Danny “Duis” McCarthy died aged 87 in 1983. Nobody knew the bagpipes’ whereabouts until Aidan McCarthy, 22, found them in a wooden box while doing renovations at the band’s Cork Hill headquarters with his cousin Michael.
Aidan says the box had “unknowingly been stored away in a large old cupboard in the drummers’ room”. Some tassels and braiding suggested its ownership, which was confirmed by Danny’s name in fading letters on the bag.
The pipes, made of African black wood and cow leather, are in excellent condition.
“The mouthpiece is strikingly unique,” says Aidan’s uncle Kieran McCarthy, a grandson of Danny. “It is moulded over time and usage to create a perfect fit.”
Danny founded the band as a teenager in 1914 after befriending British soldiers in their garrison barracks, where some of the band’s first equipment was sourced.
He would improvise repairs, with matches for reeds, and even car wheel tubes for bags. Early kilts were made from dyed flour sacks.
The band became a Youghal institution, generations of the McCarthy family dominating its ranks.
A monument to Danny stands near Youghal’s Clock Gate in recognition of the band’s contribution to the town. Kieran says he “took ill during the 1983 St Patrick’s Day parade and agreed with his family that it was time to retire”.
Danny played the pipes one last time as he and the band paraded to the town hall for a Youghal UDC civic reception on his behalf. “He never played again, not even for practice”, Kieran said.
His bagpipes were misplaced but, after 34 years, they will be “put on permanent display in a glass case in the band room”, says Kieran.