PP Ed’s Blog: Two Drone Pipe/ RSPBA College/ NEPADA/ SPA/ Liam O Flynn

I snapped this picture in a bar known as the ‘Tilted Kilt’ in Boca Raton, Florida, last month. What intrigued me was that the piper is playing a two-drone pipe.

Given that the poster is calling on Irishmen to join up it must have been before the formation of the Irish Republic, and circa the outbreak of WW1. I seem to remember a reference to a regiment called the Irish Rifles having a band of two-drone pipers. Please get in touch if you can enlighten. Happy Paddy’s Day to everyone tomorrow and here’s a shot of the full poster:

As the College of Piping diminishes so another centre of learning grows in Glasgow…..The RSPBA announced at their AGM a major input into education in piping and drumming. The Pipe Band College will have a new Principal of Piping and one for Drumming. The redeveloped headquarters building in Washington Street will have the upper floor dedicated to the college with four substantial teaching rooms and a large 300 people max performance/training hall. Each room will be well lit with natural light and finished to the highest specification. The RSPBA College will have a registration office/hub area, toilets and the walls of the main hall and the teaching rooms will be lined with display cases filled with artefacts and pictures from the Association’s museum. I took this picture of an architect’s drawing at the AGM. Pretty rough but it will give you some idea of the layout:

First floor plan of the new RSPBA HQ. This will house the Association’s College

The whole re-development will cost over £1m and well done to Chief Executive Ian Embelton and his Board of Directors for making this happen. Exciting times ahead for the RSPBA.


Registrations are now open for the New England Pipe & Drum Academy to be held at the Adelynrood Retreat north east of Boston from June 17 – 22. The tutors, myself, Donald McBride, Matt Pantaleoni and Tommy Johnston are looking forward to another enjoyable week among old friends and new. There’s a new pic n’ mix menu of meals and accommodation options available. Click on the ad below to check them out:[wds id=”10″]

Tom Johnstone, President, Scottish Pipers’ Association: ‘Just a quick reminder that entries close for the above on Friday 16th March. The event is on Saturday 24th March at the College of Piping. If you are intending to compete please get your entry in by Friday [today March 16]. Forms are on the SPA Facebook page and attached. Email will do. Please also let any of your friends know about the contest who are not members but may wish to compete. www.scottishpipersassociation.co.uk’

It is a pity the contest clashes with the Piobaireachd Society Conference to held in Birnam next weekend. Sometimes this can’t be helped.

So sorry to hear yesterday of the passing of uillean piper Liam Óg O’Flynn. I met Liam a couple of times over the years and for such a brilliant player he was very unassuming and quiet about his ability. He was the first uillean piper I ever heard who played in tune. His playing and purity of sound were the lodestone of the supergroup Planxty, the pioneering traditional Irish band of the late 70s and early 80s.

Others will remember Liam fronting the groundbreaking ‘Brendan Voyage’ orchestral suite by Shaun Davey. I think Liam was only in his early 70s. Patrick Molard in Brittany has written: ‘Just received the news of Liam O’ Flynn’s death. He was the reason I took up the uilleann pipes in 1975, and in 1976 I got lessons from him at the Scoil Eigse course organized by Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann in Buncrana. RIP Liam.’

Click on the pic to hear Liam play courtesy RTE

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