time.  Kevin Burke teaches it on his first DVD of a pair: Learn to Play Irish Fiddle: Polkas, Jigs & Slides (Homespun Videos, 2005), where he teaches it with “Saddle the Pony.”

Connaught was one of the five old provinces of Ireland (along with Ulster, Leinster, Meath, and Munster), named for the ancient tribe who lived there, the Connachta. It is, of course, one of the present four provinces. The title of this tune appears in a list of tunes brought by Philip Goodman, a professional and traditional piper in Farney, Louth, to the Feis Ceoil in Belfast in 1898 (Breathnach, 1997).  It is #1003 in O’Neill’s 1850  (1903), #218 in O’Neill’s 1001 (1907), and in both the Roche Collection (1891) and Ryan’s Mammoth Collection (1883).

I Buried My Wife and Danced on Her Grave

About the Feis

Feis (pronounced Fesh) is the Irish word for a festival. Feises are Irish Dance competitions which promote Irish culture and music. An Irish dance competition, feis (pronounced fesh), can be found somewhere in the United States every month of the year, although the spring and summer months are the busiest. Competitions are also held in Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Regional competitions (Oireachtas--pronouned uh-roc-tus) allow the best dancers to qualify for national competitions and thus for world competition. The All World Championships are held every year at Easter-time in Ireland.

Modern Feises

More formalized competitions began in the late 19th Century. This period begins in 1893 when the Gaelic League was founded (Conradh na Gaeilge). This group encouraged the revival of Irish culture, a culture that the English had suppressed for centuries. The first Feis was held in Ireland in 1897 and was a celebration of the Irish culture including language, song, dance and creative writing. The Feis did not arrive in America until 1964. Though many Feisanna (plural for Feis) include language, writing and soda bread competitions, the focus is on Irish dancing.

The Irish Dancing Commission was founded (An Coimisiun le Rinci' Gaelacha) in 1929 to establish rules regarding teaching, judging, and competitions. It continues in that role. Prior to 1929, many local variations in dances, music, costumes and the rules of feisianna existed. Part of the impact of the Commission was standardization of competitions.

During the 20th Century, Irish dance has evolved in terms of locations, costumes, and dance technique. For example, during the period of the dance masters, stages were much smaller including table tops, half doors, and sometimes the "stage" was simply a crossroad. (An old poem called dancing "tripping the sod.") Tests of dancing ability involved dancing on the top of a barrel or on a soaped table! As stages became larger, the dance changed in at least two ways. The movement of dancers across a stage increased greatly (a judge would now subtract points if a dancer did not "use the stage"), and dance steps that require substantial space became possible (e.g., "flying jumps"). The location of competitions also changed over time from barns or outdoors where flat bed trucks were (and still are) used as stages, to predominately indoors in hotels, schools, or fairgrounds. (Note that fairgrounds are particularly appropriate in a historical context of where ancient feisianna were located.)