Michael Coleman's Fiddle at the Cobblestone

Michael Coleman's Fiddle. Photo: Daithí Kearney.

Michael Coleman's Fiddle at the Cobblestone

The fiddle of Sligo musician Michael Coleman (1891—1945) will be holding court at the Cobblestone Pub, Smithfield, Dublin on Tuesday, 26 February. The instrument, currently entrusted to Daithí Kearney at Dundalk Institute of Technology, will be available to play on the night.

This particular fiddle is one of a number played by Coleman, and features on the recording below of three reels known as ‘The Tarbolton Set’ (‘Tarbolton’, ‘Longford Collector’ and ‘Sailor’s Bonnet’), recorded in New York on 28 November 1934 for the Decca Record Company. Coleman bought the fiddle in a pawn shop in New York in 1933.

After Coleman’s death, the fiddle was in the hands of one of Coleman’s students, Hughie Gillespie, who brought the instrument from the United States to Donegal. It was later in the possesion of Fr Pat Ahern, a founder member of Siamsa Tíre and also behind the first Fleadh Nua and the first tour to North America of musicians representing Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.

Ahern has played the instrument at various events since the 1970s but has said that the instrument should not remain in the possession of one person or become ‘a museum piece behind a glass wall’. This is how the instrument ended up at DKIT, where it forms a part of the college’s teaching activities and performances of guest tutors.


Published on 22 February 2013

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