Fr. Richard Henebry, fiddle player, piper, academic, collector

Traditional Irish Music Roots; Fr. Richard Henebry (or an t-Ath Risteard de Hindeberg) is often overlooked as an important collector and contributor to Irish music. As well as being a priest and academic (he spoke 13 languages fluently) he also played many instruments including the fiddle and a set of uileann pipes which he made himself. Born in Portlaw in 1863 to an Irish speaking farming family, he was ordained in 1892 and was appointed Professor of Celtic Studies at the Catholic University in Washington DC and later Professor of Irish at UCC in 1909 until his death in 1916.

His most important contribution is his collection of wax cylinder recordings now in UCC. This collection was in two separate recordings , the first recorded by Capt. Francis O`Neill in Chicago in 1905 and was of Chicago-Irish musicians of the day including fiddle player James McFadden and piper Patsey Touhey. Henebry had met O`Neill in Chicago and was highly mentioned in O`Neills own autobiography . the second set of recordings are the cylinders that Henebry himself recorded which were recordings of song and music from the Déise area of Waterford. It is probable that these were the first ever field recordings of Irish music. Although he had no formal music education, he published two books : Irish Music in 1903 and A handbook of Irish music which was published after his death. Henebry suffered from TB all his adult life and his untimely death at the age of fifty three prevented him from amassing a great collection of recordings of Irish music.

His great life and works is an opportunity for the people in the Portlaw area to hold an annual music festival/workshop/seminar in his honour . It would be well supported.

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