These three excellent tunes were written by Ballycastle man Frank McCollam.
Frank, who also had a passion for Gardening, Bees, restoring old Clocks, and ‘going to the Moss’, was a member of the local Ballinlea Pipe Band, but in later years, put the pipes aside to concentrate on the Fiddle. He also played the Accordion & for a while was Master of the local Orange Lodge, but it’s his Fiddle playing most folk around here remember him for.
The version I have for you here, I learned from another Ballycastle man, Franks star pupil, Chris McCormick. Chris learned his Fiddle playing, and of course this tune, from Frank, so this is the way Frank would have played it. A little different perhaps, from the very fine version recorded by Noel Hill & Tony Linnane some years ago, on their brilliant LP. I’m sure there are many people who learned the tune from that recording, and no doubt they will be interested to see how it differs from the original concept.
Frank named the tune after his wife, Sally, a fact confirmed by an old friend of Frank, Len Graham and later by Frank’s own daughter Catherine, who later explained to me that all the local men back then, used to refer to their wives as The Home Ruler. So, just in case you were wondering, the name has absolutely nothing to do with politics!
Frank often played The Home Ruler in a set with The Hangman’s Rope, another of his own hornpipes. Frank had John MacNaghten in mind when he named this tune, for John, a Bushmills man, was found guilty in 1761, of murdering his lover, and sentenced to hang. However, when they carried out the sentence the rope snapped, so they had to hang him again. Legend has it that he was offered a pardon, but refused it, saying he could not go through life being known as Half hanged MacNaghten. Personally speaking you can call me anything you like, just don’t stretch my neck!
The set ends with another of Frank’s excellent compositions, the reel Catherine Marie, now often called Kate Marie, which Frank of course named after his daughter.
The Fiddlers who joined me on this track are both Ballycastle men. Dominic McNabb remembers Frank well & played with him many times, while Chris McCormick was actually taught to play the Fiddle by Frank humself, so it's a safe bet that these versions are pretty close to the way Frank himself would have played them.
Hornpipe: The Home Ruler Music
Hornpipe: The Hangman's Rope Music
Reel: Kate Marie Music