'The future of uilleann piping is bright': €13.3m Announced for New Na Píobairí Uilleann Sound of Ireland Centre

Liam Winnett, Gay McKeon, Muireann Ní Shé, Brendan Gleeson and Séamus Ong at the Na Píobairí Uilleann Sound of Ireland Centre announcement (Photo: Maxwell Photography)

'The future of uilleann piping is bright': €13.3m Announced for New Na Píobairí Uilleann Sound of Ireland Centre

Opening in 2027, the building will include a visitor centre, performance theatre and instrument making training facility.
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Na Píobairí Uilleann has announced that it will receive €13.3m in funding from the government and Dublin City Council to construct a new international visitor centre, theatre performance space and instrument making training facility beside its current headquarters on Henrietta Street in Dublin.

The Na Píobairí Uilleann Sound of Ireland Centre at 16 Henrietta Street, next to NPU’s current address at number 15, will be a newly refurbished and extended building totalling 940 sq m/10,100 sq ft. There are three aspects to the new centre: the proposed theatre will seat 200 people and will provide a purpose-built performance venue for artists from Ireland and abroad; the centre will also provide visitors with a curated insight into uilleann piping, charting the history and development of the instrument; and a dedicated space will bring tuition and mentoring in uilleann pipe making into the heart of Dublin for the first time.

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The proposed Sound of Ireland Centre theatre (Image: Na Píobairí Uilleann)

The funding for the Sound of Ireland Centre has been allocated by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, which will contribute €9.3m, the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, contributing €2m, and €2m from Dublin City Council.

The centre is designed by Ryan W. Kennihan Architects and scheduled for completion and opening in 2027.

At the announcement last Friday 1 September at Henrietta Street, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, said:

I’ve been so impressed with the work that is being undertaken at Na Píobairí Uilleann. It is no exaggeration to say that it has played a vital part in ensuring that the skill of making uilleann pipes and the teaching of that beautiful instrument to people continues, not just in Ireland but across the world. So I am delighted that the Government’s Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) is supporting such a unique part of our cultural heritage to the tune of €9.3million.

Gay McKeon, Chief Executive of Na Píobairí Uilleann, added:

This investment by the Government and Dublin City Council is very welcome news for our members, staff and Board, current funding agencies, stakeholders and the wider uilleann piping community in Ireland and abroad. We have delivered on significant milestone projects in the past, including the restoration of our headquarters at 15 Henrietta Street, the establishment of our instrument making training centre, PipeCraft, and securing Irish Government support for the inclusion of uilleann piping on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity… We are very grateful for the support of the Government, Dublin City Council, Ministers Darragh O’Brien, Catherine Martin, Paschal Donohoe and Richard Shakespeare from DCC for helping us to provide new opportunities for people worldwide to appreciate and participate in this uniquely Irish art form.

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The proposed Na Píobairí Uilleann Sound of Ireland Centre at 16 Henrietta Street. (Image: Na Píobairí Uilleann)

Na Píobairí Uilleann, which is funded by the Arts Council, was founded in 1968 and today has an extensive range of activities across access, education, performance and preservation. Its programmes bring weekly piping tuition and instruments on loan to young people nationwide.

Speaking at the announcement last week, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, said:

I am passionate about the traditional arts including uilleann piping and I am very pleased to see this Sound of Ireland Centre development that is going to take place here in Henrietta Street. There is so much credit due to Na Píobairí Uilleann – to the staff and volunteers. My Department funded the refurbishment and fitting out of this building 10 years ago and I know that Na Píobairí Uilleann has been working on this next stage for over a decade…

In conjunction with the Tenement Museum at 14 Henrietta Street and the popularity of the Street as a film location, the Sound of Ireland Centre will see the enhancement of Henrietta Street as a cultural hub and attractive landmark tourism destination. With its inscription on the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity as well as the tax relief for pipe making introduced in last year’s budget and today’s announcement, the future of uilleann piping is bright.

For further information, visit https://pipers.ie.

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At the announcement of the new Na Píobairí Uilleann Sound of Ireland Centre on 1 September at Henrietta Street, Dublin 1 were, from left to right: NPU Chief Executive and uilleann piper Gay McKeon, actor and fiddle player Brendan Gleeson, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, uilleann piper Liam Winnett, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, uilleann piper Séamus Ong, Minister for Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD, and uilleann piper Muireann Ní Shé (Photo: Maxwell Photography).

Published on 5 September 2023

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