A Celebration of Achill’s Pipe Bands

Scoil Acla is delighted to share some clips from the wonderful concert that took place in Óstán Oileán Acla in April 2023 which celebrated over 75 years of Achill Piping and Drumming and honoured the characters involved in forging and sustaining our unique tradition to this day. 

Renowned piper Terry Tully, former Pipe Major of St.Laurence O’Toole Pipe Band, was commissioned by Scoil Acla to compose a special suite of music to honour this tradition. You may download the sheet music and learn one or all of the four pieces of music contained within this special suite.

Hugh Connaghan’s March

During the 1940’s a major transformation occurred in the type of music heard on the island. Due to the trend of emigration to Scotland, Achill and Donegal people became extremely close, thus relationships blossomed and Mary Carr of Pollagh, and Hughie Connaghan of Aranmore Island in Donegal, married and moved to Achill in 1945.

Hughie had been a member of the pipe band in Aranmore and suggested to the people that it could be possible to set up a pipe band in Achill.

So after St. Patrick’s Day 1945, Dooagh and Keel began practicing simultaneously, both taught by Hughie.

John ‘Twin’ of Dooagh

John (Twin) McNamara taught in Dooagh NS during the 1960s right up to the early 2000s. In the early days, he secured funding from Mayo VEC and this enabled Mick Fadian to teach traditional Irish music in the schools throughout the parish of Achill.

John and his wife Mary established the first National School band in Achill in 1966 to provide a steady stream of pipers and drummers to the village pipe bands. They were both also instrumental in the re-establishment of Scoil Acla in 1985.

This tune honours the contribution John has made to traditional music and the pipe band tradition in Achill over many years.


Pauric Carr was steeped in Achill’s Pipe Band Tradition. His aunt, Mary Carr, was married to Hughie Connaghan and his father, Michael Carr was a founding member of Keel Pipe Band. Pauric was also pipe major of Dookinella Pipe Band for many years.

However, it was his time spent in Dublin where he attended college and worked for many years which was to have a huge impact on Achill’s Pipe Band tradition. While in Dublin he became involved with the St Laurence O’Toole Pipe Band and was a great friend of Terry Tully. He introduced many of the members to Achill and set up connections which continue to this day.

It is a wonderful tribute by Terry to his dear friend to name his hornpipe composition – “Pauric Carr of Dugort”

Aítín aoibhinn

“Áitín Aoibhinn” translates as the delightful little place and is located at theend of Dookinella Village overlooking Trá Mór.

There is a stunning view of the bay stretching from the majestic Minaun Cliffs to the busy village of Keel. It is a place to marvel at the beauty of creation and soothe the soul.

This beautiful slow air composed by Terry, honours the unique landscape of Achill and his connection to the place and its people.