Caoineadh Luimnigh(Lament for Limerick)

It's often said that one cannot notate the music of an indigenous folktradition using standard music notation, including the traditional dance music and airs of Ireland.  There are many arguments pro and con, but by and large it is generally agreed that the best way to learn a tune is by listening to a performance of it, preferably by by someone who has a good understanding of the tradition of Irish music; the best case scenario is learning a tune from such a performer in person,in a one on one situation.

The above air is very popular in Ireland; during the harp competition at four different Fleadhs (three in Listowel, Co. Kerry, and one in Ballina, in Co. Mayo), this tune was often chosen as the Foinn Mall (Slow Air) selection by harpers.

The notation presented above is an approximation at best, sometimes referred to as a "bare bones" transcription.  Though I've notated it in 3/4 time, it is not a waltz.  Please note the liberal use of the fermata, or hold sign (sometimes known as the "bird's eye"); I've placed it in several places, yet there are other spots where it is not notated where it could be appropriate, as well as spots where it is notated where it could be omitted.

I've also not notated cuts, rolls, slides, or other techniques common to airs. These and other types of ornamentation for slow airs are best learned through careful listening to players who have demonstrated a mastery of the idiom.

Please, please, PLEASE do not attempt to learn this tune only through the sheet music on this web page.  I would consider it a personal favour! :)

McDermott's Handy

Note: While this sheet music is provided for reference and convenience, I would take it as a personal favour if you would find a local musician to teach it to you or a local session where you could hear it played. This will enable you to learn the phrasing and ornamentation for your instrument which generally is not notated here. The best way to learn Irish traditional music is by ear, by listening to and/or learning from a musician experienced in the genre. At the very least, you will want to memorize the tune so that this page would be superfluous. This version is a version that I played at the time I created this page; it may not be the same as the version I currently play, and it may not be the same as the version with which you are familiar. Go raibh maith agat; Thanks!

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