Píobaire, An, Volume 9, Issue 5, Page 27

Píobaire, An, Volume 9, Issue 5, Page 27
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periodical Publisher
Na Píobairí Uilleann
periodical Editor
Chairman, NPU
periodical Title
An Píobaire
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Píobaire, An 9 5 27 20131126 27 ~ SEANCHAS ~ The Irish Bagpipe Its Present and Future Status as a National Musical Instrument (Interview with Mr. Patrick Touhey, the celebrated Irish-American piper.) I N VIEW OF THE GREAT Irish intellectual re- vival which is under way, and which, of course, is more felt in the language and music than in any other direction, the time was deemed opportune to get some interested opin- ion as to the present status and the prospects of one of the national musical instruments – the Irish bagpipe – and with that object in view our representative sought an interview with the cel- ebrated Irish piper, Mr. Patrick Touhey, at his home, 1388 Bristow street, Borough of the Bronx. Mr. Touhey is a piper of national reputation in America, and we found him quite as intelligent and as well informed on the subject of the bag- pipe – and indeed on Irish music generally – as he is a good performer. He is quite a young man, who was brought here by his parents when he was eight years old, and in answer to the question: “How did you become a piper?” he replied: “My father and grandfather were pipres before me, and it was quite natural I should become one, though I sometimes think I would have been a piper anyway.” “What is the present position of pipe playing as an art, and of the pipe as a popular instru- ment, Mr. Touhey?” was asked. “As to the art of pipe playing I do not that that has deteriorated much,” said Mr. Touhey. “The players I know now are as good as the average of the older pipers I knew, but of course fa- mous pipers, like other artists, are not born every day. So far as the popularity of the in- strument is concerned it is hard to answer that question. When the pipes are played before an Irish audience they always get the wildest ap- plause – if they are played well – and they seem to be just what the audience wants above all other things. On the other hand, the pipes have been less and less in evidence and the pipers becoming fewer every day. I cannot ac- count for these two facts except by the general statement that everything Irish has been dying out. In Ireland they were adopting everything English or foreign – concertinas, melodeons and the like, and all kinds of trashy music and songs, and here they seem to think it is the right thing to drop Irish music and dances and the pipes and everything altogether, as if they were ashamed of them. I can’t understand why they do this, because there’s no music for the people like Irish music. The Irish dances are far nicer and more lively than the kind of dances you see nowadays, and there’s no instrument for Irish dance music – or, indeed, for any kind of Irish music – at all like the pipes. Of course, as I said before, when they do make up their minds to have Irish dances or an Irish piper you can al- ways see that they enjoy them better than any- thing else and seem more at home. From my experience I am quite sure that not only for the sake of the native music and the pipes, but for the enjoyment of their patrons, managers of Irish societies and entertainments should al- ways have Irish music and the pipes, too.” When asked if he had seen the letter from Mr. Bernard Farrell which appeared in the Irish
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An Píobaire, Volume 9, Issue 5

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