Category Archives: History

The ‘ports’ hornpipes

The UK has a great collection of hornpipe tunes named after the bit ports around our coast… So there’s The Liverpool Hornpipe, The Belfast Hornpipe, The Newcastle Hornpipe and Kingston upon Hull (presumably) has been honoured by The Kingston Hornpipe. I think many if not all originated as stage hornpipes, and lots of them come into the ‘cracking tune’ category, and are a real joy to play.

A host of them can all be found by searching the mighty resource that is the ABC Notation website tune search, which is run by my friend Chris Walshaw, a man who has done an immense amount for music.

Anyway, here are some examples from my own YouTube account. They’re really all instructional videos aimed at folks playing any instrument – I play each tune at speed the way I do it, and then more slowly for learning by ear. Along the way there might be a few wheezes for box players – so hopefully they’ll keep one or two visiting boat-oriented melodeon players  amused for a little while.

And darn it… let’s have a bit of this fun while we’re at it…

The AK Ilen – a film about her restoration

A film about the restoration of the AK Ilen, designed by Conor O’Brien, an Irish intellectual and aristocrat, who in the 1920s sailed Saoirse around the world under the tri-colour of the Irish Free State, and ship builder Tom Moynihan.

She’s expected to be launched this year, and the plan is as follows:

‘… In the summer of 2016, the Ilen will sail away from the eponymous Ilen Estuary and move more than nine waves out from shore to retake Ireland from the sea. 

‘Clearing Clear Island and Mizzen Head she will enter the mysterious arena of the quick and the dead where Donn, the Bull leads the Cow and the Calf, and all who come under his protection, to another world, to the West, to the end of life and its beginning. Oilean na mBeo and the great temple of Sceillig Mhichil marvel and suggest another way under the bright shining banner of Archangel Michael, Psychopompous and leader of souls.

‘Taking a course West of the Blaskets to view them from the sea and the wonders that brought us here in the first place, we will soon have Cuchulain’s Leap to port as the Ilen enters the Shannon Estuary for the first time in ninety years.

‘Here every care will be lavished upon her as she prepares for her playful role of introducing Ireland’s youth of all ages to the oceans… ‘

O’Brien’s book Sea-Boats, Oars and Sails is available from Lodestar Books. Here’s what yachting and boating novelist Sam Llewellyn, editor of the excellent Marine Quarterly, has to say about it:

‘… his strongly opinionated yet vitally informative and practical book, published in 1941 and now re-published to meet ascendant interest in the sail-and-oar cruiser—particularly the small lugger.
Bristling with ideas born mostly of hard-won experience, sometimes of pure conjecture, and studded with revelatory nuggets of sheer common sense concerning small boat construction, setup and handling, Sea-Boats, Oars and Sails merits its place on the bookshelf of every sail-and-oar practitioner or aspirant.’

Life on the Cut

My thanks to Lynsey Rule for this one!

PS – And there’s also this sent to me a moment ago by the excellent Chris Brady. Thanks Chris!

Hear and read about the original BBC Midland radio ballad Cry from the Cut herehere, here,  here, and here. That should be enough to keep some of us going for a while…