Annotation:Silver Spire (The)

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Paddy Killoran
SILVER SPIRE, THE (An spiora airgid). AKA and see “Bennett's Favorite,” "Great Eastern Reel," "Grondeuse (1) (La)," "John Brennan's Reel (1)," "Nelson's Chase]]," "Scups Come." Irish, Reel (whole or cut time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB (most versions): AA'BB' (Taylor/Crack). The reel was printed by blackface minstrel banjoist James Buckley in 1860 as "Bennett's Favorite" and in Ryan's Mammoth Collection (1883) as "Great Eastern Reel." Nearly simultaneously with the Ryan's Mammoth issue, the tune was published under the title "Scups Come" in Laybourn's Köhlers' Violin Repository Book 2 (1881-1885). All these were predated by its entry into Book 1 (1851, p. 7) of the music manuscript collection of Bellport, Long Island, shipbuilder and fiddler biography:Isaac Homan, who called it "Nelson's Chase."

The "Silver Spire" title for the tune developed sometime in the intervening years between then and Sligo fiddler Paddy Killoran's 1930 recording of the melody with the new title. Donegal fiddler Tommy Peoples’ and Sligo fiddler Paddy Kiloran (1904-1965, recorded in the early 1930's in a medley paired with "Farrell O'Gara") versions are highly regarded, as is that of the Ballinakill Ceili Band (recorded on a 78 RPM) in which the melody is played as a hornpipe. Since no earlier record of the name “Silver Spire” occurs earlier than 1931 Killoran recording, it may be speculated that it was a tune that had become detached from its name, and the Killoran, Sweeney or the record company decided to call it after the then-current New York City engineering marvel, The Empire State Building, completed that same year, or its rival skyscraper the Chrysler Building, completed in 1930 (the Chrysler even has a silver spire adorning its top). Other suggestions are that the title is a corruption of the similar title of another Irish reel, “Silver Spear (The),” which migrated to the older “Great Eastern” tune.

Additional notes
Source for notated version : - fiddler Jean Carignan (Montreal, Canada) [Brody]; accordion player Sonny Brogan (County Sligo/Dublin, Ireland) [Breathnach]; fiddler Brendan Mulvihill (Baltimore, Md.) [Mulvihill].

Printed sources : - Alewine (Maid that Cut Off the Chicken’s Lips), 1987; p. 31. Breathnach (CRÉ I), 1963; No. 164, p. 65. Brody (Fiddler’s Fakebook), 1983; p. 256. Mallinson (100 Essential), 1995; No. 17, p. 16. Mulvihill (1st Collection), 1986; No. 140, p. 38. Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, 1883; pp. 35 & 73. Taylor (Where’s the Crack), 1989; p. 16. Taylor (Traditional Irish Music: Karen Tweed’s Irish Choice), 1994; p. 29.

Recorded sources : - Decca Records 12204, Paddy Killoran (1931). DMP Records, Karen Tweed – “The Silver Spire” (1994). Front Hall 020, Alister Anderson - "Dookin' for Apples" (appears as "Great Eastern Reel"). F&W Records 5, Canterbury Country Orchestra - "Mistwold." Fretless 122, Donna Hinds - "Old Time Fiddling 1976" (appears as "La Grondeuse"). Green Linnet 1022, Tara Ceili Band - "Irish Music: The Living Tradition, Vol. 2" (appears as "John Brennan's Reel"). Green Linnet GLCD 1149, Joe Derrane – “Give Us Another” (1995). Mulligan 017, "Molloy, Peoples, and Brady" (appears as "John Brennan's Reel"). Nimbus NI 5320, Tommy Peoples - “Fiddles Sticks: Irish Traditional Music from Donegal” (1991). Philo 1153, “Sharon Shannon” (appears in the medley “Glentown”). Philo 2001, "Jean Carignan" (appears as 2nd tune of "Pat Sweeney's Medley," learned from a recording of fiddlers Patrick Sweeney and Paddy Killoran). Rounder 1123, Paddy Killoran & Patrick Sweeney - “Milestone in the Garden” (a reissue of the 78 RPM recording. “Silver Spire” is contained in the medley beginning with “Farrell O’Gara”). Shanachie 79017, John & Phil Cunningham - “Against the Storm” (1980). Shanachie 79064, Matt Molloy – “Heathery Breeze” (1999). Smithsonian Folkways SFW 4081, Brian Conway – “First Through the Gate” (2002. Learned from New York fiddler Andy McGann). Paddy Killoran - “Paddy Killoran’s Back in Town.” Tartan Tapes CDTT1004, Connaillaigh – “Heat the Hoose” (1998). Yazoo Records, Paddy Killoran & Paddy Sweeney – “The Wheels of the World, vol. 2.”

See also listing at :
Alan Ng's [1]
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index for Recorded Sources [2]
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recordings Index [3]
Hear Paddy Killoran's 1931 recording at the Internet Archive [4] (paired with "Farrell O'Gara").

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