After leaving the Butler-Ritchie family, we drove south to Achill, a beautiful sleepy island with a thriving traditional music scene. One of the local musicians is Feile's brother. John took up the Uilleann Pipes when we was 16 and has since devoted his career to playing and making them. He allowed us to film his workshop and a proper trad session at their local pub.
John's workshop is in an abandoned school house. Which, conveniently, has amazing acoustics.
Just about every piece is hand made in his workshop, from leather straps to ebony chanter. A full set of pipes takes about 3 months to complete.
The Uilleann pipe, the national pipe of Ireland, in a rough Irish translation means pipe of the elbows, named for its use of the elbows to pump air in rather than blowing like Scottland's bag pipe. Fun fact of the day: In Braveheart, bag pipes are shown but Uilleann pipes are what you hear on the soundtrack because the sound is less shrill.
Multi-tasking momma. One of our favorite things about Ireland is the family atmosphere at pubs. Baby in a bar? No problem!
This set of pipes is from 1924 and is the model that John emulates with his own pipes.
Just like Mike said with his Live Vicariously post, the local pub really is where you will absorb the true Irish culture. No leprechauns or shamrocks just honest, open, friendly people who are all game for a laugh and a pint.