Have a pop at uileann piping

There may be some strange caterwalling coming from Portlaoise next Friday afternoon June 21.

There may be some strange caterwalling coming from Portlaoise next Friday afternoon June 21.

Shoppers get an opportunity to try their hand at playing that most difficult but beautiful sounding Irish musical instrument, the uilleann pipes.

Local pipers Joe Walsh and Paddy Hyland will be offering shoppers a chance to ‘have a pop at piping’ with a free lesson in Laois Shopping Centre.

The event is part of Love:Live Music Day, and will run from from 3.30pm to 5.30pm.

It is one of six ‘Try the Pipes’ events around the country, with people of all ages encouraged to give the iconic instrument a go, with the assistance of experienced players from Na Píobairí Uilleann (NPU).

The Uilleann pipes are the uniquely Irish form of the bagpipes – a family of instruments familiar throughout Europe as well as parts of Asia and Africa.

Uilleann Pipes first appeared in the first half of the 18th century in Ireland and Britain and were developed to their modern form in Ireland over the following 50 to 60 years.

It is the most highly developed of all bagpipes, having a chanter capable of sounding two full octaves, as well as other features such as regulators, which allow chordal accompaniment.

The unique sound of the pipes has given them iconic status around the world thanks to the great players of the last century, including Séamus Ennis and Willie Clancy.

The instrument has been central to the signature sound of groups such as The Chieftains, Planxty, The Bothy Band, Moving Hearts, Ceoltóirí Chualainn and in Riverdance.

The sound has achieved worldwide recognition and admiration also through its use in films such as Titanic,Braveheart and Rob Roy.

The other Irish venues are at the Seamus Ennis Centre, Naul, Dublin, Eyre Square shopping centre in Galway, the Milk Market in Limerick, Marshes Shopping Centre in Dundalk and City Square Shopping Centre in Waterford.

Na Píobairí Uilleann was founded in 1968 to protect what they believe was a threatened art form.

It is now a thriving arts organisation with thousands of members, servicing the aims and needs of uilleann pipers worldwide.

When demand for pipes began to exceed supply, they establised a dedicated training Centre, PipeCraft, to deliver training in the skilled craft of uilleann pipemaking.

They provide tuition at their Dublin headquarters in Henrietta Street, along with a busy public performance programme.

Wannabee pipers can access online tutorials and view archived material on NPU’s website, Source.

The are primarily funded by the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht, The Arts Council and Dublin City Council. See www.pipers.ie