Virtual Music Trail

Willie Clancy

Miltown Malbay County Clare
Uilleann Pipes, Flute, Whistle, Song

Willie Clancy was born near the coastal town of Miltown Malbay, County Clare in 1918, into a musical family. His father Gilbert played flute and concertina, and his mother, Ellen Killeen, played concertina and sang. Gilbert Clancy had known Garret Barry (d.1900), the blind piper from Inagh, and had passed on Garret’s music to his son. Willie started to play the whistle at the age of five, later taking up the flute. However, he was twenty before getting his first set of uileann pipes from Felix Doran and later acquired a set of 1830’s Kilrush-made Maloney pipes. In 1942 Willie got a Coyne ‘c’ set of pipes and a Coyne ‘B’ set in London in the 1950’s. As he learned the pipes, Willie was drawn to the playing of the travelling piper Johnny Doran, who spent long periods in Clare during the 1930’s and 1940’s. He took tuition from Leo Rowsome and was also influenced by Seamus Ennis, Brother Gildas, John Potts and Andy Conroy. Willie’s talent on the pipes was first recognised when he won the Oireachtas prize in 1947.

Willie Clancy was a carpenter and joiner by trade and in the early 1950’s went to work in Dublin, later moving to London. He returned to Miltown Malbay after the death of his father in 1957 where he lived for the rest of his life. Willie Clancy was known as a man of great generosity, wit and humour, and was always willing to share his musical knowledge with others. He had many visitors over the years to his home in Miltown, including fellow pipers Seamus Ennis and Liam O’Flynn and was was involved in the setting up of Na Piobairi Uilleann in the late 1960’s. Willie Clancy died in 1973. Shortly afterwards The Willie Clancy Summer School was set up. Now, for one week every July, it draws musicians and music lovers from all over the world to the west Clare coast. With over one thousand attending classes in different instruments for the week, and thousands more enjoying sessions and concerts, it is a fitting tribute to Willie Clancy.
Willie Clancys - Willie Clancy
Willie Clancy
Willie Clancy