William Kennedy Piping Festival
Armagh, Nov 15-19th 2006

I struck lucky again as it was another really good festival, with a wide range of different pipers represented.

Representing highland pipe bands were the Killeen Pipe Band, who mostly played their competition sets, and the National Youth Pipe Band (formerly 'of Scotland', now just 'national') who laid on some really good entertainment and whose members stayed around Friday night as well and joined in quite a few sessions.

There were amazing Galician pipers and a father and son duo from Iran who were the stars of the festival. We first met Anxo Lorenzo and a couple of friends when they joined our session on Wednesday night with a guitar and flutes - they could obviously play, but it was still a shock seeing them in full flow in their real performances later. Amazing.
Anxo Lorenzo, Galician piper at WKPF 2006Liz de Cea, in a session at WKPF 2006

There were a pair of pipers from the Czech Republic, Martin Belka and Josef Moltas with some shaggy czech pipes (duda). I did their workshop on the Saturday and found myself supporting them on stage the next day along with Murdo from Skye and Northumbrian piper Neil Smith.
Martin and Josef playing duda at WKPF 2006Me holding Duda, rear drone visible
Me, Murdo and Neil supporting Josef and Martin

There were obviously also lots of Uillean pipers and a few border and small pipers and plenty of other musicians in the pubs. Until three or four in the morning, ahem. Made me feel young again.

I also managed some other workshops. One with Dougie Pincock, formerly with the Battlefield band (now Director of musical excellence in traditional music in Plockton, West Highlands) on pipes and Barnaby Brown (from the School of Music and dance in Glasgow) on Cantaireachd. Below is Barnaby playing Sardinian triple pipes, which appear to be closely related to the triple pipes shown on many old gaelic engravings, such as Holy Cross and Westminster Abbey.
Barnaby Brown on triple pipes
The festival was held in Armagh, which has got some beautiful scenery (when it's not raining) and I went out to visit Navan Fort, which is the original "ach mach" or something similar. It's probably not a fort, as the trenches are inside the walls, but it is surrounded by wonderful scenery and is a great place to practice the pipes, if a bit windy.
The crown of Navan Fort, aka Armagh

As you can see, I've slapped up a few pictures, but if you prefer something slightly higher quality, here is a link to the Armagh Pipers' website with pictures from the event:


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