Willie Clancy ...


Willie Clancy (1918-1973) from Miltown Malbay, County Clare was born on Christmas Eve into a musical home, both his parents, Ellen and Gilbert, sang and played instruments. Willie Clancy learned the tin whistle at the age of 5 and later the flute. He was twenty years old when he received his first pipes and by his 29th birthday, he competed in the Oireachtas and took first place with his uilleann pipes.

Around 1947 he joined the famous Tulla Ceili Band for a while, but had to immigrate to England for work but returned to Miltown Malbay in 1957 when his father died, and soon married. Over his life time he built up a very large collection of tunes, folklore, and friends as many musicians loved playing with him and he was a great wit and story teller.


His sudden death in January 1973 at the age of fifty-five was widely mourned among friends and musicians alike. His principal legacy lay in the fact that he had built up a repertoire of tunes found nowhere else and variants of tunes known outside Clare and was willing to pass them on.

Willie Clancy had a huge influence on future pipers and the music in County Clare. As a tribute to this extraordinary man and gifted musician, it was decided to set up an annual summer music school in Willies home town of Miltown Malbay. The school quickly established a name for good music and high standards in tuition, a fitting tribute to a fine musician.


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