Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler loved Irish folk music, and historical photographs reveal that famous Irish musician Sean Dempsey played for him in 1936.
Dempsey, an uileann piper, was invited to play for Hitler and propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels during a visit to Berlin in 1936 after being told that Hitler was an Irish folk music fan.
When he arrived to play, however, there was no room for him to sit, which he needed to do to play, and it looked like it would be canceled.
However, Hitler jumped up and demanded that an S.S. member get down on his hands and knees and that Dempsey sit astride him while he played.
Dempsey played what was described as a “haunting air” as Hitler listened with rapt attention. After he performed, Hitler presented him with a gold fountain pen while Goebbels clapped wildly.
The bizarre scene was revealed for the first time in a 2010 exhibition of Irish photographs from that era called “Ceol na Cathra.” The exhibition opened in Dublin and was collected by legendary fiddle player Mick O’Connor.
Also in the exhibit were rare photographs from the early days of The Chieftains and Sean O’Riada, the father of modern Irish folk music.