Uilleann Pipes Acknowledged by UNESCO

A group of Uilleann Pipers in the 1950s, including prolific piper Leo Rowsome, left.

By Mary Gallagher, Editorial Assistant
February / March 2018

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) approved recognition of uilleann piping as an element of the “intangible cultural heritage of humanity” in early December. After initiating the application process in March 2016, the Department of Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht worked tirelessly for over a year to ensure the acceptance of Ireland’s first official request to UNESCO since ratifying the organization’s agreement to safeguard cultural heritage in 2015.

Irish president Michael D. Higgins expressed pleasure at the victory in his public remarks, saying that Ireland’s artistic traditions “connect us in profound ways, weaving together cultural memory and contemporary vision.”

Uilleann piping is a bagpipe tradition unique to Ireland that is over 200 years old. The practice has been largely disregarded in recent years, which is why groups like Na Píobairí Uilleann and the Armagh Pipers’ Club have combined their efforts on an international level to have it immortalized as an essential piece of world heritage. ♦

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