The Best ITM Tune-Learning Tutor

Jackie Coleman’s (D)

Seanus Tansey 1970

Seanus Tansey’s eponymous album (1970)

It is pretty common for tunes that carry a person’s name to simply be an homage, merely indicating that that person liked the tune and played it often.  Yet, it is sometimes also actually accurately a possessive-indicator, as it is in this case. Jackie Coleman (1928-2001), may he rest in peace, composed this tune around 1954. He passed it on to the eccentric Sligo flute player Séamus Tansey (b. 1943), who in 1965 won all-Ireland and Seán Ó Riada’s special radio Fleadh Cheoil.  Tansey released the tune on the album Seamus Tansey (1970), and is the author of the two volume work The Bardic Apostles of Innisfree (1999, 2009) — the latter sponsored by Michael Flatley. Though often ranked in the top three or four most influential flute players, he is also called “Shameless Tansey” by some in reference to his notorious interactions, such as his infamous 2004 letter to Sharon Langston (read out-loud on the 21 October 2004 RTÉ phone-in radio show Liveline by her father, Paul, concerning a concert held three weeks prior, on the night of the All Ireland football final in Dublin). Anyway, our tune here is also on the Arty McGlynn & Matt Molloy album Music at Matt Molloy’s (1992) in the set “Jackie Coleman’s > Pigtown Fling.” It is also on the Le Ceoltóiri Cultúrlainne CD Foinn Seisiún 1: Traditional Irish Session Tunes (2006), and on the Corner House CD The Friendly Visit (2006) — Corner House is Davey Mathias (guitar) and Andi Hearn (fiddle, vocals) who run the Redbird School of Irish Music and also do Skype lessons. Our tune here is in Phil Rubenzer’s Midwestern Irish Session Tunes (2000) as well.

Corner House, Friendly Visit (2006)

Corner House, Friendly Visit (2006)

This is a fairly simple reel which can easily get more intricate as you develop your skills. It has one tricky bit, and you will encounter similar challenges in many tunes.  Here, you need to bounce between a B and an E, which on fiddle, mandolin, tenor banjo, and bouzouki will work best if you hold down two strings with one finger.  As this is something you’ll need to do in many tunes, you might as well get started on it as soon as you can.

Further, one way of putting more Nyah in a tune is to hold the notes and let them ring as long as you can (legato), rather playing with a more staccato style.  Also, there are lots of ways to chord this tune, and what I have here is a basic progression, and probably is the most common simple chord progression used.  One of the simplest alternative things to do, of course, is to substitute relative minor and relative major chords:  Em for G and vice versa, Bm for D and vice versa, and F#m for A and vice versa.  Doing so will alter the flavor of the tune a bit, and so is worth working through with a friend or two.  You will also want to listen carefully to the melody players at your own session to determine which chords will work best — in that endeavor you will, of course, need to be able to distinguish between some of the basic looks of approval and the well-know fiddler’s scowl!

For the ABC click Jackie Coleman’s

Jackie Coleman’s, slow tempo (fiddle)

Jackie Coleman’s, slow tempo (Eddie, tenor guitar)

Jackie Coleman’s, med tempo (Eddie, six-string guitar)

Jackie Coleman’s, the dots

Jackie Coleman's

Jackie Coleman’s, Reel in D


  • Colin Marren
    Posted March 30, 2016 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Hi Melissa I know its too late now but i know foe a fact its traditional and as far as i know its copyright free, i am a grandson of Jackie.

  • Melissa Emmons
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    I’m researching tunes for a benefit cd, Antigonish Food Bank, Nova Scotia, and wondering if the tune is free of copyright and considered “traditional”? i facebooked grand-daoughter Mary Marren, but have not received an answer. We are recording in 2 weeks, and i need to know.

Thanks! Any comments?

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