The issue arose after years of complaining from musicians that the 3 reels ‘The Tarbolton’, ‘The Longford Collector’ and ‘The Sailor’s Bonnet’ were always played together and never seemed to be played separately.
The set has a long history, first being established by the great Sligo fiddler Michael Coleman with many people following in his footsteps since then. The ‘Yes’ campaign said that people are stuck in the past and that it’s time to move forward.
“The set is widely known by all musicians. Once someone starts the first tune, people invariably go into the next and then the next. It’s about time things changed. We want at least one of the tunes to be totally independent, so we’ve gone for ‘The Longford Collector’.”
The ‘Better Reels Together’ campaign scoffed at the idea that the tune would be strong enough to captivate an audience when played on its own, stressing that the 3 tunes work better when played in their traditional set.
“The tunes themselves are not particularly strong when played on their own. They’re a bit ‘so-so’, you know? ‘The Tarbolton’ is the one that holds them together. ‘The Longford Collector’ needs us but we’re willing to let it be played a couple times more in the set.”
The ‘No’ team also said that they’ve never had any trouble from ‘The Sailor’s Bonnet’ and drew attention to the fact that if the tune did gain independence, what would happen to other sets such as ‘The Skylark’ and ‘Roaring Mary’ or ‘The Dublin Reel’ and ‘The Steampacket’ if they also decided to pursue independence.
UPDATE: The results of voting are in and the Irish music community has decided against independence for ‘The Longford Collector’ with a split of 56% to 44% of the vote. The ‘Yes’ campaign has vowed to try again in a few years’ time when they know better how the tune would sound when played on it’s own.