Sheebeg and Sheemore - O'Carolan/Spätling

Item num.: es00287

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    Turlough O'Carolan (in Gaelic: Toirdhealbhach Ó Cearbhalláin), was an Irish harpist who invented about 200 of his own melodies and travelled the country with his music. At the age of 18 he fell ill with smallpox, which made him blind and prevented him from learning an "ordinary" profession. His father, who was a blacksmith, was employed by the McDermott Roe family. Mrs. McDermott taught him to play the harp. At the age of 21, equipped with a horse and a companion, he set out to earn a living (mostly board and lodging) with his music. To thank his hosts he wrote them short pieces.

    „Sheebeg and Sheemore (si'bheag si'mhor) is said to be the first tune Carolan composed. After leaving Alderford at the age of 21, Carolan stopped at Squire Reynold's house at Lough Scur. Mr. Reynolds, who had been a harper and poet himself, was not apparently impressed by Carolan's musical abilities and asked him if he composed. When Carolan replied he did not, Squire Reynolds remarked he "might make a better hand of his tongue than of his fingers." Reynolds planned to leave a few days and suggested Carolan make a tune out of a local legend of a "battle between the kings of the gentry [fairies]." 

    Sheebeg and Sheemore are two real hills in County Leitrim, located on Lough Scur.


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