Future of Cobblestone remains in doubt

The future of a key hub for traditional music in Dublin – the Cobblestone pub in Smithfield – will remain in doubt into April 2022 at the earliest.

As expected, the developers, Marron Estates, have lodged an appeal against Dublin City Council’s recent decision to refuse planning permission for its scheme to build a 114-bedroom, nine-storey hotel around and over the protected structure of the King Street pub. The council’s refusal followed an extensive ‘Save The Cobblestone’ campaign which resulted in over 700 objections being lodged against the scheme. 

In refusing planning permission for the plan, Dublin City Council stated that the proposed development “would be overbearing and significantly out of scale and character with the prevailing architectural context, and would represent substantial over-development of this highly sensitive site.”

The Council added that the proposed scheme would also be contrary to the City’s development plan’s provisions on culture since it would also involve the loss of the existing backroom area to the rear of Cobblestone public house, which has been established as a space for teaching and performing traditional music.

Among the 700 plus objections was one from the Arts Council whose Director, Maureen Kennelly, warned the planning authority that “the medium term closure during construction – and likely reduction in the physical and social footprint of the Cobblestone pub and live music venue on completion – would be a significant cultural loss to the Smithfield area and the city of Dublin.”

In light of the appeal to An Bord Pleanála, the parties involved in the process will havc opportunities to make further submissions before a final decision is made – most likely in April 2022.

The O'Connor Family at the Cobbestone: (from left) Féilimí, Gerry and Finnian (Photo: Fonn)
caitlin nic gabhann

Caitlín is new Artist-in-Residence

Caitlín Nic Gabháinn
Caitlín and Ciarán (Ó Maonaigh)
The High Seas

Musician, composer and dancer, Caitlín Nic Gabhann, has been named as the Traditional Artist in Residence at University College Cork for 2022. In her new role Caitlín will deliver a series of concerts, workshops, and classes over the course of her one -year residency.

A concertina player, teacher, composer and percussive dancer, Caitlín Nic Gabhann is a three-time All-Ireland concertina champion and has also toured as a dancer with Riverdance. Raised in a house full of music in Baltrasna, Co.Meath, Caitlín learned most of her music, style and rhythm from her father, Antóin Mac Gabhann, while her mother Bernie is immersed in the Clare set-dancing tradition. As a musician and dancer, Caitlín performs with The High Seas, Caitlín & Ciarán, Cruinniú, NicGaviskey, Birkin Tree and The Irish Concertina Ensemble.

Caitlín’s compositions have been performed in the Cork Opera House and The National Concert Hall, Dublin. Perhaps the best known are the waltz, Sunday’s Well, and the reel, The Leeside Sessions, both composed during her previous music studies in UCC. The tunes featured on her debut album, Caitlín, acclaimed as ‘CD of the Year’ by and as the ‘top Irish traditional album of 2012’ by The Wall Street Journal.

As a solo dancer she was the main performer in the Celtic Christmas Sojourn in Boston and ‘Ceiliúradh’ in the Royal Albert Hall, London. She has also performed with the RTÉ Vanburgh Quartet, Paddy Keenan and Liam Ó Maonlaí.

Married to fiddle player and documentary film-maker, Ciarán Ó Maonaigh, Caitlín is the mother of three-year-old twins, Rosie and Frankie. From their home in the Donegal Gaeltacht she runs, a complete online resource for concertina learning, which has hundreds of subscribers in 32 countries. She is also director of the Wild Atlantic Concertina Week – an annual celebration of music and local culture in Gaoth Dobhair – which attracts an international attendance.

Among the faculty members at the Department of Music at UCC are traditional performers: Niall Vallely, Mary Mitchell-Ingoldsby, Jack Talty, Máire Ní Chéileachair, Bobby Gardiner, Connie O’Connell, Margaret McCarthy, Colm Murphy and Conal Ó Gráda.

The Traditional Artist in Residence scheme is sponsored by the Arts Council, in association with the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences (UCC) and the School of Film, Music and Theatre (UCC).


NPU issues new Tommy Reck album

Na Píobairí Uilleann has released Tommy Reck – The Master Pipers Volume 4, a double album featuring a range of performances from Tommy Reck at the height of his powers, from 1949 to c.1965.

The first CD in the set draws on a variety of sources while the second CD features new transfers of the “Walkinstown Tape” made in 1960 by Peter O’Loughlin and Seán Reid.

The double album is accompanied by an 80-page booklet which includes contributions from Gerry Starr, Emmett Gill, Ronan Browne , Tommy Keane, Mick O’Brien, Bill Haneman and Mick O’Connor.

The album may be ordered from NPU at

or downloaded from Bandcamp at
(download includes access to a PDF of the booklet).

Aileen with Frog book

Traditional songs and more for children from Aileen

Traditional singer, Aileen Lambert, is the creative force behind a new book of traditional Irish songs in English – especially selected for children. The fourteen songs featured in the book are not only accompanied by the stories behind the songs but also a range of complementary activities including music notation, word searches and a crossword. The book is also beautifully illustrated by Liza Kavanagh, who has known Aileen since they were art students together.

“From tall tales of amazing adventures to nonsense songs they have proven themselves as appealing songs to engage young singers,” noted Aileen drawing on her experience as a music educator – working with children around Ireland for over fifteen years. As a creative associate on the Arts Council-supported Creative Schools programme Aileen recognises the value of songs in the primary school curriculum – not only in terms of arts education but also in contributing to other subject areas like social and environmental studies. So the book includes ideas for primary school teachers on how to integrate the songs into various areas of the curriculum.

“From my many years of delivering some workshops with children I know the questions they have about the song,” added Aileen, “like ‘what does that word mean?’ or ‘did that really happen?’ So alongside each song there are little bubbles which explain the meaning of old words.” There are also bubbles giving some background to the songs or suggesting a creative activity inspired by them.

The book project was supported by an Artlinks bursary Deis award from the Arts Council, as well as Kildare County Council Art Services and the Arts Department of Wexford County Council.

The book also includes links to a complementary YouTube playlist and for each song there is an excellent video featuring Aileen singing the songs with her own young daughters Nellie, Eppie and Nan. The videos have all been made since the onset of the pandemic when Aileen’s direct work with schools was replaced by  commissions from various county councils to create seventeen online traditional song workshops for children as part of Cruinniú na nÓg Programmes in 2020 and 2021.

Aileen’s book has won plaudits from artists like Christy Moore and Martin Hayes. Christy Moore commented: “I’ve been listening to and learning folk songs all my life – they have been my inspiration. With this great little publication Aileen is bringing these old songs to new ears and voices,” while Martin Hayes was reminded of his own childhood in East Clare: “When we had extended family gatherings all of us children loved to get my father to sing The Frog and the Mouse. I’m delighted that a whole new generation of children will get to hear and learn this song along with many other songs that are part of this beautiful collection.”

To order The Frog and the Mouse online, go to It costs €15 plus postage and packing. The books are also available in many good bookshops.

Aileen Lambert
Liza Kavanagh

Aileen has delivered workshops in primary schools as part of the Heritage-in-Schools Scheme and Music Generation Wexford. Aileen regularly presents childrens’ workshops in libraries and festivals. She also devises and facilitates local community traditional song research and performance projects, which have often culminated in publications with accompanying DVDs/CDs.

With her husband Michael Fortune she conducts innovative song research and composition projects with renowned traditional singers in association with partners such as the National Library, the Irish Traditional Music Archive and the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick, such as The 1916 Song Project, The Bird Song Project, As I Roved Out and Songs for Our Children. In 2019 she recorded a solo album of traditional unaccompanied songs from Wexford and Newfoundland entitled The Wexford Lovers.

Louise Mulcahy1

Mná na bPíob: Hidden from History

Uilleann piper, Louise Mulcahy, brings her passionate research into the women who preceded her as players of the instrument, to the screen in a new documentary to be broadcast on TG4 on Sunday, December 19.

Although the conventional image of the uilleann piper for the last two centuries has been of a man, Louise Mulcahy has been on a mission to uncover the forgotten stories of the incredible female pipers who have been largely airbrushed from history. In the course of her research, Louise has met fellow musicians and academics to build a fuller picture of these women and the various social and cultural obstacles that have confronted them until relatively recently.

Along with some outstanding musical performances in tribute to the forgotten instrumentalists, the documentary also includes interviews with their descendants, with historians and researchers, the documentary also makes use of reconstructed scenes to convey a sense of the circumstances prevailing around the key characters in this remarkable stories.

Along with Louise, herself, the documentary also includes contributions from her sister, Michelle and father, Mick, as well as Máire Ní Ghráda, Síle Friel, Jane Walls, Mary Mitchell-Ingoldsby, Rosaleen O’Leary, Molly Ní Ghrada, Heather Clarke, Marion McCarthy, the Rowsome family, Paddy Moloney and many more.

Emer Mayock (Photo: NPU)
Joanie Madden narrower

Joanie Madden honoured at Irish Arts Center

Cherish the Ladies leader, Joanie Madden, was honoured at a special event at the new Irish Arts Center in New York with the Spirit of Ireland Award for 2021 – presented by Gabriel Byrne.

After the presentation she was joined by her bandmates to play a set.

This new honour follows the award of the National Heritage Fellowship for 2021 by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

Joanie Madden (centre) with her Cherish The Ladies bandmates, Nollaig Casey, Mirella Murray, Mary Coogan and Cathie Ryan – flanked by Bruce Foley and Gabriel Donohue (Photo: Nuala Purcell),