Seán Reid.

Seán Reid was born in Castlefin co Donegal in 1907 but spent most of his life in Ennis co Clare where he was county engineer responsible for water and sewage. Some of his earlier years were spent near Dungannon in co Tyrone. He graduated a B.Sc. in civil engineering from Queen?s University Belfast in 1931. Seán was leader of the Tulla Céili Band from 1947 until the mid sixties. His interest in traditional music is legendary as was his kindness, generosity and help to many musicians, beginners and masters alike.

Seán played with many of the greatest traditional musicians at one time or another, to name a few; Joe Cooley, Paddy Canny, P.J. Hayes, Peter O'Loughlin, Bobby Casey, Martin Talty, Martin Rochford and Willie Clancy. When Johnny Doran lay on his death-bed Seán organised a benefit céili at Quilty co Clare for Johnny and his family. [1]  When he last visited O'Mealy he found him in unfortunate circumstances and sent him a few bags of coal. He ordered from Leo Rowsome the best set he could make and these are now played by Liam O'Flynn. He was a friend of the famous Brother Gildas who wrote to Seán describing his meetings with Mickey Cumbá back around 1912.

A direct link with the old timers, Seán collected pipes around the countryside at a time when there was little interest. Most of them he gave away and often for nothing, providing he saw a keen interest or talent. Once someone criticised a novice piper in his presence, Seán's response was to comment 'All pipers are good, but some are excellent.' [2]

I could go on but I will leave that to someone who knew him longer than I and indeed for what hopefully, will be a feature article in the next issue. There was great sorrow among all who knew him when he passed away in 1978. Considering the aims of this society there is no greater person after whom it could be named. Rest in peace Seán and thank you. We are highly indebted to the Reid family for permitting us to name the society in the great man's honour. We would hope to do that memory the justice it so richly deserves, especially now approaching the twenty-first anniversary of his passing.

The Seán Reid Society.

This society is the result of the wishes of a small number of Uilleann, Union or Irish pipers who have a serious and particular interest in the history, music and technology of the Irish pipes. It is intended to be a living source, which will develop and strengthen our understanding of the instrument, its playing and its history. New knowledge and research will undoubtedly change our understanding and opinions through time and this will be catered for through updates and corrections. At least one issue per year of the journal is proposed. Membership is open to all for an annual subscription of £15 sterling.

Articles submitted for publication will only be accepted from members. To enable an efficient and cost-effective solution to publication it has been decided to make the journal available only on CD ROM. Word and Excel ©  [3] have been chosen for text and spreadsheets. Adobe Acrobat © [4]  files are included for use on alternative word processors. The second issue is planned to be a multi-platform CD ROM so that Mac © and Unix users can access the files easily[5]. Adobe Acrobat reader can be down-loaded from the internet free of charge. Contrary to popular belief CDs and especially home-recorded CDs, are easily damaged. For your further information the actual recording is on the gold or silver top side, underneath the label. Please treat your CD with great care.

Articles will be numbered sequentially and each will have its own unique directory in order to aid searching and reference by computer later. As substantial associated material can be included easily with this technology these files will be stored in the same directory. Files can be pictures, drawings, charts, and music manuscript. Sound and video clips, when available, will also be included. If illustrations used in the text exist as larger or higher quality versions these too will be available separately in the relevant directory. This method will enable illustrations to be viewed and sound samples to be played while reading the text. A name index will be updated with each issue of the journal giving period (if known) and where mentioned in the journal. A start has been made to this and it is hoped to continue adding information to all published lists with the help of the recipients.

Although the notes for contributors sets out standards for articles in general, it is accepted that some contributors will be practical rather than academic and that their input is vitally important in achieving our goals. As we will undoubtedly be dealing with folklore and traditions we will accept anything considered to be of value to pipers, pipe makers and historians alike. The journal will therefore attempt to be a reasonably standardised set of papers. The style will obviously vary from contributor to contributor and their general format and wishes will be upheld against the suggested standard as being of greater importance. We expect modifications of the guide after this issue when ideas and suggestions for improvement are considered.

Copyright of the content of the journal belongs to the individual contributors or as acknowledged, on an item by item basis, and so must not be copied in whole or in part without written permission. Likewise, individual contributors to this journal have the personal responsibility for anything they submit and the editor will assume that the contributor has obtained any permission necessary.

The founding members of the society are, alphabetically : Ken Bloom, Seán Donnelly, Craig Fischer, Wilbert Garvin, Robbie Hannan, John Hughes, Ken McLeod, Pat Mitchell, Anne Moore, Jimmy O'Brien Moran, Barry O'Neill, Mark Walstrom, and Geoff Wooff. The governors of the society at the outset are Ken McLeod, who is acting chairman, publisher, editor and treasurer. Wilbert Garvin is acting secretary and will be graphics, layout and art editor for the next issue. Robbie Hannan and Jimmy O'Brien Moran will be the music editors and Sean Donnelly historical editor for volume two. Craig Fischer of Australia is co-ordinator for Asia Pacific and Mark Walstrom of the USA for the Americas.

It is a condition of supply that recipients of introductory free copies do not permit this journal or any part of it to be copied to any third party without prior permission. It may be viewed by anyone however, providing the viewing is on the recipients computer. The persons and institutions to whom copies of the first issue will be supplied are: NPU, IPC, ITMA, UFTM, UCL, Hugh Shields TCD, The Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum, Muiris Ó Rócháin, Eric Montbel, Bill Ochs, Tom Munnelly, Máire Ní Ghráda, Keith Sanger, Graham Wells, Jackie Small and The Armagh Pipers Club. It is hoped to get a better level of communication with other bellows pipers around the world. There is much information to share.

All correspondence and requests for help should be addressed in the first instance to the present editor :
Ken McLeod, 50 Rowantree Road, Dromore, co Down, BT25 1NN, N. Ireland.
Home phone number +44 (0) 1846 693141.
Daytime number is the same code with final 6 digits of 604100.
Fax final 6 digits of 604141.
e-mail home or office.

A feedback column will feature in forth-coming issues. This will carry any additional information received, corrections and comment. Lists will be re-published as new information emerges. To reference a page in correspondence use the volume number, then the article number (centre top) followed by the page number, (top right) e.g. 1.In1.5 is this page. The journal was produced using Word 97 SR-1, Excel 97 SR-1 [3] , and Adobe Acrobat V3 [4] .

The society reserves the right to change the terms and conditions of supply, at any time.


The Seán Reid Society is a society whose members share a common interest in the history, music and technology of the Irish bellows-blown bagpipes. It is intended to be a living source, which will increase our understanding of the instrument, its playing, music, development and history. It was agreed among the founding members that much needs to be done on the more academic side of Irish piping matters. It is the society's intent that the expertise held by the old master-makers and exponents of the instrument which was either lost or never before studied, analysed and published, will form the major part of the work. We will try to learn to understand how and why the master- makers of the 18th and 19th centuries were able to achieve instruments of a quality which we are still only coming to terms with today. The origins of the instrument, its development, the technology utilised, the players and the music played, will be researched and published for the benefit of present and future students and researchers. The society will be a non-profit making registered charity. The main bank account will be held in N. Ireland; others may be opened in other regions or countries as required. Three signatories will be appointed for the bank mandate, any two of which can withdraw funds. The society intends that when sufficient funds are available, beyond the costs of the production and circulation of the annual journal, scholarships and research grants will be awarded to individual members whose case is judged appropriate and acceptable by the governors of the society. Proper books of accounts will be kept and an auditor appointed. An annual general meeting will decide officers for the following year. This meeting will utilise the Internet and all members will have the right to vote. An agenda will be supplied well in advance.


The society is open to anyone proposed and seconded by members or whose application is judged acceptable by the governors. The annual membership subscription is presently £15 Sterling. The subscription fee will be waived for one year, at the discretion of the board, for acceptable contributions to the journal. Editorial responsibility will rest with the editor and sub-editors. Sub-editors will be appointed as and when necessary. Co-ordinators will be appointed in various regions as required. These will be responsible for passing on information about the society to those who enquire and will take care of membership issues.


[1] The Tulla Céili Band written and published by Chris Keane 1999. Available from the Ennis bookshop an excellent new title with many good photographs.
[2] per Wilbert Garvin.
[3] Word, Excel, and Microsoft are trademarks of the Microsoft Corporation.
[4] Mac is a tradmark of Apple, Inc. Unix is a tradmark of Novell Corporation.
[5] Lotus and 1-2-3 are trademarks of IBM Corporation.