Sources for Gaelic harp music

James Oswald, The Caledonian Pocket Companion.

CPC facsimile
©NLS, by-nc-sa

Published in London in 1743-59

This series of 12 printed books by an expat Scot contains 20 or more harp tunes, Irish as well as Scottish. The biggest concentration is in book 8. Oswald was a composer as well as a collector; though some tunes are signed, others may also be his own work.


Nick Parkes and John Purser have produced a PDF facsimile on CD-ROM in 2 volumes.
Vol 1 (books 1-6) and vol. 2 (books 7-12) available here from the Early Gaelic Harp Emporium. Click here to order your copy

Early Gaelic harp tunes in this source

This is not a complete list - like many late sources, this book contains tunes that were played by the 18th century Irish harpers, and other tunes that went from the harp tradition into general printed circulation (e.g. Lochaber). There are other Gaelic tune titles which may represent songs, or may represent harp tunes. There are also tunes that may have been composed in a native style by Oswald himself, e.g. Rory Dall's Port.

Book 1

p. 22 Failte na miosq
Other versions: Maclean-Clephane:; etc.

p. 23 The Fairy Queen See my notes on the Fairy Queen.
Other versions: Neal: ; Ó Néill mss: C Fairy Queen; Carolan Fragment: ; etc.

Book 3

p. 26 Gilly Cranky
Other versions: Ó Néill mss: Killiecrankie by Connellan; Atkinson ms: Irish Gilikrankey / a Highland Pibroch

Book 4

p. 16 Cold frostie morning
This is Táim i mo Chodladh in Bunting ms29; Burk Thumoth; Neal etc.

p. 17 The Blossom of the Raspberry
This is Miss Hamilton by Cornelius Lyons, which appears in Bunting’s manuscripts. In Oswald’s setting it has a variation and also a jig. John Purser (in his notes to the Parkes CD-ROM edition of the CPC) says it also appears in McFarlane ms but I have not yet had a chance to look at this.

Book 8

p. 36 The Royall Lament (more info...)
Other versions: Simon Fraser: The Royal Lament; Macfarlane ms: The Royal Lament; attributed by Gunn to Iain Garbh MacLean of Coll.

p. 45 Port Atholl
Other versions: Thumoth: Mr Creagh’s Irish Tune; Lee: Mrs O’Donnel; Bunting: Seabhan na hÉirne / Port Atholl; Forde mss: Port Atholl; The Native Music of Ireland (1841): Conchabhar ua Raghallaigh. Attributed to Rory Dall O'Kane and subsequently used as the tune for Carolan’s song Seabhac na hÉirne, according to Bunting's informants including Arthur O’Neill.

p. 48 Carrallan’s Lament
Other versions: none known

p. 50 Da Mihi Manum (more info...)
This is the usual 18th century set, similar to the version in Burk Thumoth, Neal, & Bunting as well as many other 18th century Irish and Scottish mss and printed books, but different from the versions in Wemyss, MacFarlane, Dow & Balcarres.

p. 53 Gallaways Lament
Other versions: Neal: Ld. Gallaways Lamentation; Sinkler: Gallway’s Lament;

p. 53 Mc. Donogh’s Lamentation
Other versions: Neal: Counr. MacDonoghs Lamentation

p. 58 Rory Dalls Port (more info...)
Other versions: Maclean-Clephane: the same version

p. 59 Port Gordon (more info...)
Other versions: Dow, Bunting, Neal, & Maclean-Clephane: Port Gordon
This is different from Balcarres, Bowie: Port Gordon; and Maclean-Clephane: Port 2nd

p. 60 Carlands Devotion
Other versions:

Book 9

p. 65 Lude's Lament
Other versions: ???

Book 10

p. 92 Lude’s Supper
Other versions: Dow: Suipair thighear Leoid - Lude's super by Rorie Dall
There is also a family of related tunes titled 'MacLeod's Salute' or similar, e.g. 'Mc Loud's Salute' in Bowie and 'Failte bheag Mhic Leoid - McLeod's less salutation' in Dow. It seems there is some confusion between Leod and Lude.

Book 11

p. 135 Carrill’s Lament
Other versions: none known

Book 12

Simon Chadwick