Ril gan ainm played by Paddy Carty

Transcription and comments by Peter Laban, 5 January 2003

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From a recording of a concert by Paddy Carty and Paddy Fahy during the early 1980s. Paddy Carty was a fluteplayer from Loughrea, Co Galway. He is regarded as the greatest exponent of the East Galway style of fluteplaying, a school of playing that includes Stephen, Ambrose and Eddie Moloney, Vincent Broderick, Tommy Whelan, Jack Coen, Mike Rafferty, Joe Burke and others.

The East Galway style is a highly melodic, flowing style which often moves in keys not used much in other parts of the country using one or two flats and no sharps. The area has some prolific composers, Tommie Coen, Eddie Kelly, Tommy Whelan, Vincent Broderick and the man whose music has become the the epitome of the East Galway style, Paddy Fahy, who composed some 40 reels, a dozen jigs and a few hornpipes of an intricacy that has even some of his closest followers baffled at times. Paddy Carty was one of Fahy's playing partners.

Carty played a timber flute with a Radcliffe key system which enabled him to move freely in the "difficult keys". His music is sparsely ornamented and has a highly characteristic melodic flow. Carty was recorded commercially: his recording for Shanachie accompanied by Mick O'Connor on tenor banjo has been released as a CD but his recording with Conor Tully on fiddle and Frank Hogan accompanying on mandola that was made shortly before his death is the one that, for me anyway, stands out as one of the all-time classic recordings of traditional music.

The tune presented here was selected because it moves in a key which is less intimidating for the average flute or whistleplayer than some of Carty's music.. I have no name for the first tune in the set though it was recorded in the past by Frankie Gavin and a version played very slowly appeared on Altan's Harvest Storm. More recently fiddleplayer Pat O'Connor recorded it, naming it Carty's Pigeon. It is a very simple reel which for its structure almost fully relies on arpeggios on D and E, the sort of tune that sits well on the flute. The second reel in the clip is The flowers of Red Hill.


Carty approaches the tune in his own characteristic way, letting the melody flow freely, using little in the way of ornamentation. There are some approaches to the melody that are typical of Carty's music, for example the ending of the first part in bar 8 and the descending triplet in bar 9.

Another feature typical to the style is his use of "fill-in" notes and arpeggio style runs like for example in bars 10-11 and 13-14


This is just an example of a single performance and the notation isn't intended to be final. I have taken some liberties in the transcription - some fill-in notes used in bars 13-14 didn't actually appear in the first playing but appeared later in the tune. I didn't think it would harm the intention of the notation if I inserted them to illustrate an element of the style.

Peter Laban, Miltown Malbay, Co Clare, 5 January 2003