PS 230 – The Little Spree

      An Daorach Bheag

      ’S fheàirrd’ thu cadal

      Tha’n daorach ort – dh’òl thu ’n cairt

Primary Sources

Dj The Big Drunkard Dj.40: 60
K1 Tha’n daorach ort Dh’ol thu’n Cairt / You are Drunk you’ve drank a quart K1.26: 69
JK An Daorach Bheag / you are drunk youve drunt [sic] a quar JK.47: 127
SC Sard u cadil SC.40
Angus MacKay, ‘Specimens of Canntareachd’ (c. 1854), no. 40

Notes on Gaelic Titles

An Daorach Bheag an Daorach Bheg D2 notes; The Little Drunkard Dj. The Little Spree. There are three Daorach tunes: The Little Spree (PS 230)The Middling Spree (PS 308), and The Big Spree (PS 178), but note that Donald MacDonald junior switches ‘little’ and ‘big’ about. The ‘middling’ spree is much less well known nowadays than the others. According to Donald MacDonald, they all refer to a MacGregor warrior who ‘would get quite deranged, occasioned by his partaking too freely of ardent spirits’ (D2 notes, p. 4). Three subtitles provided by Angus MacKay beginning ‘Tha’n daorach ort’ (you are drunk), support this story, with the sequence ‘you’ve drunk a quart’, ‘you’ve drunk the wallet’ and ‘you’d better sleep’ applied to ‘little’, ‘middling’ and ‘big’. However, a leading piper from Barra in the twentieth century, Neil Angus MacDonald, believed that they had served as a code calling Catholics to Mass in areas where they were persecuted, respectively signalling the arrival of a deacon, priest or bishop. In the first edition of these notes (2009), Roderick Cannon suggested that ‘little’, ‘middling’ and ‘big’ may have referred to the tunes themselves, e.g. the perceived complexity of the ùrlar.

’S fheàirrd’ thu cadal  Sard u cadil SC. You’d better sleep.

Tha’n daorach ort, dh’òl thu ’n cairt Tha’n daorach ort Dh’ol thu’n Cairt / You are Drunk you’ve drank a quart K1; You are Drunk you’ve drank a [word omitted] K1 index; than Daorach ort ghol thu’n Cairt JKA. You are drunk – you’ve drunk the quart (two pints, or quarter of a gallon).

Roderick Cannon (2009), rev. Barnaby Brown 2016

Archive Recordings

1959 Malcolm R MacPherson: Highland bagpipe
1960 Pipe Major Donald MacLeod: Highland bagpipe
1961 Pipe Major John D Burgess: Highland bagpipe
1971 George Moss: discussion with illustrations in canntaireachd and on practice chanter
1981 George Moss: explanation of the structure of ceòl mór
1985 Unknown: Highland bagpipe

Other Materials

2014 William Donaldson: Set Tunes Notes

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