Building a Repertoire

In my opinion Building a Repertoire is important to further your playing. You will need to get over the initial difficulties of holding the fiddle


Building a Repertoire

In my opinion Building a Repertoire is important to further your playing. You will need to get over the initial difficulties of holding the fiddle


Building a Repertoire

In my opinion Building a Repertoire is important to further your playing. You will need to get over the initial difficulties of holding the fiddle

Jenny’s Welcome to Charlie

Classic Irish fiddle tunes no. 6

Jenny’s Welcome to Charlie


Level – Advanced

Paul McNevin


‘Jenny’s Welcome to Charlie‘ is popular 4 part reel which is a favoured solo of many fiddle players for competitive playing. It is also popular with Uilleann pipers, having been recorded by Willie Clancy and Seamus Ennis.

Simply put, this suits the fiddle. It has a high F natural(1st finger played close to the nut) on the E string in 2 parts. This is common with Irish fiddle tunes, having an F natural in D minor or switching the accidental between the natural and the sharp. In Paddy Cronin’s version, he plays a variation with the last F as sharp in the 2nd part. This tune was a favourite of legendary Clare fiddler Bobby Casey. He recorded it many times. Interestingly Sean Keane playing the tune on Seoda Ceoil‘ starts the tune on the 4th part. There is also ample opportunity for double stopping on open D and A strings.

There are other similar tunes in structure(the 1st 2 parts)and name such as ‘Jenny’s Pickles Cockles‘ and ‘The Long Note’ (Recorded on ‘Hidden Ground’ by Paddy Glackin and Jolyon Jackson, released 1980). RTE, Ireland’s national broadcaster had a popular radio programme of the same name. There are many other tunes with Jenny(s) in the title such as ‘Jenny Dang the Weaver’ and ‘Jennys Wedding’. There are many different settings of this tune, seek out which you prefer.

Of course the most famous tune of the Jenny’s name(for fiddle players anyway) would be ‘Jennys Chickens’ made popular by a seminal recording of Michael Coleman in the 1920’s. Paddy Glackins recording on ‘Doublin’ (with Paddy Keenan) is a delight. Glackin also recorded ‘Jennys Chickens’ on his album(Released in 1991) ‘In Full Spate’.

Bowing, Ornamentation and Tune structure.

Bowing is highly personalised and even more so when players music is transcribed. The transcriber will have a style of their own. They will have types of ornamentation they prefer and how they choose to interpret the ornaments. They might also hear it differently choosing different ornaments or different versions of same ornament. Transcriptions will only pick up on so much, the will not pick up on certain things such as slight inflections, rhythm changes, adjustments in tuning/finger placement and of course the soul in the music. An advanced/experienced player will instinctively vary the tune, bowing and ornamentation each time round.

Below a list of albums with recordings of the tune. Unfortunately a lot are out of print but links are provided if they are available.


Tommy Peoples

‘An Exciting Session with One of Ireland’s Leading Traditional Fiddlers’ Tommy Peoples – 1976. A link to Tommys website here.


Paddy Glackin Doublin’ – 1979


Casey in the Cowhouse Bobby Casey – 1992

Danny Diamond

Danny Diamond ‘Fiddle Music’ Released – 2014

Paddy Cronin

Paddy Cronin -‘Kerry’s Own’ – 1977

Na Mooneys

Mairéad and Ciarán Ní Mhaonaigh Na Mooneys – 2016

Brian Conway

Brian Conway ‘First Through the Gate‘ – 2002

The Dusty Bridge

Fergal Scahill – ‘The Dusty Bridge’ – 2008

Jim McKillop

Jim McKillop ‘The Wind That Shakes The Barley’ – 1976

Eileen Ivers

Eileen Ivers ‘Fresh Takes’ with John Whelan – 1987.

Welcome Here Again

Martin Hayes & Denis Cahill ‘Welcome Here Again’ – 2008

Seoda Ceoil

Sean Keane on Seoda Ceoil 1 & 2 – Late 60’s.

It Was Mighty

Michael Gorman on CD 2 ‘It Was Mighty’ – The Early Days of Irish Music in London. Released 2016.

Tola Custy Cyril O Donoghue

Tola Custy & Cyril O Donoghue ‘Setting Free’ – 1994

Kathleen Collins
Kathleen Collins ‘Traditional Music of Ireland’ – 1976

Zowie Conway

Zowie Conway – The Horse’s Tail’ – 2006


McDara O Raghallaigh ‘Ego Trip’ – 2011

Hughie -Gillespie
Hughie Gillespie ‘Classic Recordings of Irish Traditional Music‘ – 1976


John Vesey ‘Sligo Fiddler‘ – 1970

Paddy Cronin
Bobby Casey ‘The Spirit of West Clare’  – 1971

A PDF/Photo Scan of the tune with suggested bowing and ornaments.

Jenny Welcome to Charlie

Download a PDF of the tune Jenny’s Welcome to Charlie

Building a Repertoire

In my opinion Building a Repertoire is important to further your playing. You will need to get over the initial difficulties of holding the fiddle and bow and knowing the notes. You will also need to have grasped the basic format of the tune types and play a small amount of tunes through off by heart. If a small amount of your practice time is spent on technique you can then work on building your repertoire . As ever, much time should be spent listening to other players and to recordings.

Niall Fleming Bow

Niall Fleming Bow.

Repertoire list: Doing out a repertoire list will allow you keep an eye on what and how much you know. Keeping an eye on your repertoire especially when new to the music is a good idea in my opinion and having structured approach will help. You will get to the stage where you can do away with the list. If you want to build a repertoire quickly it is better to have a goal in mind. A small one to start, even just 2 tunes that go together(same tune type).  If you don’t have the tune titles, just write out the notes of the first few bars. Try to find someone who’ll play these with you or a local session. This should help your playing immensely.

Most Irish musicians and won’t know how many tunes they know. Many session players will have so many tunes they can remember e.g. start themselves, but they will have many more they can play along with once they get the start! Tunes are learned or absorbed from sessions, recordings or directly from another musician. It important to note that Irish music is played off by heart and someone having to list to refer to in a session would be highly unusual! This might happen at beginner session or ‘slow’ session where the goal is to improve rather than a spontaneous musical gathering as such.

Sets: sets (tunes in groups, usually 2 or 3) seem to have always been popular in Irish music.This seems to have been done since Irish music has been recorded and played. Playing tunes in sets is more enjoyable, makes it easier to remember turns (changes to the next tune) and adds a sense of community when playing in groups or sessions(an Irish music gathering). Sets often change key but this is not always the case.

Paul McNevin

There are many favoured sets by groups of musicians when playing for dancers in a ceili band. Reels are the most popular are the most popular type of tunes played in sets followed by jigs. The popularity of sets will vary from location to location. People may also be drawn to a famous local musician or composer in their locality. Write a list of the tunes you know and try various combinations. Sets will need to be the same type of tune, if not this will need to be organised with the musicians who are playing with you!


Joe Burke & Sean McGuire – LP cover

Many solo players would record sets on their albums. Usually lots of sets of reels with some jigs and hornpipes. Two of the players to do this was Joe Burke and Sean McGuire(on an album of the same name). Michael Coleman did also in the 1920’s, recording about 70 sides in total. Coleman not only had a huge influence on Irish music itself but being one of the 1st irish fiddlers to record he made popular many sets of tunes which are still played today. These would include Bonnie Kate and Jenny’s Chickens and ‘Crowleys 1 &2.


The Enduring Magic’ – Michael Coleman.

The Tulla Ceile band

The Tulla Céile band.

Ceile Bands: Céile Bands(a band playing irish music for dancing) are a great source of tunes played in sets.There are many favoured sets by groups of musicians when playing for dancers in a ceili band. Reels are the most popular are the most popular type of tunes played in sets followed by jigs. Listen for recordings of The Tulla, The Kilfenora and The Gallowglass céili bands.

The Kilfenora Ceile Band

The Kilfenora Ceili band.

Some sets are so intertwined it is hard to imagine them being played in other sets, such as Cooleys & The Wise Maid or The Home Ruler/Kitty’s Wedding.

Joe Cooley

List of tune sets: (including several by Michael Coleman)

The Butterfly/The Kid on the Mountain. (recorded by the Bothy Band)
 The Ballydesmond 1 & 2 (polkas)
The Boys of Bluehill / Off to California
Bonnie Kate / Jennys Chickens( recorded by Michael Coleman, James Kelly, Brian Conway & many more)
Colonel Rogers / The Happy Days of Youth (recorded John McKenna, Frankie Gavin, on Flute)
Maud Millar / Molloys Favourite (recorded by John Whelan, Joe Burke)
The Plains of Boyle / The Rights of Man
The Home Ruler / Kitty’s Wedding (recorded by Noel Hill and Tony Linnane)
The Tarbolton / The Longford Collector / The Sailors Bonnet(also known as the Tarbolton selection made popular by Michael Coleman)
Cooleys / The Wise Maid (recorded by Joe Cooley)
The Jig of Slurs / The Athol Highlanders
The Copperplate 1 / The Copperplate 2(The Old & The New Copperplate)
The Killarney Wonder / The Finnea Lassies(recorded by Michael Coleman, Kevin Burke)
The Concertina reel / The Earls chair(recorded by Patrick street)

The Jug of Punch / Eddie Kelly’s (recorded by Kathleen Collins, Paddy Glackin on ‘Hidden Ground‘)

Farrell O Gara / Trim the Velvet( recorded by Joe Burke and Sean McGuire)
The Turnpike Gate / The Killavil Fancy(recorded by Roger Sherlock, Frankie Gavin)
The Duke of Leinster / The Duke of Leinsters Wife (recorded by James Kelly)
The Lads of Laois / The 1st Month of Summer (recorded by Andy McGann, Cathal Hayden)
The Banks of the Llen / The Scartaglen reel(The New Post Office), (recorded on ‘Irlande‘ with Frankie Gavin, Aidan Coffey and Arty McGlynn)
Andy McGanns / The Humours of Scariff (recorded by Andy McGann, Sean McGuire)
The Salamanca / The Banshee / The Sailors Bonnet (recorded by the Bothy Band)
Paddy Fahys / The Cliffs of Moher (recorded by Kevin Burke, Martin Byrnes, Vincent Griffin)
The Pigeon on the Gate / Miss Monaghan (recorded by Michael Coleman, Josephine Keegan, John Vesey)
Jackie Colemans / (Charlie) Mulvihills
The Morning Dew / The Woman of the House (recorded by Michael Coleman, Willie Clancy)
The Stage / The Western (recorded by Michael Coleman, James Kelly)

The Skylark / Roaring Mary (recorded by Joe Cooley) 

Cul Aodh jig (The Coolea jig) / The Blue Angel (recorded by Buttons and Bows, Sean McGuire quartet)
Caisleáin na nOr / The Humours of Tullycrine(Bobby Casey‘s)This tune was composed by Junior Crehan(recorded by Kevin Burke)
Doctor Gilbert’s Fancy / The Queen of May( recorded by Michael Coleman, Andy McGann, An Fhidil Sraith 1, John Vesey.)
The Glen Cottage polkas (recorded on An Fidil Straith II)
Planxty set – Planxty Irwin / Fanny Power (composed by Turlough O Carolan)
1 2 3 19