“A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

“A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

I acquired my copy of this way back when it was first released. Since then much has happened, including problems that meant Pat had to take a hiatus from playing the uilleann pipes, RSI, and then later having to retrain himself minus the tensions that had brought things to that level of pain he had to stop for a spell.

When his collection had a reprint, after Pat was back playing again, I was told he’d written a new introduction, and the description and recommendation of that perked my interest. I still haven’t managed to find it and read it and would very much like to do that if someone can provide me with just that. As said, I’ve got this collection, but pre Pat’s rebirth on the scene and the latest edition of this lovely little collection - with the new intro…

Is Pat McNulty still giving it a go? Is he still in Glasgow? Is he still teaching? All I can remember this much later, having bought his collection when it was on sale for less than a quid, is that I liked his way with the pipes… I’m also pretty sure he’d managed to cut one LP worth of music too, but there’s nothing on site here and I haven’t come across it yet in our collection of recordings?

Here’s hoping he’s well and still charming people with his pipes…

Re: “A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

Last I heard, Pat was still teaching. That was a while ago, though. Had many a blether with him on the technical side of pipes. Last time I saw him, he was disembarking the M.V. Isle of Mull as I was waiting to board. He was on an organised tour of Mull and Iona. Time enough for a blether mind you.
He made a video a while back.

Re: “A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

Yes, I’d heard of the video “The Singing Chanter” and wanted to catch a view, but haven’t manage to yet. Here’s more from the above link, which I’d forgot to add the info to, so here it is again, with a short extract:

From ‘The Living Tradition’ article “Pat McNulty’s Fancy”- by Steve McGrail Issue 50 January/February 2003

“He released a video in 1996, ‘The Singing Chanter’, showing the full concert instrument at work, and another video in 2002 of himself and his wife Ann performing together on pipes. He’s currently making a CD and is starting on what he wants to be the definitive book on the pipes - their history, playing techniques etc - all placed within a musical, technical and scientific context.”

“Pat McNulty: Autumn Apples”


I’ve just added this one recording I could find of Pat’s, but it’s not the earlier one I was familiar with, and I suspect, having been made after his supposed recovery, that it might be quite different in style?

Where are you Silver Spear, this is your neck of the woods, Glasgow, and about another uilleann piper too?!

Re: “A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

McNulty, Pat
Uilleann pipes : traditional music of Ireland / Pat McNulty, uilleann pipes
(London?) : Silver Hill: PSH 103, p 1975 - 1 LP : stereo
Cork : Ossian: OSS 71, (199-?) - 1 MC : stereo
Contents: Gold ring (jig). Blind Mary (air). Black rogue, Nora Greene (jigs). Independent, The Star (hornpipes). Taimse mo chodhladh (air). First house in Connaught, Killabeg House (reels). Moll roe, Humours of Derrycrosane (slip jigs). Bright white sea-gulls (air). Caroline O’Neill’s (hornpipe). The Boy in the gap, The Beauty spot (reels). Hewlett (O’Carolan piece). Mountains of Pomeroy, Fairy revels (marches)


Re: “A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

Yeah, he’s a fair legend around here but I have never met him nor would I even recognise him if he sat next to me at a pub. If he is still around and still playing, I haven’t the faintest clue where he does it.

That said, I’m a poor source of information as I’m pretty extraneous and peripheral to the “scene” and stuff could be happening in the Comhaltas branches or whatever to which I am totally oblivious.

Re: “A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

I suspect he still as an aversion to Comhaltas events, but I do understand he taught his wife to play the pipes and they do stereo gigs… 😉

Re: “A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

Yes, that’s the recording Weejie, with “The Gold Ring” and “Hewlett” on it…

Re: “A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

Comhaltas archives have a few cuts of Pat, solo and with some other fellow, including the reel “Clock in the Steeple” which I found in O’Neill’s, played on the pipes, then found out Pat had already come across it. Ossian issued the Autumn Apples record and reissued the book I think. Picked that up years ago but missed out on obtaining the Singing Chanter video.

His playing’s still fine on the Apples record. It’s half his concert set and half an old Egan in C. Fair bit of echo, as was the fashion in the 80s.

My first regulators were McNulty - not so hot, aluminum keys and the cheapest plastic. The key blocks had almost all snapped off, pipemaker Kirk Lynch had reglued them all back on, the keys were too wide and easily broken. The regulator caps kind of looked like Canada’s CN Tower in profile. They were reasonably easy to reed and play, though. Pat was an engineer working on Harrier jump jets, I’m told.

Re: “A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

There is another LP “Irish Union Pipes”. I have a tape of it somewhere. I saw him playing once back in the sixties.

Re: “A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

I’d also heard that Pat had designed and made aluminium pipes? But while I’ve seen some peculiar pipes, I’ve never come across an aluminium set. Did this actually ever happen? Has anyone seen them. Yes, I knew he had an engineering background, and had gotten into pipe making, at least with some others, but I’ve never seen any of his work there, just the tales, like yours SASD, thanks for that addition here…

Re: “A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

I’ve not seen any aluminium pipes of his, but one thing he did show me was his use of ‘O’ rings for seals. In particular, a double ring seal for the reedcap on the chanter.
There seemed to be some rivalry between Pat and Jim Daily, as they would make cryptic comments about each other’s work.
Both makers had their own ideas about ‘improvements’ and both had their detractors. Pat was not content with three regulators, for example.

Re The latest intro to: “A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

I’d heard about the O rings being used, and the idea sounded ‘tight’, literally, but I’ve never seen them in use, except in plumbing.

Was Pat working toward more regulators. I think Taylor made pipes with four, and I’ve seen and heard and given a try a complete double set, which had a similar sound to a free reed instrument, meaning the accordion and concertina family of reeded instruments. I loved it, but what hell that would be to tune up and keep balanced, two sets of reeds for everything. I would have though it could have been done better than it had been, a double chanter, double drones, double regulators, that possibly just doubling the reeds would have given a similar effect, without two bores for everything. But that’\s another topic.

Does anyone know what other experiments Pat was up to? Is he still making pipes?

I’ve still not got that new introduction he’d written. Surely someone must have the more recent edition of the collection with that and could at least scan it for me to read? I know, I’m being tight, but I already have the collection, just not the new intro. I suspect that what he had to say in it, as I’ve heard accounts of it in a few words, would make for more discussion here.

Re: “A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

I seem to recall the set on his video had 4 regulators. The keywork might have been aluminium too - some high tech plastic there as well.
He frequently plays the regulators with his fingers, if my memory serves me right.

Re: “A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

Harry Lawson - I posted some info about Harry with the above tune - had a practice set of Pat McNulty aluminium pipes in the early 1970s.

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Re: “A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

Foreward to the fourth edition

It will soon be almost a quarter of a century ago since this collection of Irish Dance Music was first published. In that time Irish Music has increased immensely in popularity, and is played regularly, not just in Ireland and Britain, but throughout the world, and could indeed be said to be the ‘fashionable’ music to be heard playing nowadays. However, with the popularity, many adverse effects have been imposed on the music by external influences and sources, alien in idiom and expression to Irish traditional music. In my introduction to the last edition, I referred to some of these unwanted influences creeping in, to the detriment of the true art, viz. mis-naming tunes, drastic changes in some instances to the key-signatures in which the tunes had traditionally been performed, and fast playing. To-day, unfortunately, such practices are fairly common; indeed the tempo at which dance music is played to-day is excessive, and destroys for the listener, much of the intrinsic beauty of our tunes. The playing of slow airs and march tunes has declined, so as to be almost non-existent. Individual expression and interpretation was waned too, principally due to the ‘group attitude’ presently prevalent, in performing. Is it too much to hope that this state of affairs can be halted, and a return made to the leisured individualistic interpretation of Irish Music? Finally, might I saw, how pleased I am, that for the first time ever, this collection is being published in Ireland.

July 1988

I mispelt one word as “papularity.” ;)

All of this makes me think of a comment by an old fiddler, quoted in the wonderful foreword to Miller + Perron’s collection: “If it’s fast reels they want I’ll be content to listen.”

Merry Christmas, ceolachan,
Kevin Rietmann

Re: “A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

Double set of pipes? Taylors made many double chanters, with two sets of fingerholes/two bores/two reeds, which were played simultaneously. They built at least one set with double regulators, where the small and middle regs had the doubled up reeds and bores; but each reed controlled only two notes, or three/two for the tenor. This simplified tuning. A copy of the Taylor’s work with double regs may be seen at hotpipes.com.

Never heard of doubled up drones on any bagpipe, except the Scottish instrument of course. Early sets of Union pipes had a fourth drone, which sounded A/G. If you wanted a “wet” tuning ala accordions just don’t get the drones in tune. Or wait a minute…;)

Taylors also built at least two sets with quadruple regulators: four bores/four reeds. Half of the toneholes were on the bottom, the keys on the top operated linkages. A pipemaker told me “if you can’t get those in tune just pack it in!” One of these sets was played by the great Chicago piper Joe Shannon.

Re: “A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

Thanks for posting Pat McNulty’s comments there, Kevin, but if those were his observations in 1988, I can’t help but wonder what he’d have to say in 2011 !

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Kevin, you sweetheart, how are you? We were there again this last Spring and Summer but it was tough times, two people very dear to us suffering terminal cancer, and one not long before having lost that battle. Since the visit one more down. It’s been rough times, and sadly, with responsibilities there we missed another chance to visit and have a natter.

Thanks for the link, which it seems is yet another update of the one people had told me to chase up, which must have been the third edition, but it looks like the fourth has the same basic content I’d been warned about. I think he may have gone into more detail in the third. His battle with RSI, part of what made him aware of the problems of speed and tension and pushing things too hard, was supposedly also an influence on that forward. I had to laugh, why, well, because I have the first and second editions. That’s why I didn’t want to risk yet another copy arriving and not being quite what I was looking for.

Thanks for you patience and time.

On odd pipes, did you ever see the square ones, with square bore, I think it was some kind of thin plywood they were made out of, or was it cigar boxes, with clothes pegs for regulator keys? What a hoot. I wish I’d had a camera…

Here’s making that link you mentioned live ~ http://hotpipes.com/

I loved the Taylor doubled set, a wonderful buzzzzz…

And a very Merry Christmas to you too. I wish I could convince you to visit a friend of ours there, just North of you in Vancouver, to bring some cheer in the way of music and your good company…

Kenny, were the Harry Lawson pipes fully aluminium, meaning the chanter of that practice set?

Re: “A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

Hey ceol. Sorry about your losses. Looks like Bill Martin’s hanging in there, he’s your friend as I recall. I’ve lost both parents myself in the last couple years, it’s always tough.

Square cigar box pipes, that’d be quite something. An Australian guy built bona fide square bore chanters, four pieces of glued together wood, pretty well slapped together, actually - he was pretty sharp about acoustics, said it doesn’t really matter. There was an American fellow making chanters out of telescoped brass tubing, too.

Another thing I recall about McNulty pipes, the bodies were total cylinders - no taper to be seen. Even the chanter, I’ve never seen one of those myself. Weird stuff! Pickings were slim in the 70s, you know.

Weejie mentioned another Scotsman making Irish pipes, Jim Daily, his pipes were/are quite odd too - wooden keys, regulators with holes that you’d cover with your wrist, long bits of bent tubing. And now there’s Gordon Galloway north of the border as well, his pipes are a bit oddball visually, too. Must be a local ruling, or something in the water…

Re: “A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

Yes, Bill Martin was one of the main reasons we were there this Spring and Summer, and someone who could appreciate another character, like yourself.

Have a lovely New Year, still hoping someone comes through with the intro to the third edition. 😀

Re: “A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

Really? I don’t find Gordon’s pipes “a bit oddball visually.” He’s worked out how to attach keys to the chanter without key blocks but I don’t find that terribly weird. He has the big, flat Taylor style reg keys – as does Cillian O’Briain and a few others. And they sound great. A lot of the “cool people” (up and coming players)_ have his sets.

Jim Daily, well, that’s another kettle of fish.

Re: “A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

Well, they’re quite a departure from classic pipe aesthetics and the holly set with purpleheart mounts that was posted on the C&F forum some time ago was well, lets say, the far end of the spectrum.

That said, he’s not the only one to depart from classic looks and at least there’s a plan to what he’s doing, unlike some others who are basically just lacking any sense of aesthetic.

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Re: “A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

I saw that set being played at a festival a couple years ago. Nice sounding set.

He is someone who I sort of wish I had kept in touch with after I met him at aforesaid festival, as he is a good player himself and more importantly, would have snow and weather forecast updates for the Glencoe and Kinlochleven area. 🙂 But I’m not in a position to buy pipes, from him or anyone else at the moment, and that is what he does. Even said to me at the tionol in question that he generally does not play at sessions in Scotland.

Re: “A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty


Re: “A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

Jim’s site has been down for several weeks now.
His pipes are quite unique. No two sets are identical. I have one of his chanters ( a C chanter - in maple - after I gave him a quality block of ebony to make it with) and it is excellent.
Despite all the unusual bits and bobs surrounding his pipes, I’ve yet to come across one that sounds bad.

Re: “A Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland” by Pat McNulty

I hope he squares his site away soon, I’d love to see pictures, and eventually, more important, to see the real thing and hear them…

I have a preference for flat sets, but I have to admit, the double Taylors remain a favourite, along side others.

Was it Galloway that used to sell drawings and measurements of uilleann pipes, such a Coyne flat set?