Irish music has been recorded from the earliest days of sound recording technology. The earliest recording of Irish music known is probably that made of the piper Mícheál "Cumbá" Ó Súilleabháin by the Feis Ceoil committee in 1899. This was made on an Ediphone cylinder recorder and consists of the ancient piping piece "Gol na mBan san Ár" (The Lament of the Women amid the Slaughter). Click here

Old Hag in the Kiln

Irish uilleann pipes, performed by Mr. Denis Delaney (1841-1919). Double Jig, 'Old Hag in the Kiln'. Born at Ballinasloe, Co. Galway and blind from infancy, he became a major reference point for Irish pipers. In his early days he played with and was reputedly taught by pipers Wills, Costello and Rainey, all of whom then circulated around Ballinasloe. From 1860 to 1890, in teh pre-dance hall era, he travelled over a large area in an ass and cart, playing at house parties, fairs, crossroads céilís, festivals and weddings. He was also a regular competitor in feiseanna throughout Ireland in the early 1900s, winning more than twenty first prizes. In latter years he played on a Kenna set acquired in 1873. In 1916 he was arrested by the RIC at the Mountbellew fair for playing 'seditious tunes', this earning him thereafter the title of 'The Rebel Piper'. A professional, he also played for members of the gentry willing to pay him. This is a copy from an Ediphone cylinder recording of his rollicking style made at the Feis Cheoil held in 1899.

Courtesy of UCD Delargy Centre for Irish Folklore & National Folklore Collection

  to hear another Feis Ceoil recording from the same year.

Only a couple of years after this the American-based piper Patsy Touhey started his business in which he would record tunes to order, again on cylinder, and post them to purchasers.

Up to the 1960s recordings of traditional music were so sufficiently rare that an enthusiast could have a reasonabe hope of purchasing every one of them. Since then the popularity of the music has expanded to such an extent that this is now an unrealistic expectation. Music companies like Claddagh, Gael Linn, Cló Iar-Chonnachta, Ossian and Topic, among others, maintain extensive catalogues of traditional music. There are also many low output labels and self-published recordings.

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