Unique Irish instrument making course expanded to include the harp

Sile Denvir and Barry Kerr

Cruit Éireann, Harp Ireland welcomes Na Píobairí Uilleann’s expansion of its instrument-making initiative, in partnership with Ballyfermot College of Further Education, which was announced today. Including the Irish harp will further safeguard the tradition of Irish harp-making and help to ensure its sustainability.

Press release on behalf of Na Píobairí Uilleann – June 1, 2020
Photography distributed by Fennell Photography

NA PÍOBAIRÍ UILLEANN (NPU) is delighted to announce that starting September 2020 and in partnership with Ballyfermot College of Further Education (BCFE) additional instruments are to be added to the instrument making strand of the Ceoltóir programme.

The Irish harp, following the uilleann pipes, was inscribed on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage recognition last December and the making of this iconic instrument will now be taught at NPU’s PipeCraft training facility in Clonshaugh as part of BCFE’s National Higher Diploma in Traditional Music Performance Programme (Ceoltóir).

Other instruments included in the expansion of the teaching programme are the mandolin/mandola along with the existing courses in uilleann pipes, flute and whistle making.

The Level 6 programme in Musical Instrument Making and Performance is a two year course and will commence at the start of the academic year in September in accordance with all Covid-19 safety protocols.

Speaking about the announcement of this expansion, NPU Chief Executive Gay McKeon said: “Expanding the cohort of skilled instrument makers in Ireland is a vital part of the preservation and promotion of traditional music and we’re delighted that Na Píobairí Uilleann’s facility in north Dublin is able to play a pivotal role in that objective.

“In partnership with Ballyfermot College of Further Education, we have framed these new additional courses in harp, mandolin and mandola making in an accredited module which will help provide a career pathway for participants who have ambition to develop the specialised craft of instrument making.”

NPU’s PipeCraft Training Centre, the first dedicated facility of its kind in Ireland equipped with the machinery, tools and materials required for transmitting the skills required for the craft of instrument making, was opened in 2011 with the support of the then Dept of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht along with other Government agencies and continues to be assisted with an annual fundraising campaign.

Since then over 150 students have received specialised instruction in pipe-making on full time and modular part time courses with flute and whistle making added to the courses in 2018 when a partnership was formed with Ballyfermot College of Further Education.The success of the NPU/BCFE instrument making courses will have the effect of delivering benefits in the areas of heritage, culture, art, enterprise and jobs.

The re-establishment of Ireland as the world centre for excellence in the manufacture of uilleann pipes, flutes, whistles, harps, mandolins and mandolas will result in the provision of employment in an export-led sector and an increase in cultural tourism.

Applications can be made through the college website www.bcfe.ie Ballyfermot College of Further Education www.bcfe.ie PH: (01) 6269421 info@bcfe.cdetb.ie

Further Information: Na Píobairí Uilleann, 15 Henrietta St., Dublin 1, Ireland

Tel: +353-1-8730093/Email: info@pipers.ie/Web: www.pipers.ie

About Na Píobairí Uilleann
Na Píobairí Uilleann (NPU), the Society of Uilleann Pipers, was founded in 1968 when there were fewer than 100 uilleann pipers remaining. Today NPU is a thriving arts organisation dedicated to Sharing the Sound of Ireland through Access, Education, Performance and Preservation.

Since unveiling its restored Georgian premises at 15 Henrietta Street, Dublin, in January 2007, NPU has been busy catering for the expanding demand for regular tuition, as well as releasing a number of significant publications and recordings. With demand for pipes considerably exceeding supply, a dedicated Training Centre – PipeCraft – was established in 2011 to deliver training in the very highly skilled craft of uilleann pipe making.

NPU is accredited to UNESCO as a competent NGO in the field of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH).

NPU lobbied the Irish Government to ratify the UNESCO Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage which resulted in the inclusion of Uilleann Piping on the UNESCO representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in December 2017.

Na Píobairí Uilleann’s primary funding agencies include the Department of Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht, The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon and Dublin City Council.