Mark Donnelly Piping Academy

The Piping Academy has become a popular feature of the William Kennedy Piping Festival. It has brought a new dimension to the teaching and appreciation of uilleann piping through a comprehensive and immersive tutorial programme, covering all aspects of performance as well as the making and maintenance of uilleann pipes under the direction of universally respected tutors. For the 28th Festival in 2022, we changed the name of the event from the William Kennedy Piping Academy to honour the late Mark Donnelly, an excellent and much-loved piper from Armagh who died on 28 December 1999, aged just 33. 

The Academy is primarily designed for musicians over the age of 18.  Students under 18 will be considered with parental consent and on a case-by-case basis.

The course is aimed at those who have a good grasp of uilleann pipes already – intermediate to advanced students only. Students should be comfortable learning by ear. Ideally students will also be able to read and write music, but this is less important. A sound recording device can be used by students in classes.
We hope to create a friendly and supportive environment for learning, but it is up to the individual to ensure they turn up to classes on time and make full use of the unique opportunities the Academy provides. Students are responsible for organising their own accommodation and meals.

Participation on the course is by online application only at this link

The course in 2023 costs just £80. The programme includes the following:

ACADEMY TUITION – 8 hours tuition divided into 4 x 2 hour sessions on Saturday and Sunday. This year’s tutors are Mick O’Brien, Cillian Vallely, Gay McKeon, Máire Ní Ghráda, Mary Mitchell-Ingoldsby, Rosaleen O’Leary, Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn, Éamonn Curran, Loïc Bléjean, Conor Lamb and Barry Kerr. 

REED MAKING WORKSHOPS – Friday afternoon and Sunday morning, including one-to-one advice and tuition in our dedicated uilleann pipes workshop with pipemaker Éamonn Curran

THE WILLIAM KENNEDY LECTURE – Friday 6pm, Ceri Rhys Matthews, “To-ing and Fro-ing: The Swansea-Cork Connection – Investigating the movement of copper and tunes between two towns during the Napoleonic era”.

PIPERS AND THEIR PIPES – Saturday 5:30pm, Festival founder Brian Vallely in conversation with Mick O’Brien.

FESTIVAL PASS – your Academy place includes free entry to all five public concerts over the Festival (with the possible exception of the 1pm Saturday concert, subject to venue capacity).

INFORMATION FOR PARTICIPANTS: after registering for the Academy you will receive a mailing including the teaching schedule, the Festival programme and other information. Please be at Armagh City Hotel for 9:30am on Saturday for grading and assignment to a tutorial group.

AN ALTERNATIVE: if you can’t commit to participation in the Academy, there will be workshops for beginner and intermediate/advanced pipers at Áras na bPíobairí on Saturday morning, 10am-noon, for just £10.