The Wheels of the World,

The wheels of the world.jpg


The Wheels of the World,


300 Years of Irish Uilleann Pipers


One chanter, three drones, three regulators, thirteen keys, too many near-extinctions to mention and 300 years of heroes: that, with a frisson of fairies on moonlit knolls, is the Irish uilleann ('ill-in') pipes. The Wheels Of The World presents an epic tale of triumph and survival, where the soulful heart of a nation has been kept alive across ages by a slender thread of guardians - blind men, eccentrics, self-aggrandisers, noble heroes, bloody-minded revivalists and at least three people compared to Jimi Hendrix. Uilleann piping is Ireland's equivalent to the story of the blues in America, save that here the trail of legends and lore is richer and deeper by far. It is the sound of 18th-century blues - a microtonal virtuoso machine wielded by misfits and geniuses, often one and the same. This is the story of a continuum, from John McSherry, a 21st-century icon, backwards in time through Paddy Keenan, Liam O'Flynn, Finbar Furey, Seamus Ennis, Willie Clancy, Johnny Doran, Leo Rowsome and Patsy Touhey - at the dawn of recorded sound - and thence to find a litany of unrecorded legends before them. It is also a snapshot of professional Irish traditional musicians, after the gold rush of the late 20th century, keeping calm and carrying on.


Colin Harper and John McSherry


Jawbone Press, London, 2015, 978 1 908279 93 4






Colin Harper and John McSherry , “The Wheels of the World, ,”, accessed November 22, 2019,

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