Also known as
Father Kelly’s, Going To California, The Humours Of California, Imtigte Go California, The Juggler, Off To California, Portsmouth, Uisge Beatha Is Tu An Diabhal, Whiskey You’re The Devil, The Whiskey.
This reel comes from an old collection of New England fiddler’s tunes. It resembles the hornpipe "Off to California", and I wonder if one tune could have been derived from the other, or both from a common source.
It’s a technically easy tune for the fiddle player, and being lively and somewhat repetitive would make a good tune for a beginner to learn and gain confidence.
Do I detect a subtle pun in the title - The Fireman’s Reel?
This tune certainly bears more than a passing resemblance to Off to California. Since much of the New England fiddle repertoire of English, Irish and Scots origin, it is probably fair to say that The Fireman’s Reel is a version of Off To california, transposed up a tone, simplified slightly, played in a slighly different rhythm, and given a different name. It is also worth remembering that, in some musical traditions the distinction between a hornpipe and a reel is not quite as clear as it is in Ireland.