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Uilleann piper Tom Ennis (1888–1931) came to New York from Chicago, where his father, the piper John Ennis, had been a police officer and a major contributor to the famous Irish music collections of Francis O’Neill. Tom became a vaudeville entertainer, a profession interrupted by service in World War I, during which he is said to have been injured in a poison gas attack. Following the war, he returned briefly to life on tour but in 1920 settled in New York City, opened a music shop at 15 Columbus Avenue, and was joined by his father.

In 1923 Tom Ennis turned the music shop over to the famed step dancer Tommy Hill and set himself up as a saloon keeper, not far away at 446 West 54th Street. He first called his place “Ennis’ Pleasant Hour,” in tribute to Thomas Kerrigan’s famed establishment, and later “Celtic Hall.” Tom Ennis returned to Chicago and died young at the age of 41. His recordings, including many duets with fiddler James Morrison, vary in quality, but at his best (as on the selection “The Sligo Maid/The Fermoy Lasses”), his playing could be brilliantly entertaining.

  • The Sligo maid [The swallow's tail], reel ; The maid behind the bar, reel ; The Fermoy lasses, reel / Tom Ennis, uilleann pipes

  • Cork hornpipe ; The first of May, hornpipe / Tom Ennis, uilleann pipes ; unidentified, acc.

  • Freize britches, jig / Tom Ennis, uilleann pipes ; Johnny Muller, piano

  • My dear Irish boy, air / Tom Ennis, uilleann pipes ; Johnny Muller, piano

Tom Ennis / Unidentified photographer