The Lilac Fairy Book HTML version
The wonderful Tune
Maurice Connor was the king, and that's no small word, of all the pipers in Munster. He
could play jig and reel without end, and Ollistrum's March, and the Eagle's Whistle, and
the Hen's Concert, and odd tunes of every sort and kind. But he knew one far more
surprising than the rest, which had in it the power to set everything dead or alive dancing.
In what way he learned it is beyond my knowledge for he was mighty cautious about
telling how he came by so wonderful a tune. At the very first note of that tune the shoes
began shaking upon the feet of all how heard it--old or young, it mattered not--just as if
the shoes had the ague; then the feet began going, going, going from under them, and at
last up and away with them, dancing like mad, whisking here, there, and everywhere, like
a straw in a storm-- there was no halting while the music lasted.
Not a fair, nor a wedding, nor a feast in the seven parishes round, was counted worth the
speaking of without 'blind Maurice and his pipes.' His mother, poor woman, used to lead
him about from one place to another just like a dog.
Down through Iveragh, Maurice Connor and his mother were taking their rounds. Beyond
all other places Iveragh is the place for stormy coasts and steep mountains, as proper a
spot it is as any in Ireland to get yourself drowned, or your neck broken on the land,
should you prefer that. But, notwithstanding, in Ballinskellig Bay there is a neat bit of
ground, well fitted for diversion, and down from it, towards the water, is a clean smooth
piece of strand, the dead image of a calm summer's sea on a moonlight night, with just
the curl of the small waves upon it.
Here is was that Maurice's music had brought from all parts a great gathering of the
young men and the young women; for 'twas not every day the strand of Trafraska was
stirred up by the voice of a bagpipe. The dance began; and as pretty a dance it was as ever
was danced. 'Brave music,' said everybody, 'and well done,' when Maurice stopped.
'More power to your elbow, Maurice, and a fair wind in the bellows,' cried Paddy
Dorman, a hump-backed dancing master, who was there to keep order. ''Tis a pity,' said
he, 'if we'd let the piper run dry after such music; 'twould be a disgrace to Iveragh, that
didn't come on it since the week of the three Sundays.' So, as well became him, for he
was always a decent man, says he, 'Did you drink, piper?'
'I will, sir,' said Maurice, answering the question on the safe side, for you never yet knew
piper or schoolmaster who refused his drink.
'What will you drink, Maurice?' says Paddy.
'I'm no ways particular,' says Maurice; 'I drink anything, barring raw water; but if it's all
the same to you, Mister Dorman, may be you wouldn't lend me the loan of a glass of
'I've no glass, Maurice,' said Paddy; 'I've only the bottle.'