Uilleann Pipemaker, Ray Sloan
“I vividly remember the day I first heard bagpipes – other than the ubiquitous Great Highland Bagpipes. It was in 1964 as an 11 year old at school in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the NE of England when my Art Teacher emerged from the store room strapped-in to an instrument driven by a flapping arm attached to bellows, that instrument was the Northumbrian Smallpipe. I remember being absolutely smitten by the sound of the pipes at a time when the Beatles and Rolling Stones were the preferred sound of my generation, little did I know that 16 years later history would repeat itself when I myself became an Art Teacher and later a Piper/Pipemaker. That experience as a young boy never left me but it was not until as a young man of 24 that I was financially able to achieve my dream and buy a set of pipes – thanks to a tax rebate !
It was as a maker of Northumbrian Smallpipes that I first established myself as a Pipemaker sending pipes to many International destinations. But what really changed my life further was an introduction to the traditional music of Ireland played by the likes of “The Bothy Band”, “Planxty” and “The Chieftains” in the 70’s. More specifically the wonderful and compelling sound of the Uilleann Pipes. After 10 years or so experience in making Smallpipes I embarked upon the next stage of my journey as a Pipemaker and started to make the Irish Uilleann Pipes which, I now make for clients around the Globe.
I started making pipes in 1980 at the same time as I became an Art Teacher. I gave up Teaching to pursue my passion in piping/pipemaking and became a full-time professional Pipemaker in 1988. To this day I continue to develop my style and design in pursuit of ‘perfection’ and so no two sets are the same. The importance of my experience and training in Art & Design cannot be underestimated when it comes to making Pipes as visual skills and attention to detail and design are applied to every aspect of my work. I like to feel that my pipes and their design is uniquely my own but in fact their design is also eclectic and broadly based upon the traditions and styles set by the old masters such as Coyne, Kenna, Rowsome and Reid all of whom have influenced me in some way. I approach each set of pipes I make as completely individual and different in some small way to the previous, which means that you as a client will receive a set of Pipes hand-made for you personally.