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This first tune is often referred to as Across the Fence. It dates from the 1950s when it was composed by the virtuoso fiddler, Brendan McGlinchey. Other of his compositions include Farewell to London and Splendid Isolation. Born in Armagh, Brendan has resided in England for most of his life. As a musician and composer he has been a major influence on many generations of fiddle players in Ireland and further afield.
The College Groves was popularised by the south Sligo fiddler, James Morrison, who was a contemporary of the great Michael Coleman. No. 485 in O’Neill’s 1001: Dance Music of Ireland, the tune was obtained by O’Neill from John Ennis, a piper and flute player originally from Co. Kildare – yet another musical ‘patrolman’ in the Chicago police force. Other tunes notated by James O’Neill (Francis O’Neill’s scribe) from Ennis, include the reels Trim the Velvet, Toss the Feathers and The Reel of Bogie. O’Neill also obtained a two-part version of The College Grove from Leitrim-born James Kennedy who had learnt the tune from his father, Peter Kennedy, a fiddler from Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim. O’Neill later observed that The College Grove may have originated in the Scottish tune, Miss Corbett’s Reel. The tune offers great scope for exploration and attention to detail, and is regarded as one of the finest in Irish music. It is particularly associated with the music of the great West Clare fiddler, Bobby Casey.