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Aileen Aroon


Aileen Aroon, Eileen Aroon (Eib[h]lin A Ru[i]n) or Ducatu Non vanna tu Aileen aroon refers to, Eileen or Eveleen my secret love, and has the same tune as the Scottish piece called Robin Adair. It was first popularized in Charles Coffee’s ballad opera The Beggar’s Wedding, 1729 and was performed in both Dublin Smock Alley and London Haymarket Theatres.

Even before Handel arrived in Dublin, in July 1741, one of his friends, the singer-actress Kitty Clive (1711-1785) was in Ireland. Her father was from Kilkenny, and she first appeared at Aungier Street Theatre in Dublin in 1741. She was very well known for singing in several of Handel’s London performances including L’Allegro, Il Pensieroso ed il Moderato, Alexander’s Feast, Samson and Messiah. She was largely responsible for the popularity of this tune and learnt Elen a Roon—‘in Compliment to the Irish Ladies and Gentleman, for the Civilities which she hath received’ (Faulkners Dublin Journal) and she performed it on many occasions in London and Dublin from 1741.

This traditional Irish air, Eileen Aroon was performed alongside Handel’s and other composers’ music and became a regular feature in Dublin concerts in the 1740s and 50s. It was used in the Second Book of the Compleat Country Dancing Master published by John Walsh and also arranged for various instruments at the time, including for the Irish harp, bassoon, viola d’amore, German Flute and even the musical glasses. Matthew Dubourg wrote variations of this tune and Beethoven and Haydn also made arrangements of it. One anecdote went as far as to say that “Handel apparently declared that he would willingly resign the fame he had acquired by his most celebrated compositions for the glory of being the inventor of the air Aileen Aroon”.

from notes by Bridget Cunningham © 2017


Handel: Handel in Ireland, Vol. 1
SIGCD478Download only


Track-specific metadata for SIGCD478 track 21

Recording date
Recording venue
Royal College of Music, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Steve Harrington & Mike Hatch
Hyperion usage
  1. Handel: Handel in Ireland, Vol. 1 (SIGCD478)
    Disc 1 Track 21
    Release date: March 2017
    Download only
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