Plaque Unveiled for Uilleann Piper Leo Rowsome

Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Mary Callaghan with members of the Rowsome family Olivia Grimes, Rachel Grimes and Helena Grimes with uilleann piper Gay McKeon (Photo: Fennell Photography)

Plaque Unveiled for Uilleann Piper Leo Rowsome

Commemorative plaque appears on Belton Park Road in Donnycarney where Rowsome had his pipe-making workshop.

Dublin City Council has unveiled a plaque for the renowned uilleann piper, teacher and pipe-maker Leo Rowsome who died fifty years ago last September.

The plaque appears on Belton Park Road in Donnycarney. The Rowsome family lived at number nine and Leo Rowsome’s pipe-making workshop was in the back garden. The occasion on 4 June was marked by a performance by piper Gay McKeon in the presence of Rowsome’s twin daughters Helena Grimes and Olivia Grimes, granddaughter Rachel Grimes and nephew Ciarán Rowsome.

Commenting on the unveiling, Helena Grimes 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.

Born in 1903, Rowsome was an influential piper, teacher and recording artist and taught Liam O’Flynn, Paddy Moloney, Peter Browne and Gay McKeon, as well as Garech de Brún who founded Claddagh Records. Rowsome’s King of the Pipers was the first album released on the label in 1959.


The plaque at Belton Park Road

A founding member of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Rowsome was also one of the founders of Na Píobairí Uilleann. Speaking at the unveiling, Gay McKeon, CEO of Na Píobairí Uilleann, said:

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 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’. 


Published on 9 June 2021

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