The Wandering Minstrel

By Seamus Ennis

Added by Paddy .

Six comments

Piper’s classic recordings

Thanks god Paddy has started to submit some classic recordings of the uillean pipes. There are not that many recordings of the ones like Seamus Ennis, Willi Clancy, Patsy Thuoy, and a few compilation of the old cylinder recordings. I think these are a must for all who play irish music (especially for piper like myelf). Ignorants not knowing these are sometimes very much surprised how much IrTrad has changed during the last century. Who remembers the time where tunes and songs never were mixed? It’s just 30 years ago….


Re: The Wondering Minstrel

Recorded at Livingstone Studios, Barnet, in 1974

The "Stone in the Field" he plays here isin’t the reel, but a three part version of the jig "The Maid in the Meadow."

"Cronin’s" as played here is a hornpipe, not a reel.

Re: The Wandering Minstrel

A truly magical album to listen to. You hear many strange noises from his ancient set of pipes, due to how the drones, chanter, and regulators harmonize with each-other. His old drones have one heck of a unique sound, however they were prone to wavering.. Nobody could tell whether they were cane, elder, or something else. Peter Laban suspected buddleia, Alain Froment thought lilac, sadly it shall be forever a mystery. They were so bloody old and blackened with grime from cigarette smoke, age, and God knows what else… His chanter had problems with a finicky Bottom/Bell D note. Thus, the combination with the wavering drones, honky regulators, and a finicky and squeaky chanter will no doubt put off a casual listener of Irish traditional music, let alone Uilleann piping.

However, I personally like the Warts and all aspect of Seamus Ennis’s late pipering, many do too I guess. There is a Japanese term called Wabi-Sabi, I think it is most appropriate here. One should note that Seamus was not in the best health here, nor were his pipes in the best condition, also (Maurice Coyne set made in the 1830’s or 1840’s, I heard.). His ideal reed-maker passed away, and took his secrets to the grave, hence the unpredictable chanter behavior. Like I said, many magical moments here, warts and all. An intimate and organic experience.

Re: The Wandering Minstrel

I should also note, somebody said it somewhere. Séamus, in his later years, seemed more intent on pure expression than say, playing for dancers. Though he reportedly would stop playing if anyone would get up and dance. I can’t say I blame him for that….