Monday, April 11, 2011

Long wait for uilleann pipes spurs appeal for new makers

"ALL GOOD things come to those who wait, but in the case of the uilleann pipes that wait can be seven years.

The demand for the most quintessential of Irish instruments is so great that an appeal has been launched to increase the number of craftspeople making them.

The pipes, unique to Ireland, cannot be mass-produced and still have to be painstakingly assembled, piece by piece.

Throughout the world there are orders for uilleann pipes worth €7 million outstanding. A full set of pipes costs between €7,000 and €20,000, and the typical wait from a renowned pipemaker is seven years – and in some cases 15 years. Despite the shortage, only 20 per cent of uilleann pipes are made in Ireland.

Na Píobairí Uilleann, the organisation that promotes piping, has set up a 2,400sq ft industrial unit at the Port Tunnel Business Park in Clonshaugh, Co Dublin, to school a new generation of makers.

It is also showcasing the art and craft of uilleann pipemaking every day until April 26th at the Culture Box, Temple Bar, as part of the Year of Craft 2011.

Na Píobairí Uilleann believes 30 people could be employed full-time in making the pipes."

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