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.