The tunes of the Munster Pipers have echoed down through the ages, an eloquent testimony to the talents and dedication of some exceptional musicians, and a rich source of inspiration to this new generation of pipers.
The village of Glengarriff in West Cork will hold another Piping Festival this year from Thursday 18th to Sunday 21st June 2020.
It honours the memory of Glengarriff resident and renowned piper Jim Dowling, who embodied the best of the areas’ unique musical tradition.
Jim was born and raised in Dublin and was one of a select band of young musicians who trained with the legendary piper Leo Rowsome at a time when traditional music was confined to the back streets and the kitchens. But many people had begun to feel that there was a pressing need for a national organisation to promote Ireland’s unique musical culture. And so, in 1951 at the Dublin Pipers Club headquarters, the first standing Committee of Cumann Ceoltóirí na hÉireann was elected
Jim and his wife Mary moved to Glengarriff in the 70’s, where Jim set about popularising the playing and making of uilleann pipes and traditional music. The seisiúns he held in the bar at Dowlings Caravan Park soon became a focus for musicians from far and wide, and those who wanted the opportunity to learn from a master musician.
Jim was reviving a legacy that, over the years, has featured extraordinary musicians such as the blind fiddler, Tom Kennedy, who shared his extensive collection of tunes with West Cork’s much-loved Cannon James Goodman, born in Ventry County Kerry in 1828. Goodman was also an outstanding player of the Uilleann pipes.
Canon Goodman ensured that the hundreds of tunes which Tom knew were preserved for posterity. He collected over 2,000 melodies, now safely ensconced in the library of Trinity College under the title of “The Tunes of the Munster Pipers.” Today his statue can be seen at the gate to Abbeystrewery parish church in Skibbereen.
The Jim Dowling Uilleannn Pipe and Trad Festival not only acknowledges the long legacy of piping in the area and the talents of musician Jim Dowling, a founder member of Glengarriff Comhaltas, but also recognises the huge interest in piping, not only in Ireland – where there is only one other such festival – but in Scotland, Germany, Austria, France and other European countries.
The Festival has the best in Irish and International traditional musicians with a focus on the music of both local pipers and guest appearances by some outstanding artists. Workshops and other special events, such as concerts on the beautiful Garnish Island, are all part of this unique event.
But this year, Glengarriff, famous for its outstanding scenery and natural beauty, will be welcoming visitors to its friendly hotels and pubs for a packed weekend of outstanding music, craic and some unforgettable sessions. It promises to be a fitting tribute to the unique – and much-missed – talents of the late Jim Dowling.