This year’s RDS National Crafts Competition winner in the musical instruments category is John Butler of Ceol Pipes for one of his half sets. Based on Achill Island, Butler set up Ceol Pipes in 2010 to make his own handcrafted uilleann pipes.
He has been playing the pipes himself since 1985, taking lessons from Fergus Finnegan, Ciarán O’Máille, Sean Óg Potts, Robbie Hannan, Ronan Browne and Mick O’Brien. He teaches at the South Sligo Summer School, Tubbercurry every summer, and has taught at Scoil Acla and Drumshanbo.
In 2009 he was invited to spend five months working with uilleann pipemaker Bill Haneman at his workshop in Skerries. He also learned a lot from David Quinn, who, along with Haneman, gave a series of lectures in uilleann pipemaking at the Willie Clancy Summer School in 2009 and 2010.
Butler says: ‘To realise how high the bar has been set by makers such as these is both daunting but also a target to be aspired to. In time I hope to be recognised as a master craftsman in my own right.’
Since his first visit to Achill in 1991 he was drawn to the place, and eventually decided to move to Achill to set up his own uilleann pipemaking workshop. His workshop is a disused national school built in 1924, the same year that his own set of pipes were made by Willie Rowsome: ‘a re-affirming coincidence that prompts me to think I am on the right path.’
Butler regularly play sessions in his local the Annexe with local musicians including Shay Kennedy, Dermot Maguire, Michael Fadian, Lisa Fukuda and Noel Kenny, and visiting musicians from all over the world .
Together with the winners of the twenty categories and the special prizes sponsored by Irish Crafts Guilds and Associations, the prize-winning and highly commended works will be on display at the following venues:
21 September – 14 October, Rathcroghan Visitors Centre, Cruachan Aí, Tulsk, Co. Roscommon www.rathcroghan.ie
28 October – 18 November, Castlecomer Discovery Park, The Estate Yard, Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny www.discoverypark.ie
Published on 17 August 2012