Bax, Pearse and the 1916 Rising

The composer Arnold Bax (1883-1953) is often overlooked when we survey the history of Irish art music in the early C20th. However, Bax, who was born in England and rose through the musical ranks to be awarded the title of ‘Master of the King’s Musick’ in 1941 has more appeal to followers of traditional music than we might think. To begin with, he summered in the Co. Donegal parish of Glencolmchille for around 20 years, recounting in his memoirs Farewell my Youth, a meeting with Mickey McConnell, an uncle of the young John Doherty. Bax described an encounter with McConnell during which the fiddler performed for him a version of ‘The Coolin’. So overcome with emotion was he with his own rendition that the tears streamed down his face as he played.

Bax was also well known in Dublin and composed nationalist-leaning poetry under the pseudonym Dermot O’Byrne. It was here that he briefly encountered Patrick Pearse, a meeting that resonated deeply with the composer. Following the failed Easter Rising and Pearse’s subsequent execution, Bax was moved to compose the tone-poem ‘In Memoriam Patrick Pearse‘, a stirring work, which remarkably only received its Irish premiere in 19 February 2016, when it was performed in the National Concert Hall by the RTE Symphony Orchestra. If you listen closely, at c.7mins 45 in the above linked performance, you will hear one of only two direct quotations of Irish traditional music that Bax makes in his entire repertoire (the other being the National Anthem), namely the tune of the 1798 ballad ‘Who fears to speak of ’98’ which was refashioned in the wake of the Rising with a new title and words, ‘Who dares to speak of Easter week’.

Dr Aidan Thomson (QUB) was instrumental in facilitating this performance. Not content with this landmark achievement, he presented a one-hour radio documentary about Bax and his work, broadcast on RTE Lyric FM in advance of the concert. You can listen to the documentary here:

ICTM Ireland 2016

ICTM Ireland’s Annual Conference took place on the weekend of 27/28 Feb 2016 and attracted a large delegation of scholars, not only from Irish institutes, but from around the world. The theme of ‘Music and Commemoration’ invited thought-provoking presentations from a range of theoretical and contextual perspectives. The recently retired Dr Martin Dowling gave a fascinating keynote on the subject of Irish tune titles, digressing into a discussion on the aesthetics of the session which encouraged substantial debate at its conclusion. Other highlights from a traditional music point of view included Verena Commins’s (NUIG) paper on monuments to Irish musicians and Daithi Kearney’s (DKIT) observations on the productions of the Irish National Folk Theatre, Siamse Tire. The AGM brought with it news that first-term chair Aoife Granville (University of Newcastle) would trade roles with Treasurer Lonan O’Brian (University of Nottingham).

ICTM Ireland can now look forward to collaborating with the staff at UL as they prepare to host the ICTM International Conference in 2017. This will undoubtedly be a major moment in the recent history of Irish ethnomusicology and be a cause for interest among traditional music fans more generally.

If you would like to know more about ICTM Ireland, or become a member, you can find out more about the organisation here. ICTM Ireland also publishes a regular, open access journal, Ethnomusicology Ireland, under the supervision of chief editor Tony Langlois (Mary I).

‘The Races of Ballyhooly’

One of the highlights of this year’s Willy Clancy Summer School was the talk given by Liam O’Connor on the life and collections of Patrick Weston Joyce (1827-1914 biography in Irish). Joyce was a polymath with a series of publications to his name, ranging in focus from studies of place names to Irish music and language, and even a history of Rome from its beginnings until 117 A.D. He held a number of prominent public positions, including principal of the (teacher) Training College, Dublin  and  serving as president of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. Holding the latter position enabled him to prepare publications on Irish music, a real passion for Joyce, and one which he had engaged in from an early age. In 1909 he published a collection of 842 ‘hitherto unpublished’ airs entitled ‘Old Irish Folk Music and Songs‘, a collection which included excerpts from the work of William Forde and John Pigot some fifty years earlier.

One item or particular note which Liam raised during the talk was a tune entitled ‘The Races of Ballyhooly’. This stirring march, which was included on Liam’s duet CD with fellow Dub Seán McKeown (pipes), was written around 1830 to commemorate a massacre of anti-tithe protesters in Gortroe, Rathmcormac.

Watch and listen to a great performance of the tune from Peter Carberry and Padraig McGovern.

The tune follows the rather unusual melodic pattern of four repeated bars in the A part (for a total of 8), as well as having a mixture of quaver couplets that are rhythmically even (bar one), dotted on the first note (bar two) and dotted on the second note in the Scottish style (bar 3). The A part’s purposeful opening theme drifts back unexpectedly in bar  7, suggesting an abridgement from a longer form of the part that may have contained 16 bars as many older airs do. However, no older sources appear to be available to prove or disprove this theory.

‘The Races of Ballyhooly’ as transcribed by Joyce:

The Races of Ballyhooly

‘From memory, as learned in my young days. The Irish song that gave name to this fine air-of which I heard fragments in my youth-commemorated the fate of a number of peasants who were shot down in the neighbourhood of Ballyhooly near Fermoy Co.Cork, while resisting the collections of tithes, early in the last century (about 1825). The poet utters a prophecy, which has come to pass, that the particular church for which these tithes were assessed would be levelled, till not one stone remained on another.

I have a copy of the whole song written in English letters phonetically; but it is such gibberish that I can make nothing of it. The first line however is plain enough:- Tá sgeul agum an innsinnt s’ná smuainim gur breug é: “I have a tale to tell, and I don’t think it’s a false one.”‘

Additional information from Donal O’Sullivan, Songs of the Irish (Cork: Mercier, 1981 – first edition 1960):


Tá scéal agam le hinnsint is ná smaoinidh gur bréag é,
Cé gur fada táimid síos aige síolrach na méirleach
Beidh prócadóirí Gallda go fannlag gan éifeacht
Gan chlú, gan mheas, gan séan, gan rath, gan bia, gan deoch, gan éadach.
Preabhaidh in bhur seasamh is árduídh bhur n-inntinn,
Tá an deachú leis a’ bhfán is gan fail chasta choíche air,
Ruaigfimid na h-Órangemen ‘gus déanfaimid a ndíbirt;
Beidh ministry fé bhrón is a ndóirse aca dúnta –
‘S ba bhinne leat an lá úd ná Ráiseanna Bh’l Áth’ Úla

Ar an nGort Rua do thuit ár gcómharsain le h-órduithe láimhte,
Beidh Ríocht gheal na Glóire go deo aca mar árus;
Beidh Dia mór na gCómhacht ann i gcóir go fuíom sásamh,
Go gcrochtar iad le córda nó go ndóitear ‘n-a gcnámhnaibh.
Má thigid na sméirligh saor abhaile ón gcúis seo,
Beifar ‘n-a gcóir fós, mo bhrón-sa! Lá an Chúntais;
Beidh fuil na bhfiréan idir an soéir is a súile,
Beidh an dial is a ghárda dá n-árdach chun siúil leis –
‘S ba bhinne leat an lá úd ná Ráiseanna Bh’l Áth’ Úla

Le trí chéad bliain d’fhág Séamus bréan ár n-aigne go buartha,
Fé bhrón, fé smacht, gan choir, gan cheart,
Ach allus le n-ár ngruanaibh,
ár n-Eaglais a’ léamh Aifrinn le h-anaither i ngleanntaibh,
‘S a dtréada ‘dul ar strae aca gach éan[aon]-mhaidin Domhnaigh,
Anois tá eagla ar chách gur i lár do bheidh i dteampuill,
Tá prapaí fé sna fallaí aca le h-anaither ‘s le sgannra.
Beidh gach cloch is reacht aca caite thar a chéile
Beidh minstrí ar lár is a gcnámha briste brúite
‘S ba bhinne leat an lá úd ná Ráiseanna Bh’l Áth’ Úla


Literal translation

1.        I have a story to tell, and do not think it is a lie, That although we are long oppressed by the race of plunderes The foreing proctors will be forspent and powerless, Their standing and reputation gone, luckless and unfortunate, lacking food and drink and clothing. Spring to your feet and lift up your hearts, The tithes are overthrown without prospect of ever returning. We shall rout the Orangemen and achieve their expulsion, The ministers will be in tribulation, with their doors closed – And that day will be sweeter to you than the Races of Ballyhooly!

2.        At Gortroe our neighbours fell by orders to shoot, the bright Kingdom of Glory will be their abode for ever. The great God almighty will be there to grant us retribution, That they may be hanged by a rope or burnt to the bone. If the villains come unscathed from this ordeal, They will yet be dealt with, my grief! On the Day of Judgement, The blood of the faithful will be between heaven and their sight. The devil and his minions will carry them off with him – And that day will be sweeter to you than the Races of Ballyhooly!

3.        For three hundred years dirty James (John Bull) left our minds troubled, Sorrowful and bullied, without justice or rights, but with sweat on our cheeks, Our clergy saying Mass affrighted in the valleys, And their flocks going astray from them on each Sunday morning. Now they are all in terror that their churches will be levelled, They have put props under the walls in their fear and alarm. Every single stone and ordinance of theirs shall be overturned, The ministers will be laid low, their bones bruised and broken – And that day will be sweeter to you than the Races of Ballyhooly!

Poetic translation

A story I’ve to tell you, friends, and ’tis no false relation,
‘Tis all about the thieving fiends that long oppressed this nation.
The proctors and their heresies will shortly be sent packing,
Their creed and doctrines all proved lies, their wines and victuals lacking.
For my news is this great matter, boys, for which your hearts are yearning,
The tithes we soon will scatter, without hope of their returning,
The Orangemen we’ll batter, all their pleas for mercy spurning.
The ministers will lose what’s theirs, their doors shut in their faces,
Be sure that day will be far more gay than the Ballyhooly races!

‘Twas at Gortroe our neighbours died through shooting fell and gory,
The gates of heaven are opened wide to welcome them to glory.
Almightly God will not forget these men, for all their boasting,
On the gallows tree we’ll see them yet, or in a furnace roasting.
If fire and gibbet they can cheat, for them there’s no repentance,
They still must face the Judgement Seat and hear the dreadful sentence,
Our martyrs will their pleas defeat, they’ll all of them be sent hence.
The devil then will seize these men and put them through their paces –
Be sure the day will be far more gay than the Ballyhooly Races!

Three centuries the foreign race has ground us ‘neath the harrow;
The sweat aye running down our face in travail and in sorrow;
Our priests, proscribed, were forced to say their Mass in secret hollow,
Each Sunday and each holy-day, alas! where few could follow.
But the foreigners will tremble soon, their downfall is beginning,
They’ll see their churches crumble soon, in spite of under-pinning,
Each stone of them will tumble soon, their steeples all sent spinning.
We’ll finish with the ministers, of their work we’ll leave no traces –
Be sure that day will be far more gay than the Ballyhooly races!

This is an anti-tithes song dating from about 1830. At the time, everybody had to pay tithes to the established church.The tithes were rigidly enforced, as O’Sullivan relates: ”In Skibbereen, for instance, the parson though he knew that the stricken people were living on seaweed and nettles, insisted on his tithes with an escort of police and yeomanry. The Catholics resisted and thirty of them were shot dead.”

Daniel O’Connell lead a passive resistance campaign against the tithes; ”when cattle, crops, furniture were seized by the proctors and offered at public auction, nobody would buy. The agitation persisted in spite of the savage Coercion Act of 1833, which gave power to prohibit meetings, to put districts under martial law and to impose a curfew; and it ended successfully with the passage in 1838 of an Act abolishing the tithe rent charge.”

The second verse of the song refers to Gortroe, where ‘the massacre of Rathcormac’ occurred on 18 Dec 1834 (Gortroe and Rathcormac are near Fermoy, Co Cork), when Rev Archdeacon William Ryder went to collect tithes of four pounds 16 shillings from the widow Ryan. He was accompanied by foot soldiers, dragoons and police. Against this armed force were 150 protesters.
”Some of these had placed carts across the lane way leading to the cottage, in order to block passage of the soldiers. The Riot Act was read without any provocation being offered, and Ryder then ordered the cavalry to fire…The people who found themselves in the lane way and the small kitchen-garden had no chance of escaping, and nine of them were shot dead. The youngest victim was the widow’s son, a lad of twenty. The soldiers then cleared the lane way, dragging the carts over the bodies of the dead and dying; and they seized four stacks of corn adjacent to the cottage in satisfaction of Ryder’s demand for tithes.” (Coroner’s Inquest Report)
Although a verdict of ‘wilful murder’ was returned, no action was taken against the murderers.

Ballyhooly is another town in the area. The title and metre of this song appears to be taken from an older song; it corresponds to a Jacobite poem by Henry Mac Auliffe which is held in the archives of the Royal Irish Academy. On that manuscript it says that Mac Auliffe composed the song in 1745 ”at a tent at the races of Ballyhooly”. O’Sullivan concludes, ”Hence it would seem that for a century before our anti-tithe song was written the Races of Ballyhooly were a synonym for jollity and fun.”

Danny Diamond ‘Fiddle Music’ Launch

At this year’s Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy I was very honoured to have been asked to officially launch Danny Diamond’s wonderful solo album ‘Fiddle Music’. Here is a transcript of my remarks:


Good afternoon, my name is Conor Caldwell and I have had the  good-fortune to know Danny Diamond for almost all of my life, probably the single characteristic which qualifies me for this role today.

It is my distinct honour to speak to you today about a recording that is so intriguing and well-executed and truly one of the best I have heard in 2014. It is beautifully produced, a handsome specimen, with art work from Susan Hughes, who is based in Belfast, and Danny has provided the listener with informative and well-presented sleeve notes. He travelled to Brussels to have the mastering completed, something which well and truly demonstrates his commitment to his project.

I think that every so often a CD comes along that forces us to re-evaluate the way we think about our tradition, an this is certainly one such example. From the opening salvo, which I will come back to in a moment, Danny lifts us and carries us along, pointing out the route he has travelled over the last two years. This has been a long-term project for Danny, not something dreamt up and spilled out in a few weeks or even months.

I have been in a privileged position to hear the sets on this CD develop and evolve over the course of the project. I have heard Danny build-up sets, rip them apart, reconstruct them and find new ways of expressing his innate musicality through them.  After all this, I find it really wonderful that the final arrangements still managed to surprise me in all the best ways possible.

Danny’s musical identity is now firmly rooted in his native city of Dublin, and in the music of Tommy Potts and Sean Keane in particular. But importantly, he is not simply channelling these elder-statesmen of the tradition in some vain intellectual exercise, he is firmly putting his own stamp on proceedings all the while acknowledging many of the more formative influences on his style. A set of jigs from his mother’s playing are found near the start of the recording,while  a set of Donegal reels played with his father, Dermie, and a beautiful set of tunes in duet with Eoghan Begley, Danny’s regular playing partner from Hughes’s Bar in Dublin, are also found. Danny also emerges as a composer of tunes which so subtly challenge the boundaries of the tradition, all the while still managing to sound joyfully familiar to the listener.

The sparse nature of the accompaniment breathes life into a sound-world  which is more archival than modern in nature – of course this is not altogether surprising given Danny’s line of work, as Field Recordings Officer with ITMA. The atmospheric drones from Ian Lynch’s pipes and smooth accompaniment from Aki’s nyckelharpa are more than distinctive and really set the tone for a wonderfully thought-provoking album.

I’ll conclude with this thought: Danny’s begins the CD with a cheeky little prelude figure, in which he is doffing his cap to Tommy Potts. This prelude is based on the opening bars to the reel The Green Fields of America, but there is a certain melodic ambiguity in that for a moment we think we might be listening to the old Irish air Cailín Deas Cruite na mBó. In these few seconds, as we strain our ears to dissect the melody, we are drawn in and our attention is immediately demanded before Danny moves onto the real business of the rest of the CD. In many ways this serves as the perfect piece of imagery for the album: it draws us in, it demands our attention, before the real business of what is surely going to be an outstanding and very successful career as a solo performer.

I commend this CD to you all, and I officially launch Danny Diamond’s magnificent CD ‘Fiddle Music’ here, at Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy. Thank you.



Edward Bunting, ‘The Ancient Music of Ireland, Vol. 3’ (Dublin: Hodges and Smith, 1840)

Edward Bunting

The Ancient Music of Ireland, Arranged for the Piano Forte, To which is prefixed a Dissertation on the Irish Harp and Harpers, Including an Account of the Old Melodies of Ireland.

Dublin: Hodges and Smith, 1840.

Link <,_Edward)#Volume_3:_The_Ancient_Music_of_Ireland&gt;

In the third and final volume of Edward Bunting’s ‘The Ancient Music of Ireland’ the author identifies three distinct eras in which the music that he had spent much of the previous fifty years collecting originated: (1) very ancient, (ii) ancient, and (iii) those composed in a period of time beginning with O’Carolan and ending with Jackson and Stirling. The first category is observed to contain caointes, dirges and melodies to which Ossianic verse is set, and Bunting looks toward structure as being indicative of these melodies’ antiquity. Tunes belonging to the second class are identified primarily through their composers, and include tunes by O’Cahan, Scott and Daly, while the third category is self-explanatory. Bunting laments that tunes from this last category have been ‘infected’ by composers’ taste for their Italian contemporaries.

The preface introduces the reader to a a number of familiar themes: a lack of consensus in scholarship; orality in the tradition; regional variations and authenticity. Bunting identifies that, while scholars have not been able to agree on inquiries related to ‘our civil and military antiquities’, the progeny of the Irish music tradition is uncontested. Establishing a line of discourse that would be even  more conservatively promoted by George Petrie, he states that melody is not subject to the same ‘corrupting’ influences as song lyrics, citing the many variations of the words to Aileen-a-Roon which he encountered during his collecting expeditions, while pronouncing that ‘A strain of music, one impressed upon the popular ear, never varies.’ While engaging with the work of Thomas Moore and John Stevenson, he also asserts that authentic strains of melody can only be found in native districts, for ‘he may always be certain of the absolute and unimpeachable authenticity of every note he procures.’

This important collection of music and its accompanying essays offer us a unique insight into the mind of perhaps the first ‘field collector’ of Irish music.


CD Review: Louise Mulcahy, ‘Tuning the Road’ (Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 2014)

Louise Mulcahy, ‘Tuning the Road’ (Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 2014).

Louise Mulcahy

The most interesting question that arose for listeners in purchasing copies of Louise Mulcahy’s recent album ‘Tuning the Road’, was whether this solo experiment would see a radically different musician delivered to our CD players than the one to which we have become accustomed through her ensemble recordings with father Mick and sister Michelle.[1] The answer is a resounding ‘no’ in a thoroughly successful solo debut from the Abbeyfeale multi-instrumentalist. The album delivers fully on the promise of her earlier recordings with only subtle hints of stylistic expression outside of that which we already know. The theme of the album is undoubtedly her versatility as a multi-instrumentalist, performing on flutes, pipes and whistles, through which she maintains a distinct musical voice, underpinned by a terrifically solid, confident and unambiguous sense of tempo and rhythm. This album will please musicians, dancers and listeners alike, with the type of well-chosen repertoire we have come to expect from albums bearing the Mulcahy standard, expertly rendered in terms of ornamentation and tone, and played at appropriate tempi for dances.

The bozouki and guitar accompaniment that has at times in the past threatened to undo much of the Mulcahy family’s solid work is abandoned in favour of lively, well-mixed and sparingly used (more on that later) keyboard and harp accompaniments from sister Michelle, who once again shows her ability to conquer almost any musical instrument with authenticity and style. The subtle use of different voices on the keyboard (electric piano is heard on the opening set of reels á la Ryan Molloy, while pianoforte voice is utilised in the final set) adds further colour to the accompaniment, as does the sparse and mostly sympathetic bodhrán playing from Colm Murphy. It would have been nice to see Murphy simplify his rhythms at times, particularly when the piano arrives in ‘Bernie Cunnion’s Favourite’ (track 2). This tune was crying out for a direct, on-the-beat rhythm in-keeping with the natural qualities of the melody. The pairing of flute and bodhrán is reminiscent of Harry Bradley’s first recording[2], although only on one tune, ‘Happy to Meet and Sorry to Part’ (track 9), do we really hear evidence of his stylistic influence. Indeed, this tune was recorded by Bradley with the same accompaniment and his more staccato style can be heard imitated in the fourth bar of the first part.

The performance on solo whistle of ‘The Templehouse’ and ‘The Tailored Jacket’ (track 11) shows, in the first instance, further influence of the tongued, staccato style, while the second tune brings to mind the jazz-inflections of Dave Sheridan. Kevin Crawford is also referenced in the unpacking of rolls in reel ‘Trip to Peterswell’ (track 1) and at other moments on the recording.

The performance of’ ‘Kean O’Hara’ (track 7), an O’Carolan composition which Mulcahy treats with the greatest reverence is worthy of further mention. The temptation in performing these tunes, which belong to a different musical tradition than our dance music, is to overload them with ornamentation and alter their rhythm to make them fit our perception of what they should sound like. This is not the case in this recording in which Mulcahy adheres to a less dotted sense of rhythm than we are accustomed to hearing in such performances. A missed opportunity is perhaps observed in that she only plays the tune twice when a third rendition with some harmonic expansion, possibly from a double-tracked flute, would have made this track extremely memorable.

Siobhann Long’s description of Mulcahy’s rendition of ‘Port na bPucaí’ as ‘divine’ is well-warranted.[3] This is indeed one of the finest interpretations of this tune we have heard in some years. Sparsely ornamented with a well-constructed sense of the ex tempore nature of the air, this is a setting that will be enjoyed both by listeners and students alike.

Most importantly on this recording, Mulcahy seems to recognise the basic limitations of form within Irish music, particularly the inherent difficulty of creating drama, and addresses this in two ways. Firstly, despite employing only piano, harp and bodhrán accompaniment, she uses these to maximum effect by often introducing the harmonic accompaniment for the final tune of the set, an effect that is dramatic on each occasion and serves to lift both dancers and listeners from the mind of mid-set malaise from which both can suffer. Secondly, the sets are well-constructed, a hallmark of the Mulcahy family’s musical output. There is less evidence of the major-minor-major set construction that is the norm on Mulcahy ensemble recordings although the jigs on track 2 explore tunes in D major, E minor and G major, while track 8’s reels echo the Mulcahy family’s most popular medley outline of D major-E minor-D major.

Both of these factors are observed in the penultimate track, a set of slides which explores the keys of G and D. The first tune ‘If I had a Wife’ is treated to subtle ornamentation in the second turn, including an arpeggaic flourish, before the second tune of the medley, ‘Slide Dubh’ facilitates a modulation, up a fifth in the key of D. Exploring the higher register of the flute, this tune provides a contrast with the final slide, ‘Slide Choimhin’, in the same key, but mostly in the lower register. It is in this final transition that Michelle Mulcahy’s piano is at its brilliant best, particularly in the use of a melancholy, B minor colouring in bar three of the first part. The re-introduction of the piano at this point has an almost cathartic effect as we recognise that its warmth has been absent for some four and a half tracks, including the aforementioned slow air, solo whistle set and flute/bodhrán jig exposition, as well as a set of hornpipes on the pipes (solo). As in the rendition of the O’Carolan tune, a second repeat of the final slide would have been most welcome, but Mulcahy once again leaves the listener desperate for more, which on balance is significantly better than giving us too much of a good thing.

In conclusion, ‘Tuning the Road’ is a fine exploration of dance music and airs from a supremely talented musician who also possesses a keen ear for arrangement. The sets are not overpowered by ornamentation or unnaturally fast tempi. The flute tone is powerful, with the tunes mostly expressed in a legato voice throughout. Some stylistic diversity is observed, most notably in staccato inflections of Mulcahy’s whistle playing and piping. The old adage of ‘less is more’ most certainly applies to many aspects of a successful recording.



[1] See: The Mulcahy Family ‘Reelin’ in the Tradition’ (Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 2009) and The Mulcahy Family, ‘Notes from the Heart’ (Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 2005).

[2] See: Harry Bradley, ‘Bad Turns and Horse Shoe Bends’ (Outlet Records, 2000).

[3] Sioabhnn Long, ‘Review of Tuning the Road’ The Irish Times (9 May 2014) < > [accessed 15 June 2014].

Martin Dowling Book Launch Live on Tradtalk

Point your browser to Tradtalk on Monday evening to catch a live stream of  Dr Martin Dowling‘s new book, ‘Traditional Music and Irish Society: Historical Perspectives’, published by Ashgate as part of their Popular and Folk Music Series. Dowling is a senior lecturer in traditional music at Queen’s University, Belfast. This book draws together a number of his lines of academic inquiry from the last decade into a single study which examines the development of Irish traditional music from the nineteenth century through to Belfast’s folk revival of the late twentieth century.


Dr Martin Dowling

Hosted by Red Box Studios of Belfast, the Master of Ceremonies for the evening will be Fintan Vallely with guest performers Conor Caldwell, Jason O’Rourke, Eilís Lavelle, Robbie Hannan, Brendan O’Hare, Brian Mullen, Christine Dowling, Úna Monaghan, Lorraine Ní Bhriain, Davy Maguire and Dónal O’Connor.


Coming soon on Tradtalk

Danny Diamond, fiddle player with Morga and field recordings officer at the Irish Traditional Music Archive, is the scheduled guest for Episode 2. Danny will discuss his own work and that of the archive as it enters the digital age. Look out for this episode in early July.

In the meantime I will be posting a review of Julie Henigan’s recent publication, ‘Literacy and Orality in Eighteenth Century Irish Song’ (Pickering and Chato) and pointing readers towards the first in a monthly series of free, down-loadable books relating to Irish music.



Welcome to Tradtalk

Tradtalk is a new video-cast blog, airing once a month, that will become a an on-line hub for discussion in the Irish traditional music world. Once a month I will be interviewing well-known scholars and musicians about their latest work. Additional content will include book, CD and concert reviews. If you would like to add to the discussion, submit a review, or if you have any questions for upcoming guests you can tweet the blog @tradtalk or e-mail me at