Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Sean Reid Society

"The Sean Reid society is dedicated to the study of the Irish Union or Uilleann pipes: their music, history, and science. The Society is independent and non-commercial. The Journal's aim is to ensure that the knowledge we have attained since Sean Reid made the statement above is not lost, and that it is published for the use of all with an interest in this most remarkable and advanced musical instrument."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


The Lights of Ranzanico
Own Label DMCD001
10 tracks, 40 minutes

This recording is close to perfection. Cork piper Diarmaid Moynihan is one of the most talented players of his generation, and a prolific and respected composer, who gained global recognition with the band Calico. Donncha was also a key component of Calico, playing guitar and bouzouki, after a spell with all-girl group Calando. I think the beard gave him away in the end. Interestingly, his colleague in another band based on long blond hair has just surfaced with The London Lasses: Elma McElligott played flute with Donncha in the group Tassida. Be that as it may, the Moynihan brothers make a tight and intuitive duo here. Diarmaid’s pipes are in fantastic form - just listen to his air Pairc na Marbh, and Donncha’s accompaniment on the following reels is spot on. The guitar on Donncha’s own tune Long Haul Hush perfectly complements Diarmaid’s whistle. I could listen to their duets for the whole album: Diarmaid’s dreamy slow reel Ivory Lady recorded recently by Lúnasa, old reels and jigs incisively played on pipes and whistle, and another of Donncha’s airs on solo guitar. But there’s much, much more here.

First, the Moynihan lads are joined by ace Galician piper Anxo Lorenzo for a stupendous opening track. Tejedor’s great Spanish jig Barralin leads into the title tune (another of Diarmaid’s), and then Mairtin O’Connor’s supercharged Rockin’ the Boat. Somehow, just two pipers manage to sound like a full pipe band on the Breton march Pont de Loudeac. North Cregg’s box-player, Christy Leahy adds his mighty punch to another pair of Diarmaid’s tunes, La Tramontana and Shoulder Dancing, and to a set of traditional reels. There are also some nice touches of trumpet, piano, bass and percussion at various points. In between, Diarmaid delivers another gorgeous slow air and a rather funky reel, and the brothers are joined by their sister Deirdre for a fresh take on the Calico favourite Covering Ground. It’s all stirring stuff, and I can’t see how it could have been better, unless there was more of it.

The Lights of Ranzanico is an album to be seized upon, greedily devoured or lovingly cherished: a highlight of the year.

Alex Monaghan Irish Music Magazine

Friday, June 18, 2010

Michael Vignoles - Bodhran and Uilleann Pipe maker

Michael Vignoles is one of a rare breed of craftsmen left in Galway, with the musical instruments born from his Claddagh workshop gracing musicians' shelves across the world.

Born and reared on the cusp of Galway Bay, Michael Vignoles was ensconced in music from his first breath. His mother and father were both excellent vocalists with the melodic notes of Frank Sinatra bouncing form all corners of their Claddagh home."

"When I was growing up, I was really heavily influenced by the radio and groups like Planxty, The Chieftains and The Dubliners. When you listen to that every day something is bound to trip your soul and the sound of the pipes from Planxty really caught me.

"In my 20s, Reilly's on Forster Street was a great place to go to for a session. The best musicians would go there. I would go in with my tape recorder and try and learn the tunes from that. I was self taught to start off, I suppose."

After catching the uileann pipe bug, Michael set about getting his own set. It was during this process that he bumped into Eugene Lambe from Fanore, Co. Clare, who introduced him to the art of pipe building.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Trad music in Strokestown Park House

Roscommon Arts Centre's traditional music programme, taking place in Strokestown Park House is already a great success and this month will not be an exception. Renowned uilleann piper Tiarnan O'Duinnchinn & harpist Laoise Kelly will play in the galley kitchen of this historic house on Thursday 24th June to the delight of both traditional music enthusiasts and novices.

Tiarnán O'Duinnchinn is an award-winning uilleann piper from Monaghan who started playing the pipes when he was around nine years of age in The Armagh Pipers Club. He has won 4 Fleadh Ceoil (Ist place) All-Ireland titles -and two Oireachtas titles. Tiarnán has been touring and performing professionally on a regular basis since 1995 both as a member of various bands and as a solo performer. His music has taken him to Europe, United States, Asia, Africa, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. Tiarnán toured extensively with Máire Ní Bhraonáin (Clannad) from 1997-2001 and recorded two albums with Máire during that time. He has recorded with many different artists, between CDs, TV advertisements and his music has featured on two films.

In 2010, Tiarnán recorded on ‘Music of Ireland' in the USA with artists, Seamus Begley, Dónal Lunny, Paul Brady, Shane McGowan (Pogues), Sinéad O Connor, Damien Dempsey, Liam O Maonlaí, Glen Hansard and many more Irish musicians.

Laoise Kelly will play alongside Tiarnan for this session in Strokestown Park House. Laoise is widely acknowledged as one of Ireland's most acclaimed traditional harpers. She has pioneered a new style of traditional harping which has seen her represent Ireland at the World Harp Festival in Paraguay as well as touring in Africa, Japan, Russia, New Zealand, Australia, America and Canada.

She was a founding member of traditional group ‘The Bumblebees' with whom she recorded two albums and toured extensively. Throughout her solo career she has recorded with many of Ireland's foremost artists including The Chieftains, Sinéad O'Connor, Matt Molloy and Mary Black. Her ground-breaking solo album ‘Just Harp' established her as "the most important harper currently playing" (

This will undoubtedly be a concert not to be missed. More information and booking at Roscommon arts Centre on 090 6625824

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Irish Uilleann Pipes.

Gay McKeon plays a slow air & set dance from the playing of the great Leo Rowsome (Musician, Teacher & Uilleann Pipe maker). Recorded in Ned O'Shea's Pub ( The Merchant ) Dublin. This pub is famous for it's set dancing and traditional Irish music sessions.

Gay Mc Keon took an interest in uilleann piping in the 1960's under the tutelage of Leo Rowsome at the Piper's Club on Thomas Street in Dublin's city centre. Understandably, Leo had a profound influence on Gay's playing as did the musicians who would visit the club. Pipers such as Dan O'Dowd, Mick Touhy, Sean Seery, Tommy Reck, Willie Clancy and Peadar Broe. Gay was also heavily influenced by many of the fiddle players who lived and played in Dublin at that time - such as Chieftain, Sean Keane.

At an early age, Gay's interest in slow air playing was encouraged by Dan O'Dowd, Peter Flynn and Matt Kiernan. After Leo Rowsome's death in 1970, Gay sourced much of his repertoire from published collections such as Breathnach's Ceol Rince Na hEireann.

Gay has recorded and toured with artists including Christy Moore, Maddy Prior and June Tabor and has recorded on numerous compilation albums including The Ace and Deuce of Piping Vol. 2 and The Piper's Rock as well as a solo album Irish Piping Tradition, and a trio CD with his two sons Conor and Sean entitled The Dusty Miller. Gay has also produced a number of acclaimed recordings of Uilleann piping for other artistes. Since the mid 1970's Gay has toured and broadcast extensively as a soloist.

Gay is a much sought after teacher and has for many years taught at major summer schools and music festivals, also he has performed on three volumes of the acclaimed tutor series The Art of Uilleann Piping published by Na Píobairí Uilleann. Gay has served on the board of Na Píobairí Uilleann (the organisation of Uilleann pipers) of which he was chairman for several years and is currently Chief Executive of that organisation.

Father tells of fears for son hurt in attack on peace ship - National News, Frontpage -

THE father of an Irish man on board one of the ships in the peace flotilla off Gaza stormed by the Israelis, said his son is reported to be among the injured.

Fiachra O'Luain (27), a candidate in last year's European elections, was one of three Irish people on board the Challenger II which was traveling in the first wave of the flotilla when it encountered Israeli naval commandos.

His father, Joseph Bangert, who lives in Brewster, Cape Cod, in the US, said he has heard unconfirmed reports that his son was wounded and taken into custody by the Israelis.

Speaking to the Cape Cod Times yesterday, Mr Bangert said information was hard to come by. "I'm horrified. I'm scared for Fiachra but I am also proud of him. My son is heroic," he said. Meanwhile another of the Irish activists was flying home last night while two of his countrymen are due to appear before an Israeli court.

Shane Dillon, and Fintan Lane were also on the ship with Mr O'Luain. Mr Dillon, who is in his mid-30s and is from Dublin, last night decided not to contest his deportation from Israel and was put on a flight home.

However, Mr Lane (42) and Mr O'Luain both decided to contest their deportation and are being held in a detention camp. They will be brought before a court within the next two days.

Meanwhile, a ship carrying another five Irish activists, the MV Rachel Corrie, which set sail two weeks ago from Dundalk, Co Louth, was last night continuing on its course bound for Gaza.

It had become separated from the main flotilla after developing engine trouble and was not boarded during the Israeli attack.

At 6pm yesterday it was in the seas around Malta and was due to arrive in Gaza early this morning, but it is certain to be intercepted by the Israeli navy.

Five Irish people are on board, including crew members Derek and Jenny Graham from Ballina, Co Mayo. The passengers are former UN assistant secretary general Denis Halliday, Nobel peace prize laureate Mairead Maguire and Caoimhe Butterly, an activist from the Free Gaza group. Speaking from his home in Cork, Jim Lane, father of Fintan, said it had been an anxious wait for news of his son.

But he said the family was standing firmly behind him.

"I am proud of my son, not only for going on this solidarity mission to Gaza, but also for refusing deportation," Mr Lane said.

"He is making a point that Israel should have no control over who enters Gaza. He has done nothing wrong and I support him."

He said Fintan had visited them in Cork two weeks ago and was not nervous about the humanitarian mission.

"One has to a stand for one's principles. We stand with him," Mr Lane told the Irish Independent.

"We're shocked, of course, with the way they have been treated and dealt with. It was obviously a peaceful demonstration, that seemingly is accepted by governments all around the world."

In his final blog posting late on Sunday night before communications on Challenger II were cut, Mr Lane wrote: "Tension is mounting amongst the passengers. Everyone is wearing their lifejackets and preparing for an Israeli attack."

Challenger II was stationed alongside the Turkish vessel, Mavi Marmara, at the head of the flotilla 80 miles from the Israeli coast and in international waters when the armed forces boarded using helicopters and small boats at 4am Irish time.

Mr Lane is a books editor with a publishing company and lives in Chapelizod in Dublin.

Mr Dillon is a brother of Eoin Dillon, the well-known uilleann piper with music group Kila. He is an experienced sailor and has served as chief officer on numerous Irish and British merchant ships.

A family friend of Eoin Dillon said he was "dreadfully upset" about his brother's plight and did not want to comment to the media.

Speaking just a few days ago, Shane said it was his brother who had first got him interested in the situation in Gaza.

"My parents are a bit concerned about me going over here . . . but they're very supportive."

- Breda Heffernan Michael McHale and Anita Guidera

Irish IndependentFather tells of fears for son hurt in attack on peace ship -
National News, Frontpage -

A history of piping at The IAC

The Irish Arts Center will present a special one-time only performance on Sunday, June 6, of “Pipes and Piping in Ireland,” with master uilleann piper and renowned scholar Bill Ochs. This multi-medium event traces the development of piping in Ireland.

Bill Ochs learned the uilleann pipes from master pipers Andy Conroy, Pat Mitchell and Tom Standeven in Ireland and the U.S. Ochs's piping studies in Ireland were supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. In a solo piping concert, Ochs will demonstrate the full range and scope of this uniquely Irish instrument

“Pipes and Piping in Ireland,” is a blend of performance and lecture that will chronicle the development of piping in Ireland from the Middle Ages to the present, through visuals, recordings, and a live performance. Ochs has assembled a fascinating collection of woodcuts, lithographs, photos, video footage, and rare archival recordings that tell the story of the emergence of the uilleann pipes, the world's most sophisticated bagpipe.

Developed in the 18th century, the uilleann pipes (pronounced “ill- un”) comes from the Gaelic word uille with genitive of "uilleann", meaning elbow, emphasizing the use of the elbow when playing the uilleann pipes which were initially played in the parlors of the gentry, and soon became a favorite of all classes of society. Unlike most other bagpipes, these pipes are not blown by mouth, but by a bellows strapped to the player's arm.

The uilleann pipes' sweet tone makes them specially suited for playing indoors. The sound of the chanter, is akin to that of the oboe, and is supported by soft drones and an unusual configuration of organ-like bass stops called regulators, originally called "union pipes," at the end of the 18th century, perhaps to denote the union of the chanter, drones, and regulators.

Mick Moloney, Professor at New York University, traditional Irish musician and scholar, calls Pipes and Piping in Ireland "a most stimulating, informative, and entertaining presentation."

The Irish Arts Center, founded in 1972, is a New York-based arts and cultural center dedicated to projecting a dynamic image of Ireland and Irish America for the 21st century, building community with audiences of all backgrounds, and preserving the stories and traditions of Irish culture for generations to come

Tickets are $15 ($12 for IAC Members) The performance takes place at the 99-seat Donaghy Theatre at Irish Arts Center 553 West 51st Street. Tickets can be purchased by calling SmartTix at 212-868-4444 or at For more information, visit