Markey, Nicholas (c.1837–1914), uilleann piper, was born either in Co. Meath or in Drogheda, Co. Louth. Little is known of his early life, but as a child in Drogheda he was tutored in the uilleann (‘union’) pipes by Billy Taylor, an outstanding piper and instrument-maker of great traditional authority. It is not known how he made his living before being hired (1900) as an elderly man of some reputation, by Michael Deegan, secretary of the Dublin Piper's Club (in existence 1900–14), to instruct members in the authentic mode of performance, concerns having been expressed by enthusiasts that styles of playing had lost their traditional rigour. He gave classes once a fortnight in the club at the rate of 5s. per session, a parsimonious fee that once briefly rose to 7s. 6d. per class. Though attendance was small (about five a class), his pupils consisted of some conspicuously talented musicians, such as Bill Andrews, John Potts (grandfather of Sean Potts of the Chieftains), and Jimmy Ennis, father of Séamus Ennis (qv). Through his relationship with Taylor and Pat Ward, he was an important link in the chain of transmission of perhaps the oldest Irish piping style, a choppy, non-legato movement, which was reproduced in the playing of Séamus Ennis, among others. He kept body and soul together by working as a Dublin corporation toilet attendant in the public convenience in O'Connell St.
His ability was sometimes questioned, despite the staunch championship of Deegan, who claimed that he was Ireland's greatest living piper. The organisers of a concert at St Patrick's College, Maynooth, criticised the timbre of his set of pipes and questioned his skill. After a Gaelic League céilidh in the early 1900s it was alleged that he could not play a reel in due rhythm. He never entered a piping competition in the annual feiseanna of the 1890s and 1900s, and dancers and audiences may not have valued the peculiar character of his piping style. It may be relevant to note, too, that, contrary to the usual habit of master pipers, he displayed little vanity. The fact that he was often unwell may also account for much apparent inconsistency in his performances and for a failure to show up at popular festivals. The Pipers' Club had his pipes repaired; but he never regained his health after 1900. Photographs show a thin, serious, white-bearded man, loosely clothed and visibly weak. For long stretches after 1904 he was unable to teach owing to illness, the Pipers’ Club occasionally holding benefit nights in his honour. He died 21 January 1914 at his home, 45 St Joseph's Place, Nelson St., Dublin.