Youghal Pipe Band – A Brief History
The band was formed in 1914 by the late Danny (Duis) McCarthy.
Danny himself was playing a Fife in the local Fife and Drum Band in 1913 but his interest turned to the Bagpipes when at that time Youghal being a Garrison Town had many British Regiments stationed in the local Barracks where the Youghal Hospital now stands. Danny would watch the Pipe Bands of the British Army parade their Regiments down Cork Hill and out to the train station every couple of months.
Danny would always go up to the Barracks when the Pipe Bands had practice and that is where he came to know and love the Pipes. Danny at the time being a member of the I.R.A. came by three set of Pipes and soon mastered the Art of playing the Pipes along with two other friends Larry Coleman and Paddy O’Sullivan. Danny again came by a Bass Drum and two Snare Drums and in 1914 he founded what is now known as the Youghal Pipe Band, better known at the time as the Cork Hill Pipe Band.
The Early Years
The Band’s early years were troublesome, at the time it was well known that some Members were in the I.R.A. and because of this the Band Hall was raided on many occasions by the British Forces, at the time the Pipes and Drums had to be shifted from house to house because if they were found the British Forces would burn them out on the main road.
Those early years 1914 to 1940 were very poor times in Youghal with high unemployment and it was very hard to keep the band going. Danny would make reeds for the pipes out of match boxes, at the time you would get foreign match’s which were made of (Balsa Wood) which was very thin and Danny would cut and shape this into reeds. From time to time if any part of the pipes were broken Danny would cut a piece of elder tree out in the back garden and use it to repair the broken piece, this tree has a soft center and was easily made into a drone for the pipes.
Parts of the uniform were made by Maggie Ann O’Brien out of Fleming’s (white) flour bags which had to be dyed green for kilts and orange for shawls this work was done by Danny’s wife Julie. The jackets were old cast off Gardai and army jackets, they too had to be dyed black. The bags for the bagpipes were made from rubber tubes from cars and tractors which were got from Morrissey’s Garage in town, Danny would cut out the shape of the bag and then use a rubber solution from John Kennedy’s shop to seal all the joints. Bag covers were made from the old cloth that came off the snooker tables down in the League of the Cross Hall.
The bands first outing was the Corpus Christi Procession in 1914
Looking back over the years and recalling some names of past members gone by, men like Moss Walsh, Paddy O’Sullivan (Blacksmith), Larry Coleman, Thomas Coleman, Domnic Walsh, Tommy Power, Mick Norris (Mugeen) Jeb Roche, John Barry and more recently Danny Duis himself, his Sons Paddy (Wack), Jimmy, Danny Boy and Michael McCarthy, Jack Heaphy, Blackeye, Siddy and Hughie Daly, Stephen Kenefick, Teenie Kenefick, Noel O’Brien, Willie Lyons, Buddy Bulman, John (Baba) Ruxton, Michael (Linnet) Yellop, to name but a few.
Other past members around today who gave their time to the Band are John O’Brien and his Brother Billy Bob, Noel Kennedy, Terry Dower, John Crowley, Paddy (Di-Di) O’Sullivan, Davy O, Brien Billy Ruxton, Davy Barrett in England, the Coleman’s in America, Allen’s in Australia, Jack Sullivan son of Paddy O’Sullivan to name but a few.
Danny’s other pastime was catching (Birds) Finches, Linnets, Canaries, he would breed a Finch with a Linnet and the Result of this would be a Mule, a great singing Bird. Along with other Bird fanciers in Cork Hill to name but a few, Jim Loughlin (Saddle maker) Nickie Coyne, (Cool) O’Brien, Mickie (Nonkey) Coyne it was always a great sight to see them heading off on a Sunday morning with their bird cages on their bikes heading to Clashmore or Villierstown when word got round that a flock of finches or linnets were seen there. How they caught those birds was with, Birdlime, this was made by boiling linseed oil and when it cooled it was a very sticky substance. They would coat twigs with the Bird Lime which were put onto the nearest hazel tree, where the birds would be feeding on (Groundsill) seed of what we called (Pissa Beds) a natural food for the birds and if the birds came into contact with these coated twigs they got stuck and could not fly away.
When we’re recall Youghal Pipe Band’s humble beginning down there in Pender’s Lane( now closed off) with a light of a penny candle for members to see their instruments and play their music, did Danny ever think that today well over 90 years after the pipe band would be still in existence and gone from strength to strength and one of his life’s ambitions realized, sadly Danny was not around to see it, the Youghal Pipe Band on B.B.C. Television (Jim’ll Fix it) in 1984 paying tribute to Danny and his band and again on R.T.E. in 1995 . Something else that Danny would have been proud of was when the Youghal Pipe Band took part in the Munster Championships in 1995 for the first time and coming home with 2nd prize, a great achievement on the day.
The Band has a proud tradition and glorious past since way back to 1914 and looking at the interest by the younger generation in the Pipe Band one can safely say that Youghal Pipe Band will carry on.
The band has had many achievements over the years such as:
1984 the band was featured on the BBC programme ” Jim’ll Fix It “, the BBC filmed a feature on Danny and the band.
In 1993 the band was invited to Larmor Plage, Brittany, France for a week.
In 1995 R.T.E’s HEARTLANDS also came to Youghal to film a feature on the band.
1995 to 1997 saw the band take part in competition for the first time winning 3 first 3 second 1 third placing.
The band has been invited to the Interceltic Festival in Brittany on three occasions 2004, 2005 and 2011.
A long and proud history of the Youghal Pipe Band from 1914 to 2014 saw only three band leaders from Danny (Duis) 1914 to 1983, his son Michael (Mick) 1983 until his untimely passing in 2004. Mick was also Hon Sec. from 1967 onwards. After Mick it was his son Michael Jnr. or better known world wide as Naga from 2004 to present day. The position of pipe major from 1914 to 1967 (53 years!) was Danny (Duis), he then handed over the baton to his son Jimmy who was pipe major for 28 years from 1967 to 1995. It was then Naga from 1995 to 2001 and today’s pipe major is Christy McCarthy.