Henry Starck and his Bagpipes

The Dungannon Bagpipes

A description of Instrument and its "revival" from a promotional pamphlet of Henry Starck and William O'Duane written by the organisers of a Dublin exhibition circa 1906. The instrument was on show at stand number 704 in the "Hall of Industries".

Note: All spellings are as the original.

Antiquity of the Bagpipe

The bagpipe has come down to us from a veritable antiquity: the Walls of Jerico are declared to have fallen at its last. Many attempts have been made to identify the instrument with various pipes mentioned in Scripture and the histories of the Bible times, but these are based on conjectures. There is a tradition that the shepherds of the Nativity hailed the birth of the Messiah by the strains of a primitive bagpipe.

In 1118, the historian Cambrensis mentions the instrument as largely in use amongst the Irish and Welsh : the want of a true diatonic scale, the inability to play them on a march, or to render a complete chromatic scale, induced our Irish friends Henry Starck and Wm O'Duane to give the matter careful thought and during the past two years experiments were carried out and after many trials and costly outlays the present Dungannon Pipe was produced, revived from the ancient Irish War Pipe with every modern advantage combined.

This new, yet ancient type of instrument has 3 drones in a box, a chanter of two octaves, and is therefore , a perfect musical instrument capable of rendering any National melody (major or minor); it can be played on the march, sitting down or standing.

This welcome revival of so ancient and National an instrument will be warmly embraced by all lovers of the Gaelic movement, and should prove to be the ideal music in the hands of all true sons of Erin.

Whilst the Scotch pipe claims an equal antiquity, and is held in the highest esteem by Scotland, we claim for the Irish Pipe advantages which the Scotch does not possess, being fully chromatic and a much more perfect instrument.

The Brian Boru Bagpipes



This interesting instrument of unknown antiquity probably consisted at first of the pipes without the bag. It is mentioned in scripture (i Sam. x. 5 ; Isa. v. 12 ; Jer. xlviii. jO) and was used by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. Nero (A.D. 60) played on the instrument, and Suetonius speaks of a promise made by the Emperor shortly before his death that he would appear before the people as a bagpiper (urtricularis), while the Bagpipe is represented on a coin of that reign see Montfancon's antiquities). Chaucer represents the Miller as being skilled in playing the Bagpipes, and Shakespeare s allusion to " the drone of a Lincolnshire Bagpipe " is sufficient to disprove the common notion that the Bagpipe has always been peculiar to Scotland. Many crude forms of the instrument have existed in ancient and modern times, but it has been reserved to Mr. Henry Starck, the well known Bagpipe Maker, to produce what might justly be called a " perfect Bagpipe." Modeled somewhat in form from an ancient Irish instrument, he designates it the " Brian Boru." The special features of it are that the three drones form a complete chord in A, and the chanter having keys attached to it gives a compass of nearly two octaves. The scale being chromatic, most of the beautiful melodies of Great Britain and Ireland, as well as the principal melodies of the operas, can be produced on it - an achievement never before obtained on any other Bagpipe. Both professionals and amateurs are enthusiastic about its capabilities, and Mr. Henry Starck's ‘‘Brian Boru" must be Pronounced an undoubted success.


In this little booklet, I beg to bring to the notice Of Bagpipe players, and all who are interested in music, the advantages which my patent Brian Boru Bagpipe possesses over all other Bagpipes.

The Brian Boru Bagpipe is the only marching Bagpipe in existence which has a chanter possessing a Complete chromatic scale ranging from E natural to C sharp, or a third above and a third below the Scotch chanter. It is, therefore, able to play almost any music, as most music can he arranged for the compass. in which the Brian Boru chanter is set.

It has three drones : Bass A, Tenor A, and Baritone E which harmonise perfectly with each other and with the chanter. The drones being in fifths, the tone produced is equal in depth and mellowness, to the tone of an organ.

The players on these Pipes will have, in addition to their beautiful, ringing, silver tone, another great advantage over the performers on the Scotch Pipes, in being able to Play duets, trios, and quartettes. They can also play in combination with other instruments.

This Bagpipe should appeal to all Irishmen, as the tone, though very powerful , is equal in sweetness to that of the Union Pipes ; and on it they will be able to play most of the exquisite music of their native land, and be able to render it with a depth of feeling not possible on any other Bagpipe of the same kind.

The scale, on account of its simplicity, can easily be learned in a few hours, and the manipulation of the keys will come quite naturally after a little experience. If an hour each day be devoted to practice, the performer should , at the end of six months, be qualified to play operatic and other selections with comparative ease.

The user of this instrument will he able to give much pleasure to himself and to his friends, for on it he can play music to suit every taste. He can play selections from the operas, waltzes, sentimental or comic songs, rousing marches, or jigs, reels, and hornpipes.

Since its inception, it has met with nothing but the highest praise from all the leading musicians. Doctor Grattan Flood, M.R.I A., one of the foremost authorities on Irish music, warmly advocates its adoption by the Irish people, in preference to the Scotch Pipes, as, a great number of the musical compositions of Ireland and Scotland being ill the minor key, it is impossible to play them correctly on the Scotch Pipes; but the Brian Boru Bagpipe, being fully chromatic, is Capable of playing all these melodies correctly.

February, 1910.