Castle Kelly

Reel, Am, Traditional Irish

This tune is sometimes thought of as being in A minor, and sometimes as being in A Dorian. The difference is whether the tune has an F# or an F natural in it. This version of the tune does not include either an F# or an F natural, so its mode remains nicely ambiguous. That means that part of the tune can be harmonized with an F chord, as is done in the second half (B part) of the tune as it is arranged here. It also means that the melody can be played on either a C or G diatonic instrument (such as a tin whistle) without special fingering to achieve the sharped or natural F note. Many players prefer to savor this tune at a tempo slower than dance tempo. There is also quite a bit of variation among players as to how many times the A and B parts of the tune are repeated — in this arrangement each part is played twice. The sassy melodic variation in the second measure of the tune in this arrangement comes from the playing of John Weed and Stuart Mason.

Recordings

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 for Castle Kelly, Traditional Irish Reel, in the key of A minor. Arranged by Jonathan Lay 2/19/2022. trailjams.org. (Revised 3/8/2022)

Play from the Dots
Slow tempo 65bpm
Moderate tempo 85bpm

Alternative Chords

Here is an alternative version of chords to accompany the tune.

(A Part)
Am – | Em – | Am G | Am – |
Am – | Em – | Am G | Am – |
(B Part)
Am G | Am G | Am Em | Am – |
Am G | Am G | Am G | Am – |

Sets

Examples of sets that include this tune.

  • Castle Kelly / Humours Of Ballyconnell / The Duke Of Leinster
  • Castle Kelly / The Mountain Road / The Pigeon On The Gate
  • Chicago Reel / Castle Kelly / Humours of Ballyconnell

References and Resources

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