Uilleann piping

Inscribed in 2017 (12.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© NPU, 2016
Uilleann piping is a musical practice which uses a particular type of bagpipe (known as the ‘uilleann’, ‘Irish’ or ‘union’ pipes) to play Irish music. It is a highly developed instrument with strong roots in tradition dating back many generations. Bearers and practitioners are dispersed throughout the world, but the greatest concentration is in Ireland and Irish communities abroad. Uilleann piping offers an important way of socializing and plays an integral role in life events such as marriages and funerals, where it provides a sense of rootedness and a connection to the past. The most highly valued method of transmission is the practice of one-to-one, master-to-student instruction, but transmission also occurs through more modern methods such as video and DVD tutorials and the internet. The most prominent group involved in safeguarding Uilleann piping is Na Piorabairi Uilleann (NPU), which was founded in 1968 by pipers with a mission to stop the decline of the instrument. Through a programme of research, publications, tuition and training, the NPU has contributed to a huge increase in the use and appreciation of the instrument and its music, resulting in a flowering of the art in modern times, with more players than in any previous period.
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