Generation 3 – Sam, Leo & Tom

Sam Rowsome Jr. (1895 – 1955*)

Murder will out, and so will music, and, though the days of fostering patronage and encouraging recognition are past, the divine art, whether begotten of nature’s whim, or vitalized as a manifestation of the laws of heredity, may be relied on to find some outlet for expression, but it will be noticed that environment and opportunity have much to do with determining the favored instrument.

To maintain the traditions of his family, what else could this promising scion be but an Irish piper, his father, and grandfather, before him having been worthy representatives of the class? Had they been fiddlers, no doubt he would have followed in their footsteps. Still we must rejoice in his choice, for, while we are likely to have with us always raspers, fiddlers, and even violinists, we cannot but regret that performers on the Union or Irish pipes-the real national instrument of the people-are declining in numbers year by year and may eventually become extinct, like the harpers, their predecessors.

This young musical aspirant, on whom will depend to a considerable degree the preservation of his art, is the eldest son of William Rowsome, piper and pipemaker of Harold’s Cross, Dublin, and grandson of Samuel Rowsome of Ballintore, Wexford, elsewhere mentioned.

Born September 25, 1895, he commenced his musical practice under his father’s tuition when but twelve years of age. Such was his proficiency on both chanter and regulators that he won many prizes, and had been highly commended for taste and style by the best judges of pipe music, though but a boy of only sixteen birthdays.

If appearance counts for anything, we are justified in assuming that the future has no small distinction in store for him.

The instrument on which he is represented as playing in the picture was manufactured by his father, and is of full tone and concert pitch, blending harmoniously with violin and piano.

Other references to Sam Rowsome Jr. in “Irish Minstrels and Musicians” by Captain Francis O’Neill.

George Carroll

A machinist and engineer by occupation, George Carroll is said to be a versatile musician also, his favorite instrument, upon which he is a fine performer, being the Union bagpipes. With his brother Denis, who is an expert on the fiddle, he devotes much of his spare hours to the practice of music. The most tempting offers to play in public have been steadfastly declined. To most pipers, the inducement of a five-pound note for one performance would be irresistible. Not so with George Carroll, for a theatrical manager who made the proposition had no better success.

One day in the autumn of 1911, while engaged “threshing out the barley” for Mr. Fernando Murphy, Fincurry House, Ballycarney, he spied a fine set of pipes made by William Rowsome of Dublin. When he had planted the machinery to his satisfaction, he left the engine in charge of his assistants, and going into the house hitched on the pipes, and, with O’Neill’s Music of Ireland open in front of him, played for hours uninterruptedly.

This amateur piper’s proudest boast is that he rode upon a “boneshaker” solid-tire bicycle from Kilrush—his home—to Ballintore, County Wexford, a journey of six miles, at frequent intervals for a period extending over half a dozen years, to receive instructions on the Union pipes from Mr. Samuel Rowsome.

Born in 1868, George Carroll is a piper of the transition period—that is to say, the period between the decline and revival of piping—and, though good-natured and genial like most men of ponderous build, his placid features betray less pleasant emotions when he thinks of the decline into which Irish music and Irish national instruments had fallen.

Leo Rowsome (1903 – 1970)

This is the only known recorded interview with Leo Rowsome. He talks about the Rowsome Tradition, playing pipes with his grandfather and how grateful he is to his father for teaching him everything and how proud of it he is to carry it on.

This is a recording of Leo launching the Piper’s Club “Na Piobairi Uilleann – NPU” in Bettystown, Co Meath in 1968. Initially I was told that Sean Reid from Ennis was speaking at the beginning, but learned afterwards that it was in fact Pat McNulty, hence the corrected sentence in the heading.

Tom Rowsome  (1905 – 1974*)


* exact date to be verified