Anyone can join the South Wales Uilleann Pipers as you can see below. Some have never been seen but we still regard them as members.
I got into the pipes by accident. Always wondered what "that nice noise" was on some Enya tracks. Went to Belfast the same time as "Feile an Earraigh / Festival of Spring" was on. On the programme was a piping demo where I saw Cormac "Buzz" O Briain playing the Uilleann pipes and Kathryn Tickell playing the Northumbrian Small Pipes. In the night I saw Michael "Blackie" O Connell playing a set and I was hooked. And here I am, a piping anorak.
I helped set up the club as I needed someone to help me learn the pipes and not to learn in isolation .........and here we are today with a small but happy and dedicated bunch of pipers.
This is Richard from Cardiff, a founder member of the South Wales Uilleann Pipers. Being a very reticent person, we've nicked the following biog from thesession.org. "I started playing Irish music in 1990 on the whistle just for the portability of this instrument. It fitted well into the top pocket of a rucksack-perfect for trips to North Wales climbing and walking when the weather was too bad to get outside. Within a couple of years I'd bought myself a blackwood flute in D and with a lot of practice my technique started to improve. Thanks to Guy Flockhart for that. His tuition was invaluable. Meanwhile the staff at the Yellow Kangeroo had developed a strong aversion to whistle players. With its extra credibilty the flute was proving its worth in liquid currency ie beer and whiskey. A Hammy Hamilton and then a Sam Murray flute followed though sadly the free drinks didn't increase in value with my instrument. Finally I went completely bonkers and bought a set of uilleann pipes to torture myself with. My favorite musicians now are pipers: Tommy Keane and Brian McNamara. Tommy for his simplicity and Brian for intricacy. My best musical moment would be the first time I heard a full set of pipes played at a session in Winchester in 1994."
When I was growing up, our house was filled with the sound of the records my father played of Irish traditional music, Irish Ballads and Irish Rebel Songs. So I could sing all the Dubliners songs but had never heard of The Beatles or Simon and Garfunkel. I then discovered the Chieftains, Planxty, the Bothy Band, and Baker's Well and through them the Uilleann and other pipes and pipers, like Carlos Nuñez, the amazing Galician gaita player. While I was learning to play classical Bach on the organ, I taught myself to play my favourite Irish traditional tunes on the tin whistle - by ear and left handed (although I'm not a "leftie"). I eventually decided I just had to learn to play the Uilleann pipes after hearing the tune Farewell to Govan being played by Liam O'Flynn. I couldn't find a practise set until 3 years ago and bought a second hand Shaw set. I couldn't manage more than a note out of it, so I ended up disappointed and packed it away. I didn't know of anyone around in South Wales to help or to teach me to play until last Nov when I accidentally came across an ad for the first South Wales Tionól. I went along, had my reed and chanter bore problem sorted on the day and now I can actually play Farewell to Govan left handed, thanks to Meirion and the SWUP! Favourite tunes : An Droichead, Cailíni an Fhactory, The Coolin, Fanny Power, Carolan's Concerto, Roches Favourite, Planxty Irwin, The Muñeira Marcha do Entrelazado de Aallariz and Aires de Pontevedra (both traditional Galician) and of course Farewell to Govan.
Originally from civilisation (Derby), I moved to South Wales in 1992 to further my glittering career. Still waiting for that one to happen. At the time I was messing around with the penny whistle after failing to be any good on the guitar. I'd seen the Uilleann pipes a couple of times and thought 'that looks easy, I'll give them a go one day'.
First set (pile of rubbish!) bought in 1995ish but got nowhere with them, so traded them for a 2nd hand flute. Current set bought in 2003ish, all I need now is the time to practice. Recently aquired a Curran chanter and have suddenly found lots of time to practice! Favourite tune - God Save the Queen (Sex Pistols version), but can't get it to work on the pipes.