Ballydesmond Polka 1

Polka, A Dorian, Traditional Irish
Also known as: Tom Billy’s Polka; The Ballydesmond Polka No. 3

Ballydesmond Polka No. 1 (Tom Billy's Polka) Traditional Irish. TrailJams Tune of the Week - Play it together December 4, 2022 Image copyright 2022 Jonathan Lay

“Ballydesmond Polka 1” and “Tom Billy’s Polka” are two of the names for this traditional Irish polka. It is one of the “Ballydesmond Polkas,” a collection of tunes often played as a set. Which of the tunes is in the set, what order they are played in, and what name each tune goes by varies widely. Whatever the construction of the set, these tunes are cheerful and fun to play. Ballydesmond is a rural village in County Cork, in Ireland’s Sliabh Luachra region. Be sure to look at the “Nifty Mnemonics” lyrics below for a handy way to remember how the tune starts.


Dots (Music Notation)

As always for traditional tunes, the musical notation and chords do not indicate the “right” way to play the tune, but are a useful reference.

Sheet music and chords for Ballydesmond Polka No. 1. Traditional Irish polka in A Dorian. Arrangement by Jonathan Lay 11/28/2022.
Play from the Dots
Slow tempo 95bpm
Moderate tempo 115bpm


Examples of sets that include this tune.

  • Ballydesmond Polka 2 / Ballydesmond Polka 1 / Ballydesmond Polka 3
  • Ballydesmond Polka 1 / Ballydesmond Polka 2 / Ballydesmond Polka 3

Nifty Mnemonics –
Lyrics for Remembering the Tune

Here are some silly lyrics to help you remember how the tune starts. (They are not traditional.)

Ballydesmond Polka 1 -- memory aid lyrics by Jonathan Lay

Opening phrases:
   And it's: Cheer up lads, it's the Ballydesmond Pol - ka

References and Resources

For those who want to dig deeper, here are some other resources.