I was eleven years old when I lost my sight from cold, and I was brought up to the musical profession, and practised it several years in Ireland, of which country I am a native. I was a man of private property,— small property—and only played occasionally
at the gentle-people"s places; and then more as a guest—yes, more indeed than professionally. In 1838 I married, and began to give concerts regularly; I was the performer, and played only on the union pipes at my concerts. I"m acknowledged to be the best performer in the world, even by my own craft,— excuse what seems self-praise. The union pipes are the old Irish pipes improved. In former times there was no chromatic scale; now we have eight keys to the chanter, which produce the chromatic scale as on the flute, and so the pipes are improved in the melody, and more particularly in the harmony. We have had fine performers of old. I may mention Caroll O"Daly, who flourished in the 15th century, and was the composer of the air that the Scotch want to steal from us, "Robin Adair," which is "Alleen ma ruen," or "Ellen, my dear." My concerts in Ireland answered very well indeed, but the famine reduced me so much that I was fain to get to England with my family, wife and four children; and in this visit I have been disappointed, completely so. Now I"m reduced to play in the streets, and make very little by it. I may average 15s. in the week in summer, and not half that in winter. There are many of my countrymen now in England playing the pipes, but I don"t know one respectable enough to associate with; so I keep to myself, and so I cannot tell how many there are.