July 02, 2024

Ronnie McShannon opts for the easy, dreamy life after 27 years making Ezeedrone reeds

Ronnie McShannon (left) and Finaly Johnston after the 2019 Glenfiddich Solo Piping Championships.

After co-founding Pipe Dreams with Tommy Johnston in 1997, Ronnie McShannon is retiring from making Ezeedrone reeds, effective at the end of this month.

The company’s new leadership team is elite solo piper Finlay Johnston, who has worked with the organization for several years, and Major Gordon Rowan, MBE, who joins the company after retiring as director of the Army School of Bagpipe Music & Highland Drumming.

McShannon and Tommy Johnston, who passed away in 2020, developed Ezeedrone drone reeds by combining McShannon’s piping smarts with Johnston’s engineering skills. They rapidly gained traction in the world of piping as one of the most popular synthetic drone reeds on the market.

A 2022 pipes|drums survey showed that Ezeedrone reeds are the most preferred among bands at the top level.

McShannon and Johnston, a snare drummer, became friends after playing in the Grade 1 British Caledonian Airways, Power of Scotland and ScottishPower bands.

“Tommy’s comprehensive engineering skills and knowledge were instrumental in developing the Ezeedrone reeds and with Ronnie’s reputation for setting up pipes and producing a first-class sound, they became the ideal partnership,” the company said in a statement.

Early Pipe Dreams employees (L-R): Tommy Johnston, Ronnie McShannon, Niall Stewart and Ian Munro.

Known for his keen ear for bagpipe sound, which translated into serving as pipe-sergeant under Pipe-Major Harry McNulty for many years, McShannon was one of the world’s most accomplished competitive solo pipers. He won the Bratach Gorm for piobaireachd among many top awards at the Piping Society of London’s annual competitions. He competed several times at the Glenfiddich Championships and is currently an in-demand judge for solo and pipe band competitions.

“Pipe Dreams would never have existed had it not been for my dear friend and original business partner, the late Tommy Johnston who was, unfortunately, taken from us far too soon in July 2020,” McShannon said. “We had a blast setting up and growing the business together for over 20 years and my thanks are due to Tommy for his skills, friendship and support throughout that time.”

McShannon thanked all who have worked with Pipe Dreams and added, “Thanks are also due to our customers for their patronage over the years. Without their loyalty and support, we could not have made Pipe Dreams the success it has become.”

Finlay Johnston is one of the world’s greatest solo pipers, having won the Highland Society of London’s Gold Medals and two Glenfiddich Championships.

“While we will miss Ronnie as he steps back from the running of the business, I’m delighted to be moving forward with Gordon Rowan,” Johnston said. “His fantastic career in the army speaks for itself and he brings with him a wealth of experience. He also shares the same professionalism and integrity we are used to with Ronnie. He is from Tiree and we were both taught the pipes by my grandfather, Alasdair Sinclair. I’ve known Gordon my whole life, so in many ways it feels very fitting he is coming on board.”

Rowan had a distinguished 36-year military career, rising to the rank of major and being made a Member of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.

“I look forward to continue building the company that Ronnie McShannon and the late Tommy Johnston launched over 27 years ago,” Rowan said. “They have undoubtably made a major contribution to piping, supporting pipers around the world with quality bagpipe reeds. Working alongside Finlay connects me back to my upbringing and tutor, the late Alasdair Sinclair of Greenhill on the Isle of Tiree, who was also Finlay’s grandfather.”






Forgotten Password?