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Fanny Power
Last updated: 11.04.22
I first heard Fanny Power played as an instrumental by a young Irish lady harpist, a music student at Newcastle University, at The Cumberland Arms sometime in 2011. Enchanted, after a few bars I murmured to myself, "Is that Bach?". The neighbouring listener whispered back, "No, it's Turlough O'Carolan who was influenced by Bach".
On getting home, I immediately started to research O'Carolan and found that he was a blind harpist who often travelled to his patrons in their big house and would name his compositions after their inhabitants. In this case, Frances Power the daughter and heiress of Carolan's patrons David and Elizabeth Power of Coorheen, Loughrea, County Galway. He named the air after her calling her "The Swan of the Shore".
The tune was promptly found in O'Neills Music of Ireland under the title of "Planxty Fanny Powers". I found that I could play its delightful 16 bars in the key of A on my concertina without too much difficulty. Later, I found lyrics at the Internet link above as a 7-verse poem written by W.B. Yeats who incidentally was my mother's favourite poet. I have never hear it sung.
As the few videos that I've selected demonstrate, Fanny Power still enchants players on many different instruments around the world.
     Performer CD Title Supplier
cd15.gif The Chieftains James Galway and the Chieftans In Ireland flag15uk.gif flag15de.gif flag15fr.gif
     Title Attribution Instruments Source Remarks
pdf15.gif Fanny Power (?) T. O'Carolan (music)
Y.B. Yeats (words)
Lyrics, Voice Traditional Music Library
     Title Performer
youtube15.jpg Fanny Power (3:42) Sue Richards and Robin Bullock
youtube15.jpg Fanny Power (2:37) Jessica Comeau
youtube15.jpg Fanny Power (2:56) Sheena