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Donnycarney legend Leo Rowsome commemorated with plaque

The internationally renowned uilleann piper and maker Leo Rowsome has been honoured by Dublin City Council with a commemorative plaque, placed on Belton Park Road, Donnycarney.

Born into a piping family in Harold’s Cross, Rowsome went on to become a teacher, pipe-maker, and performer, having performed all over the world including at New York City’s Carnegie Hall.

Joining the Municipal School of Music, Chatham Row as a teacher at 17, he went on to teach generations of uilleann pipers, including Paddy Moloney of the Chieftains, and Liam Óg Ó Floinn.

Speaking at the unveiling of the plaque on Belton Park Road, Deputy Lord Mayor Councillor Mary Callaghan said: “Leo Rowsome was a household name in Ireland until his death in 1970, but he was also a Donnycarney man, and I’m honoured and delighted to unveil this plaque on the street where he made both his family home and his workshop”.

Rowsome lived and worked in Donnycarney for much of his career right up until his death in 1970.

A founding member of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Rowsome was also one of the founders of Na Píobairí Uilleann, non-profit organisation committed to promoting the uilleann pipes.

Speaking at the event Gay McKeon, CEO of the organisation and a past-pupil of Rowsome, paid tribute: “It is impossible to overstate the profound influence of Leo Rowsome on the preservation and development of the uilleann pipes.

“A skilled pipe-maker, a wonderful player, a successful recording artist, a prolific broadcaster and an authoritative teacher, Leo was a powerful advocate for Irish traditional music and uilleann piping.

“It is a source of great pride for everyone involved in Irish music that Dublin City Council are celebrating this significant cultural icon.”

The Rowsome family lived at 9 Belton Park Road, and Rowsome’s workshop was in the back garden.

His daughter, Helena thanked both the City Council and the people of Donnycarney, saying: “After spending the mornings in his workshop on Belton Park Road, my father would walk from the house to catch the bus on Collins Avenue to travel to The Municipal School of Music, Chatham Row and The Pipers’ Club, Thomas Street, where he taught many aspiring and later, renowned uilleann pipers.

“To be honoured in his native city, remembered by the Donnycarney community, and celebrated on Belton Park Road, where he lived, made and refurbished so many sets of uilleann pipes, is exactly what my father would have appreciated”.

The decision to erect the plaque was made by the Dublin City Council Commemorations and Naming Committee, whose chair, councillor Michael Mac Donncha, said: “The Commemorative Plaques scheme allows the city to formally commemorate people who have made a significant contribution to the life of Dublin.

“Through his music, making, and teaching Leo Rowsome brought happiness and joy to Dubliners and to lovers of Irish traditional music all around the world.

“It is fitting that the city in which he was born, lived, and worked, honours him with this commemorative plaque”.

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