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Patsy Touhey

Patrick (Patsy) Touhey
Uilleann Piper

Known as the King of the Pipers, Patsy Touhey was a master uilleann piper who represented Irish music in late 19th century America.  He was one of the first Irish musicians to record his music.

At age three, his family emigrated from Loughrea, County Galway to South Boston.  He began music lessons with Bartley Murphy, a Mayo-born piper.  Patsy moved to New York as a teenager, and in the 1880s toured with George M. Cohan's Irish Hibernicon, doing one-night stands along the East Coast.

A left handed piper, Patsy was renowned for his dexterity and imagination.  In 1893, he represented Ireland at the World Fair in Chicago, and at the St. Louis Expo in 1903 before returning to New York.  There he formed a vaudeville act with his wife, dancer Mary Gillen, and comedian Charles Henry Burke.  They used the Hibernicon format of witty sketches, physical comedy and Irish music and dancing.

Touhey died on January 10, 1923, and is buried at St. Raymond's Cemetery.  The Irish World obituary notes,  "An extraordinarily gifted musician, Patrick Touhey was not given to boastfulness or self-exploitation, but on the contrary, was genial and generous, the soul of kindliness and modesty."


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