I first heard Seamus Ennis tell this on the LP ‘Forty Years of Irish Piping’ where it serves as an elaborate introduction to ‘The Smoky House’ reel. It’s a strange story. It could be going anywhere, including towards something nasty, but when it gets to its extraordinary ending, it feels as though it could not have gone anywhere else.
It also dictates its own pronunciation which is also strange.
It’s printed in Ciaran Carson’s magnificent ‘Last Night’s Fun’, which is a book riding the same immaginative currents Ennis was sailing on. It is the only book I’ve ever read that captures what it’s like to play traditional music.
The printed version has a tail that reads:
Now, I knew that little girl years later
said Seamus Ennis,
and whenever we’d be playing music
we’d have to be careful
not to play ‘The Smoky House’.
Becuase if we did, she’d run a mile.
So we never played it,
after we found out that she was allergic
to this reel.
He took up a whistle and he played a reel he called ‘The Smoky House’ or ‘Whatever you Please’.