President Higgins welcomes UNESCO recognition of Uilleann piping

The practice is being inscribed on the organisation's list of 'Intangible Cultural Heritage'

President Higgins welcomes UNESCO recognition of Uilleann piping

Master Uilleann Piper Liam O'Flynn with the RTE National Symphony Orchestra. Photo: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Uilleann piping has been included in a list of official heritage cultural practices.

The UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage is made up of traditions that are considered to enrich all of humanity.

Uileann Piping has joined international cultural practices such as 'pizza spinning' from Napoli and a language from Turkey made up only from whistling in being inscribed on the official list.

President Michael D Higgins welcomed the UNESCO decision, saying it is a symbol of the "unique form and role of Uilleann piping in Irish culture".

He observed: "This inclusion represents an honour for a most valuable part of Irish culture, and for Uilleann Piping throughout the world, and is a valuable recognition of the skills, imagination, creativity and importance of those who make, restore and play na píobaí uilleann.

"We are very proud of our reputation for creativity and music traditions; a reputation which is greatly enhanced by our craftspeople who have passed their love of music and talent from generation to generation down through the centuries. Our music and craftwork connect us in profound ways, weaving together cultural memory and contemporary vision."

Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Minister Josepha Madigan said: "Today’s decision is testament to the community of Uilleann Pipers across the country who, since the 1960’s, have succeeded in their mission to stop the decline in the playing and making of the uilleann pipes.

"The success today is a real community effort from Na Píobairí Uilleann, Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy, the Armagh Pipers Club, and other organisations and individuals who have contributed to the resurgence of interest in Uilleann Piping, in Ireland and around the world."

She added: "Today’s announcement is a wonderful affirmation of the value of one of the most distinct musical forms to be found anywhere in the world – music which instantly transports you back to Ireland no matter where you are."

Other cultural practices highlighted by UNESCO today include German organ craftsmanship and music, and Kok boru - a traditional horse game from Kyrgyzstan.