114 – New and Complete Instructions for the Union Piper by S T Colclough

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      No date

New and Complete Instructions for the Union Piper…with a selection of Favourite Irish and Scotch Airs by S T Colclough.  (The details of the title-page are not yet known.  See comments below) 

 … pp 3-13, instructions; pp 14-21, tunes (31).

  • City Library, Dundee. 8x 1.2″ (imperfect copy).
  • National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh.

 This valuable tutor is known only in one copy, and that copy is without the title-page. The identity of the author seems quite certain, however, from references in a MS collection of Irish music made by Professor James Goodman, and now in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. In the preface to Vol I of the collection, dated May 2nd, 1861, Goodman writes, ‘This collection contains nearly 700 airs, for the most part Irish ones, of every description, jigs, reels, hornpipes, marches or slow airs . . Some of the former I have copied from the Instruction books for the Bagpipes published by Messrs. O’Farrell & Colclough . . .’ In the body of the MS, pp ‘138-157, are 29 tunes each marked with letter C in the margin, and they are all evidently transcriptions from this book. They occur in nearly the same order (with exceptions apparently dictated by the small page size of the MS volume) and with the same title except for the odd correction of a Gaelic spelling. The two tunes not included are ‘Life Let Us Cherish’ and ‘The Flowers of Edinburgh’, which presumably were rejected as not being Irish.

 In the printed book there are only three apparent references to composers, namely ‘The Rose Tree with new variations’ on p 16, ‘Union Pipe Grand March and Quick step’ on p 17 and ‘Dainty Davy with Vars’ on p 18, and in each case the attribution consists solely of the initials S.T.C; but there is also ‘Colclough’s Hornpipe’ on p 19. The first of these titles has been transcribed by Goodman as ‘The Rose Tree, with variations by Colclough’.

Colclough (the name is pronounced ‘Cokely’) was a well-known gentleman piper in the early nineteenth century. A portrait of him was engraved and printed by Henry Brocas, the Dublin painter (1762-1837). A copy is now in the possession of the Irish Folklore Commission. It is entitled ‘Mr. Colclough. / The Celebrated performer on the Union Pipes / Dublin Pubd by Wisheart 6, Suffolk St.’ and signed ‘Drawn and Engraved by Brocas. 20 Henry Street’. There is a reproduction in W. H. Grattan Flood, The Story of the Bagpipe, p 189, but the caption, with the date ‘about 1800’, is spurious.

In A Dictionary of Irish Artists by Walter G. Strickland (Dublin, 1913), the entry referring to Brocas mentions this print and gives the sitter’s name, Henry Colclough (information supplied by Mr. B. Breathnach).

 The existence of Colclough’s collection had been deduced by Breathnach, from the Goodman MS, for some years before this copy was discovered by the present writer. In a journal issued privately for Na Piobari Uilleann, Mr. Breathnach wrote: ‘judging by these tunes – waltzes, quicksteps, hornpipes, variations on “The Rose Tree” and “Maggie Lauder” – the music provided by Colclough was much the same as that provided for young ladies playing on the pianoforte, very different from what must have been played on the pipes at this time for the dancing masters and their pupils’. An Piobare, No. 3, 1969).

In the Piping Times October 1985Vol 38, No 1, page 29, there is a letter from Roderick Cannon that refers to this book and states there is a complete version of this book in the National Library of Scotland. 


  • Rev 00. (16 October 2008).
  • Rev 01. (31 March 2015).  Format changed for bibliography.altpibroch.com. The edition numbering changed from Roman to Arabic numerals.

© Geoff Hore 2015