Liam O’Flynn – arguably the greatest ambassador for the uilleann pipes over the past 40 years through his many appearances with orchestras (in the works of Shaun Davey) and on film soundtracks, guest appearances (even a Led Zeppelin tribute album with the guy from Killing Joke), concert stages, broadcasts and Planxty revivals – has died.
Mild-mannered, softly-spoken, he could be a good laugh in conversation and enigmatic in his own way. I interviewed him in the 90s for a profile and had a few conversations on the phone with him during my work on ‘The Wheels of the World: 300 Years of Irish Uillean Pipers’ in 2015. He never quite decided if he wanted to be interviewed for it – I have a feeling he thought the subject too vast, or maybe too vast for me. But if so, he was too gentlemanly to say so. Eventually, he said, ‘Send me some questions in an email’. I mentioned this a while later to Andy Irvine, his former colleague in Planxty, who smiled and said, Well, good luck with that!’ Liam was rarely a man to use email. And he never did with me! Let’s raise a toast to one of the greats.
‘A Walk In The Ocean’ – one of his great performances on music by Shaun Davey: