Essential Uilleann Pipes Discography: Must-Listen Albums Guide

Essential Uilleann Pipes Discography: Must-Listen Albums Guide

Oct 30, 2023

If you're a fan of traditional Irish music, then you know the haunting beauty of the uilleann pipes. This unique instrument has captured the hearts of music enthusiasts worldwide. In this guide, we take a deep dive into the world of uilleann pipes discography and explore a curated selection of must-listen albums. From traditional Irish tunes to contemporary compositions, these albums showcase the true essence of the uilleann pipes.

Key Takeaways

  • Explore a curated selection of must-listen albums that highlight the beauty of the uilleann pipes
  • Experience traditional Irish music and contemporary fusions through the lens of uilleann pipers
  • Rediscover classics and hidden gems within the realm of uilleann pipes discography
  • Dive into regional styles and explore the unique flavors and nuances of different geographical areas in Ireland
  • Take a comprehensive journey through the world of uilleann pipes discography with this guide
  • If you would like to learn the Uilleann pipes try Uilleann Pipe Academy

The Origins of Uilleann Pipes 

The uilleann pipes have a long and rich history in traditional Irish music, dating back centuries. This unique instrument originated from the union of the earlier pastoral pipes with the newly established regulators, creating a more versatile and complex sound.

One of the most significant figures in the development of the uilleann pipes was Leo Rowsome, an eminent piper and teacher who helped popularize the instrument in the early 20th century. He came from a family of pipers, and his unique playing style and technical innovations helped shape the sound of the uilleann pipes as we know it today.

Rowsome's influence extends beyond his impressive performance abilities. As a teacher, he helped pass down the tradition of uilleann pipe playing to future generations, ensuring that this mesmerizing instrument would continue to captivate audiences for years to come.

Pioneers of Uilleann Pipes: Davy Spillane and Liam O'Flynn

When it comes to uilleann pipes, Davy Spillane and Liam O'Flynn are two names that stand out for their groundbreaking work. Both pipers have been instrumental in bringing the uilleann pipe to the forefront of contemporary Irish music, and their influential albums are a must-listen for any fan of the instrument.

Davy Spillane is a virtuoso piper who rose to fame in the 1980s with his innovative fusion of traditional Irish music and other genres, such as rock and jazz. His debut album, "Atlantic Bridge," is a seminal work that features collaborations with musicians from around the world. Spillane's playing is characterized by its fluidity and expressiveness, and his use of effects pedals adds a unique depth to his sound.

Album Year
Atlantic Bridge 1987
A Place Among The Stones 1994
Shadow Hunter 1997

Liam O'Flynn, on the other hand, is known for his dedication to traditional Irish music and his mastery of the uilleann pipe. He was a founding member of the iconic Irish group Planxty and later went on to collaborate with artists such as Kate Bush and Mark Knopfler. O'Flynn's playing is characterized by its clarity and precision, and he has been praised for his ability to evoke deep emotions through his music.

Album Year
The Piper's Call 1999
Out To An Other Side 2005
The Given Note 1976

Other Notable Uilleann Pipers

While Davy Spillane and Liam O'Flynn are perhaps the most well-known uilleann pipers, there are many other talented musicians who have made significant contributions to the instrument's legacy. Some of these influential pipers include:

  • Paddy Keenan
  • Seamus Ennis
  • Willie Clancy
  • Cillian Vallely
  • Joey Abarta
  • John McSherry

Together, these pipers have helped to shape the sound of traditional Irish music and ensure that the uilleann pipe remains a vital part of the country's cultural heritage.

Trad Irish Music: The Essential Albums

If you're looking to explore the world of traditional Irish music, these essential albums prominently feature the haunting beauty of the uilleann pipes. From the iconic recordings of Planxty to the timeless tunes of the Clancy Brothers and the compositions of Seán Ó Riada, these albums are a must-listen for any traditional music enthusiast.

Planxty - Planxty (1973)

Considered a classic of Irish folk music, this album features the virtuosic playing of Liam O'Flynn on the uilleann pipes. The band's unique arrangements of traditional tunes showcase the instrument's versatility and range.

The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem - In Person at Carnegie Hall (1963)

This live recording captures the energy and passion of one of the most beloved acts in Irish music history. Paddy Clancy's soulful playing on the uilleann pipes adds a haunting dimension to the group's rousing ballads and folk songs.

Seán Ó Riada - Mise Éire (1959)

This album by renowned composer and bandleader Seán Ó Riada is a landmark in the history of Irish music. Ó Riada's innovative arrangements incorporate the uilleann pipes in a modern context, while still honoring the tradition of his native Cork.

Other essential albums that prominently feature the uilleann pipes include:

  • The Chieftains - The Chieftains 2 (1969)
  • Christy Moore - Prosperous (1972)
  • Patrick Street - Patrick Street (1986)
  • Mary Bergin - Feadóga Stáin (1981)

These albums showcase the haunting beauty and unique sound of the uilleann pipes, ensuring that this traditional Irish instrument remains a vital part of the country's musical heritage.

Contemporary Explorations: Fusion Albums

When it comes to contemporary explorations of traditional Irish music, fusion albums offer a refreshing perspective. By blending the timeless sound of the uilleann pipes with other genres such as rock, jazz, and world music, these albums create a unique and innovative sound. Two standout examples of this genre are Donal Lunny and Christy Moore's "Prosperous" and "Ride On".

"Prosperous," released in 1972, features a range of traditional Irish instruments including the uilleann pipes and bodhrán, combined with electric guitar and bass. The result is a lively and energetic album that showcases the enduring appeal of traditional Irish music. "Ride On," released in 1984, features a more somber and contemplative tone, blending traditional Irish melodies with elements of rock and jazz. The album features a haunting rendition of the classic tune "Bright Blue Rose."

These fusion albums demonstrate the versatility of the uilleann pipes and their ability to transcend traditional boundaries. They are essential listens for anyone interested in exploring the intersection of traditional Irish music and other genres.

Rediscovering the Classics: Revival Albums

If you're looking to experience traditional Irish music in a fresh and exciting way, look no further than the world of revival albums. These recordings, created by esteemed uilleann pipers such as Paddy Keenan and Matt Molloy, take classic tunes and give them a modern twist.

One standout revival album is Paddy Keenan's The Long Grazing Acre. Released in 1996, this album blends traditional Irish music with contemporary influences, creating a sound that is both timeless and cutting-edge. The title track, in particular, showcases Keenan's virtuosic uilleann piping skills.

"I wanted to do a different kind of album. I didn't want to go in and just play traditional Irish music. That's been done a million times. I wanted to make something that was a little bit different, more of a crossover album."

Another must-listen revival album is Stony Steps by Matt Molloy. Known for his work with The Chieftains, Molloy brings a fresh perspective to traditional Irish music on this 1991 release. The album features a mix of slow airs and lively jigs and reels, showcasing Molloy's masterful uilleann piping.

Revival albums like these demonstrate a fresh approach to traditional Irish music, while still staying true to its roots. By listening to these recordings, you can experience the beauty and power of the uilleann pipes in a whole new way.

Hidden Gems: Lesser-Known Albums

If you're looking for something unique and off the beaten path, these hidden gems of uilleann pipes discography are sure to impress. These albums by lesser-known pipers may not have the same recognition as their more established peers, but they are no less deserving of attention.

Album Artist Year Released
The Gift Robbie Hannan 1995
In Safe Hands Nicolas Brown 2007
Ceol na gCarad Peter Brown 2015

The Gift by Robbie Hannan is a standout album that showcases his skillful uilleann piping. Hannan's intricate solos are both haunting and uplifting, weaving seamlessly through traditional Irish melodies.

In Safe Hands by Nicolas Brown is another hidden gem that features both uilleann pipes and wooden flute. Brown's tasteful playing is full of emotion and nuance, making this album a joy to listen to.

Ceol na gCarad by Peter Brown is a more recent release that pays homage to the traditional music of County Clare. Brown's uilleann pipes are complemented by fiddle, piano, and guitar, resulting in a rich and textured sound that captures the spirit of the region.

"These hidden gems by talented pipers like Robbie Hannan and Nicolas Brown to recordings that highlight regional styles, this section offers a wealth of underappreciated musical treasures."

Take a chance on these lesser-known albums and discover the beauty of the uilleann pipes beyond the mainstream. These hidden gems are sure to impress any fan of traditional Irish music.

Exploring Different Styles: Regional Albums

One of the wonderful things about traditional Irish music is its diverse regional styles, each with its distinct characteristics and nuances. The uilleann pipes have been an integral part of many of these styles, and exploring regional albums that feature this instrument can provide a fascinating insight into Irish musical history.

The Dublin Style

The Dublin style of uilleann piping is characterized by its bright, lively tone and its use of ornamentation. The playing is often fast and intricate, with a focus on rhythmic precision. Look out for albums by renowned pipers such as Seamus Ennis and Leo Rowsome, who both contributed greatly to the development of this style.

The Galway Style

The Galway style of uilleann piping has a gentler, more lyrical quality than the Dublin style. Playing is often more relaxed, with an emphasis on expression and phrasing. Albums by piper Paddy Keenan are a great example of this style, as well as the work of Galway native Padraic Keane.

The Clare Style

The Clare style of uilleann piping is characterized by its use of drones, which create a haunting, atmospheric sound. The playing is often slower and more contemplative than other styles, with an emphasis on the melody. Look out for albums by piper Peadar O'Loughlin, who is known for his mastery of this style.

Other Regional Styles

Other regions of Ireland also have their distinct styles of uilleann piping, such as the Westmeath style, which is known for its ornamentation, and the Armagh style, which has a stronger Scottish influence. Be sure to check out albums by pipers such as Tommy Reck, Robbie Hannan, and Tiarnan O Duinnchinn to explore these lesser-known styles.

Exploring regional albums is a great way to experience the diversity of traditional Irish music and the uilleann pipes' role in its development. Whether you're drawn to the lively rhythms of the Dublin style or the haunting drones of the Clare style, there's a regional album out there that's sure to capture your interest.


In conclusion, the world of uilleann pipes discography is a rich and diverse landscape, showcasing the haunting beauty and versatility of this unique instrument. From traditional Irish tunes to contemporary fusion albums, there is truly something for everyone.

By exploring the essential albums of the uilleann pipes, listeners can gain a deeper appreciation for the instrument and its cultural significance. Whether rediscovering classic recordings or unearthing hidden gems, each album offers a unique window into the world of traditional Irish music.

Keep Exploring

If you're interested in learning more about the uilleann pipes, be sure to check out live performances by accomplished pipers, attend traditional music festivals, or take lessons from a local expert or at The Uilleann Pipe Academy.

By immersing yourself in the rich musical heritage of the uilleann pipes, you can gain a deeper understanding of Irish culture and its lasting impact on the world of music.


What are uilleann pipes?

Uilleann pipes are a traditional Irish musical instrument characterized by a sweet and haunting sound. They consist of a bag, bellows, a set of pipes, and various other components.

What genre of music are uilleann pipes commonly associated with?

Uilleann pipes are most commonly associated with traditional Irish music. However, they have also been incorporated into various other genres such as folk, Celtic, and even contemporary fusion.

Who are some notable uilleann pipers?

Some notable uilleann pipers include Leo Rowsome, Davy Spillane, Liam O'Flynn, Paddy Keenan, and Matt Molloy, among others.

Are there any must-listen albums featuring uilleann pipes?

Yes, there are several must-listen albums that showcase the beauty of the uilleann pipes. We have curated a selection of these albums for you to explore and enjoy.

Can the uilleann pipes be played solo or are they typically accompanied by other instruments?

The uilleann pipes can be played solo or in conjunction with other instruments. They are often accompanied by instruments such as the fiddle, bodhrán, guitar, and accordion in traditional Irish music settings.

Are there any contemporary fusion albums that feature uilleann pipes?

Yes, there are several contemporary fusion albums that seamlessly blend traditional Irish music with other genres and prominently feature the uilleann pipes. These albums offer a unique and innovative take on the instrument.

Where can I find these albums?

These albums can be found in various online music stores, streaming platforms, or at traditional music specialty stores. Additionally, many artists have their own websites where their albums can be purchased or downloaded.

Are there any hidden gems or lesser-known albums featuring uilleann pipes?

Absolutely! There are many hidden gems and lesser-known albums that showcase the beauty of the uilleann pipes. These recordings often highlight the talent and artistry of underappreciated pipers and offer a fresh perspective on traditional Irish music.

Can you recommend any regional albums that represent specific styles of uilleann pipe playing?

Certainly! There are several regional albums that represent the distinct styles of uilleann pipe playing in different areas of Ireland. These albums offer a deeper exploration of the regional nuances and flavors within traditional Irish music.

Can you recommend some more great albums featuring Uilleann pipes?

Certainly! There are many brilliant albums showcasing Uilleann pipes, such as "Ace and Deuce of Piping" by Paddy Moloney, "Two Yellow Goats" by Caoimhín Ó Fearghail, and "Swimming Against the Falls" by Brian the Brave.

Where can I find listening recommendations for Uilleann pipe music?

For listening recommendations, explore recordings by renowned pipers like Liam O'Flynn, Willie Clancy, and Seamus Ennis. These pipers are considered some of the best in the world and have made significant contributions to the genre.

What are some albums that combine Uilleann pipes with other instruments in Irish traditional music?

If you enjoy a blend of Uilleann pipes with other traditional instruments, check out "Open the Door for Three" by Liz Knowles, Kieran O'Hare, and Pat Broaders, and "Dawning of the Day" by Paddy Keenan and Tommy O'Sullivan. Both albums offer a delightful fusion of sounds.

Are there albums featuring Uilleann pipes and harp, flute, or banjo as accompaniment?

Yes, there are albums where the Uilleann pipes are accompanied by harp, flute, and banjo. "River of Gems" by Alison Perkins and Nicolas Brown is a fine example of Uilleann pipes with harp accompaniment.

Can you recommend albums with a strong focus on dance music played on the Uilleann pipes?

For dance music enthusiasts, "Love and Whiskey" by Brian McNamara and Tim Collins and "The Hag with the Money" by Paddy Keenan and Tommy O'Sullivan are excellent choices. These albums feature lively tunes perfect for dancing.

Are there albums that explore the ancient Celtic roots of Uilleann piping?

If you're interested in the ancient Celtic roots of Uilleann piping, "Boys of Galway" by Mick O'Brien, "Old Man Quinn" by Mick O'Brien and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, and "Leaving Me Alone" by Mick O'Brien and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh delve into the rich heritage of the instrument.

What are some classic Uilleann pipe albums that every enthusiast should have in their collection?

Classic Uilleann pipe albums that every enthusiast should consider include "Piping from County Waterford" by Willie Clancy, "Potts" by Tommy Potts, and "Music of Ireland" by The Chieftains featuring Paddy Moloney.

Where can I find albums featuring Uilleann pipes in a duet or group setting?

If you enjoy duets and group settings, "Planxty's" by Liam O'Flynn, Paddy Glackin, and Donal Lunny, and "The Ace and Deuce of Piping" by Paddy Moloney and Ronan Browne are delightful choices.

Can you recommend albums that feature the Uilleann pipes alongside the tin whistle or low whistle?

Certainly! "Leave Me Alone" by Mick O'Brien and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh features the Uilleann pipes along with the tin whistle. "Brilliant Album" by Caoimhín Ó Fearghail also explores this combination.

What are some recent Uilleann pipe albums that are yet to come but highly anticipated?

Look out for upcoming releases, such as "Óg" by Oisín Morrison, and "Bhaile Mhic Anndáin" by Colm Brien. These albums are eagerly awaited and promise to be exceptional additions to the Uilleann pipe discography.

Can you recommend albums featuring Uilleann pipes in a Ceili band setting?

If you're a fan of Ceili bands, "The Dream of Home" by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Ceili Band is a fantastic album featuring Uilleann pipes and other traditional instruments.

Where can I find more information about Uilleann pipe albums and artists?

For more information on Uilleann pipe albums and artists, you can visit websites and forums dedicated to Irish pipering, such as Na Píobairí Uilleann (NPU). These resources are great for staying updated on the latest releases and discovering new music in the world of Irish trad.