Kenneth Jones designs and makes pipe organs that are custom built to suit the acoustics and architecture of their location.

Church organs may appear to be just part of the furniture in many places of worship, but these often massive instruments have a history dating back to the Middle Ages. 

Saint Audoen’s Church in Dublin is home to one of the largest mid-nineteenth century church organs in the country, made in London by JW Walker in 1861. 

As organist Gerard Gillen explains, the real test of an organ, be it large or small, is that it has the ability to take musical counterpoint. This is when two or more different tunes are played at the same time, and 

The organ is above all else a contrapuntal instrument.

Kenneth Jones is Ireland’s only organ builder. From his workshop in the former Saint Paul’s, a converted church in Bray, County Wicklow, he leads a team of craftsmen and trainees, many of whom are musicians, in the art of building and restoring church and pipe organs. 

Even before the drawing board stage, Kenneth visits the church to see what its architecture is, what is required in musical terms, financial terms, and to get a feel for the place. A series of designs for the organ pipes and case are then carefully sketched out,

You can’t have one divorced from the other in aesthetic, artistic or musical terms.

Accuracy is of the utmost importance at each stage of the construction of an organ. The craftsmen and trainees who work here are trained in every aspect of the process, from beginning to end,

Pipe organs are made. They are a craft, not an industry.

A one hundred per cent Irish company, financial assistance from the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) has improved the company’s productivity which now builds organs for overseas customers. 

Born in Longford, Kenneth Jones now lives in Glendalough, where there is a long and venerable tradition of organ building. While organs are found in concert halls and private homes, organs have always had a connection with church music and religious services and ceremonies,

It’s principally in the church that we find this king of instruments.

This episode of ‘Sunday: Each Pipe He Makes To Speak - The Craft Of Organ Building’ was broadcast on 2 December 1979. The presenter is Gerard Gillen and the narrator is Kenneth Jones.