The Union reel

Also known as The Moher, Turfman’s Union.

There are 30 recordings of this tune.
This tune has been recorded together with

The Union appears in 5 other tune collections.

The Union has been added to 16 tune sets.

The Union has been added to 150 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Three settings

Sheet Music31332
Sheet Music12
Sheet Music3132
Sheet Music12
Sheet Music333312
Sheet Music12
Sheet Music333312
Sheet Music123
Sheet Music333
Sheet Music3
Sheet Music
Sheet Music

Sixteen comments

Bo, I’m wondering if the A part is actually intended to be in C (or A minor to be pedantic). A typing mistake perhaps, somewhere along the line? In sessions, I’ve always known the A part to be played in A major, and that’s how it is usually printed.
Oh, in some sessions one or two irreverent persons have been known to call this tune “The Onion”!

Key Change

To my ear that A Part has to be in A Major; especially that FNat at the end feels uneasy to my ears.
I have checked several other versions including the Norbeck one on JC Tunefinder and it seems those versions start in A (not even Aminor).
I’d be interested to know how its being played elsewhere.

From Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection:


“The Union Reel was named after the Irish uilleann pipes, or union pipes. The tune disappeared from the repertoire of Irish traditional musicians around the turn of the century, and emerged again through a 78 rpm recording of a 10-key melodeon player, Frank Quinn, during the 1920s. Other 78 recording artists chose it for several recordings in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. It was made popular in the United States by Joe Derrane and later Gerry O’Brien, both accordion players. The tune made its way back to Ireland because of the 78 records being sought after by Irish musicians. It’s a unique story of a reel that left Ireland and later returned. This reel has always been played with two parts. The version on this recording has a extra part inserted between the original two, which means it is now a three-part reel. ”

This tune is in A major.

I agree with Gian Marco - I’ve only ever heard it played with the 1st part in A major (although the key signature only needs 2 sharps throughout, since there is no G or G# anywhere in the 1st part). It was played at the session I was at last night and there was definitely no sign of any C-natural or F-natural.

I mentioned this recently in the comments to another tune, but the first part of this tune is almost identical to the first part of The Foxhunter’s Reel, while the 2nd part is almost the same as the final part of Lucy Campbell’s. Now that I’ve pointed that out, you’ll probably never be able to play this tune without lapsing into one of the others. On the other hand, if you already play the other two tunes, it’ll make learning this one a lot easier.

Gian Marco - Do you have the middle part of the tune?

Other version

This is the four-parts version of De Dannan in “The Star-Spangled Molly” :
T:Union Reel (The)
D:De Dannan : The star spangled Molly
e2(3cBA eAcA|eAcA Bcdf|e2(3cBA eAcA|(3Bcd cA BAFA|e2(3cBA eAcA|eAcA Bcdf|~e2ce dcBA|1FABc dfaf:|2FABc dABc||
|:dAFA dfec|dAFG A^ABc|dAFA dfec|1 dcBA ^GABc:|2 dcBA FAdf||
e2(3cBA eAcA|eAcA Bcdf|e2(3cBA eAcA|(3Bcd cA BAFA|e2(3cBA eAcA|eAcA Bcdf|~e2ce dcBA|1FABc dfaf:|2FABc d=cBA||
G2BG FGAF|GABd gedg|e2ce dBGB|ADFA dcBA|G2BG FGAF|GABd gedg|e2ce dBGB|1ADFA dcBA:|2ADFA G2(3eee||

Union Reel

“The Union Reel was named after the Irish uilleann pipes, or union pipes.” In Martin Mullvihill’s book this is called the Turfman’s Union. De Dannan’s setting comes from Joe Derrane’s old 78, where Joe played 3 parts, contrary to the assertion above, whatever it is - the liner notes to the DD album?

“The Union Reel”

Here you go, Kevin - just for you - “Derrane’s” and “John Stenson’s” first.
“De Danann” didn’t provide any information about the reel at all on the “Star-Spangled Molly” record sleeve notes, where they called it “The Moher” reel.

Union Reel

Yes, that’s Joe’s setting. I’d like to hear the old Frank Quinn record someday.

This tune always sounded like the Foxhunter’s crossed with the Dublin Reel to me.

The Union, X:3

A slightly more readable setting (more or less identical to the first but laid out without repeats and first / second endings.

Re: The Union/ The Moher

Name is from De Danann album. A setting from Joe Derrane is in CRE V.186. This is similar to De Danann’s version (X:2 above) except it is played AABACC.