The Trip to Athlone (jig)

In this Irish fiddle tutorial we are going to learn a popular Irish session jig The Trip to Athlone, a great Irish session tune.

The full tutorial on this tune will be part of my Complete Irish Fiddler course (coming soon!). Find out more at Irish Fiddle Courses.

The Trip to Athlone jig, which also goes by the name of The Newport Lass (or Gearrchaile Bhaile Uí bhFiacháin in Irish), was first recorded in 1937, but is probably older than that. Athlone is a town on the border of County Roscommon and County Westmeath. It is named in Irish Baile Átha Luain meaning ‘the Town of the ford of Luain’, the ford in this case being of the River Shannon, on which Athlone sits.

Athlone, Ireland

Newport, where the lass taking the trip to Athlone presumably came from, is on the West coast of Ireland, in County Mayo.

There are lots of tunes in the Irish traditional called “The Trip to….”. The Trip to Dingle, The Trip to Kinvara, The Trip to Sligo, The Trip to Dublin, Paddy’s Trip to Scotland, The Trip to Nenagh — that’s just off the top of head, I’m sure there are hundreds of otheres!

Which makes sense, since walking or riding the 80 miles between Newport and Athlone would have taken some time – plenty of time indeed to write an excellent little jig.

In this tutorial we are just learning the melody, but there is lots more that we can do with this fun Irish jig. As part of my Complete Irish Fiddler course, I also discuss

  • how we can use ornaments, such as crans and bowed triplets, in this tune
  • using chords and drones
  • the interesting harmonic progression of the first phrase
  • the possibilities for phrasing that distinctive second phrase
  • bowing patterns and emphasis
  • melodic variations

The Trip to Athlone is a popular tune in sessions, so it’s a good jig to know. I hope you enjoy learning it.

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