This blog is dedicated to the sublime instruments called nose flutes and which produce the most divine sound ever. We have chosen to discard all the native models from S. Pacific and Asia, for they need fingering to be played. We'll concentrate on "buccal cavity driven" nose flutes : the well patented and trademarked metal or plastic ones, plus, by a condemnable indulgence, some wooden craft or home-made productions.

Aug 15, 2014

Tim Flood inducted in the NFoF!

Mr. Tim Flood passed away on 3rd of July, and many people are plunged into mourning. Indeed, Timothy Flood had several lives, and many people knew him through the different facets of his gifted personality.

Tim Flood (8 January 1927 – 3 July 2014) was an Irish celebrity. He was famous for having been six times an Irish National Champion of Hurling, a typical Irish sport, kind of a Gaelic field Hockey.

Flood first excelled at hurling in his youth. He arrived on the inter-county scene at the age of twenty two when he first linked up with the Wexford senior team. He made his senior debut in the 1947-48 National Hurling League. Flood went on to play a key part for Limerick during a golden age for the team, and won three All-Ireland medals, six Leinster medals and two National Hurling League medals.[2] He was an All-Ireland runner-up on three occasions. Wikipedia.

Besides his successful sportive carreer, Tim was a musician, and particularly a tenor banjo player (you can hear him playing with his son in this video)

Tim Flood played music all his life and was the mainstay of the well known Castleboro Céili Band. He, along with Larry Harrington, Larry Joyce, Bill Simpson, Jack Nolan, Noel and Ramie (Buzzer) Ryan and Paddy Joyce and later with Jim Murphy, Knoxtown kept the flag flying for Irish Music in our parish and outside it. He played and competed at all the fleadh ceoils around the country and sometimes adjudicated at competitions all over Wexford and beyond. Cloughbawngaa.

But what does interest us here, is Tim Flood's third career. Indeed, after his retirement, Tim became again a multiple champion in ... sheepdog trials! Tim was one of those handlers who use a nose flute as a shepherd tool.

Since his retirement from hurling Tim has been heavily involved in sheepdog trials, and he has represented Cloughbawn, Wexford, Leinster & Ireland on numerous occasions, on TV shows such as 'One Man And His Dog' and has travelled the world in his interest in this discipline. Cloughbawngaa.

In his book "One Man's Way... The Interviews" (WSN publications - York, UK, 2006), Austin Bennett interviews famous sheepdog handlers, and notably Tim Flood. In the excerpt below, we learn that the instrument was made by late Owen Humphreys, Talysarn, Wales.
(You can get the book here :

And, for our biggest pleasure, several pictures showing Mr. Flood with his nose whistle hanging around the neck (please notice on the last picture, that his left neighbour also carries a nose whistle around the neck).

Copyrighted pictures by Austin Bennett and Barbara Collins (no infringement intended):
It is very difficult to see the details of this nose flute on the pictures. However, I found a precious footage in which the instrument is closely shown. The interviewer, John Jude Doyle was the local pub owner.

As you can see, the nose flute - full brass - is from "Humanatone type", but has a huge air hole in the nose shield and has a flat mouth shield (no bending there). It is difficult to be affirmative, but it also looks like having a double wall nose shield, (as on Bernard Visser's vintage flute)

I also found an interesting RTÉ radio program (Farmweek - July 27, 2007). In the first part, Tim Flood mostly talks about his dogs, but from 3'23 till the end, we can hear the "herding nose flute" and From 4'46 until the end, Tim deals about the nose flute itself:

May Mr. Timothy Flood rest in peace.


For having used and promoted the nose flute as a herding tool, Tim Flood is inducted to the Nose Flute Hall of Fame, in the "Promoters" section!


  1. Superb article! Great footage! Fantastic addition to the instrument's history. What a character and such a truly gifted man!

    It strikes me that Mr Flood's brass nose flute was rather coarsely made, not at all as handsomely or well-made as the one from the previous post! It produces a rather shrill sound, very similar to the standard shepherd whistle.

    "Hard to make and hard to get" is what Tim Flood calls his brass nose flute. Interestingly, he mentions that another 5 or 6 shepherds used the same whistle at the time.

    Certainly, we learn here that the nose flute was/is the perfect replacement for the old-fashioned way of whistling on your fingers, if you couldn't do that. It totally makes sense. I wonder how Mr Flood would shed and pen his sheep though, possibly by using his voice then.

    What I also find particularly interesting from the sound excerpt, is that Mr Flood played his nose flute in 4 to 5 different ways, one for each of his dogs!

    1. I wonder what it looks like to have a rope and a nose flute to the mouth at the same time...

    2. Thank you Maikel! Once again, I "missed" Mr. Flood by a short time, like I did with Mr. Lohse.

  2. The nose flute seems like it can be very good as a sheep dog whistle, easier to play than the traditional shepherds whistle or using fingers, and as good or better at obtaining a variety of tones. I see no problem with using a hand to hold the whistle while signaling, as the hand is also occupied when using fingers in the mouth.

    The advantage of the shepherds whistle is that it is easy to make, I have made a bunch. But if you search around the web you will see how much trouble people have to learn how to play it.

    1. Yep, the shepherd whistle needs some learning to be played. And when done, it is really not usable for music (the samples/videos we know provide a very weak musical qualities)

  3. Yes, I agree that the nose flute must be easier to play with and obtain a whole variety of notes than ordinary whistling, whistling on fingers, and probably also whistling on the Vögli and the shepherd's whistle.

    I wouldn't know how to play the shepherd's whistle, as I never tried it, Indeed, it does seem quite a lot of people can't even get a sound out of it or find it very tricky! I hadn't heard of anyone using the nose flute for commanding sheep, but I certainly haven't heard of anyone using it these days. I reckon the standard of shepherd's whistles has gone up?

    I think the shepherd's whistle has the clear advantage that it can be held in the mouth without a hand holding it; that really helps in shedding and penning. I was referring to those tricky moments when the length of an arm can make a huge difference in keeping or losing the sheep. The shepherd's whistle wouldn't have been made otherwise, I guess.

    I am not completely sure, but you could probably even speak whilst having or holding the shepherd's whistle in your mouth, making it more ideal for the job than the nose flute. I think it's just what works and what doesn't. Tim Flood however had great success using it! I think he was a unique quy anyway; most really successful people try alternative routes and methods, no-one ever thought of, I figure.

    1. I have some shepherd whistles, and was able to "play" some music with, but they clearly are not designed for that. they are variable pitch whistles, and not flutes.

  4. From the footage and photos, the nose flute Mr Flood used seems rather crudely made. It seems to have a slightlly different shape than the braas&copper one.

    Having said that it looks cruder, Tim Flood tells that the instrument got knocked about on many ocassions, so that might account for the look and even some repair.

    Mr Flood had lost the instrument several times, which is amazing as he couldn't signal his dog without it! As a consequence, he had another one made for him, also attaching it to a ring and chain, that could still get lost on a farm, however.

    Tim Flood could have settled for a quickly, crudely made nose flute by the same maker as the brass&copper one. It could easily have been made by another craftsman, judging from the differences in design.

    So ironic to get to know about Mr Flood, as we got to know about Herr Lohse...Although I am very happy to hear new information about the nose flute all the time, through this great blog and the fabulous work by its author, it feels as if we are missing out still...

    1. I don't think this flute was crudely made, but was crudely used! Oh yes, the shape is very different.
      I said both nose flutes could have been made by the same craftman just because the two of them came from Wales. Regarding the shape, they could have been (and were probably) made at very different times! 1950s for mine, and 1990s for Tim Flood's one, and the craftman might have evolved...