Píobaire, An, Volume 9, Issue 5, Page 28

Píobaire, An, Volume 9, Issue 5, Page 28
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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 28 20131126 28 World recently, Mr. Touhey said: “Yes, and I agree with him entirely. The Irish pipe is a ‘civil’ instrument, as has been said. The so- called Scotch bagpipe bears no comparison at all with it as a musical instrument, being alto- gether of less perfect construction, as Mr. Far- rell showed. The Irish pipes is soft and mellow in tone, is a domestic instrument, and easily harmonizes with other instruments.” “The Irish pipe, however has been sadly neg- lected on the whole in America. Of course we have had some great players here, such as Tay- lor, Eagan, etc. I began learning from the two named when I was eleven years old, and con- sidered myself a master of the instrument at twenty-one. Yes, it’s difficult and intricate. There is a general feeling that it must be “in you” or else you cannot reproduce the old Irish airs with the original flavour – with the ‘brogue,’ as some call it – which is its chiefest charm.” “The only organized effort I had observed to cultivate and popularize Irish pipe music in America was in Chicago. Frank O’Neill, now chief of police in that city, was the principal promoter of this movement, and other leaders in it were Sergeants James Cahill and James Early and Mr. John Ennis, all good players and enthusiasts. The two sergeants mentioned also make first class chanters. They are still actively engaged in it, and I think they will yet meet with greater success.” “Of course, the Gaelic movement here is sup- porting the pipes as well as Irish music gener- ally, and it seems only beginning. In fact, I think the future of the pipes, as well as of the music and language, depends largely on the Gaelic movement. For this reason I do not speak so despondently of the return of the pipes to their former place, as I would have done some few years ago. I see that as a result of the Gaelic revival a pipers’ club was started in Cork, and another, I believe, in Dublin. The fact that a man over there wrote out here a short time ago to inquire where he could have pipes made, shows how even the art of making the pipes had died out in Ireland, like a great many other arts and industries. I am glad to see that here again the Gaelic League took a prac- tical step by offering a prize for the best Irish made chanter at the last ‘Oireachtas,’ and the prize chanter, it is said, was a first rate one.” “It was also very pleasing and somewhat of a surprise to learn that no fewer than thirty-one pipes entered the competition for pipe playing at the ‘Oireachtas,’ and some of them came from parts of the country where it was not sup- posed there was a piper at all for a great many years back.” “So the outlook for the bagpipes is not so bad on the whole, though there should be no need of a movement to revive them, as they should never have been neglected. It was really only in the last two generations that the pipes declined, and this I believe is largely true of the music as a whole and the language. I am informed that the people who disparage the language are either those who know nothing about it or are slaving enough to be ashamed of it, and I know this to be true about the pipes. Some are igno- rant enough to confound them with the older, outdoor, harsh instrument known as the Scot- tish pipes, not realizing that our ancestors, when they modified that instrument into a do- mestic or social and really musical instrument were a musically educated people; and others are so slavish as to fear that the pipes are too Irish or ‘common.’ If the present revival keeps on, however, the one class will be educated and the other made ashamed of themselves. So that the pipes, as all other institutions and customs belonging to the soil, will obtain their old place among the people.” Irish World Newspaper, Saturday July 13th 1901 (Parts of this interview have been published in The Piping of Patsy Touhey, by Pat Mitchell and Jackie Small, NPU, 1986)
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An Píobaire, Volume 9, Issue 5

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