Polka, A Dorian, Traditional Irish
Also known as: The Jib Polka; Gneeveguilla Polka; The Ballydesmond Polka
This tune is generally known as Ballydesmond Polk No. 2, but naming is inconsistent, and in the tradition of the TrailJams session this is the first tune played in the “Ballydesmond Polka Set.”
“Ballydesmond Polka 2” and “The Jib 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 the melody — and which of the Ballydesmond Polkas this one is.
- Audio – Comhaltas: Ballydesmond No. 2 – session recording, from the album Foinn Seisiún Volume.
- Video – Julia Clifford & Denis Murphy: The Ballydesmond Polkas – from the album The Star above the Garter. (This tune is the second tune in the track; it starts at time 0:57.)
- Video – Kevin Burke: Ballydesmond Polkas – played on fiddle. From the album Sligo Made. (This tune is the third tune in this recording. It begins at time 2:56.)
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.
Play from the Dots
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 goes. (They are not traditional.)
Ballydesmond Polka 2 -- memory aid lyrics by Jonathan Lay A Part: Johnny are you dancin' yet, are the drums a-beatin' yet, the Ballydesmond Polka set is only just begun, and it's Johnny are you dancin' yet, are the drums a-beatin' yet, the Ballydesmond Polka set is only just begun now B Part: Play the box and make a din, we still have time to dance and spin, there will be time to sleep again, so early in the morning Play the box and make a din, we still have time to dance and spin, there will be time to sleep again, so early in the morning (Copyright Jonathan Lay 2021)
References and Resources
For those who want to dig deeper, here are some other resources.
- More Recordings
- Audio – Stephen Ducke: The Ballydesmond Polka 2 – played on tin whistle. From the book Irish Music – 400 Traditional Tunes
- Video – The Toucan Pirates: The Jib Polka – from the album Sea Changes of the Toucan Pirates
- Book – Foinn Seisiún, Volume 1 — Published by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.
- Book – Stephen Ducke: Irish Music 400 Traditional Tunes
- Lesson – Kevin Burke: The Ballydesmond Polka No. 2 – Trad Irish Fiddle Lesson – partial lesson. (Full lesson requires subscription to Fiddlevideo.)
- Lessons – Online Academy of Irish Music – instruction for playing the tune on harp, mandolin, button accordion and tenor banjo; session play-along videos; play-along tracks. The OAIM site refers to this tune as “The Ballydesmond Polka.”
- Other Resources
- Wepage – The Session: The Ballydesmond (Polka) #238 – crowdsourced sheet music, comments, and other information.
- Webpage – The Irish Traditional Music Tune Index: Tune ID#106 (Ballydesmond Polka #2) – curated information about the tune
- Article – TrailJams (Jonathan Lay): Dorian, Mixolydian, Oh My: Modes in a Nutshell – a brief and painless guide to modes in Celtic, English, and American tunes