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Music To My Ears – The Pipers Parlour

The Pipers Parlour Dublin - Na Píobairí Uilleann

Being the year of the centenary of the great Lockout, we at the Fountain, your favourite newswire, decided to venture out in the beautiful sun and review the new tenement museum on 14 Henrietta Street off Bolton Street. It was such a pity when I arrived that it was fully booked up and I couldn’t get a tour, an important warning to those planning on seeing the museum is to book early. After being unable to visit the tenement museum, I sunk into despair, but not for too long. You see next door at number 15 is what is known as the Pipers Parlour, and it had a cafe so I went in for a drink to help ease off the very hot weather.

I chose my drink and had a cake and all for under €3.50, which itself was well worth visiting. Now I must admit it when I first stumbled in to this little hidden gem, I actually thought it was something to do with Pipes that run under the ground! However, it is of course about the Uilleann Pipes, that wonderful Irish answer to the bagpipes. A very kind lady served me my drink and she informed me they were doing tours and I thought why not at least the walk up from the city was not all in vain, so I paid my €5.00 entry fee and off I went.

There were about 8 people in my group, we were brought to the top floor of 15 Henrietta Street in this beautiful Georgian room with a large fireplace and ornately decorated furniture. We were given an oral presentation about the history of the Uilleann pipes, they originate in the 18th century Ireland. They were born out of a need to lower the volume of the native war pipes (bagpipes), which were banned by the British as part of the Anglicisation of Ireland. The word “Uilleann” takes the word in Irish for “Elbow”, as the elbow is the method by which air is compressed within the device, unlike blowing in the bag pipes. At present, there are about 7000 people playing these pipes here in Ireland, a huge increase over the years.

A set of Uilleann Pipes will set you back anywhere from €10,000 to €20,000 but also bear in mind these will last you for a life time and in some cases, centuries. The Pipe makers can only make at least 4 sets per year and it’s all done by hand so one can only guess the craft that goes into these wonderful instruments.

We were all treated to a demonstration of the pipes by a musician named James, played them with such grace, he explained the mechanics of what he was doing as he was doing it. Then he played a mini gig with us, it was wonderful.

This was a real eye opener to me as I said above I have never heard of the Uilleann pipes up to yesterday, I really enjoyed my day tour and you can too. The tour was informative and it was wonderful to hear the music played live, the tour at €5.00 costs next to nothing and the staff are wonderful and friendly. Well worth a visit!

They are open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday. There is also a special price for groups. You can sit down in their cafe and enjoy a brew and have a bite to eat before or after the tour, this tour is only opened from July & August. You can telephone them for more information on Dublin 01-873-0093, or simply pop along to 15 Henrietta Street, Dublin 1, before the last tour which is 4.15pm. Number 15 Henrietta Street is also their H.Q. and have weekly classes for anyone interested in playing the Uilleann from beginners to advanced and from time to time do Gigs well worth checking them out!!!!!

And finally, you can check out the Pipers Parlour website by clicking here.

IMAGE: James @ The Pipers Parlour, Dublin 2013 – image credit: Alan Finn/

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