“A treasure.” Echoes of Erin, WEDO Radio
Hooley's CD coverHooley's CD disc
Hooley’s CD cover and disc, Cuts from the Turf
CD design by Larkin Werner
Recorded at Audiomation, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Hooley’s music

After ten years of playing, Hooley released a compact disc, Cuts from the Turf, in 2001. Originally available locally only, the recording quickly sold out. But now it is available again as a CD or digital download at CD Baby, the largest online retailer devoted to independent recordings. You may listen to sound samples for each track there or below. If you already own the recording, feel free to go to the bottom of our page at CD Baby and let others know what you think.

Hooley also has a track from Cuts from the Turf, “Spike Island Lasses/The Silver Spire,” on the Pittsburgh Irish Festival’s 2005 compilation recording, 15th Anniversary Music Celebration. Hooley shares tracks with Cherish the Ladies, Gaelic Storm, Maken and Spain Brothers, Ploughman's Lunch, and twelve others.

A Pittsburgh City Paper review

For around 10 years, Pittsburgh Irish-music super group Hooley has carried the torch of traditional music in this area. The band’s debut CD, Cuts From The Turf, is a quietly masterful labor of love, self-produced and self-released by Hooley with a careful eye on everything from the beautiful packaging to the folk-geek-satisfying liner notes. Most importantly, the music on Cuts From The Turf is wonderful almost without exception. The tunes and songs chosen here (only one song was written by the musicians) fall within a fairly strict traditional music framework of instrumental dance tunes, sean-nós songs (a style of unaccompanied singing) and ballads — no “Whiskey In the Jar” here — and are played with a healthy dose of respect for that tradition, both in the musicianship and the recording’s production. While no recording can capture the sublime communication of a pub seisun, Hooley attempts it here with all the rough-edged fiddle barbs, pipe pops and other reality checks that remind the listener that this is living, breathing music, not a polished studio style.

On the instrumental tunes, which make up the bulk of Cuts From The Turf, Hooley offers a diversity of tune styles. Of particular effect: three slides played by flautist Richard Withers, including one (“Put The English On It”) written for his Pittsburgh-based Irish immigrant mentor; Oliver Browne’s fiery fiddle reels (“Charlie Lennon’s”) that start the disc off; the beautiful and haunting “The Butterfly,” on which Bruce Foley’s low tin whistle and Les Getchell’s bodhrán mesh into a primitive, tribal imitation of nature.

The songs on Cuts From The Turf benefit greatly from inventive arrangements and Foley’s and Ray Werner’s pure tenor voices, but are more naturally prone to the teary-eyed nostalgia that is part and parcel of Irish song. “The Boys Of Barr Na Sraide,” for example, is arranged into a Chieftains-esque full-band number, and Foley sings with the same off-the-cuff immediacy that characterizes the album’s performances. But the song hits so many Irish lyric catchphrases (English oppression, emigration, how great things used to be and will be again) that it doesn’t seem right on this subtle disc. More proper is the sean nós romp “I Thank You Ma’am, Says Dan,” in which Werner’s deadpan unaccompanied singing offsets the silly, double-entendre lyrics.

Justin Hopper, Music Editor, Pittsburgh City Paper, March 13, 2002

CD insert, pages 5–6
Insert from Hooley’s CD, Cuts from the Turf, pages 5–6

The CD’s complete liner notes and lyrics, plus :30 sound bites (mp3, 460 kb each)

1. Charlie Lennon’s Reels
Two compositions of the great Galway tunesmith and fiddler Charlie Lennon.

2. Put the English on It/Patrick O’Keeffe’s/Connie Walsh’s
Three slides. The first is an original tune by Richard Withers honoring the wonderful Sligo flutist Mike Gallagher, who immigrated to Pittsburgh in the ‘40s.

3. The Boys of Barr na Sraide
by Sigerson Clifford of Cahersiveen, County Kerry
Boys of Barr na Sraida translates to “high end of the street.” One of Bruce Foley’s favorite songs, it is a powerful combination of haunting melody and poem that recollects the important events and people in a man's lifetime. Hunting for the wren is a traditional event carried out on St. Stephen’s Day (Dec. 26) by young friends and siblings. Bruce sang this song years ago for the late Michael O’Shea. He was rewarded with a 1935 penny Michael brought with him when he emigrated to Pittsburgh from County Kerry.

Oh the town it climbs the mountain and looks upon the sea
At sleeping time or walking time it’s there I'd like to be
To walk again those kindly streets the place where life began
With those boys of Barr Na Sraide who hunted for the wren

With cudgels stout we roamed about to hunt for the dreolin
We searched for birds in every furze form Leitir to Dooneen
We danced for joy beneath the sky life held no print nor plan
When the boys of Barr Na Sraide went hunting for the wren

When the fields were bleeding and the rifles were aflame
To the rebel homes of Kerry the Saxon strangers came
But the boys who beat the Auxies and fought the Black and Tans
Were the boys of Barr Na Sraide who hunted for the wren

But now they toil on foreign soil where they have made their way
Deep in the heart of London town or over in Broadway
And I am left to sing their deeds and praise them while I can
Those boys of Barr Na Sraide who hunted for the wren

And here's a health to them tonight wherever they may be
By the groves of Carham river or the slopes of Bi Na Ti
John Dalaigh and Batt Andy and the Sheehans, Con and Dan
Those boys of Barr Na Sraide who hunted for the wren

When the wheel of life runs out and peace comes over me
Just take me back to that old town between the hills and sea
I'll take my rest in those green fields, the place my life began
With those boys of Barr Na Sraide who hunted for the wren

4. Tuar Mor Polkas
We’ve been playing these tunes for as long as we can remember. Originally learned by Bruce Molyneaux from the recordings of Sliabh Luachra fiddle master Patrick O’Keeffe.

5. Dr. O’Neill’s
A jig and a big tune, in five parts. It’s the first tune in O’Neill’s collection.

6. Down by the Tanyard Side
A traditional ballad from the classic Irish Street Ballads collected and annotated by Colm O Lochlainn.

Come all you loyal heros
And by love I am betrayed.
Near to the town of Baltinglas
I wooed a fair young maid.
She is fairer than hapatia bright
She is free from worldly charm.
She is a darlin’ maid and her dwelling place
Is down by the Tanyard Side.

Her golden hair in ringlets rare
Lie on her snow white neck.
And the tender glances of her sighs
Would save a ship from wreck.
Her two red lips so smiling
And her teeth so pearly white,
Oh, they would make a slave of any man
Down by the Tanyard side.

I courteously saluted her
As I viewed her o’er and o’er,
And I said are you Aurora bright
Descended here below?
Oh, no, kind sir, I’m a maiden fair,
She modestly replied,
And I daily labor for my bread
Down by the Tanyard side

So for twelve long years I courted her
Till at last we did agree
For to approach her parents
That it’s married we would be.
But alas, her cruel father
To me proved most unkind,
And that is why I sail across the sea
And leave my love behind.

So farewell my aged parents
To you I bid adieu.
I’m crossing the main ocean
All for the love of you.
But whenever I return again
I’ll make her my bride,
And I’ll roll her in my arms once more
Down by the Tanyard Side.

7. Lad O’Beirne’s/The Boy on the Hilltop/Martin Wynne’s
Three reels. The first comes from James “Lad” O’Beirne, a great fiddler originally from Killavil, County Sligo. The second Richard learned from various sources. The third is by the great fiddler and composer, Martin Wynne.

8. The Butterfly
One of the few traditional tunes that actually sounds like its name. Bruce’s low whistle here captures its flight. Les Getchell’s bodhrán helps it soar.

9. The Boy in the Boat/Crowley’s/The Glass of Beer
Three reels, and favorites around Pittsburgh ceilis.

10. Fiddler’s Green
By John Conolly. Bruce Foley says he always thought this was a traditional ballad and was genuinely surprised to discover it was composed in 1966. It was a favorite ballad in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he sang at the festivals and in the pubs and everyone knew the chorus.

As I walked by the dockside one evening so fair
To view the still waters and taste the salt air
I heard an old fisherman singing this song
Oh take me away boys my time is not long

Chorus (after each verse):
Wrap me up in my oilskins and jumper
No more on the docks I'll be seen
Just tell my old shipmates I'm taking a trip mates
And I'll see you some day in Fiddler's Green

Now Fiddler's Green is a place I've heard tell
Where old fishermen go if they don't go to hell
Where the weather is fair and the dolphins do play
And the cold coast of Greenland is far, far away

Where the sky's always clear and there's never a gale
And the fish jump on board with a swish of their tail
You lie in your hammocks, there's no work to do
And the skipper's below making tea for the crew

And when you're docked and your long journey's through
There's pubs and there's clubs and there's lassies there too
The girls are all pretty and the beer is all free
And there's bottles o' rum growing under each tree

I don't want a harp nor a halo, not me
Just give me a breeze and a good rolling sea
And I'll play my old squeeze-box as we sail along
With the wind in the rigging to sing me this song

11. The Little Stack of Wheat
A favorite hornpipe, and one the Folan sisters love to dance to in the old style.

12. I’ll Buy Boots for Maggie/Martin O’Connor’s/Jim Keeffe’s/Mickey Chewing Bubblegum
Four polkas. The first two were learned from Boys of the Lough, the third from the playing of West Cork accordion master Jackie Daly and and fourth from its composer, accordion player Terry “Cuz” Teahan, a Castleisland, County Kerryman who found his way to Chicago.

13. “I Thank You Ma’am,” Says Dan
From the collection of Colm O Lochlainn. One of the many traditional songs that can best be sung sean-nós, and one of Ray’s favorites.

“What brought you into my room
To my room, to my room?
What brought you into my room?”
Says the mistress unto Dan.

“I came here to court your daughter, ma’am.
I thought it no great harm, ma’am.”
“Oh, Dan my dear, you’re welcome here.”
“I thank you ma’am,” says Dan.

“How come you to know my daughter,
My daughter, my daughter?
How come you to know my daughter?”
Says the mistress unto Dan.

“Goin’ to the well for water, ma’am,
To raise the can for water, ma’am.”
“Oh, Dan, my dear, you’re welcome here.”
“I thank you ma’am,” says Dan.

“Well, you can have my daughter,
My daughter, my daughter.”
Oh, you can have my daughter,”
Says the mistress unto Dan.

“But if you take my daughter, Dan,
You’ll have to take me also, Dan.
Oh, Dan, my dear, you’re welcome here.”
“I thank you ma’am, “ says Dan.

This couple they got married,
Got married, got married.
This couple they got married,
Miss Elizabeth and Dan.

And of course he took the mother,
And the father, and the charger, Oh.
And he’s known through out this country
By the name of “Thank Ye, Ma’am.”

14. The Connaughtman’s Rambles/The Mug of Brown Ale/Willie Coleman’s
Three jigs you may recognize, for they’re well-loved.

15. The Donegal Fiddler
A song by Ray Werner inspired by Northern fiddlers such as Teelin’s Con Cassidy, Ardara’s John Gallagher and others who kept alive the cherished Donegal fiddling style and flow of original tunes. Oliver Browne teases us with the A and B parts of Jackson’s Reel between verses and puts them together at the end.

They came up the Glen Road to Carrick
Through the mist, the moonlight, the dew.
They sat by the roadside in Teelin
And they fiddled the foggy night through.
To the tunes the wind gently whispered
And the fairies would hum in their ear
Then they pick up the fiddle and played them
And scattered them year after year.

You can hear the sea sing.
You can hear the bird fly.
From the wild rocky shore
To the steep mountain side.
All the sounds of the soul
Drifting down to the bay
Whenever the Donegal Fiddler
Picks up the fiddle and plays.

(Fiddle: “A” part)

From Ardara, the Glenties and Dunlow,
From the banks of Bunbeg to Gweedore,
At all of the wakes and the weddings,
They played like you never heard before.
Through the bogs, the fields and the valleys.
Came the welcome rap at the door.
Then they filled the kitchen with fiddlin’.
There was flyin’ feet on the floor.

(Chorus, and fiddle: “B” part)

Now some tunes they travel like lightening.
And others they drift through the night.
And across the roaring Atlantic,
The tunes they fiddled took flight.
From Frisco to Pittsburgh and Philly,
To New York and Boston’s delight,
At so many concerts and sessions,
The tunes take on a new life.

(Chorus, followed by fiddle, which completes the tune.)

16. Spike Island Lasses/The Silver Spire
Two of our favorite reels.

To order the CD …

Hooley, Cuts from the Turf

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