Paddy on the Turnpike | Bowing Down Home

About this tune

Paddy on the Turnpike -- or Marie à Pierre as it is known among many Island Acadians – was one of the most widely played tunes on PEI both in 1991-2 and 2006. It has been a very long-term resident of the Island repertoire, and newspaper accounts indicate that the tune was played by competitors at the Great Fiddle Contest of 1926.

There are at least three substantially different versions in circulation on the Island, which I'll call the old setting, the new setting, and the A-setting. The old setting and new setting both have a G key center. In the old setting – which predominates in Northeast Kings County and most closely resembles the version found in most published collections – the tune alternates pretty regularly between tonic (G) and "flat-VII" (F-natural) tonal areas. In the new setting, many or most of the F-naturals are played as F#s, some or even most of the tune calls out for "common practice" harmonies (i.e, I, IV, and V chords), and portions of the melody are adapted in order to operate in this revised harmonic universe.

In the A-setting, the contour of the tune is shifted up to an A key center, and adapted to a Dorian-like mode with both minor-3rd and minor-7th scale degrees. Thus far, I have encountered this version only among a few Prince County players.

Here are some G-versions of note.

Old Setting: George MacPhee, Eddy Arsenault

New Setting: Victor Doucette, Elliott Wight

An early appearance of Paddy on the Turnpike in print is in Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, aka 1000 Fiddle Tunes (1882). It appears as The Mills are Grinding in The Roche Collection of Traditional Irish Music (1912). Interestingly, O’Neill’s Music of Ireland (1903) contains a reel entitled Cronin’s Favorite, which – if the F# in the key signature is authentic – seems quite close to the “new setting” as played on PEI. What’s more, another tune in O’Neill’s called The Rainy Day is quite similar to the “A-setting.”

Notation for versions by Victor Doucette (new setting), Joe Albert (A-setting) and Jackie Biggar (A-setting) are available here. Notation for versions by Francis MacDonald (old setting) and Archie Stewart (new setting) are in Fiddle Music of Prince Edward Island.

Tune Variants

Arsenault, Delphine - Marie à Pierre (Paddy on the Turnpike; pump organ solo) Accompanied by: unaccompanied
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
info
Banks, Reg - Paddy on the Turnpike Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Central Kings
info
Day, Ivan - Paddy on the Turnpike Accompanied by: Sylvia Day pno
Western Queens
info
Doucette, Joseph - Paddy on the Turnpike Accompanied by: Vincent Doucette, gtr
West Prince
info
Doucette, Victor - Paddy on the Turnpike Accompanied by: Vincent Doucette, gtr; Cathy Doucette, bass
West Prince
info
Gaudet, David - Paddy on the Turnpike Accompanied by: Robert Gallant, pno; Cecil Arsenault, gtr
West Prince
info
Kearney, Joe - Paddy on the Turnpike Accompanied by: Gerard Murphy, gtr; Ken Perlman, bjo
South Kings
info
Leard, Warren - Paddy on the Turnpike Accompanied by: Eldon MacArthur, gtr
West Prince
info
Morrissey, Johnny - Paddy on the Turnpike Accompanied by: Margaret Ross MacKinnon, pno
Eastern Queens
info
O'Connor, Attwood - Paddy on the Turnpike Accompanied by: Stanley Bruce, gtr; Mac MacKinnon, mand; Ken Perlman, bjo
South Kings
info
Pitre, Dennis - Paddy on the Turnpike Accompanied by: Vincent Doucette, gtr
West Prince
info
Wight, Elliott - Paddy on the Turnpike Accompanied by: Judy Lowe, pno; Norman LeClair, gtr
Eastern Queens
info
Albert, Joe - Paddy on the Turnpike, A-setting Accompanied by: Ivan Albert, gtr
West Prince
info
Arsenault, Peter - Paddy on the Turnpike, A-setting Accompanied by: Helene Arsenault Bergeron, pno
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
info
Biggar, Jackie - Paddy on the Turnpike, A-setting Accompanied by: Darlene Harding, pno; Peter Robinson, bass
West Prince
info
Biggar, Jackie - The Miracmichi Fire / Paddy on the Turnpike, A/Setting Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
West Prince
info
Arsenault, Eddy - Paddy on the Turnpike (1991) Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
info
Arsenault, Eddy - Paddy on the Turnpike (2006) Accompanied by: Amand Arsenault, gtr
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
info
Baglole, Sidney - Paddy on the Turnpike Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
West Prince
info
Chaisson, Peter - 'Old' - Paddy on the Turnpike / East Newk of Fife Accompanied by: Kevin Chaisson, pno
Northeast Kings
info
Chaisson, Timothy - Gene's Reel / Paddy on the Turnpike Accompanied by: unacc
Northeast Kings, New Wave
info
Cheverie, Fr Charles - Space Available / Heather on the Hill / Paddy on the Turnpike Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Northeast Kings
info
Hughes, Earl - EarlHughes Air#1 / Royal Scots Polka / EarlHughes Reel#1 / Heather on the Hill / Paddy on the Turnpike / Earl Hughes Reel#2 Accompanied by: Joan Hughes pno & Gary Hughes gtr
Eastern Queens
info
Koughan, Bill - Sheehan's Reel / Paddy on the Turnpike Accompanied by: Arlene Koughan Powers, pno; Shirley Koughan MacDonald, dancing steps
Eastern Queens
info
MacDonald, Francis - Sheehan's Reel / Pigeon on the Gate, G-Setting / Paddy on the Turnpike Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Northeast Kings
info
MacPhee, George - Paddy on the Turnpike Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Northeast Kings
info
Silliker, Alton - Paddy on the Turnpike Accompanied by: Florence Silliker Young, pno; Eugene Gallant, gtr
West Prince
info
Smith, Tony - Paddy on the Turnpike Accompanied by: Alfred Gallant, gtr
Western Queens
info
Toole, Stephen - Princess Reel / Ottawa Valley Reel / Paddy on the Turnpike Accompanied by: Margaret Ross MacKinnon, pno; Ken Perlman, bjo
Western Queens
info
Webster, Carl & Jackie - CJWebster92 Reel 1 / Paddy on the Turnpike Accompanied by: Donnie MacDonald, gtr
info