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

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Old 09-13-2010, 01:41 AM   #21
Adam Sanderson
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Default Re: Donegal Pipers, New York City

Quote:
Originally Posted by MacDhughaill View Post
I believe it happened in the late 1960s. It was a different world back then.
Well, that would fit in datewise, the QEII first docked in New York in Mid 1969. It was hailed as the last ever gala welcome for a ship in New York. The QEII was also the last liner built in Glasgow. There's plenty of archive footage of the NY arrival around, I've had a look through the Pathe site and there's very good footage, but, sadly, no pipe bands so far. It would be fantastic to come across some footage. The other transatlantic liners doing the route at the time were the United States and The France. I don't recall hearing any fuss about them, so I am presuming the name and the name only was offensive to some.

Putting the QE II issue aside, I can't help but wonder how Duddy, a Glasgow born Clydesider with an invented history, also named as one of the worst pipers ever in his own life time, managed to hold on as P/M and instructor of a New York Irish pipe band for so many years.

I guess you had to be there.
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Old 09-13-2010, 01:59 AM   #22
John MacDonald
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Default Re: Donegal Pipers, New York City

This story seems to have lain dormant up till this point, and it is thanks to the forum that it appears to have surfaced to the enlightenment of the wider piping world.

The intimation I gain from the information provided was that the band were told not to play and the reasons for which, I can only conclude were deep rooted historical and political ones.

It is everyone’s right to dispose and use any of their property as they see fit, but in the piping world the Bagpipe is the pipers partner and the destruction of a perfectly good instrument is therefore a sacrilege, akin to the breaking of the first commandment. “Thou shalt NOT Kill”

On the face of what has been revealed I observe that the burning of Bagpipes /Drums and even the Saffron kilts was an act of pure spite.

Similar to the seizure /destruction of pipes and equipment from Irish Bands in Eire by the British to deny them an Irish Identity and Markedly different from the Command made by the German High Command in WW1, for bagpipes to be broken and burnt so that the instruments could not then be used to demoralise the Germans.

I now wonder if there will be further input from people with direct knowledge of the events??
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Old 09-13-2010, 02:26 AM   #23
Adam Sanderson
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Default Re: Donegal Pipers, New York City

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Originally Posted by John MacDonald View Post
Similar to the seizure /destruction of pipes and equipment from Irish Bands in Eire by the British to deny them an Irish Identity and Markedly different from the Command made by the German High Command in WW1, for bagpipes to be broken and burnt so that the instruments could not then be used to demoralise the Germans.
I have not heard of the seizure of bagpipes by the German High Command. Have you more on this story, John?

As for the seizure of pipes from Irish bands, you were at the same Terry Tully talk as me when he said that although there were raids on pipe band halls because of their trade union associations, looking for weapons, wanted men and/or propagandist materials, there were no stories or recordings of bagpipes being seized or destroyed at that time, and these stories seem to come from a more modern source.

That said, I have seen one photo of what appears to be some confiscated instruments loaded on a cart and guarded by British troops, but these are most definitely marching brass band type instruments, trumpets, cornets, trombone, etc, with an old rope tensioned bass drum. There are a couple of confiscated trade union banners on the cart also, but no bagpipes.
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Old 09-13-2010, 03:58 AM   #24
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Default Re: Donegal Pipers, New York City

Those outside of the NY Metro area may not be aware of how deeply the intertwinement of Pipe bands and politics has been here, and how it is reflected in the choice of music, changing the names of tunes, uniform selection, even marching style if you can believe that. Not making a judgement, just providing the facts.


Do I take it that historically bands and music were sometimes very much symbols of specific political stance, to a degree that government and authority took notice? What that stance might be is not the most interesting part to me here, but rather the force of music, and specifically piping, on human emotion. Not easy for outsiders always to understand deeply about such things, even if we are aware of the historical context.

The British Isle/Ireland sentiments transferred to the heavily Irish areas in urban America? So an Irish NY or Philly or Chicago pipe band would have been all republican, or all Protestant, each with their own music (or hearing different lyrics to the same tune)? Again, I am curious not about the actual politics, then or now, but about the symbolism of pipes.

I do recall during the relatively brief period I played pipes in the US that at least half the time people identified the bagpipe as Irish, and wanted me to play Danny Boy or some other such tune. Perhaps not a trivial misidentification in the American context.

Last edited by David; 09-13-2010 at 04:01 AM.
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Old 09-13-2010, 04:18 AM   #25
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Default Re: Donegal Pipers, New York City

In perspective of the time period, the sight of a large ship sailing into New York harbor, Union Jack flying proudly in the breeze, the name of the British Monarch emblazoned on her bow, was a provocation to many in Pipe band circles in those days. Some Pipe Bands were then, and some are still today, a not so subtle extension of the politics of the day, with their repertoire reflecting those beliefs. Consequently, one had to be aware of what Band you chose of play with, as not all musical styles were likely to be reflected because of a general antipathy towards "things British." Scottish tunes for the most part fell under this edict as well.
Given these facts, one can imagine the anger that the Donegal folks who sponsored the band felt upon learning they had performed for the arrival of the ship, it must have been seen as welcoming a conqueror and a treasonous act, thereby warranting banishment. The politics in New York were that strong.
Interesting enough, as a teenager, I also played in a Scottish Pipe band that refused to play in the St. Patrick's Day parade, and could never get a straight answer as to why not.
Please note, I am not judging anyone's actions, Lord knows that over the years I personally have garnered my share of flack from some for performing for the Queen, I am merely providing facts for questions that have been asked here.
Those were interesting times.

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Last edited by magsevenband; 09-13-2010 at 04:24 AM.
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Old 09-13-2010, 04:28 AM   #26
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Default Re: Donegal Pipers, New York City

Hi Adam and John,

I did in fact speak to Jimmy Higgins the other day and he did confirm that Duddy was the P/M of the Donegal Pipe Band until 1952. The uniform situation was rough back then. There are 2 versions of the story. Both basically the same. One version is that the uniforms and instruments were burned on the docks and the other version is that the equipment was all collected and set fire to up at Gaelic Park in the Bronx.

For those forumites who may not understand why...back in the 60's the NY Irish and Irish American scene was very very different...The feeling of support for the idea of Ireland to be out from under British rule was extremely high....support for the IRA was very high and the like. So the feeling that the ship bearing the name of the Queen was something a lot of people couldnt deal with . The association told that band not to go to the gig and they went anyway.

Please fellow forumites, especially thiose int he UK who may have a problem with this, please dont turn this into anything more than it is. All I am trying to do is give you some insight as to how and why it happened. I didnt say it was right or wrong. I dont really want to open this up to a pro Irish anti British issue. It was a long long time ago. Just wanted to give you some insight to the legend/story.

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Old 09-13-2010, 04:58 AM   #27
Adam Sanderson
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Default Re: Donegal Pipers, New York City

This is still surprising to me, despite the very clear answers, as when the QEII docked in New York in May 1969, it was 4 months before "The Troubles" began in Ireland.

The discussion of politics is banned here, of course, but here we are looking at it in a historical context and that's much appreciated. Thanks very much to all so far for keeping it civil and piping related. I am happy to admit a kind of fascination for Duddy, as he fits into two weel kent Scottish stereotypes, the "chancer" and the "character".

If you can see this old Pathe Newsreel you can see the actual arrival of the QE II in New York in 1969. It helps give a feel for the times.

I find it ironic that the bagpipe has been used as an instrument by the British H.M. armed forces since at least the 1740's, and the Queen, (who would have been oblivious to anything to do with the QEII as it was run by a multinational corp that had nothing to do with her), would have had a Royal Piper, as did the several generations of Monarchs before her, two of whom were bagpipers. This definitely comes under "local politics".

I am just very glad that we have moved far away from those times, and into an era when piping, in the main, unites us rather than divides us.
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Old 09-13-2010, 05:43 AM   #28
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Default Re: Donegal Pipers, New York City

To keep the discussion in a historical context, as has been previously stated in an earlier post, many of the County association Pipe bands in NY were formed in the time period following the establishment of the Irish Free State. The fact that Ireland was still divided was an open wound to many of the Irish in the New York area and Pipe bands were a logical expression via music to convey those sentiments.
Later incarnations included many of the Police and Fire Department Emerald Society bands which sprung up in the 60's and 70's, founded by men of good conscience with strong ties to the County Association bands.
If you were playing Pipes in NY back then as I was, you were keenly aware of the dynamics involved, the repertoires were full of tunes that were not Pipe tunes at all, but rather, adaptations of songs by the Clancy Brothers and The Wolfe Tones. Mind you, not many of these tunes fit the scale of the Pipes and had rather awkward and ill fitting arrangements.
I hope no one misinterprets my comments to creat a schism, I merely state my recollections having lived through the time period and to provide historical perspective.

Cheers,
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Old 09-13-2010, 05:57 AM   #29
Michael Faughnan
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Default Re: Donegal Pipers, New York City

Very interesting read through out. Thanks for everyones input. I know this takes the thread in a little different direction but how many different "Irish County Bands" were around and where did all the piping influence or instruction come from ? This is a non political question as there seeems to be so many pipe bands in the New York area. It makes sence given the ethnic composition that they would be a lot of Irish bands but where did the expertise come from to support so many players? I am sure each of the bands have a unique history unto them selves.

These are a few that I know of

Donegal Pipers: (Saffron) New York, NY 1920-1969 P/M Neil Duddy

County Armagh: P/M Jim Petrie

Kerry Pipers: (Saffron) Bronx, NY

County Monaghan: 1929-

County Cork:

County Fermanagh: Bronx, NY 1958-1964 P/M Sonny McGuire

Clann Eireann: (Green) Brooklyn, NY 1930- P/M Janes Cramsie

County Tyrone: (Saffron) 1933-
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Old 09-13-2010, 07:46 AM   #30
Dave Gallagher
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Default Re: Donegal Pipers, New York City

Times have changed but it is understandable what happened given the time in which it occured. While burning the kilts etc is a bit much I know very well the political feeling at the time.
A few years ago I was invited by a friend from a highland type band to get together and play with a few other people. When I got there I found out it was a sort of tribute event to the late Queen Mother. I was a bit shocked by this but behaved like a gentleman even though I felt I had been tricked.
When I told some of my lads about this they became outraged. Times have indeed changed, somewhat.
While I myself am more tolerant than years ago we all still have our limits. Thank god my lads did not want to burn my pipes or my kilt.
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