104 – O’Farrells Pocket Companion for the Irish or Union Pipes by P O’Farrell

An update by Geoff Hore 2008-2015.  The writing in black font is from A Bibliography of Bagpipe Music. The update comments are in blue font.


1       ND


title; pp 1-152, tunes (176); pp 153-167, ‘duetts’ I-XII; p 168, tune; pp 1-4, index.

  • National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh.  (Glen Collection). Library binding. 4.3 x 6.3″. Page 103 and pp 3-4 of the index have no numbers, but these have probably been cut off in the course of rebinding.  The word ‘Vol.’ is not printed on the title page, and nowhere in this copy is there any mention of other volumes.

In the book in the National Library of Scotland, the imprint has been erased and only the L of London is visible.    At left: Ent at Sts Hall and at right: Pr 7/-.

The Union Catalogue has ‘[London, c. 1795]’, but this is probably too early. No other copies of the Pocket Companion are listed in the Union Catalogue; presumably any which the editor found were regarded as post-1800.

In an attempt to settle the dating of this book, Seamus O Casaide instigated a search of the indexes of the Registers at Stationers’ Hall over the period 1790-1830; but in spite of the statements on the title-page, no entry could be found. (National Library of Ireland MS 8118-2).

2      c1804-1809

Title as I.

London: Printed by Goulding & Company 117 New Bond Street  Below title, left: Vol. [number entered by hand] / Ent at Sts Hall.  Right: pr. 3s/6

  • Vol 1: title; pp 1-80, tunes (91) as 1.
  • Vol 2: title; pp 81-152, tunes (85) as I, but see below; pp 153-167, 168, as I; pp 1-4, index to vols 1 and 2.
  • National Library of Ireland, Dublin.  (Vol 4 only).
  • National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh.  Vol 2 only. 4.1 x 6.4″. The signatures are stabbed together with thin string and also show traces of having been glued at the spine. The final leaf is of much thinner paper than the rest of the book. Adhering to it is the remaining part of an outer cover of thin pink paper. The string passes through the final leaf, but not through the pink paper, which must have been pasted on afterwards. Across the outside of the pink paper, in a large and neat hand, is the signature: Henry Kearne / Ensign Clare Regt. There is no date. Certain pages are out of order owing to a printer’s error. The numbering runs 81-120, 123, 124, 121, 122, 127, 128, 125, 126, 129-152, etc. Inspection of the binding shows that this is not due to faulty repair work. Pages 121-8 form a single signature of four leaves but the printer has put 123-6 on the outer leaf, and pp 121, 122, 127, 128 on the inner leaf.
  • Mitchell Library, Glasgow.  Vol 2 only. 4.6 x 6.5″. The title-page is hand-stamped: / Sold by James Steven / Wilson-Street, Glasgow.  James Steven was listed in the Glasgow post office directory at 35 Wilson Street in July 1803 until July 1920.  In July 1921 Mrs Steven was listed and the following year neither was included. 

According to Kidson (p 53), the imprint ‘Goulding & Company’ was used by Goulding, Phipps and d’Almaine, who were at 117 New Bond Street from 1804-5 to 1808-9.

2a    No date


Edition 4, edited by Patrick Sky from USA, includes the above image.  The imprint has Goulding & Co and not Goulding & Company as appears in edition 2 suggesting it is a different edition.   Sky was using second, third or older generation photocopies and states ‘What I actually did was to take the best cover I could find and use it for all four volumes of the “Pocket Companion” changing the Volume numbers.’  Ironically, the cover he used in that process is one that differs from any Cannon described in the original Bibliography.

3     c1811-16


  • Vol 1: title; pp 1-80, tunes (91); pp 1-4, index to vols 1 and 2.
  • Vol 2: title; pp 81-152, 153-167, 168, same as I; pp 1-4, index to vols 1 and 2.
  • Vol 3: title; pp 1-72, tunes (111); pp 1-5, index to vols 3 and 4.
  • Vol 4:      ; pp 73-148, tunes; pp 1-5, index to vols 3 and 4.
  • Mitchell Library, Glasgow.  Vol 2: pages stabbed together. There are also front and back flyleaves which have been pasted to the later binding. 4.5 x 6.5″. Vol 4: 4.7 x 6.9”. Lacking title-page. Formerly in the collection of Mr. F. Kidson.
  • British Library, London.  Vols 1, 2 only. Bound together (library binding). 4.6 x 6.8″.
  • Library of Congress, Washington D.C.  Vol 1, 4.5 x 6.3″; vols 2-3, 4.5 x 6.8″. AlI have the same relatively new binding. Vol 1 has no index. These copies formerly belonged to Mr. Alfred Moffatt.
  • National Library of Ireland, Dublin.

The imprint fixes the date as c. 1811-1816. Goulding, d’Almaine, Potter & Co. were at 20 Soho Square from c. 1811 to 1823, but at 7 Westmoreland Street, Dublin, only from c. 1810-1816. (Humphries & Smith).

The title-pages are identical, even down to small imperfections in the print, but they differ in punctuation and lettering from those of editions I and II above.

There is a barely discernible watermark in the title-page of volume 1 (Washington copy), but it does not appear to be a date.

It was pointed out by Alfred Moffatt (MS note in the Washington copy of vol 1) that vol 3 contains the tune ‘Fly Not Yet’, evidently from the 1st number of Moore’s Irish Melodies which was published in April 1808 (see P. Muir, ‘Thomas Moore’s Irish Melodies’ in The Colophon, part XV, September 1933). A note in the Glasgow copy of vol 4 gives Kidson’s suggested dates, 1805, 1806, 1808, 1810 for the four volumes respectively, in support of which he cites the tunes ‘Fly Not Yet’ in vol 3 and ‘The Meeting of the Waters’ in vol 4.

4     1999


p [i], title; p [ii], blank; pp 1-5, Introduction; pp 6-7, index to Vols 1 & 2; pp 8-10, index to Vols3 & 4; p 11, title to Vol 1; pp 1-51, tunes; p 53, title to Vol 2; pp 53-96, tunes; p 97, title to Vol 3; pp 98-133, tunes; p 134, title to Vol 4; pp 135-172, tunes;

  • Geoff Hore’s Collection.  US Letter size (21.59 mm x 27.94 mm). Spiral bound.

This edition includes all four volumes and was restored and published by Patrick Sky, USA.  The comments in edition 2a above provide details about the process used to prepare this book for publication.  Using second, third or older generation photocopies Sky has digitally enhanced all pages to create this edition.  There is no guarantee that any particular page in this collection came from the same edition as any of the others; the best from a number of photocopied books was chosen and digitally enhanced.

Cannon carried out research into O’Farrell but found very little information.  Since then a number of others (including Patrick Sky) have attempted to add to the scant knowledge about him but have had very little success.  We still do not know his first name.  

The Introduction by Patrick Sky and Patrick Hutchinson does not provide any evidence of the possible publication dates of the four volumes other than to suggest Vol 1 came out soon after O’Farrell’s Collection of National Irish Music (No 103) (published in 1804). 


  • Rev 00 (15 October 2008)
  • Rev 01 (22 November 2008).  Adds image of edition 1 and the details of edition 2.
  • Rev 02 (31 March 2015).  Format changed for bibliography.altpibroch.com. The edition numbering changed from Roman to Arabic numerals.  Edition 2a and edition 4 added.

© Geoff Hore 2015