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History, Tradition, Heritage As related to the subjects of piping, drumming and pipe bands.

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Old 09-08-2010, 07:03 AM   #1
Michael Faughnan
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Default Donegal Pipers, New York City

Hello,
Heard the name Donegal Pipers in NY City being tossed out there in a different thread as being disbanded in the 1950's or 1960's. Anyone know anything about this band.

Michael
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Old 09-08-2010, 07:30 AM   #2
Adam Sanderson
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Default Re: Donegal Pipers, New York City

Yes, they have come up on this forum from time to time, but no-one seems really sure if they actually existed. You can read a bit about them and their Pipe Major, Neil Duddy, "The Donegal Piper" on this thread here.
Duddy claims to have been P/M of the Donegal Pipers Band of New York City from 1935 to 1952.

If you are brave, you can even listen to Duddy play.

I have looked through just about every facet of pipe band listing that I know of, including the National Library of Scotland, as well as borrowed the much wider knowledge of others, and it's certain that Duddy's "previous band" he was "Pipe Major" of in Scotland, The King Brian Boru Irish Warpipe Band, did not and has never existed.

It seems Duddy was a "character".
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Old 09-09-2010, 05:09 AM   #3
Adam Sanderson
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Default Re: Donegal Pipers, New York City

At the time of this post, 87 people have viewed the thread with no responses. I'm guessing there's a lack of info about the Donegal Pipers Band of New York City.

The only reference that I have ever seen to the Donegal Pipers Band of New York City is on the sleevenotes of one of Duddy's albums. (I read them one day when I was bored and needed a laugh).

Other sleevenotes of Duddy's refer to him being P/M of The King Brian Boru Irish Warpipe Band of Glasgow, a band which did not exist.
Duddy was also supposedly P/M of The Royal Guards of New York. Again this band does not seem to have existed, although "they" had an album released where the cover was multiple images of Duddy arranged to look like a band.

So Duddy claims to have been Pipe Major of 3 bands, two of which never appear to have existed. As of yet, there is no real evidence of the third existing either.

I have found a contemporary review of Duddy's releases, "Irish Bagpipe Tunes Played on the Irish Bagpipes; Vols 1&2 Folkways FG3551,FG 3553" from the The Journal of American Folklore in 1969.
Even then, the albums are reviewed as "the worst of their kind ever issued", "his playing is atrocious: his pipes are flat and badly tuned throughout, and there are numerous chokes, wrong notes and instances of slurred fingering".
The reviewer is aware that Duddy was born in Scotland and came to the USA in 1930, and also points out that Duddy is hoping to appeal to the New York Irish with the "Irish" titles, as the bagpipes are "normal Highland pipes: the notes accompanying the record are mainly concerned with Highland pipes, and, on the second record at least, most of the tunes are Scottish".

So, given the evidence, and apart from Duddy, are there any other references to the Donegal Pipers Band of New York City anywhere? If they were on the go in New York City from 1935 to at least 1952 it should be easy to find some reference.

Or was this guy just a chancer conning Folkways? Whatever he was, he was not a Pipe Major in the way I understand the term.

**EDIT** Wow, Google is fast, just Googled Donegal Pipers and this thread came up on the first page.
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Last edited by Adam Sanderson; 09-09-2010 at 05:39 AM.
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Old 09-09-2010, 08:21 AM   #4
erracht
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Default Re: Donegal Pipers, New York City

I used to have the "Royal Guards" record. The sound quality was low and the playing wasn't fantastic either. One track features "Skye Boat Song" and then the guy plays "The Flowers of the Forest", it seems, over it. It's good to know he was a sham, explains a lot.
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Old 09-09-2010, 09:46 AM   #5
Michael Faughnan
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Default Re: Donegal Pipers, New York City

I dont know anything about the band. Just an idle curiosity for bands in this area. I did however see reference to them in the Donegal Association of New Yorks History
http://donegalny.org/Donegal_Associa...k/History.html

" By the middle 1930's there were three very active Associations - The Donegal Patriotic and Benevolent Association (Brooklyn), The County Donegal Men's Association, Inc. (New York City) and the Tirconnail County Pipers Band Association (New York City)." ............ "As a result of a series of meetings of these three groups that took place in 1939, they voted to consolidate under the name The Donegal Association, Inc., and that their business would be conducted principally in the City of New York. This consolidation took effect on September 21,1939."

** Tirconnail = Donegal in Gaelic

I also have seen them referenced in a few different sources as performing at various events as "The Donegal Pipers Band."

In a different thread here on this board I saw them being brought up as being disbanded after performing at an unauthorized event in NY that the Queen was at. I am sure some one must know about them.

Last edited by Michael Faughnan; 09-09-2010 at 10:02 AM.
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Old 09-09-2010, 10:28 AM   #6
Adam Sanderson
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Default Re: Donegal Pipers, New York City

The reference to the Tirconnail County Pipers Band Association is interesting, but not quite the same as Duddy's band.

His other "band" the Royal Guards, sounds like he invented it from an amalgamation of the Royal Scots and the Scots Guards. I wonder if there was an element of that with the Donegal Pipers.

The whole thing is confusing, really.

I just have an idle curiosity to see if anything Duddy said was actually true! He certainly was an awful piper, and somehow managed to sustain that sheer awfulness for a long time, 1930 to 1969, without ever improving. That makes him sort of exceptional, in a way.
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Old 09-09-2010, 10:41 AM   #7
pat martens
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Default Re: Donegal Pipers, New York City

Hi Mike,

Jimmy Higgins was a member of the Donegal Pipe Band as was Bobby Costigan Big John OConnor Mike Breen and a few more who are still around. They can tell you plenty. I think Pat OHaras dad and Pat Shannon also played in the band. I can tell you one " Legend " that surrounds the Donegal Pipe Band.

The band got a gig playing on the docks for the QE II when it sailed into NYC many years ago. The County Donegal Association, who had put up the money for uniforms and instruments, told the band under no circumstances were they to play for the ship coming in. The band went ahead and did the job and the Association purportedly called in all uniforms and instruments and put them in a pile and set fire to them and supposedly that was the end of the Donegal Pipe Band. I can ask Jimmy Higgins to see if thats correct, but since he was the one who told me the story, I think Im on safe ground. I have heard that legend over the years and the story pretty much remains the same.

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Old 09-09-2010, 11:18 AM   #8
Adam Sanderson
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Default Re: Donegal Pipers, New York City

Wow, they did exist. Pat, do you know if the men you mentioned were taught by Duddy? As well as Pipe Major, he also says that he was tutor to the band until 1952.

The Donegal Pipe Band must have been going quite a while, if they are the same one that Duddy was in. He mentions joining them in 1930, the QE II didn't make it's first trip to New York until May 1969, so that means, if all is correct, at least 39 years in existence.

What a shame there's not more out there about the band.
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Old 09-09-2010, 12:00 PM   #9
Eric M. Stein
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Default Re: Donegal Pipers, New York City

I saw the Donegal Pipe band on several parades. They wore the Saffron kilt.
My father was Quartermaster of the Saffron Kilts Pipe Band and made an offer to buy their kilts when word got out that the Donegal Assoc. Was disbanding the pipe band.
My father was told they were not for sale becaused they had been disgraced. Then were then buned I believe at Gaelic Park.
I have a good friend who's father played with the band at the time and he confirmed the story.
The banmd was hired by the Moran Tugboats to play for the ship.
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Old 09-09-2010, 01:13 PM   #10
Michael Faughnan
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Default Re: Donegal Pipers, New York City

Pat,
By the way. Pat O'Hara Sr and Pat Shannon did not play with the Donegal Pipers. They were members of the Fermanagh Pipe Band in the Bronx, NY.

Another Pipe Band I dont know much about.

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