Irish uileann pipes have been recognised as an important and unique cultural heritage symbol by UNESCO.

The recognition follows an earlier decision by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation to inscribe the Irish Folklore Commission Collection into its 'Memory of the World' register.

President Michael D Higgins has welcomed the move.

In a statement, President Higgins said the recognition of uilleann piping in Irish culture is an honour and a "valuable recognition of the skills, imagination, creativity and importance of those who make, restore and play na píobaí uilleann".

He said the music and craftwork of Ireland "connect us in profound ways, weaving together cultural memory and contemporary vision".

The President congratulated those who made this international recognition possible and said the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage not only celebrates human diversity and ingenuity, but raises "awareness of the importance of protecting our shared cultural heritage".

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan also welcomed the decision saying: "Today's decision is testament to the community of uilleann pipers across the country who, since the 1960s, 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."