The Percy French Piano

This Bechstein piano was bought by Percy French (1854-1920), and later gifted by him to his daughter Mollie on her 21st birthday in 1917. Mollie went on to become a popular pianist in London.

Acknowledged as one of Ireland’s greatest songwriters, Percy French composed some of the island’s most popular songs, including perennials such as Phil the Fluter’s Ball, Slattery’s Mounted Fut and Are Ye Right There, Michael? He entertained crowded audiences across Britain and around the world, including America, Canada and the West Indies, to great acclaim. And the songs are still sung at annual festivals across Ireland.

The piano, donated by Courtney Kenny, is currently a feature in Bangor Castle’s North Down Museum (N. Ireland), which holds a wide selection of Percy French memorabilia relating to his life as a poet, songwriter, watercolourist and entertainer.

The collection which also includes diaries, letters and paintings, is held in joint management with the Percy French Society.

When I visited the museum recently, it was truly an experience to touch the piano where so many great songs were composed. Well worth a visit to see this exhibition, and the many other displays in the museum.

W.L.