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How It All Started... 1885-1969  1970-Present

1885

Francis McPeake I was born on 5th May 1885 in 2 Springview St, Belfast. Ireland

 

1904

Francis McPeake I starts being tutored on the Uilleann pipes by blind piper John O'Reilly. He begins to sing with the pipes.

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As a young boy Francis I witnessed an Uilleann Piper playing which made an indelible mark on him, and he began a quest to discover what this 'weird and wonderful' instrument was.
 

 

McPeake Family, Wild Mountain Thyme, Will ye go lassie go

1953

Francis I and II perform to a packed house at the Royal Albert Hall

 

1954

James Joins Francis 1 & 2 and the duet becomes a trio - The beginning of the band

 

1956

Francis III starts playing the pipes - Francis III learns the Uilleann pipes

 

1956

The trio tour Russia

 

1959

The trio release their first album - "The McPeake Family of Belfast" for Prestige International

Francis Joseph Bigger, the historian, around the turn of the century, introduced him to the Uilleann Pipes and arranged tutorage by blind Uilleann Piper, John O'Reilly from Dunmore, Co. Galway. Francis Joseph Bigger presented Francis I a set of R.L. O'Mealy Uilleann Pipes, in the key of C. John came to Belfast and spent six months with the young Francis educating him in the Uilleann Pipes.


One day during a lesson, Francis began to sing WITH the pipes! John O'Reilly couldn't believe this as it was totally unheard of for someone to do this, as playing the pipes alone was difficult enough! This is still unheard of for a piper to play and sing with the pipes simultaneously! The tutorage was finished and John went back to Galway.

 

1912

Francis I wins the junior section of the Oireachtas.

 

1917

Francis McPeake II, on 20th January 1917, is born  

 

1937

Francis II begins playing the Uilleann Pipes

 

1942

Francis III, is born 30th April

 

1948

Francis I pens "Will Ye Go Lassie Go"


Also known as 'Wild Mountain Thyme', 'Blooming Heather', and 'Purple Heather', it was between 1948 and 1950 that the song was written.

The melody was composed around the uilleann pipes. The verses and chorus were centered around the life of Francis I; the third verse begins "if my true love she were gone, I would truly find another" - this refers to the death of his first wife Mary and how he felt he would never love again.

In time, he did find another love in Alice. He told the story through the lyrics: "if my true love she were gone, I would truly find another". He was trying not to be callous, but trying to explain the wonderment of life; how he wasn't expecting to find love again - but did!

 

1962

Francis III, Kathleen and Tommy join the trio and make it "The McPeake Family"

 

1962

The McPeake Family are recorded by Pete Seegar during his World Tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1963

The McPeake Family record their 1st album - "The McPeake Family" for Topic Records

 

1964

The McPeake Family record their 2nd album - "Irish Folk! The McPeake Family" for Fontana Records (TL5214)

 

1965

The McPeake Family record their 3rd album - "At Home With The McPeakes" for Fontana Records (TL5258)

The McPeake Family record their 4th album - "Introducing the McPeake Family" for Fontana Records (MGF 27536)

 

1965

The McPeake Family tour the USA. During this tour, they befriended and collaborated with Joan Baez, Julie Collins, Bob Dylan, Pete Seegar, Doc Watson and many more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1967

The McPeake Family record their 5th album - "Pleasant and Delightful" for Philips Records (6856 017)

 

1968

The McPeake Family are smuggled to the Beatles as a surprise! - McPeake Family Perform for The Beatles.

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The McPeakes were asked to perform for the Beatles as a surprise present to them at the "Magical Mystery Tour" party in London.

When they finished performing, John Lennon requests tutorage of the Uilleann Pipes from Francis. They agree and meet for lessons.

An Coolin - Recorded by Pete Seeger

Will Ye Go Lassie Go - Recorded by Pete Seeger

Wild Mountain Thyme -Bob Dylan & Joan Baez