October 25, 2013 - A Recap of the 3rd Annual International Uilleann Piping Day Chicago

IUPD 2013 kicked off in Chicago at the Irish American Heritage Center in the Shamrock American Club Room on the 2nd floor.  We were able to obtain use of the room thanks to the generosity of the SA Club, which contributed a great deal of time, energy, and money to the renovation of the building the IAHC now uses.  We owe them our heartfelt thanks.

Our live stream back to Dublin started at about 11AM US Central Time.  I tried to follow the suggested format by interviewing some members of the local piping community.  Each guest played a few tunes as well, and I joined in. Up first we had Pete Fleming, a native South Sider who first got curious about the pipes in his late teens and began playing them in his mid-twenties.  We played his favorite tunes – “The March of the King of Laois (aka Mairseal Ruairi O Mor)” and a pair of jigs, “The Leitrim Jig”  and “Saddle the Pony.”

Next, I was joined by Sean Curran, 12, of Clontarf.  Sean’s parents are in the Chicagoland area on a work assignment for a few years so we are luck to count him among us.  He has been playing the pipes for a little over two years now and has grown a great deal as a piper in that short time.  We couldn’t be more proud of the diligence and determination he has shown in his daily practice and in the coolness he has shown in high pressure performance situations.

After Sean, I was joined by our most senior member of the Chicago uilleann piping community, Mr. Kevin Henry, originally from Doocastle, Sligo.  Kevin is unfailingly generous with his time, stories, reeds, and advice, and has been a great help to pipers here who struggle with our fluctuating climate.  Kevin and I played a few tunes together, but the highlight was his recitation of the old poem, “The Cow that Ate the Piper,”  which had everyone laughing.

After Kevin, I was joined by my lovely wife Karen, who plays fiddle, for a few tunes and played out the end of our webcast.

We took some time for tea and scones, took a group photo, and enjoyed watching performances from elsewhere around the world.

We in Chicago wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to all NPU staff, officers, and volunteers who helped pull off this year’s edition of IUPD.  It was a great day and a great honor to be a part of it.  Let’s do this again!

Patrick Cannady, uilleann piper - Chicago Pipers