Irish Minstrels and Musicians - Captain Francis O'Neill

This classic text is full of lore about pipers and pipemaking, as well as many other aspects of Irish Traditional Music both in Ireland and in the American diaspora. The author, Captain Francis O'Neill, was also the author of the book known commonly as "O'Neill's", and probably did more than any other single person in the first half of the 20th century to preserve Irish Traditional Music for future generations.

I won't try to describe all of O'Neill's contributions and significance. It may be enough to say that O'Neill is our only surviving source for much of the lore regarding traditional music and musicians. Some of his information has been shown to be inaccurate in recent years, but on the whole it has stood the test of time.

Unfortunately this important and fascinating text has been rare throughout its history, and out of print for most of the past 90 years. It was reprinted in 1987 by 'Celtic Music' and, while not technically out of print today, copies are scarce and often fetch prices far above the original reprint price.

O'Neill died in 1936, and his original copyright protection expired during the ensuing years. Even if the work had not passed into the public domain already via un-renewed copyright, the 70 years since O'Neill's death mean that the original text is incontrovertibly available for reproduction. The excerpt below is presented in reformatted text-only form, with only the original figures presented in graphic form, to ensure that no typographical copyright of the various republishers are inadvertantly violated.

BARDS AND THE BARDIC ORDERS (Chapter I from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913).

IRISH HARPERS IN HISTORY, ENDING WITH THE REIGN OF QUEEN ELIZABETH (Chapter II from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913).

THE BAGPIPE, ITS ANTIQUITY AND DISTRIBUTION (Chapter III from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913). Note: Some of O'Neill's information has been supplanted by modern scholarship. The information attributed to Grattan Flood, in particular, is treated very sceptically by modern scholars.

PIPERS PENALIZED IN THE 16th and 17th CENTURIES(Chapter IV from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913).

FAMOUS HARPERS IN THE SEVENTEENTH AND LATER CENTURIES(Chapter V from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913).

TURLOCH O'CAROLAN AND HIS TIMES(Chapter VI from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913).

HARPERS OF NOTE - MISCELLANEOUS MENTION(Chapter VII from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913).

HARPERS AT THE GRANARD AND BELFAST MEETINGS(Chapter VIII from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913).

HISTORICAL ESTIMATE OF IRISH MUSIC (Chapter IX from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913). It may be best to consider this chapter, and chapters X and XI below, in the historical context as an early 20th century 'opinion piece'.

IRISH FOLK MUSIC - A PRECIOUS HERITAGE (Chapter IX from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913).

IRISH FOLK MUSIC WANING (Chapter XI from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913).

IRISH FOLK MUSIC EXEMPLIFIED (Chapter XII from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913).

THE DEVELOPMENT OF TRADITIONAL IRISH MUSIC (Chapter XIII from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913).

FAMOUS COLLECTORS OF IRISH MUSIC (Chapter XIV from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913).

THE IRISH PIPER IN IRISH LIFE (Chapter XV from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913).

FAMOUS BAGPIPE MAKERS (Chapter XVI from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913).

REVEREND MUSICIANS (Chapter XVII from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913).

GENTLEMEN PIPERS (Chapter XVIII from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913).

FAMOUS PERFORMERS ON THE IRISH OR UNION PIPES IN THE EIGHTEENTH AND EARLY PART OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURIES (Chapter XIX from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913).

OLD TIMES IN WEXFORD AND HER FAMOUS MUSICIANS (Chapter XX from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913).

FAMOUS PIPERS WHO FLOURISHED PRINCIPALLY IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY (Chapter XXI from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913).

PIPERS OF DISTINCTION LIVING IN THE EARLY YEARS OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY (Chapter XXII from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913).

TYPICAL HIGHLAND PIPERS (Chapter XXIV from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913).

THE IRISH FIDDLE (Chapter XXV from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913).

FAMOUS PIPERS - MISCELLANEOUS MENTION (Chapter XXIII from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913).

...chapters XXVI - XXX to come...

IRISH PIPERS IN LITERATURE AND OTHER STORIES: IDIOSYNCRACIES OF IRISH MUSICIANS (Chapter XXXI from Captain Francis O'Neill's “Irish Minstrels and Musicians”, Chicago, Regan Printing House, 1913).

...more to come...

in progress...Irish Folk Music - A Fascinating Hobby - Captain Francis O'Neill

Even rarer than 'Irish Minstrels and Musicians', this volume was published by O'Neill in 1910 and contains some anecdotes not included in IMM. From "Irish Folk Music, A Fascinating Hobby" I reproduce the following: