The Focus of this website is not just about the use of the warpipe by the Irish regiments of the British
army. It's also about the use of this instrument and its history in Ireland by the Irish people. The photo galleries feature
some interesting photos from the Irish regiments and civilian warpipers past and present.
The two droned warpipe and the saffron kilt were not invented by the British army as some people believe. Both existed
before pipers and pipe bands were a part of those Irish regiments. It was noted in the book The History of the London Irish
by George Willis, that the army adoped the saffron kilt and the two droned warpipe to "underscore their Irishness".
At a point in history both the Irish and Scottish were playing the two droned set. The three droned Great Highland Pipe
became popular and the two droned set faded in use. When the instrument maker Starck began making the modern version of the
warpipe and selling them to the Irish regiments, he was not inventing anything. He simply put a new version of the older
instrument in production and convinced the army to adopt it for the Irish regiments as a modern version of the ancient
two droned pipe. These pipes were made not only by the Starck family but most of the well known pipe makers in Scotland and
a few Ireland as well.
The following is a quote from researcher Sean Donnelly:
“ The Gaelic League and the Irish-Ireland movement in general soon took up the 'Irish
war-pipe', but flatly refused to acknowledge its origin, sometimes with comical results."
Mr Donnelly is one of those who does not seem to be aware of how the existing warpipe version of the
day was being made and sold by Stark before the introduction of pipers and bands to the Irish regiments. The Gaelic League
saw this modern pipe as what the ancient version would have evolved into if its use had not been "interupted" by oppression
and changing of Irish culture. The Gaelic League was promoting this instrument before Starck became Pipe Major of the London
Irish and convinced the army to use his product.
To date Mr Donnelly has not responded to my contact about this through a private message feature
of the Dunsire Forums of which he is a posting member.
I think the fact that the army took up the saffron kilt and the two droned warpipe in
order to "underscore their Irishness" according to George Willis the author of the History of the London Irish says
it all pretty well.
In a world where today the three droned Highland pipe is the norm, a Highland piper with no understanding
might ask the question,
"Why a two droned pipe?" The answer is really simple. If you play a well set up pipe tied into a two droned hide
bag, you will feel why some of us choose this pipe. Its also like an antique automobile. Today cars are far better than they
were 70 or 80 years ago, but owning and driving a classic auto of the past is best understood in the driving of one.
There is no doubt that the three droned Highland pipe has a more refined or better sound but this is not
what a Warpipe is about.
It's more about culture,history and ethnic qualities and the role the pipe played not just in Ireland but around the
world. Some might ask the question, "Was the modern warpipe a bad idea in light of the Highland bagpipe?" With no doubt
the answer is, NO.
The modern two droned pipe was in fact a great idea. It was brought into use as a modern symbol of what had been lost.
It came to be used by both the Irish regiments and the Volunteers and found favor with the Gaelic League. Thanks to the world
travels of the Royal Irish Fusiliers its fame spread around the world.