Píobaire, An, Volume 5, Issue 2, Page 10

Píobaire, An, Volume 5, Issue 2, Page 10
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Na Píobairí Uilleann
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Chairman, NPU
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Píobaire, An
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10Tommy Kearney~1917 - 2008 ~Tommy Kearney’s death prompted an extraordinary response from thepiping world, and many tributes to him were received from his widecircle of friends. We have room here for just two of these. The othersmay be read on our website at www.pipers.ie\tk\tk.htm.Tommy Kearney died on the 12thDecember 2008. He was 92 years ofage. His death was a sad loss for hisdaughter, Maria, and her family and friends.He is sadly missed by his many friends in theworld of traditional Irish music. Hundreds ofpipers were privileged to be pupils of TommyKearney. His piping career extended overeighty years. He was born in Portlaw, Co.Waterford in 1917, one of eight children bornto Myles and Mary Kearney. The Kearneyfamily ran a successful painting and decorat-ing business. Tommy Kearney’s introduction to traditionalmusic was through old cylinder recordingsmade by the great American pipers, TomEnnis, Barney Delaney and Patsy Touhey.The cylinders were sent from America to JohnHenebry, Portlaw, a neighbour of Tommy’s.John Henebry saw that Tommy had a keeninterest in music and made him a practice setof pipes. Having taught him the rudiments ofpiping, he sent him to Liam Walsh for moreformal lessons. Tommy also went to LeoRowsome who made a beautiful set of pipesfor him. Tommy was held in high regard bythe Rowsome family and they became firmfriends for life. As a child, he heard JimByrne, the Mooncoin piper, and other travel-ling pipers. At the start of Tommy’s piping career, piperswere very scarce in the South East. He playedat concerts and other events, but mainlyplayed at home for family and friends. Inessence he was a ‘parlour piper’. Being a veryreserved and modest person he never soughtthe limelight or the glory of competition. Hehad to be cajoled and pushed into competi-tions by his family and friends. At one com-petition he was up against Jim Dowling, aDublin piper, whom he held in very highregard both as a person and as a piper. Whenasked who won, Tommy bashfully said “Ahsure they gave it to me”. Jim Dowling, RIP,died a few weeks before Tommy.For many years Tommy was a regular visitorto Martin Carrigan at Clarabricken, Kilkennyfor reeds and pipe maintenance. He said“Tommy was a great piper, but he was a hardman on reeds”. Being blessed or cursed withnear perfect pitch Tommy was forever tryingto improve on the sound. Finbar Furey assist-ed Tommy in making reeds and he was quite
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Píobaire, An, Volume 5, Issue 2

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