Píobaire, An, Volume 9, Issue 5, Page 24

Píobaire, An, Volume 9, Issue 5, Page 24
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Na Píobairí Uilleann
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Chairman, NPU
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An Píobaire
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Píobaire, An 9 5 24 20131126 24 ~ SEANCHAS ~ Pipers in Kildare in the 1780s Nicholas Carolan C ASTLETOWN HOUSE, the great eigh- teenth-century mansion which still stands at Celbridge, Co Kildare, was built from 1722 by William Conolly of Done- gal, a vastly wealthy lawyer, politician and landowner, and Speaker of the Irish House of Commons in Dublin. It was remodelled in the early 1770s by his heir and nephew the Right Honourable Thomas Conolly (1738–1803), a member of both the English and Irish Houses of Commons and of the Irish Privy Council, and by his wife Lady Louisa Conolly (1743– 1821, née Lennox), a daughter of the Duke of Richmond. They used it as a political centre of hospitality and entertainment on a grand scale, and in their time Castletown became a fash- ionable resort for people of influence which was rivalled only by the Dublin establishments of the Lords Lieutenant of Ireland. Music and dancing were central to the enter- tainment provided in Castletown, and also to the social education given to young female members of the Conolly household. Details of the expenditure involved are found scattered throughout the extensive surviving financial accounts kept over decades by the Conollys personally and by their stewards. 1 Grand balls, servants’ balls, harvest dances and music recitals were organised, harpsichords and pi- anofortes were bought and regularly kept in tune, a harp was hired, and fashionable Dublin- based dancing masters and music teachers en- gaged. Music was provided by sometimes named but usually unnamed musicians; their instruments are not often indicated. When they are, they were most commonly ‘Fiddlers’; once it was a ‘Fiddler, and Dulcimer’. 2 By 1782, when Thomas Conolly had become promi- nently involved in the Volunteer movement lo- cally, he was employing a resident fifer and drummer. 3 Pipers are listed in the Castletown accounts, in among carters and labourers, wheelwrights and carpenters, and the dates of payments made to them and the amounts paid are also given (see panel). 19 January 1780 ‘To Mr. McDonald, the Piper’ £5/13/9 4 30 August 1780 ‘To the Artillery Band, two Fidlers, and the Piper’ £9/2/0 5 15 December 1780 ‘To the Piper’ £2/5/6 6 31 October 1781 ‘To the Piper at Leinster Lodge’ 11/4½ 7 26 December 1781 ‘To the Piper for the X’mas Holydays’ £3/8/3 8 May 1782 ‘To the Piper’ £2/5/6 9 Michaelmas quarter 1786 ‘To the Piper, for the X’mas party’ £5/13/9 10
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An Píobaire, Volume 9, Issue 5

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