A Kinrowan Estate story: Waltzing Matilda

Her full name was Matilda Anna Grace O’Reilly. Her friends called her Maddie, but many knew her simply as a fiddler named Waltzing Matilda. Her passion was waltzes, both playing existing ones and composing new ones. Her tale is like so many that I tell here, as, like any true story, it has no beginning nor any ending, nor does it exist solely unto itself. So read on for my telling of it…

It was one of those glorious Fall days when I noticed that Chasing Fireflies was calling itself (at least for now) Ravens in The Library, in honour, I presume of SJ Tucker, a muso that many of us find rather good. An anthology of the name was done as a fundraiser for her when she was ill. There was a poster up in the inside entryway to the Pub with that name announcing a contradance for this coming week.

I noticed that the poster was using a piece of artwork that Lahri Bond designed for one of the journals that existed before Green Man Review. It was of a raven, possibly the one we call Maggie, sitting on a pile of books while tearing one apart. Of course, our Maggie would never do that…

The bottom of the poster listed the members of the band. There was my wife Ingrid and Béla on violins, Finch on smallpipes, and Maddie on cwrth, the Welsh wire stringed medieval instrument. Could it be Waltzing Maddie? I mused. And indeed it was.

I first met her on a similar Fall day when I chanced upon a woman with a bedroll and musical case across her back. She had long brown hair, brown eyes and was slight of stature. Nothing unusual, but somehow she seemed much larger than she was. She asked me where the Neverending Session was to be found and that was the last I saw of her for a fortnight or so.

Then I noticed scraps of conversation about someone called Matilda Grace O’Reilly who was leading what amounted to classes in writing music, waltzes to be precise. I didn’t connect her to the person I’d encountered earlier, but I thought it might her. So I stopped by to see her teach.

She danced as much as she talked, truly a waltz personified in one compact package. As I watched, she sketched her musical ideas in the air and then they all played around with her compositions. Truly magical. And that’s how she got the Waltzing Matilda name.

She stayed through the rest of that Fall, worked for Gus on his Winter crew harvesting wood, cutting conifers and gathering cones for the wreaths we sell, and left that following Fall. She left behind dozens of new waltzes, lots of warm memories and a promise to return someday.

And now she has…

About Reynard

I’m the Pub Manager for the Green Man Pub which is located at the KInrowan Estate. I’m married to Ingrid, our Steward who’s also the Estate Buyer. If I’m off duty and in a mood for a drink, it’ll be a single malt, either Irish or Scottish, no water or ice, or possibly an Estate ale or cider.

I’m a concertina player, and unlike my wife who has a fine singing voice, I do not have anything of a singing voice anyone want to hear!

This entry was posted in Stories. Bookmark the permalink.