CLASP profile: Anthony Kelly

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Anthony Kelly from Ireland is the latest member of the Competition League for Amateur Solo Pipers (CLASP) to be profiled:

• Where are you from and how did you get into piping?
I’m, originally from Dublin but now living in Roscommon ireland with my wife, Nicola, son Gavin and two daughters, Erinn and Abigail. I got into piping from being in the military and when I was serving overseas in Lebanon. It was a Christmas dinner when I first heard the pipes. The uniform, the sound … that’s when I said, “Yep, I want to do that.” On returning from overseas I applied for the next piping course in 2000 and I havent looked back since.

• How has the pandemic affected your piping personally?
If anything I havent stopped. With the online compititons and some piping engagements in work I’ve been quite busy.

What’s your most memorable performance you’ve taken part in, either band or solo?
I’ve done so many things over the years but the one that’s stands out was playing a lament at JFK’s graveside in Arlington Cemetry in Pennsylvania, USA. The eternal flame was to burn in New Ross, Co. Wexford as a commeration to JFK’s visit to Ireland in June 1963. I was very proud of that.

Anthony at JFK’s graveside.

What’s your most memorable performance you’ve heard – band or soloist?
SFU’s winning medley at the Worlds in 2008. It’s a cracking medley!

Who has been the biggest influence on your piping?
I’ve played with a few bands and on an SQA course and each Pipe Major and instructor has a different way of teaching. They have all given me knowledge I’ll never forget. But the biggest inlfuence would be Mrs Kelly. She had to deal with it all.

How do you relax and do you have other interests or hobbies? 
Love golf, fitness and eating … where can you go wrong?

Have you taken part in any show, concerts or recitals this year?
A few remote concerts and commerations, nothing too fancy. With the pandemic most of our yearly enagements have been cancelled.

Was piping something you wanted to do from an early age?
No. I was very late in my life in a piping sense. I was 24 when I started. I played tin whistle and recorder in school. Strangely, music was not much on my agenda and I wish it had been. Piping has served me well over the years, especially in the defence forces.

Favourite piobaireachd?           
There’s three I love to play: MacFarlane’s Gathering, Massacre of Glencoe and Tulloch Ard. But Murray Henderson’s Lord Lovat’s Lament with The Big Music Society … epic!

Leading out the teams at the Dublin Horse Show.

• Any humorous piping anecdote you can relate to the readers (keep it clean!)?
One year doing the Aga Kahn Trophy in the Dublin Horse Show (a very famous horse show jumping contest) it was the winners’ victory lap and that year we had been fitted for new kilts. Mine was a bit big at the time and just as we started to march around the arena I felt my kilt feeling a bit low off  the knees and panic ensued. Quickly, I had to switch from the outside to the centre and grabbed my kilt before a national disaster happened. Being in the second column at the front, the whole band had a good chuckle, well, more a fit of laughter, at my expense. I, too saw the funny side.

Thank you, Anthony!