Magic Melodies   Leave a comment

Bill Kilroy slowly rolled a cigarette, bent down to a candle on the mantle-piece and inhaled. He picked up the old book that was lying on the coffee table, with shaking hands. He gently turned the pages and scanned the musical notes. The cigarette hung from the side of his mouth as he made music in his head. Bill couldn’t believe his luck.

He had found the innocuous looking book in a house clearance sale the day before. Bill had gone in the hope of finding something interesting amongst his old friend’s things. Not many people knew that his friend Jim had been a pretty famous musician of country songs in his youth. Jim had died about six months ago, and now his nephew was clearing out his house in order to sell it. When Bill had espied the book he had felt his heart miss a beat. Mentally he had reminded himself to play cool and not draw attention to his treasure. He had bought the book and another few items just to be on the safe side, and had retreated back to his cottage.

The book had lain unopened on the coffee table all night, as Bill had felt unable to calm himself enough to open it. But after a fitful sleep and a quick bowl of cornflakes he was ready. After scanning through the book, he went back and lovingly stroked each page and read the words of the songs, and tried to hum out the ancient melodies.

Jim had told him about his days as a folk musician one night after a lock-in in the village pub. Bill had been playing a few well-known folk songs on his guitar in the pub, and Jim had sang along lustfully. Then Jim had asked if he could play Bill’s guitar. Jim had played and sang bawdy songs, wistful laments, sweet love-songs, and melodic ballads from centuries before. The pub regulars had been spell-bound. Bill had escorted Jim home that night as he had been rather worse for wear. Jim had gently pressed him for information about how he knew the songs, and learnt to play so skilfully.

“I was chosen…I was given the secret gift.”

“Who gave you the secret gift?

“The Little Folk,” Jim had replied tapping his nose with his finger.

“The Little Folk? You mean the fairies?” Bill had stared at Jim and had tried not to smirk.

“Don’t you mock my lad…and keep it under your hat.”

“Okay I promise not to laugh. Tell me what happened.”


So they had sat down on a bench on the village green and Jim had told Bill an incredible tale. Jim had been born and reared in the highlands of Scotland. As a boy he had listened to the traditional tunes played by the fiddlers, pipers and accordionists. He had been moved by the sweet sad tones of sean nos singing. His parents and grandparents had noticed that he had a natural singing voice, and could play music by ear; so they had invested in music lessons for him. Jim had learned to play many instruments quickly. Soon he was playing for many a wedding or hooley.

One night Jim had been playing at a wedding and had seen Morag MacDonald. He had been enchanted by her. To get up the courage to approach her he had downed a few whiskies. He had asked her to dance. At the end of the dance he had winked at the guys in the band to let them know he was staying on with Morag. They had grinned and given him the thumbs up. Morag had seemed to be enjoying his company and had even laughed at his jokes. Jim had escorted Morag on the way home up through the mountainy glen. As they walked, the rocks and trees had appeared to start swirling around them. Jim had heard high–pitched tinkling laughter, and the trees sighing out loud. Suddenly he had been alone. He had called out for Morag, but she was gone. Then he had felt himself falling and had hit his head off a rock.


When he had come to, he heard a lot of chattering squeaky voices. They were arguing about what they would do with him. Jim had opened his eyes and had seen ‘the little people.’ He had rubbed his eyes, but they were definitely there.

“Is it true that you are a born musician?” squealed one with a grey beard, dressed in the colours of autumn.

“Yes, or so they tell me,” Jim had answered.

“If you play for the Princess Honora’s wedding than we will let you go,” the little fellow had told him.

So of course Jim had agreed to do just that. He had played and sang as merrily as he could to make sure they would let him go. The little folk were delighted with him and even decided to give him a present. They had presented him with the Fairy Song Book that contained music and songs that would live forever.

Bill had smiled to himself that night when Jim had told him that fanciful story, and had put it down to the drink. But Jim had described the book so well, Bill had recognized it instantly at the house clearance sale.

Bill sat down with his guitar to start playing one of the tunes from the book. As he played he began to hear whispering voices. “You have been chosen. You are our troubadour now.”

Life for Bill was never the same again.

Posted November 23, 2015 by eileenmoynihan in Uncategorized

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