Traditional uilleann pipes

There are some things that Ireland will never have a short supply of, such as rain, "grand soft days" and Guinness.

But this week the country learned something truly shocking: Ireland is real danger of losing the craft of uilleann pipe making, if it does not invest more in training the craft to potential pipe makers.

Like the harp, the uilleann pipe is almost a symbol of Irishness itself. Capable of producing plaintive sounds that can melt the hardest heard from one thousand yards, it's moving notes have been heard in films as various as Titanic and Lord of the Rings.

But the Irish government this week has heard that there are just 20 pipe makers still working in Ireland today, meaning that nowadays players have to wait up to seven years to get their hands on one of the increasingly precious instruments.

Ironically, whilst interest in playing the uilleann pipes has attracted a whole new generation of potential players, diminishing supply of the pipes has impacted the number of opportunities to take it up.

The history of the bagpipes in Ireland is said to date back to at least the 11 century, and uilleann pipes are believed to have emerged there in the 18 century.

This week the goverment heard that demand for the pipes is so great there is now a backlog valued at 7 million euro. If the government invests in new training for pipe makers this could be a money spinning solution, the report suggests.