Uilleann Pipers at Bettystown
Forty years ago, in April 1968, a significant gathering of uilleann pipers was held in Bettystown, Co Meath, for a concentration on the instrument and its music that had been proving impossible at general fleadhanna ceoil. All known uilleann pipers in the country had been canvassed, and the large attendance of some 50 pipers reflected the contemporary strength of the tradition. Leo Rowsome, Seamus Ennis, and Willie Clancy, all nationally known from commercial recordings and other musical activities, were present, as well as pipers such as Paddy Moloney and Mícheál Ó Riabhaigh who were familiar from radio performances, fleadh prizewinners such as Willie Reynolds and Pat McNulty, and pipers of the next generation such as Néillidh Mulligan and Liam O’Flynn. On the proposal of Sean Reid of Clare, it was agreed to set up an organisation for uilleann pipers. Na Píobairí Uilleann was formally established in October of the year under the chairmanship of Breandán Breathnach, who had family links with the Dublin Pipers’ Club of the early century. The organisation has since overseen an extraordinary renaissance of the instrument, and it runs an extensive programme of teaching, recitals, publishing, etc., from its newly refurbished premises at 15 Henrietta St, Dublin 1. It estimates that there are now over 5,000 uilleann pipers world-wide.
Photo (donated to Na Píobairí Uilleann by Pat McNulty, Glasgow) courtesy NPU and Irish Traditional Music Archive, © NPU
Published on 1 July 2008