Remembering Garech de Brún

 

Sir, – The late Garech de Brún was a genuine and informed gentleman whose interest in traditional Irish music and song came to the fore in the early 1950s, as he took uilleann piping lessons at the home of Leo Rowsome, with whom he later frequented fleadhanna and festivals countrywide.

Another of Leo’s pupils, Dr Ivor Browne, had been to every record company in Ireland in the hope that they would make a recording of Leo, and they all responded that five minutes of piping was acceptable on two sides of a 78rpm, but that no one would be interested in listening to more than that, to which Garech replied “Why don’t we do it ourselves?” And that was how the concept of Claddagh Records began.

The first Claddagh record (now CC1 on CD) was entitled Rí na bPíobairí, King of the Pipers. On the LP, Leo played his concert pitched set on one side and the flat or lower-pitched set on the reverse. Charles Acton, in his review of the LP for The Irish Times, wrote: “The disc has been recorded by Peter Hunt and it is technically excellent. This is, of course uilleann piping of a virtuoso order. The Coolin shows quasi-vocal, but completely instrumental, embellishment carried to almost incredible lengths; and is probably a very good analogue of the way in which a violinist of Handel’s time would have treated the slow movement of a baroque sonata . . . This first of Claddagh records is a splendid sample for everyone with an interest in our true national pipes. Every piece, whether it is a simple jig or a complicated descriptive piece like The Fox Chase, is handled as only a great piper like Rowsome could handle it.”

Garech’s ambition to promote Irish music, song and verse in the best possible way will hopefully continue to endure through Ceirníní Claddaig.

An enormous debt of gratitude is due to Garech de Brún. – Yours, etc,

HELENA ROWSOME,

Comber,

Co Down.