Ray Sloan vividly remembers the day he first heard bagpipes other than the ubiquitous Great Highland Bagpipes. It was in 1964 as an 11 year old at school in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne when his Art Teacher emerged from the store room strapped in to an instrument driven by a flapping arm attached to bellows, that instrument was the Northumbrian Smallpipe. He remembers being absolutely smitten by the sound of the pipes at a time when the Beatles and Rolling Stones were the preferred sound of his generation, little did he know that 16 years later history would repeat itself when Ray himself became an Art Teacher and Piper/Pipemaker. That experience as a young boy never left Ray but it was not until as a young man of 24 that he was financially able to achieve his dream and buy a set of pipes.
It was as a fine maker of Northumbrian Smallpipes that Ray first established himself as a Pipemaker of International repute, but what really changed his life further was his introduction to the traditional music of Ireland played by the likes of ‘The Bothy Band’, ‘Planxty’ and ‘The Chieftains’, more specifically the wonderful and compelling sound of the Uilleann Pipes. After 10 years or so experience in making Smallpipes he embarked upon the next stage of his journey as a Pipemaker and started to make the Irish Uilleann Pipes which Ray now makes for clients around the Globe.
Ray gave up Teaching to become a full-time professional Pipemaker in 1988 and to this day continues to develop his style and design in pursuit of perfection. The importance of his experience and training in Art & Design cannot be underestimated when it comes to making Pipes as his visual skills and attention to detail and design shine through in every aspect of his work. While being uniquely his own the design of his Uilleann Pipes is eclectic and broadly based upon the traditions and styles set by the old masters such as Coyne, kenna, Rowsome and Reid. Ray approaches each set of pipes he makes as completely individual and different in some small way to the previous, which means that you as a client will receive a set of Pipes hand-made for you personally.
Ray lives and works in County Donegal, Ireland
Visit his website at: Ray Sloan