Background to a Painting of Ireland’s Black Raven Pipe Band

I hope all is well with everyone and their family in these difficult times. Thank goodness for technology and it’s great to be able to communicate over the internet with band members and have a practice. Sure it’s not the same, but it keeps us in touch with one another.

Now that I have a little time on my hands, our band (Black Raven) has the above painting in our possession and I thought you might like to hear about how we obtained it.

By Seamus Russell, Vice Chairman of the Irish Pipe Band Association and Secretary of Black Raven Pipe Band

I have found a lot of background information and was wondering would it make an interesting article for Piping Press. I know there is the PP lockdown challenge for which painting submissions were asked. This is not really an entry for the competition but it is a pipe band painting so here goes. (Maybe there are other band paintings which readers could send in.)

Now I know it’s a little parochial but perhaps interesting as I say. The painting [above, top] is a copy of an original black and white photograph of the Black Raven Pipe Band performing at an Easter Commemoration parade on the Hill of Tara in County Meath in 1948.



In 1966 the Black Raven Pub opened in Skerries, County Dublin, at which the band performed at the official ceremony. A few years later the owner, Christy Jenkinson, originally from Lusk the home of the Black Raven Pipe Band, saw the photograph and thought he would like to have a painting it in his pub.

Christy also owned the Old Mill Bakery in the town and bought his flour for his bread in the Anna Livia flour mills in Lucan, Co. Dublin. The mill was owned by the Shackelton family and he commissioned Roger Shackelton to paint the picture. He was one of Ireland’s foremost painters and there’s more about him below.

The band opens the pub in Skerries

Shackelton studied in great detail the faces and the uniform colours and when completed it was truly a work of art. The painting was displayed in the pub and was admired by locals and visitors alike.

The pub and Old Mill bakery have since closed but the painting was rescued and restored by the Jenkinson family and thanks to a chance meeting with a member of the Black Raven Pipe Band we now have it.

The family expressed the wish that they would like the band to have the painting and display it in their band hall. Arrangements were made and at a special event an unveiling ceremony took place in the hall on Easter Sunday 2019 where band members, former members, and descendants of former members were invited.

A great day was had by all with a few tunes played and lots of stories shared. The painting now hangs proudly in our hall for all to see and admire.

The same pub in later years

Roger Coryndor Shackelton was born in 1931 and died in 1987. He was of Quaker ancestory which can be traced to Abraham Shackelton who settled in Ballytore, Co. Kildare  in 1776.

His great-grandfather founded the Anna Liffey Mill in Lucan near Dublin in 1886 and his great, great aunt was Lydia Shackelton (1828 -1914) the botanical artist. Roger was born in Dublin in 1931 and entered the National College of Art in 1949. From 1950-1951 he studied  at the Bath Academy of Art. In 1952 he made his debut in the Royal Hiberian Academy. He contributed thirteen works to the Academy over the course of his career. 

In the period 1953-1966 he showed eighteen works at the Irish Exibition of Living art and in 1954 won the Henry Higgins Travelling Scholarship. Shackelton settled in Blacksod, Co. Mayo. 

In 1965 he travelled once once a week to Keel on Achill Island where he gave art lessons. In 1967 he exibited  paintings of the West of Ireland at the Molesworth Gallery, Dublin. In 1980 he began teaching at the National of Art and Design continuing until his death in 1987. An exibition of his works took place in 1992 at the Taylor Galleries, Dublin.

  • Would you like to take part in the PP Lockdown Challenge? Send your essays, paintings, artwork and new tunes to pipingpress@gmail.com.

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