Talented young musicians chosen to take part in prestigious pipers event

LOCAL Newcastle Comhaltas members Ruaírí Howell and Matthew McAstocker have been invited to perform in the prestigious pipers event, Na Píobairí Uilleann Annual Leo Rowsome Commemoration.

This event is held every year at Na Píobairí Uilleann Headquarters  in Henrietta Street in Dublin, to commemorate Leo Rowsome, the piper, pipe maker, teacher, patron and founder of Na Píobairí Uileann. This year’s event takes place on Saturday 27 February.

Newcastle CCE pipers Ruaírí Howell (seated left) and Matthew McAstocker (right) pictured with Newcastle CCE master tutor Padraig McGovern and branch tutor Vivienne Mulcahy (standing).
Newcastle CCE pipers Ruaírí Howell (seated left) and Matthew McAstocker (right) pictured with Newcastle CCE master tutor Padraig McGovern and branch tutor Vivienne Mulcahy (standing).

Matthew and Ruaírí will be joined in the recital by fellow pipers Marion McCarthy and Nollaig, Deirdre and Sinéad MacCarthaigh. Matthew and Ruaírí were invited to perform at this event by Leo Rowsome’s granddaughter and event organiser Helena, following a performance at the International Piping Day
event in Stormont late last year.

Both boys are accomplished multi-instrumentalists as well as accomplished pipers. Matthew and Ruáirí are both members of Newcastle CCÉ and it was here that, at the age of 10 and 9 respectively, they started to learn how to play the pipes under the expert guidance of their tutor Vivienne Mulcahy.

Both boys commented on how hard it was to get established on this complex instrument due to the set of pipes seeming so big.

They also both wished to thank Vivienne for her endless patience in those early days! Matthew had previously attended classes in Tin Whistle, Flute and Concertina while Ruáirí had embarked on Tin Whistle and Banjo before they decided it was the Uilleann Pipes for

Over the years they have attended various workshops and classes around the country, including Willie Clancy Week in Miltown
Malby, the William Kennedy Piping Festival in Armagh, Scoil Eisge and Meitheal.

Matthew states that Belfast born piper John McSherry has been the biggest influence on him while Ruáirí adds the tuition and guidance he has received from Pádraig McGovern has had the biggest impact on his piping.

Despite the boys still being so young they have both achieved tremendous success on their pipes at County, Provincial and All-Ireland Fleadhanna.

In fact both boys have also claimed medals within various genres at All-Ireland level. In 2012 and 2013 they claimed medals for taking part in the trio competition in Cavan and Derry; ironically Matthew plays in a trio with Ruáirí’s sister Niamh while Ruáirí plays
in a trio with Matthew’s brothers Jack and James.

Both boys are honoured to have been invited to play at this prestigious event in Dublin and hope to be playing their pipes for many years to come.

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