Uilleann Pipers search for funding for new international centre

Gary Ibbotson 21 Dec 2022

Na Píobairí Uilleann (The Uilleann Pipers) has reached out to Dublin City Council for funding for the proposed expansion to its headquarters on Henrietta Street.

Established in 1968, the NPU was formed when there were less than 100 players in the world and just one full-time pipemaker.

Today, the organisation has 1,500 members in more than 40 countries and says that “pipers now number in the thousands worldwide.”

In 1982, the NPU signed a 99-year lease for 15 Henrietta Street and completed renovations on the building in 2006, turning it into its headquarters.

However, the NPU has plans to expand the facility, creating a new International Uilleann Piping Centre featuring a visitor centre, museum, exhibition spaces, expanded performance areas, teaching spaces, and an instrument making centre.

Last week at a Central Area Committee meeting, NPU CEO Gay McKeon presented the proposal to councillors outlining the organisations vision for the space.

Na Píobairí Uilleann already has planning permission from Dublin City Council to expand it’s premises but needs funding for the project, McKeon says.

“It would be great to have this facility on the northside of the city,” he says.

“We would programme it so that people are using it every day […] it would be for the people of Dublin”.

The estimated cost of the works would be €8 million, McKeon says but is “shovel ready and can be delivered in 24 months.”

Several councillors spoke in support of the project and said they would explore any potential funding streams available.

Independent councillor Nial Ring, who asked for the presentation, said the uilleann pipes and the NPU is “part of our heritage and culture”.

Social Democrats councillor Cat O’Driscoll said “passion poured through the camera” while McKeon was speaking and said “we are getting a lovely pathway of culture up through the northside.”

Fianna Fail councillor Eimear McCormack said “I support you 110 percent” and Labour councillor Joe Costello suggested that the Urban Regeneration Development Fund may be a worth examining.

Chair of the Central Area Committee Ray McAdam said councillors will explore what funding streams are available and how the council could assist.

“We are all strongly of the view that we need to see this done,” he said.

McKeon said that if built, the centre “will advance all aspects of the uilleann piping tradition, while breathing new life into the most architecturally important historic street in Ireland.”

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