Slide, G, Traditional Irish
TrailJams Tune of the Week for July 10, 2022
This sweet tune comes from the mountainous region in Ireland that straddles the county boundaries of Cork, Kerry, and Limerick. Musicians from that area, a region known as Sliabh Luachra (or Slieve Logher), include siblings Julia Clifford and Denis Murphy. That duo’s 1969 album, The Star Above the Garter, brought the tune to the ears and fingers of listeners and tune players all over the world.
The insignia of the Order of Saint Patrick, Ireland’s order of knighthood, is an eight pointed star above a collar of gold with knotted roses and harps. Perhaps that is the inspiration for this tune’s title, and perhaps it is not. Probably not. The tune was given the title “The Star Above the Garter” on Julia Clifford and Denis Murphy’s 1969 album. That may have been the first time the tune had that title. Denis and Julia learned the tune from Padraig O’Keeffe, who called it “The Star and Garter.”
- Video – Susan Songer, Clyde Curley, George Penk: Star Above the Garter/Reverend Brother’s/The Walk Home – from the album A Portland Selection: Contra Dance Music in the Pacific Northwest
- Audio – MandoLessons: The Star Above The Garter: Mandolin & Guitar – played by Baron Collins-Hill on mandolin with guitar backup. (This is part of his full lesson on playing the tune for playing the tune on mandolin.)
- Audio – Wildgeese: Star Above the Garter, Saint Patrick’s Day from the album Wildgeese: Celtic Music of the Pacific Northwest, with Kate Power, Bill Bulick, Barry Crannell, Jim Chapman and Randal Bays in Portland, Oregon, 1983. Produced by Michéal ÓDomhnaill.
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.
- Star Above the Garter / Denis Murphy’s / Denis O’Keeffe’s
- Star Above the Garter / Saint Patrick’s Day
- The Battle of Aughrim / The Star above the Garter
- Blarney Pilgrim / Jimmy Ward’s / Star Above the Garter
References and Resources
For those who want to dig deeper, here are some other resources.
- More Recordings
- Video – Cherish the Ladies: The Battle of Aughrim/The Star above the Garter – from the album Threads Of Time
- Audio – Comhaltas: Star Above the Garter – session recording. From the album Foinn Seisiún Volume 2.
- Lesson – MandoLessons: The Star Above the Garter – mandolin lesson taught by Baron Collins-Hill, with video, sheet music, and play-along tracks.
- Book – Foinn Seisiún, Volume 2 — Published by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.
- Book – The Portland Collection, Vol. 1, by Susan Songer with Clyde Curley
- Other Resources
- Webpage – The Session: The Star Above the Garter (Slide) – crowdsourced sheet music, comments, and other information.
- Article – Wikipedia: Order of Saint Patrick – summary information about the Order of Saint Patrick, the order’s Star badge, and its insignia.
- Album – Denis Murphy & Julia Clifford: The Star Above The Garter (Remastered) – Claddagh Records 1969 album remastered. “Denis Murphy and Julia Clifford, brother and sister, are heirs to the fiddle tradition of Sliabh Luachra, the mountainous area on the Cork/Kerry border.”
- Podcast – RTÉ, The Rolling Wave: Ep 11 The Star Above the Garter – This podcast discusses the Julia Clifford and Denis Murphy album, The Star Above the Garter, released in 1969. The discussion includes the context of the music and musicians, details of duet fiddling, and insights on the title of the tune “The Star Above the Garter.” RTÉ, Raidió Teilifís Éireann, Ireland’s national public service media organization. You can listen to the whole radio episode from the RTÉ archive. (The date of the episode is April 26, 2020.)