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Forty Eight Original Irish Dances Never Before Printed, c.1795–1800

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Forty Eight Original Irish Dances Never Before Printed with Basses for the Piano-Forte & with Proper Figures for Dancing Book 1 & 2, 34 College Green, Dublin: Hime’s Musical Circulating Library, n.d.

[tune titles listed below on left]

Morris (later Maurice) Hime, a music seller, music publisher and lottery-office keeper, was active in Dublin from the 1790s to the 1810s. Of Jewish ancestry, he had first set up in the music trade about 1785 with his brother Humphrey in Liverpool. About 1791–2 he came to Dublin, and over the next three decades published sheet music and slim collections of songs, instrumental music and dance instructions from various addresses in the city centre: College Green and later Dame St, Westmoreland St and Eustace St. His speciality was the publishing of annual country-dance collections. Taking advantage of the fact that British copyright law did not at the time apply to Ireland, Hime is said to have supplied pirated copies of British publications to his brother for sale in England, and to have become wealthy as a result. He was married to Sophia Rhames, daughter of another Dublin music seller and publisher, and later lived in Roebuck in south County Dublin where he was a Church of Ireland vestry member and churchwarden in Taney. He died in early 1828.

Hime’s publications are generally of popular British and Continental music, but his collection of country dances Forty Eight Original Irish Dances Never Before Printed claims to be Irish. Some of its melodies undoubtedly are, but others – such as ‘Bobbing Joan’ and ‘Berwick Lasses’ – had been appearing in English country-dance collections from early in the 18th century. They would however have been long naturalised in Ireland and would have formed part of the Irish repertory at the time of their publication here. While the collection is undated, it seems to have appeared about 1795–1800, earlier than dated country-dance collections Hime published in the opening decades of the 19th century. Two editions of the collection now in the National Library of Ireland have different title-pages. Although the contents and numbering of both are the same, the first is entitled Twenty Four Original Irish Dances Never Before Printed while the second, in a larger paper format, is entitled Forty Eight etc. Probably the first version of the Irish collection did contain 24 dances, but, when it proved popular, Hime produced a second volume of 24 which recycled the original title-page until a more comprehensive one could be created.

A pdf of this book is available from the Bibliothèque National de France.

With thanks to Lisa & Michael Shields, & to Eoin C. Bairéad.

NC, MG, TH & JS, 17 June 2014