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Dic Béimis has a long association with theatre and literature. Dic communicates how Yeats captures a sense of the great fiddlers of Sligo: the line ‘dance like a wave of the sea' could bring to mind North Connaught set dancers navigating their way through a Lancers’ Set. The line ‘the book of songs I bought at the Sligo fair’ prompted Dic to select this poem on two counts: Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann being hosted by Sligo for a second consecutive year in 2015; the celebration of Yeats’ birth 150 years ago this year. Dic adds that his wife, Marie’s, close association with Kilvarnet, Co. Sligo may have influenced his choice!
The Fiddler of Dooney first appeared in 1892 in The Bookman, a monthly magazine published in London.
THE FIDDLER OF DOONEY - William Butler Yeats
When I play on my fiddle in Dooney,
Folk dance like a wave of the sea;
My cousin is priest in Kilvarnet
My brother in Mocharabuiee.
I passed my brother and cousin:
They read in their books of prayer:
I read in my book of songs
I bought at the Sligo fair.
When we come at the end of time
To Peter sitting in state,
He will smile on the three old spirits,
But call me first through the gate;
For the good are always the merry,
Save by an evil chance,
And the merry love the fiddle,
And the merry love to dance.
And when the folk there spy me,
They will all come up to me,
With ‘Here is the fiddler of Dooney!’
And dance like the wave of the sea.
Dooney Rock (Jig) is another composition of Seán Ryan (see Track 5). Born in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, Seán was a fiddler of great note who composed many fine tunes.