Music

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The St Laurence O’Toole Pipers’ Band at Bodenstown in 1913. The hatless figure on the left is Seán O’Casey, secretary of the Wolfe Tone Memorial Committee that year. (An Phoblacht

The St Laurence O’Toole Pipers’ Band at Bodenstown in 1913. The hatless figure on the left is Seán O’Casey, secretary of the Wolfe Tone Memorial Committee that year. (An Phoblacht

Another recreational aspect was music. The Wolfe Tone Band that travelled out from Dublin in 1873 was accompanied to Bodenstown in the following year by three other Dublin bands. In 1876 the Islandbridge Fife and Drum Band and the James’ Street Brass Band were present. In 1880 it was reported that, to terminate the proceedings, the Martyrs’ Band (which had organised the pilgrimage) ‘played “God save Ireland”, the bandsmen singing the chorus’. All these Dublin bands travelled conveniently by train. When the pilgrimages were revived in 1891 the Naas Labour Union Fife and Drum Band performed ‘a selection of appropriate airs during the day’; it returned next year. From then on there was a mixture of Dublin and local bands: in 1897, for example, the Irish Volunteers, Britain Street; Barrack Street Fife and Drum Band; the Celbridge Fife and Drum Band; the Straffan Fife and Drum Band; the Crumlin Independent Band; and again the Naas Fife and Drum Band. Every village round and about Bodenstown seemingly had a band that at one time or another took part in a pilgrimage. The various bands became an important element in public enjoyment of the commemorations. In 1912, for the first time, the St Laurence O’Toole Pipers’ Band headed the procession from Sallins; it was, like the Citizen Army Band and the Fianna Pipers’ Band which played in 1915, politically aligned and well suited to the increasingly militarist ethos of Bodenstown pilgrimages. What the bands offered over the years was opportunities for Dubliners to enjoy the music of familiar and unfamiliar bands in a rural setting, and for country people to enjoy—at no expense to themselves—the music of a wide variety of bands, some of them from Dublin.

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