Polka, A Dorian, Traditional Irish
Also known as: The Mist on the Glen; The Ballydesmond; Kerry No. 1; Andy Boyle’s
“Ballydesmond Polka 3” and “The Mist on the Glen” 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. 3 – session recording, from the album Foinn Seisiún Volume 1
- Audio – Stephen Ducke: The Ballydesmond Polka 3 – played on tin whistle. From the book Irish Music – 400 Traditional Tunes
- Video – Shannon & Matt Heaton: Mist on the Glen – played on flute with guitar backing. In this recording, the tune starts at time 20:06. The set that it is part of (Ballinafad / Denis Murphy’s / Mist on the Glen) starts at time 16:58. This video is part of Shannon & Matt Heaton’s “Nov 13 Virtual Guided Session – Special RETREAT edition” which was streamed live on Nov 13, 2021.
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
- Ballinafad (G) / Denis Murphy’s (D) / Mist on the Glen (A Dor)
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 3 -- memory aid lyrics by Jonathan Lay A Part (2x): Ballydesmond Polka number three or number x, yes it's Ballydesmond polka number something or whatever! B Part (2x): Hop and hop and hop and turn, and hop and hop and hop and turn, hop and hop and hop and turn, the Ballydesmond Polka (Copyright Jonathan Lay 2021)
References and Resources
For those who want to dig deeper, here are some other resources.
- Video – Shannon Heaton: Backer Corner with Matt Heaton – Polka Rhythm – advice on playing backing rhythm for polkas on guitar or other rhythm instruments.
- Other Resources
- Wepage: The Session: The Ballydesmond (Polka, #531) – crowdsourced sheet music, comments, and other information.
- 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
- Webpage – Slowplayers: Ballydesmond Polkas (Ador) – overview of the names and history of the Ballydesmond Polkas, with sheet music and audio tracks.
- Article – Wikipedia: Ballydesmond – a brief overview of the village of Ballydesmond, its region and history.
- Video – Musica Universalis: Understanding Form: The Polka