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1901 Classic set of Uillenn Pipes by R.L. O'Mealy For Sale
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Author:  ashley3 [ Wed Jun 12, 2019 2:31 pm ]
Post subject:  1901 Classic set of Uillenn Pipes by R.L. O'Mealy For Sale

1901 Classic set of Uillenn Pipes by R.L. O'Mealy

Galway, Ireland
118 year old set of pipes by Richard L O’Mealy pitched C.
Hi There everyone, So what we have here is a unique, one of a kind set of Uilleann pipes built in 1901 by the make R.L. O’Mealy of Belfast. The set has been identified from a picture in the Sean Reid society journal as the set from Memo.
The set came to me over 5 year ago now after being found by a widow under a bed in Belfast, After bringing the set home with me to Clare it came to the attention of Ronan Browne and following a visit to Ronan ‘s house and doing long comparisons with the photograph it was decided that the set in front of us was indeed the lost set featured in the Memo picture.
After identifying the set I set about looking to see if it was possible to get the set restored and playing again as Sadly not all of the set had survived its 118 year life.
So the set went off to a specialist and after many hours of labour I received a phone call the 19th of April 2015 to say the set was playing again and ready for collection.

After getting the set going and playing for a long while I decided to have it fully restored to its former glory. Myslef and Ronan teamed up with pipe maker Eammon Curran to do the restoration. On my first trip to Eammons workshop he had 4 O'Mealy sets in various nooks and crannies and we looked at all of them. It was clear that one of those sets would have been the set made immediatly before my own as they have several similarities and the set is featured in the Sean Ried Journals. Using this set as a blueprint as well as the 115 year old photograph and Ronan and Eammons combined knowledge of O'mealys pipe we set about restoring the pipes and bringing them back to life as a full set.

The work carried out by Eammon is of the very highest quaility and the set is singing again. The drones are noce and solid and with a little help from Ronan the regulators are sounding sweet. The chanter on its own is georgous however it does play a little quite when going up against the regs.

I have had the set for well over 6 months now I have decided that I needed to make a decision. Was the set going to be for me to keep, play and cherish or was it going to be forsomeone else?
So after a lot of thought I have decided to offer the set for sale for someone else to take up. I have only been playing the pipes for a short period I would feel happier and more comfortable learning on a D set rather then a flat set and I feel that such an iconic set should be played by someone more deserving of it then I.
Ronan Browne is very excited about the appearance of this set after it has been lost for so long and is very happy it is up and playing again. It is an iconic set of great historical importance as it is very early in O'Mealy's career when he was still experimenting and it was before he went on to do his Taylor style sets with the double bass regulators and instead follows the normal configuration of tenor, baritone, bass. Its only a personal theory and there is no way to substantiate this but it seems odd the set was built in 1901 and the picture we have is around 1905 so I personally believe that this was built as O'Mealy own personal set and played by him for a few years. Of course I could be wrong.
So onto the set itself. The set when I found it was not playing at all and consisted of the original leather bad and bag cover and in-between another kind of line material separating the two. An O’Mealy chanter in Boxwood. Now this is an Original O’Mealy chanter but it is clear that it is a replacement chanter, probably attached to the set by himself but it is a later design. Now remembering that at the time of the sets construction his pipe making was in its infancy and he was clearly experimenting trying to find his style and so it is possible that the original was not the best chanter and who ever eventually bought the set may have asked for a new chanter at a later date in O’Mealy’s career. This however is just speculation as there are several other reasons as to who the chanter was replaced.
The mainstock is original and dated and stamped and has a think piece of horn were it connects to the bag. There is also the iconic one off Baritone drone which has an upturned tube and puck, also stamped and a baritone reglator. Stamped The tenor drone is sadly not O'Mealy's work but was clearly taken from another old set and plays well with this one. The original hand stitched bellows is also with the set. I am selling the original O'Mealy Belfast box chanter with the set which is pitched in C# and comes with 2 reeds. One made by Eammon and one made by Bill Haneman.
So the work that was done to get the set playing including new reeds, re-hemping, cleaning, a new part was built for the tenor drone slide to mount on, a new Keller Bag and a lot of hours of labour. The original parts that were replaced have been kept and are with the set ie the original bag and hand stitched bag cover. We have copied and replaced the tenor and bass regulator and the bass drone. We have also built a replacment C chanter which is fully keyed, all our based exactly on the picture and the remaining O'Mealy set in Eammons workshop.
Its also worth mentioning that destructive work has NOT been carried out on this set to get it playing. All the bores and holes are all original and in tact.
An interesting point about the fittings, the thick ring around the stock is clearly horn but the other fitting at first were thought to be ivory but have in-fact turned out to be 'Ivoroid, a type of early celluloid containing 30% camphor'!! This is not only interesting but also handy as moving and shipping as a set with ivory fittings can be problematic. Eammon has used horn and antler for a lot of the replacment fittings.

I would like 12,500 Euros OVNO. I would also be open to a trade against a D set. I would love a set of Koehler and Quinn pipes.

I will be at Willie Clancy if anyone wants to try the set and I live in Galway otherwise. I am happy to ship and to answer any questions.

I have included a video of the set being played by Ronan Browne and a letter written by himself in regards to the set. I have photos of the set through out the restoration spanning the last 5 years which I am happy to send on as well as any other picture you may require.

The below video is a walk through of the set.

O'Mealy only made a 2 or 3 sets in C so this is a real rare find and would really suit someone who loves flat pipes and is interested in owning a one of a kind instrument steeped in history.

If you are interested in the set please get in touch with me . You can contact me via email at or you can call me on my mobile 00353(0)863773026 or send me a PM.
Thank you

Ashley’s O’Mealy Memo Set

Reading through Ashley’s piece about the pipes, I agree with all he says. Richard Lewis O’Mealy’s early sets are fascinating, and I am blown away each time a new early set appears. But this ‘Memo’ set was a wish come true as it is unique among RLO’M sets. For anyone unfamiliar with the Memo, take a look at the website of the Seán Reid Society Journal and look at articles 6 & 8 of the O’Mealy volume of the journal where interestingly I was of the opinion at the time that while this looked to be made by O’Mealy but I wasn’t certain. In fact, there are quite a few elements common to this set and Eamonn Curran’s boxwood and ebony set and this set has now turned up, with lots of O’Mealy stamps on it – yesssss…!!!

I am of the opinion that he made this set for himself and that it was only sold on later – while we have various photos of him playing other sets, they are plainly candid shots, or photos specially taken and sent with new sets to show how they should be played – ever the consummate professional! But this set was used on his self-aggrandising memo pamphlet, something I believe he would not have done with a set recently made for a customer.

So, this set is one of only two of his own making which were photographed being played by him. And the other set is not presently in the public domain, thus making this set unique.

The restoration was expertly handled by all involved and I laud Ashley on not damaging any part of the original and in keeping the original bag cover etc. And that bag cover is immediately recognisable from the photo on the ‘Memo’. I must disagree with Ashley on one point – my memory is that with huge excitement I immediately knew that this was the Memo Set as soon as I saw it. But we did pore over the Memo photograph for ages so I could point out the elements of the set which would prove beyond doubt that it was the same set. All we need now is the pouffe on which he rested his foot, the potted plant, perhaps his knee britches and goatee beard and we have the full rig-out…!

Yes, it is a pity the original chanter is not with the set but I think I agree with Ashley that a possible reason is that the chanter may have been below-par. Certainly, should the original chanter ever re-surface, it will be instantly recognisable and if not re-unitable with the set, would surely be available to copy.

Ronan Browne


Author:  JR [ Thu Jun 13, 2019 4:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 1901 Classic set of Uillenn Pipes by R.L. O'Mealy For Sa

Am I right in reading this that only one regulator and one drone are made by O'Mealy?

Author:  dunnp [ Thu Jun 13, 2019 4:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 1901 Classic set of Uillenn Pipes by R.L. O'Mealy For Sa

O’Mealy c# chanter included.
Good luck with the sale it sounds nice.

Author:  ashley3 [ Thu Jun 13, 2019 12:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 1901 Classic set of Uillenn Pipes by R.L. O'Mealy For Sa

dunnp wrote:
Good luck with the sale it sounds nice.

Thanks very much.

Author:  ashley3 [ Thu Jun 13, 2019 12:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 1901 Classic set of Uillenn Pipes by R.L. O'Mealy For Sa

JR wrote:
Am I right in reading this that only one regulator and one drone are made by O'Mealy?

Hi ya,

Yes it is a great shame that not much of the original set was left but we are very, very lucky to have the photo of the set as well as the sister to copy from.

The original parts are the stock, bellows, bag and hand made cover (not used on the set but come with it) The baritone drone, which is the interesting one of the two and the baritone regulator.

We also have the original box chanter which seems to prefer to play in C#. The fittings of the bag are also original.

I will post a video of the set tonight so you can get a closer look at it.


Author:  rorybbellows [ Fri Jun 14, 2019 4:36 am ]
Post subject:  1901 Classic set of Uillenn Pipes by R.L. O'Mealy For Sale

Would you sell the O'Mealy made drone and reg separately.


PS Geez Louise,what's goin on with my posts, one minute they're there than deleted and now back again.

Author:  Nanohedron [ Sat Jun 15, 2019 12:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 1901 Classic set of Uillenn Pipes by R.L. O'Mealy For Sa

The set's end identity has become a matter of contention, so this thread is locked pending further review.

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