Most organ’s have 16ft, 8ft, 4ft and 2ft stops, while some larger organs have 32ft stops and others. These various “sounds” mean that whilst holding down one key on the console, the organist can play the same note, but at various complimentary pitches, or octaves higher and lower.
In Monkstown, the Piccolo was the only 2ft stop.
In March 2012, a new organ tuner from Clonakilty, Padraig O’Donovan came to fix a sticking middle C. Immediately upon playing the organ, he asked why the Piccolo had been disconnected. I of course had to answer that the pipes were in bad condition, damaged and warped over the last 140 years. Upon inspection, he was fascinated as to why a lot of the Piccolo pipes were made of wood. Being such a small pipe (max 2ft) the Piccolo pipes should be made from metal, as they are so sensitive to climatic conditions. As some stage in the organ’s history, it appears that some of the original metal pipes were replaced with wooden ones. A very short term solution which is often the way with country parish church organs! Padraig then asked why didn’t we get a new set of pipes, to which I had to reply “money”! He told me that he could source a new set of pipes for about €140. I was astonished how inexpensively a new dimension could be restored to our lovely organ.
Happily, a set of 2ft Harmonic Piccolo pipes have now been found in Belfast. Once the wind pressure of the organ has been checked, each individual new pipe will then be tuned in situ. It is hoped to have the full compass of pipes back in place before the 180th Anniversary Service in St John’s on 29th July.
Roger Ellis, April 2012.