Píobaire, An, Volume 1, Issue 13, Page 3
Píobaire, An, Volume 1, Issue 13, Page 3
Na Píobairí Uilleann
(96)PIPER. GAYNORThe man,however, who ought to sit as the true type and representative of the Irish piper,is he whose whole life is passed among the peasantry, with the exception of an occasionalelevation to the lords hail or the squires parlour - who is equally conversant with theIrish and English languages - has neither wife nor child, house nor home, but circulatesfrom one village or farm-house to another, carrying mirth, amusement, and a warmwelcome with h im , whereever he goes, and filling the hearts of the young with happinessand delight. The true Irish piper must wear a frieze coat, corduroy breeches, greywoollen stockings, smoke tobacco, drink whiskey, and take snuff; for if is absolytelynecessary, from his peculiar position among the people,that he should be a walkingencyclopaedia of Irish social usages. And so he generally is; for to the practice andcultivation of these the simple tenor of his inoffensive life is devoted.The most perfect specimen of this class we ever were acquainted with,was a blind manknown by the name of Piper Gaynor. His beat extended through the county of Louth,and occasionally through those of Meath and Monaghan. Gaynor was precisely such aman as I have just described, both as to dress, a knowledge of English and Irish, and athorough feeling of all those mellow old tints, which an incipient change in the spirit ofIrish society threatened even then to obliterate. I have said he was blind, but, unlikeTalbots, his face was smooth; and hie pale placid features, while playing on his pipes,were absolutely radiant with enthusiasm and genius. He was a widower, andhad wonone of the fairest and most modest girls in the rich agricultural county of Louth,in spiteof the competition and rivalry of many wealthy and independent suitors. But no wonder;for who could hear his magic performances without at once surrendering the whole heartand feelings to the almost preternatural influence of this miraculous enchanter? Tatbot? no, no . - after hearing Gaynor, the very remembrance of the music which proceededfrom the grand pipes was absolutely indifferent. And yet the pipes on which he playedwere the meanest in appearance you could imagine, and in point of sj. e the smallest Iever saw. It is singular, however, but no less true, that we can scarcely name acelebrated Irish piper whose pipes were not known to be small, old-looking, greasy,andmarked by the stains and dinges which indicate an indulgence in the habits of conviviallife.Many a distinguished piper have we heard, but never at all any whom we could thinkfor a moment of comparing with Gaynor. Unlike Talbot, it mattered not when or wherehe played his ravishing notes were still the same, for he possessed the power of utterlyabstracting his whole spirit into his music, and any body who looked upon his pate andintellectual countenance, could perceive the lights and shadows of the Irish heart flitover it, with a change and rapidity which nothing but the soul of genius could command.Gaynor, though comparatively unknown to any kind of fame but a local one, was yet notunknown to himself. In truth, though modest, humble, and unassuming in his manners,he possessed the true pride of genius. For instance, though willing to play in respectsable farmers house for the amusement of the family, he never could be prevailed on toplay at a common dance; and his reasons, which I have often heard him urge, weresuch as exhibit the spirit and intellect of the man. My music, sdd he, isnt For thefeet or the floor, but for the ear and the heart; youll get plenty of foot pipers, but Imnone o them. -This description of a Meath piper in pre-famine days is taken from CarletonsTales and Sketches illustrating the Character, Usages, Traditions, Sports andPastimes of The Irish Peasantry, published in Dublin in 1845. These sketcheshad already appeared in various periodicals and were gathered together inone volume, as Carleton said, to afford the reader occasional glimpses of thatflreside enjoyment and simplicity of country life,which, perhaps, after all,ampler knowledge may remove without putting any thing so well calculatedto charm the untutored heart in their stead.
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