Posted in Posts and podcasts

More power to your elbow – 1922

Uilleann pipes - practice set Wikimedia commona
Uilleann pipes – practice set
Wikimedia commona
Dear Sir,
Quite recently you used the phrase “more power to your elbow.” I wondered did you know the origin of it?
There were ten musical instruments in use among the ancient irish. Of these there were two kinds of bagpipes. The piob mor, or war pipes, referred to in the Brehon Laws of the fifth century, and the Uileann pipes, Shakespeare called them “woolen” which came into general vogue about the year 1760. They were called Uilleann because they were worked by the elbow, hence giving rise to the phrase you used, “more power to your elbow.”
Cathal O’Byrne