Looking through the books from the Jimmy Shand Collection in Dundee library for a tune to play on Saturday week at the free community concert in Dundee, I noticed “Carlione a Favourite Irish Tune” in Neil Gow’s third collection (1792). It is Dr John Stafford, or Carolan’s Receipt (no. 161 in Donal O’Sullivan’s index).

Whether or not I’lI get it up and running to play in two weeks time, it got me thinking about tunes titled with strange variants of Carolan’s name.

Perhaps the best known is in John and William Neal’s “Colection of the most Celebrated Irish tunes” of 1724: “Sigr Carrollini”

James Oswald has a few tunes like this in the Caledonian Pocket Companion of the mid 18th century, “Carralan’s Lament” (book 8 p. 14) and “Carland’s Devotion” (book 8 p. 26). The first of these is not the same tune as Carolan’s Devotion (no. 8 in Donal O’Sullivan’s index). John Purser in his edition says that he has not found other versions of either of these tunes, and I think it must remain a possibility that these are both compositions of James Oswald himself.

Also in the Caledonian Pocket Companion is Carril’s Lament, but I think this may be less likely to be referring to Carolan; possibilities are Carrill from the Fenian cycle, or Crail village, Oswald’s birthplace.

Perhaps the most curious is in the Pádraig Ó Néill manuscipts, from a little before 1800. “Carelon or King of the Blind” is a tune that is also known from Neal’s 1725 book, where it is titled simply “King of the Blind”. Does Ó Néill suggest that this is also a Carolan composition? He writes other tunes with just “C” for Carolan, e.g. “C Fairy Queen”.

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