I make Uilleann pipes full time, and am based in Bedford, England, UK.
I first discovered traditional Irish music in 1976, when at the age of 16 I met a guy who'd spent the summer in working at a hotel in Lisdoonvarna, County Clare on the west coast of Ireland. He had bought himself a banjo and was learning reels and jigs, as soon as I heard the music, I was hooked. I started on guitar and bodhran, soon moved to the flute, and playing by ear, I learned the music playing in sessions mainly in London and Cambridge, inspired by the giants of the time, The Bothy Band with Paddy Keenan, Matt Molloy, and Tommy Peoples, and Planxty with Liam O'Flynn etc.
I went to Ireland for the first time in 1983, and while in the Roadside Tavern in Lisdoonvarna, I heard the pipes in the flesh for the first time. From the first moment I saw the piper close up, with both arms pumping, the chanter, drones, and regs all going at the same time, sounding like a magnificent kind of organ, I said to myself “I want to be able to do that”. The piper was Eugene Lambe, who I discovered was a pipemaker, and I ordered a practise set. They arrived 6 months later on March 17th (St Patrick's Day!) 1984, and after making contact with Billy Browne at the London Pipers Club, my journey into Uileann Piping had begun.
In 2000, I went to Ireland, this time to Dingle in County Kerry, to collect a new Full Set of Pipes from Cillian O'Briain. It was to be the start of a long term friendship. It is from Cillian that I learned reedmaking, bellows making, how to make a chanter, how to tune a chanter. Skills, that combined with an interest in how things are made, a background in Engineering and Manufacturing, an attention to detail, the ability to play the pipes, and a keen musical ear, enable me to be a pipemaker today.
So, I was a piper first, then I became a reedmaker, then I became a pipemaker.
So you know when you order a set of pipes from me, that I will make them, I will make the reeds that go into them, I will tune them and balance them by extensive play testing. I won't let them go until I've made the set into an instrument that I would love to own and play, with the aim that you'll feel the same way..