Set made by Denis Harrington in Cork in the 1850s. It was sent from America to Leo Rowsome in part payment for a new set of Leo’s making, and in the 1950s it was purchased from Leo by Ronan Browne’s parents. Ronan has been playing the set for many years and, along with Geoff Wooff, has made the name of Harrington celebrated throughout the piping world.
In Irish Minstrels and Musicians (Chicago 1913), Francis O’Neill was able to provide only the scantiest information on Harrington’s career:
Harrington . . . was the son of a small farmer, but he couldn’t be kept away from music. He went to the city and lived on Hanover Street, where our informant often saw him making pipes. “Over fifty years ago,” says Mr. O’Neill, “the first exhibition in Cork was held. Harrington made a set of Irish pipes for the occasion. The keys and ferrules were of silver, and he sold them at the exhibition for fifty pounds. At the Munster Feis at Cork, about eight years ago, I complimented one of the pipers, named Cash, from the county of Wicklow, on the beauty of his pipes. He drew my attention to the words, ‘Harrington, Cork,’ branded on every stick of them. I have an old set of Harrington’s make left me by a piper named John O’Neill.”
Discouraged by the direful condition of affairs resulting from the famine, Harrington emigrated to America and all trace of him was lost.
This set was made by Leo Rowsome for Dubliner Seán Seery,
the son of one of Leo’s friends in the Dublin Pipers Club. Seán
was a student of Leo’s at the Club and also at the Municipal
School of Music. It is unique among sets made by Leo in
having a soundbox on the baritone drone as well as the bass.
Seán was born into a musical family. His father Jim was
originally from Rathconrath, near Mullingar, but was settled
in Stoneybatter in Dublin when Seán was born. He was
one of the founder-members of the Dublin Pipers Club and
served as Treasurer of that body, a position which he also
filled with the newly founded Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann
in 1951, which he also helped to found.
Seán was a very successful piper in competition,
winning the ‘triple crown’ of piping in the late 1940s – the
Dublin Feis, the Oireachtas and the Feis Ceoil. He was also
a member of Leo Rowsome’s piping quartets, along with Jim
Dowling and Tommy McCarthy in one phase, and in another
with Leo’s son Leon and Willie Clancy. His death in late 2002
closed a contribution of fifty years to piping in Dublin.