Alt Wedding Piper

When you think ‘wedding piper’ you automatically think of a’ phìob mhòr, the Great Highland Bagpipe, but there are others. Some years ago in another life, I made a documentary called ‘Piping Hot’ about the first ever Glasgow Piping Festival, where I came across pipers from Albania to, well not Zambia but you know what I mean. It turns out that the oldest set of pipes in the world hail from the now ruined Mesapotamian city of Ur, which means that the idea of taking a sheep’s intestine and shoving some bits of wood into it isn’t a uniquely Scottish idea.

I used to think that the Irish Bellows Pipes, better known as Uilleann Pipes were equally ancient, but it turns out they were invented in the 18th century, and as they’re much sweeter in tone and quieter than the Highland ones, they’re ideal for a domestic setting. The ones in the photo above belong to brother Liam Hackett who was playing at the wedding of Colin & Jill at the McDonald Holyrood Hotel earlier this month. I knew there was something familar about him, and then I remembered I’d actually filmed him on top of a mountain for the Piping Hot documentary all those years ago.

Brother Liam is a lay member of a religious order, who gives all his fees to support their work, so he’s one of the good guys. He’d never been at a Humanist wedding before, but afterwards he came up to say that he’d found it very sincere and moving. Sadly I don’t seem to have his card, and I can’t find him through Google, but if I can track him down, I’ll add him to my musicians list. 

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