A little about myself and my Irish "credentials"

I began learning to play the (great Highland) bagpipes a few years ago. So far my only Irish tune is the anthem: "Amhrán na bhFiann", which I am still working on, but tomorrow (when I have my lesson) I will begin on "Minstrel Boy". I hope to play at my favorite Irish pub in TA one day in the near future. I should have picked an instrument that can blend in with the sessions. Too late now, I'm well into it.

I recently found out from my cousin that her dad/my uncle learned to play the pipes at Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie-Mellon) in Pittsburgh, which is where I grew up. Naturally, my favorite pipe band is St. Laurence O'Toole.


I've been watching their performances at the Worlds on Glasgow Green for the past few years. I tried to see them when I was in Dublin, but their competition schedule didn't allow it. Next time!

Their history fits in with a passion of mine, the history and leaders of the Easter Rising. I first read about this as a schoolgirl in Mt. Lebanon, PA. It was then that I also began reading Irish literature (alas, only in English). Yeats was a favorite of mine in HS (I did a paper on him for a course In Irish lit.), and in university I studied Swift, Wilde and some of the other great poets and playwrights.

If there are any others out there with a passion for traditional Irish music, piping, the Rising, or Irish literature, let me know.

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Comment by Kelly O'Rourke on February 16, 2014 at 9:11am

You're right about pipes; the uilleann pipes are much more suited to a session.  I wonder how different the 2 instruments are to play.  Anyway, good luck with your lessons.  So good to keep learning new things!

Comment by Susan McWilliams Lev-Yadun on February 16, 2014 at 9:33am

Thanks for the word of encouragement, Kelly. I began this before my unexpected trip to Dublin, which resulted in me reconnecting with my Irish roots. I think the fingering is the same, but I'm not even sure about that. Any way, I've invested enough in this (lessons, instrument) to keep on with it. It's more of a challenge and a grander sound, to my mind, at least. And I have my Robert Burns suppers to play at!

Comment by Kelly O'Rourke on February 16, 2014 at 10:57am

Yes - both are great!  My hometown (Dunedin, FL) has Scottish origins, so our high school marching band uses the highland pipes and wear kilts.


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