Master piper, teacher and maker, Leo Rowsome, has been honoured in the Dublin suburb of Donnycarney where he lived and worked until his death in 1970. A commemorative plaque now joins a recent piece of street art celebrating the internationally renowned musician.
Dublin City Council Commemorations Committee has unveiled a commemorative blue plaque at the corner of Belton Park Road and Collins Avenue – with a number of members of the Rowsome family in attendance along with Gay McKeon of Na Píobairí Uilleann.
Born into a piping family in Harold’s Cross, Leo Rowsome went on to become a teacher, pipe-maker, and performer. As a performer he played all over the world, including at New York’s Carnegie Hall.
Joining the Municipal School of Music, Chatham Row, as a teacher at the age of 17, he went on to teach generations of uilleann pipers, including Liam Óg Ó Floinn, Peter Browne, Gay McKeon and Paddy Moloney.
A founding member of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Leo Rowsome was also one of the founders of Na Píobairí Uilleann, and speaking at the event NPU’s CEO, Gay McKeon, declared: “it is impossible to overstate the profound influence of Leo Rowsome on the preservation and development of the uilleann pipes. A skilled pipe-maker, a wonderful player, a successful recording artist, a prolific broadcaster and an authoritative teacher, Leo was a powerful advocate for Irish traditional music and uilleann piping. It is a source of great pride for everyone involved in Irish music that Dublin City Council are celebrating this significant cultural icon.”
The Rowsome family lived at 9 Belton Park Road, Donnycarney, with Leo’s workshop in the back garden. His daughter, Helena, recalled that “after spending the mornings in his workshop on Belton Park Road, my father would walk from the house to catch the bus on Collins Avenue to travel to the Municipal School of Music, Chatham Row and the Pipers’ Club, Thomas Street, where he taught many aspiring and later, renowned uilleann pipers.”
“To be honoured in his native City, remembered by the Donnycarney community, and celebrated on Belton Park Road, where he lived, made and refurbished so many sets of uilleann pipes, is exactly what my father would have appreciated,” she added.
Chair of the Commemorations Committee, Mícheál Mac Donncha, added: “Through his music, making, and teaching Leo Rowsome brought happiness and joy to Dubliners and to lovers of Irish traditional music all around the world. It is fitting that the City in which he was born, lived, and worked, honours him with this commemorative plaque.”
The new plaque complements a nearby piece of street art (pictured above) on Collins Avenue – which was created last year to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Leo Rowsome’s death in 1970. Commissioned by Donnycarney West Community Association, artist Dayana Bautista decorated a traffic light control box with a vibrant new artwork depicting the uilleann pipes, technical drawings for the manufacture of pipes and sheet music.