Details on O’Carolan’s Seduction

I’ll be working on the edits today for a new short story due soon from Torquere: O’Carolan’s Seduction. Featuring an Irish expatriate bartender and a kilt-wearing musician, there’s plenty of room for attraction, misunderstandings, explanations, and some m/m lovin’.

I took the title from the name of a famous Irish harper and composer, Turlough Carolan (1670-1738), who was a notable musician and also a notable sot. His music combined traditional Irish harping and the then modern style of Baroque music, making something new and still played often today. O’Carolan (he seems to get the “O” only when his surname appears alone) wrote many tribute songs, which he called “planxties” and named for the person who had done him some kindness. Dr. John Hart and Mrs. Fanny Power must have performed some remarkable favors to have such lovely tunes written in their honor. One of the many Hugh Kellys of Ireland had to have done the old harper some good turn, for there is a tune in his honor, and now a story with his namesake.

A lot of his tunes have some biographical component to them, reflected in the title. O’Carolan’s Farewell to Drinking, O’Carolan’s Receipt for Drinking, (he was told by a doctor to stop drinking or it would kill him, and when he did, he was so miserable that he found a different doctor who told him to start again!) O’Carolan’s Quarrel With the Landlady… There are rumors that more than one of the planxties could have also been titled “O’Carolan’s Seduction” because he was a charming man and a much sought-after harper.

The initial setting for the story is a session, where musicians can come to play the traditional Irish music. Thesession.org lists many pubs and other locations around the world where these volunteer gatherings happen, so if you’d just like to listen to the tunes over a meal and a glass of beer, you can, or if you’d like to play, bring your instrument and join in politely. It’s a great time, even if it doesn’t come with a guarantee of finding love. Irish love songs often have an undercurrent of misery, but I assure you that I’ve left Hugh happy.

4 responses to “Details on O’Carolan’s Seduction

  1. Sounds like an interesting short story. O’Carolan lived locally to me here in Co Leitrim, Ireland. I do enjoy playing some of his tunes, they really grow on you. Have you read the book Turlough by Brian Keenan? Its an amazing read. While Keenan was a hostage in Beirut he says he had spirits visit and converse with him; Carolan and his own Father. It’s said Carolan told him about his life and asked that in return for providing Keenan with company in his cell that Brian write Carolans true life story on his release … the result … his book.

    • I’ll have to hunt up the book, because that sounds fascinating on a lot of levels. Carolan would have been good company. What instrument(s) do you play?

  2. I’ve been doing my best to get a basic grasp of the fiddle over the last 3 years! Loving it, and attending a music class 4 mornings a week this year, headed by a fantastic local Sligo style fiddler. The course is not limited to fiddles though, we have a whole range of trad instruments and levels of ability on the course.

  3. That’s great! I’d like to say I’m a fiddler but what is more true is that I am a classical violinist who can do short and long rolls. All my friends who found their way into this story are gems for putting up with me.

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