O’Carolan’s Farewell to Music - Program Notes

Charles MacCabe – minor poet, harper, friend and traveling companion of Turlough O’Carolan.

A public house in the village of Ballyfarnon, County Roscommon.

Late evening, March 30, l738.

Biographical Note
Turlough O’Carolan, known as the last of the Irish bards, was born in County Meath, Ireland, in 1670, the son of a poor farmer. In 1688 he was stricken with smallpox and was left totally blind. Through the intercession of a wealthy Irish-Catholic family he was given three years of instruction on the harp and subsequently began his life as an itinerant musician. Though never a great hand as a performer, he quickly discovered his genius for composition. For the remainder of his life he traveled throughout Ireland, staying in the houses of the gentry, both Irish and Anglo-Irish alike, and composing for them. He is, to this day, regarded as Ireland’s most beloved and celebrated musician, and, for what it’s worth, his face is on the Irish £50 note. He died in 1738.

List of Tunes

Act I

Scene One – The First Day We Met

Carolan’s Receipt for Drinking
Carolan’s Dream
Carolan’s Draught
Carolan’s Quarrel with the Landlady

Scene Two – Alderford House

The Queen’s Dream
Carolan’s Ramble to Cashel
Squire Wood’s Lamentation on the Refusal of his Halfpence
Carolan’s Cup

Act II


Planxty Burke

Scene One – The Road

Sheebeg Sheemore

Scene Two – A Glimpse Into His Soul

Carolan’s Welcome
Bridget Cruise (Mabel Kelly)
Blind Mary
Carolan’s Farewell to Music

All tunes were composed by Turlough O’Carolan
except Carolan’s Dream, which was composed by
William Connellan (c.1640-c.1700)