Dr. Diarmuid O'Hurley Pipe Band, Cashel

A History of the Dr. O’Hurley Pipe band; 1935 – 2013


Band Name:

The band is named after Archbishop Dermot O'Hurley who was born at Emly, Co. Tipperary in the year 1530. Archbishop O'Hurley travelled abroad as a young man and following a distinguished career at Louvain and Rheims, he arrived in Rome in 1581 and was appointed Archbishop of Cashel on September 11th 1581 by Pope Gregory XIII.

In the summer of 1583 the new Archbishop of Cashel arrived secretly in Ireland but he was never to reach Cashel as he was recognised and arrested at Slane Castle. He was taken to Dublin Castle where he was imprisoned and repeatedly interrogated by means of torture but he still refused to take the Oath of Supremacy. Archbishop O'Hurley was hanged on Hoggin Green, near St Stephens Green on 20th June 1584 and is buried at St Kevin’s church outside the walls of Dublin.

Early History 1935 - 1977

The Dr O'Hurley Pipe Band was founded in 1935 under the instruction of Mr Denis O’Mahony and played at local engagements with varying numbers of members. During this time the band practiced in premises at Canopy St., Cashel. Not much more is known about the early years of the band, particularly as it lapsed for a prolonged period of time during the 1960’s. However, in 1973 a committee was formed with the remit of re-establishing the band and a successful public meeting took place. On this committee was Mr. James Whelan, the only remaining serving member from that time.

With the band reformed, the committee was advised by local authorities to sell its premises in Canopy St and the Urban District Council would re-house the band at the old gas house building at Gashouse Lane, Cashel (the bands’ current premises). The cost of refurbishing the derelict premises was to be shared between the band, and the Urban District Council. Due to a series of complications the building was not ready for occupation until 1977 and due to further disputes with the Urban District council officials at the time, full ownership of the hall was not secured until the deeds were handed over to the bands ‘solicitors in October 2004. At this time the band commenced a major renovation programme involving various phases of voluntary and grant aided work which completed in 2009. The hall was officially opened on 11th May 2014 and a plaque in honour of the contributions of everybody to get us to this point was unveiled.

1977 - 1991

Since 1977, the band has gone through many different phases. Membership numbers had increased during the 1980’s, as did competition results. This was, in part helped by the disbanding, in 1982, of the neighbouring pipe band in Bansha, Co. Tipperary from which Dr. O’Hurley gained five members. In addition, a training initiative was set up by Pipe Major Larry Flynn in which many local young people were taught to play the pipes.  In its most successful period, the band would go on to compete at the 1985 World Championships and win the best piping at the 1989 All Ireland championships in Grade 4. The band also achieved good results at the local and regional contests in which it  competed annually along with the All-Ireland. At this time the band was receiving instruction from Christy Bromell. A new set of Premier drums were purchased at the time, which are still in use today.

1992-2000

The band was reluctant to be promoted to Grade 3 on the back of its successes. The desire to develop themselves further, meant many of the younger members decided to experience playing at higher levels of piping and moved to other higher achieving bands in Dublin, Limerick and even Australia. Thus the period from the middle of 1990’s to the turn of the century saw a gradual decline in membership, forcing the band to become defunct as a competition entity for a time, playing at only a handful of local engagements and events.

2002-2010

In the autumn of 2001, the band committee and members held a meeting and reformed with the aim to re-establish the band locally and nationally and some of the members who left in the 1990’s returned. New uniforms were bought on the strength of a bank loan. These uniforms and drums are in use also to this day. Drumming instruction was sought from Jim Butler from Limerick and piping instruction was provided by Larry Flynn Jnr, who had returned from Australia for a time. The band competed at the All-Ireland Championships in 2002 at Kilkenny Castle for the first time in 8 years.

Recruitment was still an issue for the band as it was not seen as an attractive option for young people to play the bagpipes. A skeleton band remained to compete at local contests and community events. 

2010-2011

A special effort was made in 2010 to mark the bands 75th anniversary. Uniform was upgraded and the band fielded 18 members on St. Patricks Day. With the help of instructors, some experienced,  newly acquired members and guest players; the band competed at the All-Ireland Championships in Ballina, the European Championships in Belfast and the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow. Yet despite the special efforts, the novelty wore off for many of the same people again and the future of the band looked threatened. It was obvious that some very tough decisions and lots of hard work was needed in order to save the band as it only fielded an embarrassing total of 9 members - 6 pipers and 3 drummers- on St. Patricks Day 2011.

2011- 2013

Following a sparse 2011 competition and parade season the band launched a major recruitment campaign. A recruitment brochure was designed, printed and distributed to 13 local schools in the surrounding area, to be distributed to every 5th and 6th class family home. After a slow start, more and more young people, their siblings, extended family and friends started to join the band. Good quality practice instruments and tutor books were provided by the band and practices became solely focused on training the youth. Instructors felt it very important to expose the newest recruits to all elements of the pipe band world and a plan to teach, perform and travel to compete was drawn up and implemented; all of which was centred on keeping the newest recruits interested in staying in the band.

The success of the plan was unprecedented. More and more young people started to join and wanted to learn. In March 2012 10 pipers and 10 drummers played out on St. Patrick’s Day, more than double the previous years’ figure. This figure continues to rise year after year.

Present

The future is looking bright for Dr. O’Hurley Pipe Band. Practice continues twice weekly with an ever increasing number of young people from the local community receiving instruction in the art of playing bagpipe and drum music for the benefit of themselves, the band and the community as a whole. 

2014 has seen the band win 2 of its 6 contests, finish 2nd in two others, 6th at the All Ireland and participate in our first RSPBA Major Championship in 5 years. Also in 2014, the recruits of 2011 had the honour of winning their first ever drumming prize at the Munster Championship and the bands' pipe corps is currently undefeated in all Irish pipe band contests. 

2015 is looking bright.....