Tributes paid to renowed uilleann piper Liam O'Flynn following his death, aged 72

Tributes have been paid to uilleann piper Liam O'Flynn, best known for his solo music and work with traditional group Plaxty. Picture by Niall Carson/PA

UILLEANN piper Liam O'Flynn has been described as a "giant of Irish music" following his death, aged 72.

The renowned piper, best known for his solo music and work with traditional group Planxty, passed away today following a long battle with cancer.

Tributes to the Kildare-born piper have described how he "played a seminal role in safeguarding and promoting uilleann piping" and his death was a "sad day for Irish music".

As a child he took music classes with renowned master piper Leo Rowsome, before going on to form Planxty with Christy Moore, Andy Irvine and Donal Lunny.

During his career he also played alongside Kate Bush, the Everly Brothers and Sinead O' Connor as well as working on film soundtracks with poet Seamus Heaney.

Read more: Liam O'Flynn on working with Seamus Heaney

Planxty broke up in the mid 1980s, but O'Flynn continued to bring his skill with the uilleann pipes to a worldwide audience. He was regarded as a master piper and a global ambassador for traditional Irish music.

The Arts Council described Mr O'Flynn as a "virtuoso piper of international renown who brought uilleann piping and Irish music to the world stage".

Arts Council chair Sheila Pratschke said: "Liam O'Flynn has left behind him an incredible legacy of music through his recordings, his careful support of other musicians and artists and his dedication to transmission of the great heritage of Irish music to future generations."

A statement from RTÉ Symphony Orchestra also said members were "deeply saddened" by Mr O'Flynn's passing.

"We have such happy memories of performing with him on many occasions, including our 2015 concert with him to celebrate his 70th birthday year," it said.



Taoiseach Leo Varadkar expressed his condolences on behalf of the Irish government.

Speaking from Washington, he said: "I think (Mr O'Flynn) was a genius and great Irish man. In this most Irish of weeks I would like to express my condolences to his family, the music industry and the arts sector on their loss."

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said Mr O'Flynn helped to revolutionise traditional Irish music.

"His immense legacy can be seen in the vitality of traditional Irish music across the globe today. From Kill, Co Kildare, to the far corners of the world he has bequeathed a mesmerising tapestry of music," he added.

Musician Phil Coulter was among the first to pay tribute to Mr O'Flynn, a native of Co Kildare.

"Devastated to hear that the great Liam Og O Flynn has passed away. He was a king among pipers and a prince among men. A complete musician and a gentle soul", Mr Coulter Tweeted.

The singer Brian Kennedy tweeted: "I was only thinking about the great Liam O'Flynn about 30 mins ago when I was driving near Kilcullen. I knew he'd been ill for some time. We met many times over the years. What a gorgeous man and musician. Rest in Pipes! BK x".

Musician and songwriter Eleanor McEvoy, chairwoman of the Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO), said it was a sad day for Irish music.

"Just landed in Amsterdam to hear the dreadfully sad news that Liam O'Flynn, legendary Irish piper has passed away. Sad day for Irish music RIP Liam", she tweeted.

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