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We will be adding more tablature arrangements regularly... please visit again.


Each time a new file is posted in Current Tablature, the previous file is moved to "Archived tab files".



The Kerry Dance





Composer: James L. Molloy (1837-1909)

Arr: Merv Rowley (2007)


            The writer of this song was an Irish barrister (lawyer) who spent most of his life in London and never really adopted the legal profession as a career. While some credit Molloy as author of both the words and music for Kerry Dance, others have indicated that the music was borrowed from an earlier Irish tune. More recent information suggests that most of the melody is from The Cuckoo, a tune written in 1790 by Margaret Casson and first published in England. Molloy modified portions to produce what is considered a typical Irish fiddle tune. His lyrics are original, making the composition both happy and nostalgic to the listener.




            Included in this dulcimer arrangement are two verses of lyrics, with a repeated chorus. There is actually a third set of lyrics, sung and played at a different, slower tempo and in a different key. These are intended to serve as an added bit of nostalgia, where the narrator explains that the days (and old acquaintances) are now things of the distant past, to be sadly and fondly remembered:


Time goes on and the happy years are dead,

And one by one, the merry hearts are fled.

Silent now is the wild and lonely glen,

Where the bright glad laugh will echo ne’er again.


Only dreaming of days gone by, in my heart I hear

Loving voices of old companions

Stealing out of the past once more,

And the sound of the dear old music

Soft and sweet in the days of yore:


When the boys began to gather

In the glen of a summer night

And the Kerry Piper’s tuning

Made us long with wild delight.


Then follows a repeat of the music on page two of the PDF file.  Few, if any arrangements of this music include these lyrics, although they convey a depth of feeling of the composer that he wished to convey. It should be mentioned that the name Kerry Dance is not an invention of Molloy. Its origin can be traced back to at least 1549 to a form of Celtic dance in Ireland called the “Rincce Fada”  (reenka faudha), meaning “long dance”. A modern successor to this dance form, in America, is the Virginia Reel! Also of interest to readers may be the references to the “ring of the piper’s tune”. The reference here is not to the traditional Scottish bagpipes, but to the characteristic Uilleann (il’in) pipes of Ireland. The Historical Links below provide references to these topics for any who may be interested.




*Painting at the top: 

"Children Dancing at the Crossroads" 

by Trevor Fowler (19th Century) 

from The National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin        


Download files 


Kerry Dance.PDF

Kerry Dance.TEF

Kerry Dance.MID



Historical Links:






  Click to go to the TablEdit website and download their free demo version

If you do not have the Tabledit program, please click on the TablEdit banner to download a free .tef reader program.  It includes the ability to play this song at a slower speed (great for learning). TablEdit is a program for creating, editing, printing and listening to tablature and sheet music (standard notation) for fretted, stringed instruments.

  Click here to download a free version of Adobe Reader

Adobe® Reader® is a free software for viewing and printing Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files.

  Our PDF music files are produced from music created with Finale® notation software.


Our .MIDI music files are produced by TablEdit notation software.





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