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Pat O'Reilly's 2000 years of Irish music (issue 1)

The following hilarious historical account was submitted to the IRTRAD-L mailing list by Pat O'Reilly, and is reproduced here by permission. Some of the humour requires a considerable knowledge of Irish music. A few explanations have been supplied.


1  AD Despite being occupied by the Romans, the English invade Ireland and steal all the indigenous music
90 AD Fiddle given to the Irish by the fairies.
91 AD Lambeg Drum introduced to drown out the pesky fiddles.
440 St Patrick demonstrates the trinity in using three parts in one tune, three drones on one bagpipe, and finally settles on the shamrock, shillelagh and leprechaun—three icons in one culture.
1066 The Normans invade England and replace the stolen Irish dances with round dances.
1200 A tin whistle made of bone is buried in Dublin.
1279 Brian Boru invents the harp.
1290 Marc O'Polo Soprani brings gigs (jigs) to Ireland.
1358 The ocarina introduced to Irish music at the first Ballykillferrit Duck Bottom Blowing festival. Note: this is a reference to a very funny programme that was on the radio in Ireland. Ballykillferrit is the home of the Ayatollah Céilí Band.
1520 Damhsa invented.
1640 English invade Ireland again.
1760 Hornpipe timing changed from triple time to Greenwich Mean Time.
1761 Fast air changed to slow air.
1774 Thomas Paine inspired to write a book, The Rights of Man, after hearing an Irish hornpipe.
1724 Turlough O'Carolan introduces the Planxty to Irish tourism—an early form of bed and breakfast.
1725 O'Carolan arrested after demanding "Tabhair Dom Do Lámh Mála" ("Give me your handbag").
1792 The first Blind Harpers' convention is held in Belfast. Edward Bunting is employed to transcribe but can't keep up. He cheats knowing that no one will check.
1796 First attempt at closed system central heating results in the Uilleann pipes.
1798 1798
1829 Wheatstone creates concertina by adding bellows to his telegraph machine to make a portable military communications system.
1830 Concertina adopted by Clare Salvation Army parachute regiment.
1850s Irish invade America and England.
1874 Hohner invents the button accordion by fixing bellows to Christopher L. Sholes' new invention—the typewriter.
1879 Francis O'Neill starts the Great Fire of Chicago in order to elicit work for Irish immigrant musicians as firemen.
1905 Gaelic League in London discovers Dead Sea Scrolls containing Irish dance movements.
1909 First ground breaking recordings by a group of post-structuralist Irish pianists including Eileen O'Shea, John Muller, Ed Greoghan, Ed Lee, Herb G. Henry. Accompanied by an unreconstructed fiddler from Sligo, Michael Coleman, the new art music is widely misunderstood.
1931 John Reidy, inventor of the bodhrán, is born in County Cork.
1935 In Ireland the clergy demand the introduction of birth control methods.
1936 Dance Hall Act rushed through.
1950s Irish invade England.
1951 Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann formed to restore the Irish fireside to national prominence.
1956 Gang warfare breaks out as ringlets, empire waisted dresses and demonic effigies introduced to Irish step dancing.
1959 Ronny Drew introduces sean nós to Ireland.
1963 Seán Ó Ríada introduces the tuxedo to Irish traditional music.
1967 Paddy Moloney introduces the "yip" to the uilleann pipes.
1966 Johnny Moynihan introduces the kazoo to Irish music.
1967 Johnny Moynihan introduces the bombard to Irish music.
1972 Planxty forms in a second hand clothes shop in the old mining town of Prosperous.
1973 Chieftains record their last album of Irish music.
1974 Christy Moore's voice drops 2 octaves.
1975 The Bothy Band demonstrates that Irish traditional music can thrive in the "not for profit" enterprise economy.
1981 Dead Sea Scroll discovered outlining use of arms in Irish step dancing.
1993 Mary Robinson declares Irish to be a global nation, removing the need for further invasion.
1995 President Bill Clinton visits the North and states "the harp and the fiddle, the fife and the lambeg drum, two proud traditions are coming together in the harmonies of peace". Pub sessions everywhere empty.
1996 Michael Flatley re-introduces sex to Irish dance. The Riverdance audience is packed with clergy.
1996 Irish invade Britain and impose cultural imperialism, forcing all pubs to change to an Irish theme, all pop music to contain fiddle and all West End dance shows to feature Irish step dancing.
1997 Flatley leaves Riverdance to start a Vatican sponsored show, Lord of the Dance. Bishop of Ballykillmusic condemns show as being too ecumenical.

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