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Seamus Ennis


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In 1908 James Ennis, Séamus’s father, bought a bag of small pieces of Uilleann pipes in a London pawn shop. They were made in the early nineteenth century by Coyne of Thomas Street in Dublin. James worked as a civil servant in Naul, Co Dublin. In 1912 he came first at the Oireachtas competition for warpipes, second at Uilleann pipes. He was also a prize-winning dancer. He married Mary McCabe in 1916. They had six children, including Séamus, who was born on May 5th 1919 in Jamestown in Finglas, North County Dublin. James Ennis was a member of the Fingal trio, which included Frank O’Higgins (fiddle) and John Cawley (flute). They performed on the radio. At the age of thirteen, Séamus started receiving lessons on the pipes from his father. He attended the all-Irish schools at Scoil Cholm Cille and Colaiste Mhuire, which gave him a knowledge of the Irish language as well as English. He sat an exam to become Employment Exchange clerk but was too far down the list to be offered a job. He was twenty and unemployed.

Three Candles Press

Colm Ó Lochlainn was editor of “Irish Street Ballads” and a friend of the Ennis family. In 1938 Séamus confided in Colm that he intended to move to England to join the British Army. Colm immediately offered him a job at The Three Candles Press. There Séamus learned all aspects of the printing trade.

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