Images by Paul Eliasberg from the William Kennedy Piping Festival, 2004–2009


The William Kennedy International Piping Festival has been held annually in Armagh city and district since 1994. Founded by Brian & Eithne Vallely of the Armagh Pipers Club, which has been teaching and publishing traditional music widely in Armagh since 1966, the festival is named after William Kennedy (1768–1834), a blind musician, uilleann-pipe maker and inventor who died in Co Armagh. While the uilleann pipes are the focus of the Armagh Pipers Club, the festival itself celebrates the wide diversity of mouth-blown and bellows-blown pipes and bagpipes that are played across Europe and further afield, and it brings together pipers (and other musicians) from different countries and different piping traditions. Recitals, concerts, workshops, lectures, exhibitions, and impromptu sessions of piping are at the heart of the William Kennedy Festival.

Dutch designer and photographer Paul Eliasberg began learning the uilleann pipes in the 1990s, and spent some months in Ireland learning from the Dublin piper Néillidh Mulligan. With his singer wife Thirza, he settled in Armagh in 2003, where their family has been born. From 2004 to date he has been documenting the William Kennedy Festival with his camera, and has kindly donated copies of photographs in his copyright to the Irish Traditional Music Archive for public access. The selection presented here covers a wide range of north and east European pipes, and pipes from the Mediterranean countries, as played at the festival.

PS ITMA has been making audio and video field-recordings at the WKPF since its early years and these recordings are available for reference listening and viewing in its premises. In 2003 a selection of these audio recordings (made for ITMA by Glenn Cumiskey) was published by the Armagh Pipers Club on the CD Live Recordings from the William Kennedy Piping Festival. For further information visit the website

With thanks to Paul Eliasberg, the subjects of his photographs, and the William Kennedy International Piping Festival. ITMA always welcomes such donations or the opportunity to copy such materials.

NC, 1 June 2010

Images by Paul Eliasberg from the William Kennedy Piping Festival, 2004–2009