The Hangman’s Rope hornpipe

By Frank McCollum

Also known as The Hangman’s Noose, John Daly’s Fancy.

There are 8 recordings of this tune.

The Hangman’s Rope has been added to 9 tune sets.

The Hangman’s Rope has been added to 63 tunebooks.

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Three settings

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Seventeen comments

Hangman’s Rope or Hangman’s Noose

This tune was composed by the late Frank McCollam, of Ballycastle, Co. Antrim. It is often played, although is not nearly so popular, after one of Frank’s other Hornpipes, The Home Ruler.

Frank had John McNaughton 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 free pardon, but refused it, saying he could not go through life being known as

We play this one with f naturals in the A part. Makes a nice set with Chief O’Neill’s Favorite, then Hangman’s Noose.

Posted .

Hangman’s Rope

Yes Will, I actually learned the tune from Aberdeen Flute/Whistle player Kenny Hadden in the 1970’s & he played f naturals too, but then I moved to Ballycastle area of Antrim myself & heard it played here with f sharps by Chris McCormick who was taught to play the Fiddle by Frank McCollam, the tune’s composer, so I now play f sharps.
But hey, if you like the natural sound, go for it - keep music alive!!!

Hangman’s Rope

The version with the f naturals came from a recording of a session by Belfast musicians, including Nigel & Diana Boullier, [ in Fahy’s Bar - which still seems to be popular - ] at the Willie Clancy week in the early 1980s. Congratulations on your result last week-end “Ptarmigan”, and my best wishes to the missus.

Thanks Ptar and Kenny, I like having such an enriched background on the tune. And I love how Ptarmigan just picked up the conversation 3 years later as though we’ve been chatting all along. 🙂

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F naturals

Brendan Mulvihill plays with F naturals on the Steeplechase, where I learned it…lots of differences in the second part as well.

Change the part endings to cAFA G.. and it’d be a reel.

The original manuscript notated from the composer’s playing has F naturals in the A part, and many differences in the B part. Brendan Mulvihill’s playing of it, when I heard it, was very close to the manuscript version. I’ve just tried to put the ABC up, but it was a “lost post”. May come back to it when I’ve more time.

The Hangman’s Rope ~ MP3

Here’s a wee MP3 of my Concertina version of this tune:

It’s fun to see how Kenny picked up this tune from a session taped in Belfast, brought it back to Aberdeen where I learned it & many years later, brought it back home … to Ballycastle!

Ahhhhhhh ………. the Circle of Life! 😉


The Hangman’s Rope ~ MP3

P.S. Sorry folks but yes, I alternate between F Naturals & F Sharps.
Hey, it is a living tradition after all! 😛


The Hangman’s Rope

Here’s a French story on the theme
(with an untranslatable pun on the words of Revelation 2:5 in the bible and the verb ‘hang’).

Un fermier accablé par le remembrement (Land consolidation act) et le chantage financier décide de se pendre. (hang oneself )(*)
Il monte sur son échelle pour accrocher une corde à une branche d’arbre. (climbs up the ladder, knots a noose in a rope)
Il passe sa tête dans le nœud coulant et s’apprête à basculer, lorsqu’un brave curé qui passait par là lui crie (the local priest comes by):
"Arrêtez, arrêtez! Ne faites pas ça, mon fils! Songez que Dieu nous a donné la vie!
Quels que soient vos soucis et vos peines, vous trouverez force et réconfort dans les Saintes Écritures.
Tenez, je vous donne ma Bible. Ouvrez-la à n’importe quelle page, et suivez les sages conseils qu’elle vous donne!!" (-Open this Bible at random and be saved!)
Le fermier se dit que ça vaut peut-être la peine d’essayer.
Il se libère de la corde, redescend l’échelle.
Il prend la bible, l’ouvre au hasard et lit: “repens-toi”. (*)

The hangman’s noose

Frank McCollum composed this hornpipe as mentioned previously to follow his Home Ruler hornpipe. He composed it with the F naturals in the first part. I have a home recording of him from the mid to early ‘70’s which Cathal McConnell had made when he collected material in his region of the North from the early ’Boys’ days.

The Hangman’s Rope, X:2

This version is pretty much Martin Mulvihill’s setting. Great little tune. BTW Frank McCollum did NOT compose “Home Ruler” (for which at least one alternate name is “Hangman’s Noose” which may have lead to the confusion.) It’s in the Roche Collection, v.2 #220, as “Hauling Home”.

Re: The Hangman’s Rope

Zouki, “The Hauling Home” in Roche is a completely different tune from “The Home Ruler”, though it is equally well known, and widely recorded in its own right. Is it possible that someone gave you an incorrect name? It’s on this site as “Kitty’s Wedding” (

Re: The Hangman’s Rope

Confusion arising, possibly because both tunes were recorded together by Noel Hill and Tony Linnane, circa 1979.

Re: The Hangman’s Rope

Jerry O: I should have checked the Roche reference before posting. Evidently I confused “Home Ruler” and “Kitty’s Wedding”.
I know that “Home Ruler” is out there somewhere pre-dating Frank McCollum. If I can pin the location down I’ll post it here.

The Hangman’s Rope, X:3

This version is from the playing of Brendan Mulvihill, Angelina Carberry & Dan Brouder, June 2023. Only the basic common template is shown. Each artist adds their own unique ornamentation here and there.