Visit With A Pipe Maker and Boul Biddy’s

We worked on some new sets and then went to visit a pipe maker by the name of John Butler. John hails originally from Dublin area and now lives on Achill Island. His work shop is in an old school building and when we arrived the wind was blowing hard and it was threatening rain. He’s only been making pipes on his own for a couple of years, had helped another pipe maker at one point build some practice sets, but on his own just a few sets. His skills are evident, his work very clean and well executed. He’d been a designer of medical equipment but was made redundant by the economic times. He’s played pipes since he was sixteen and I’m guessing he’s in his late 30s. He showed us his personal set of Willy Rowesome pipes made in 1924. They’re beautiful things with full regulators and a sound that is sweet and pure. John gave James some advice on his pipes, offered some suggestions and I think James will have him build a new bellows for him.

We got back home and Morgan made a great pasta dinner and we headed into Westport to meet Maria at Hoban’s Pub. When we arrived it was apparent we were going to have to get some pints to catch up with Maria. She did get hold of her friend Padraig who came and chatted for a little while. Maria told us that he loves banjo and had a couple. Once he determined that we were OK ( he asked us several times are you going to play some tunes? ) he said he’d get his banjos. Don was quite pleased at the prospect of having one to play. Padraig gives one case to Don and when he opens it we’re VERY interested. It’s a Clifford Essex Paragon, one of the best English banjos made, bloody beautiful and awesome sounding.

We played for awhile and Padraig suggested strongly that we might want to take it down to Biddy’s a very cool, narrow little pub that was just roaring. Dan and Johnny were leading with the owner’s daughter Jennie on box and young Nigel on flute. They welcomed us into the circle and it took off from there. Some lads show up one in a wig and red dress who’s going to be married and then it really got wild. It got so loud I finally put my guitar away and played drum. Don was the life of the party. He played some blues and some jazz with Dan, A mighty session and great fun.

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