Collier's Reel (The)
X:1 T:Paddie's Welcome Home or The Coliers' [sic] Reel M:C L:1/8 R:Reel S:Philip Carolan MSS c.1860s, of Crossmolina, Co. Mayo. Z:Transcribed by Angela Buckley K:D G|FD (3EFG A2 AB|(cB)cd (cA)GB|Ad(dc) d2 (eg)|fded cAGE| FD (3EFG A2 AB|(cB)cd (cA)GB|Ad (3dcB cAGE|FA (3GFE D2 D:| |:g|fd(eg) fd(ec)|Ad(dc) Ad(dg)|fd(eg) fd(ec)|AccB c2 (3efg| (ab)af (ga)ge|(fg)fe (de)dc|Ad(dB) (cA)GE|FA (3GFE D2 D:|]
COLLIER'S (REEL), THE ("Seisd an Gualeoir" or "Cor an Gualadoir"). AKA and see "Hod Carrier's Reel (The)." Irish, Reel. D Mixolydian/Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Flaherty, Mitchell, O'Neill): AABB (Sullivan, Taylor): AABB' (Connolly & Martin): AA'BB' (Harker/Rafferty). A popular session reel. As with many Irish tunes, various versions have more or less naturalized 'c' notes. The melody was also recorded by the great County Clare/Dublin uilleann piper, pipe maker and teacher Leo Rowsome. Séamus Connolly (2002) suggests the tune may have come from "the coal mining and musical area of Arigna in County Leitrim." Certainly there is an older County Leitrim connection, as the reel appears in the c. 1883 music manuscript collection of Gortletteragh, Co. Leitrim, musician Stephen Grier (c. 1824-1894), where it is entitled "Hod Carrier's Reel (The)" (although hod carrying has more to do with the builder's trade than mining). Researcher Conor Ward found a still earlier version in the Philip Carolan music manuscript collection, c.1860s, of Crossmolina, Co. Mayo, where it was entered as 'Paddies Welcome Home or The Colier's Reel'.
An alternate theory, says Connolly, is that the reel originated in the Tyneside (northern England) region which, in a similar circumstance, had considerable mining and musical traditions. As a result of the great famine of 1845, many Irish settled in the Tyne region, joined the labor pool, and contributed their own music to the indigenous English tradition. O'Neill (1913) tells the story of 19th century piper John Morris (also known as Morris Sarsfield) of Clida, Headford, County Galway. It seems that Morris, who spent much time in England, chanced to travel to Wales to ply his art, "and got along swimmingly with the miners until asked to play 'Collier's Reel.'" Unfortunately, poor Morris could not call the tune to mind, if he knew it, and the miners, incensed that a musician would have the temerity to play before them and not know the melody called after their trade, chased him out of town for the deficiency in his repertoire.
The tune is similar to "Farewell to Connacht" and "John Bowe's (2)," and is often mistaken for "My Love is in America." See also the melodically similar 6/8 tunes "Collier's Jig," "Do You Want Anymore" and even (but more distantly) "Frieze Breeches." Lesl Harker (2005) says her source, fluter Mike Rafferty, said his version was "the old way" of playing the tune, and revealed that it was one of the first reels he learned, at the age of ten.