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Gaelic Music 'Coel'

Gaelic War Pipes

Music has ever been close to the heart of the Celt and no music is more evocative of Gaelic culture than the sound of the pipes. Although the bagpipes are today seen as being exclusively Scottish, and the oileán pipes exclusively Irish. It was not always so, however. The war-pipes (píob mór - pipe music is known as An Piobaire Mór), as they were known, were used by both Irish and Scots to instill bravery in battle - the piper led the warriors into battle as can be seen from the engraving opposite drawn in Ireland in the 1570s. The pipes were also used to play the lament at funerals after a warrior had passed away. Harp music was often used in a "Brosnachadh Catha" or "Incitement to Battle" before the warriors left their lord's castle on a foray, as is recorded in the MacDonald Clan before the Battle of Harlaw in 1411 in Scotland, but once in the field, the pipes were the only suitable instrument to use.

Gaelic Bagpipes

The bagpipes are recorded as being used at the Battle of the Curlews in County Sligo in 1599, when the piper led Red Hugh O Donnell's Irish warriors into battle. The piper would have been well guarded by his comrades, who knew what a devastating effect he had on the enemy and also what a devastating effect it would have if he were killed. The pipes are recorded as being used by the Gaelic Irish at the Battle of the Yellow Ford, where they were also victorious and at Kinsale, where they were defeated. At various times the English outlawed the pipes as "instruments of war" and during Cromwellian times pipers were either executed or deported to the West Indies. Both King James and King William's armies were led into battle to the skirl of the pipes in the War of the two Kings, after which the Jacobite pipers joined the Irish Brigade in France where they were being played in 1745 at the Battle of Fontenoy. The pipes were also played in the Irish regiments in the British Army and continue to be played to this day in the Royal Irish Rangers. The uilleann pipes replaced the outlawed bagpipes during the Penal Law era and was not banned as the bagpipes were, as they require the player to be seated - they are more conducive in tone and temperment to a more peaceful situation.


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