Lesson 56. The Blarney Pilgrim

“The Blarney Pilgrim” is a very well known jig.

Jack and Charlie Coen recorded this tune on their classic “The Branch Line” recording from 1977.

The tune itself is in the key of G Major but, unusually, the most common chord in this tune is in fact the D chord, not the more expected G chord.

The melody in this tune goes no higher than the G on the third fret of the first string so the whole tune can be played in open position.

One of the features that make this tune ideal for guitar is that there are many open string notes within the melody and by letting these open notes “ring” you create a certain feel to the tune that cannot be achieved on other instruments.

Also for those of you who use the tab, you’ll notice in both the first and fifth bars of the third part of the tune Tony fingers the B note on the fourth fret of the third string rather than open B. This saves jumping between strings, and really just makes it a little bit easier to pick. Also note that this tune does not resolve at the end.

As you will see from the sheet music the tune begins on D for two bars before going to G, and in the second line the same thing occurs. This proliferation of D chords has nothing to do with key changes or being in a different key, it is merely that at this point in the tune a D chord occurs. It just happens to be the start of the tune. There are a number of Irish tunes that begin on a chord other than the tonic chord – Jack Coughlan’s Reel, The Green Fields of America, and Killabeg House to name but a few. The third part of the tune has an identical chord progression to the first part. Chords are D, G and C.

Gerry GaffneyLesson 56. The Blarney Pilgrim