March 31, 2012

James Russell, 1917-2012

James “Jemmy” Russell of Dublin’s Black Raven Pipe Band died on March 2, 2012, at the age of 94, after a short illness.

Jemmy Russell was well regarded in pipe band circles in both Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland. As a relatively late beginner, he joined Black Raven at the age of 21 and had many proud moments with the band including leading the band to winning Grade 3 at the All-Ireland Championships in Lisburn in 1967. Black Raven again won at the All-Ireland in 1976, this time with Jemmy’s son, Michael, as Pipe-Major.

Much later in his life, Jemmy Russell’s proudest moment was in 2004 when Black Raven finished second in Grade 3A at the World Pipe Band Championships, winning the drumming, under the direction of his grandson, Paul. Jemmy Russell was passionate about the Black Ravens, and at one point he had seven sons playing with the band. Win or lose, he was always in great humour and afterwards was always up for a singsong with an attitude that the band would do better the next time.

Jemmy Russell was very active teaching younger members, and served as Pipe-Major, Pipe-Sergeant, Band Secretary, Treasurer, Chairman and, in recent years, Lifetime President. His last official event with Black Raven was at the band’s AGM in late 2011.


On his 90th birthday, he played the pipes with his son Michael and his grandson Paul.  He wanted to play “The Highland Wedding” but had to be persuaded not to for fear of collapse.

Jemmy Russell is survived by his wife Bridget, 12 children, 31 grandchildren, and 25 great-grandchildren. His remains were removed to St. Macullins Church in Lusk, Ireland, on March 4th, with burial in the adjoining cemetery on March 5th.

We extend our sympathies Jemmy Russell’s family and many friends at this sad time.




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