Portsmouth” is a traditional English folk dance tune, similar to an (Irish or Scottish) hornpipe melody. It is sometimes referred to as the Portsmouth Hornpipe.
“Portsmouth” appeared in the 11th edition of John Playford’s The Dancing Master in 1701 It is also one of the three arrangements on which English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams based his Sea Songs, originally arranged for military band in 1923 as the second movement of his English Folk Song Suite and subsequently re-arranged for full orchestra in 1942 by the composer.
In the 1950s it was used as the signature tune for BBC television series of Billy Bunter.
In 1976 English musician Mike Oldfield released his arrangement of “Portsmouth”. It is Oldfield’s highest charting single in the United Kingdom, charting at number 3. This version is frequently used by football club Portsmouth F.C.
One of 4 airs composed by Turlough O’Carolan, 1670 – 25 March 1738, a blind Irish harper, in honour of his first and unrequited love for Bridget Cruise of County Longford
The young Turlough O’Carolan attended a school run by the Cruise family in nearby Cruicetown.
The Cruises were an Anglo-Norman family who had been Gaelicised over the centuries.
Despite the loss of their property at nearby Brittas to the Bligh family in the Cromwellian Plantation of the 1650s,
they clung on in Cruicetown and Rahood and the family continued as patrons of native poetry, music and learning.
At the Cruise school Carolan met and fell in love with a daughter of the family, Bridget Cruise .
So intense was his affection for Bridget that in later years he composed four airs which bear her name and also three or four songs in her honour.
His friend Charles O’ Connor related that throughout his life Carolan always recalled Bridget with great affection.
Tradition has it that years later when Carolan was blind, the pair met again while on pilgrimage at Lough Derg.
When Bridget reached out to help the blind man, Carolan instantly recognised her by the touch of her hand and exclaimed in Irish:
“By the hand of my godfather, this is the hand of Bridget Cruise!”
Laurel Swift playing “Frank Palmer” at the Drayton Court Hotel in West Ealing on 21 September 2015. The tune was composed by Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738) for Roger Palmer of Palmerstown, County Mayo, his wife Mary Browne and their son, Francis (Frank) who is referred to in the Gaelic lyrics as “Colonel Palmer.”