Dubliner Eugene Lamb left a life in academia to become a full-time uilleann pipe maker in County Clare.

Eugene Lamb, a botanist and marine biologist, left his lecturing post in University College Galway to make his living from the uilleann pipes. Having had a love of traditional music since childhood, Eugene made his first set of pipes when he was a teenager.

With his two children Lisa and Ian, and his American partner Jody Morgan he lives in the old school house in Fanore, County Clare which is also his workshop.

Kept busy with orders for pipes, as well as flutes, Eugene Lamb is optimistic about the future of traditional music in Ireland, as it is being embraced by the next generation,  

It seems to be, if anything, gathering strength. This is witnessed by the fact a lot of the musicians a lot of the very, very good musicians nowadays are youngsters.

From the north west coast of the United States, Jody Morgan is an artist and weaver. She makes bellows bags for the pipes using elm, leather, and cloth she has woven herself. A bag cover is not just decorative, as 

It keeps the bag from slipping under the piper’s arm. Green is more or less a traditional colour for pipers’ bags.

Jody Morgan sewing pipe bag (1984)
Jody Morgan sewing bellows bag (1984)

Pipes of all kinds have been played in many countries for centuries, but the uilleann pipes as we know them today developed in the eighteenth century, and are made to be played sitting down. Since then pipe makers have been open to trying new ways of changing the sound of the instrument,  

This has resulted in a vast storehouse of information and experimentation, and the present day pipe maker has material to draw on.

Eugene Lamb tests a new set of pipes first in his workshop, and then in a session with local musicians. He is joined by Garry O'Brien on fiddle, Seán Tyrrell on banjo, Mick Carrucan on concertina and Mick Linnane on the whistle.  

It is the music that comes out of the air and the fields and the people who live in its imaginative environment.

Eugene Lamb believes traditional music has a special place in human expression in that it is,

Our precious heritage, akin to our language. Even more important it transcends the political and religious divide, at home here in Ireland.

This episode of ‘Patterns’ was broadcast on 9 April 1984. The presenter is Tom McGurk.

'Patterns' is a series of six programmes focusing on a newer generation who have found the answer to job satisfaction in one or other of the arts and crafts. The series was produced and directed by David Shaw Smith for RTÉ. Script and commentary is by Tom McGurk.