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Abair: Macdara’s festival within a festival

Shaping up to be one of the real gems of this year’s St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin is Abair 2022, curated by traditional singer and producer, Macdara Yeates.

A multimedia project  consisting of a series of specially produced films – each accompanied by a live performance – Abair aims to explore, through song and story, episodes in Irish history which connect us in various ways to our near neighbours in Scotland, Wales, Brittany and Spain.

The Abair project presents the outcome of four journeys – each captured in a short documentary (directed by award-winning filmmaker Bob Gallagher) – which see Macdara and crew travel to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in Andalucia, to a former prison camp in rural Wales, to the language archives in eastern Brittany and to the banks of the Firth of Forth in Scotland, meeting a variety of singers and oral historians along the way to investigate their place in the Irish story.

Alongside the screening of each film during the festival, many of the artists featured in the films will attend in person to perform in Dublin “to complete the cycle of history.” Among those taking part in the project are: Sarah Ghriallais, Clarisse Lavanant, The Mary Wallopers, Chris Miles, Joe Mulheron, Juan Pinilla, Gwilym Bowen Rhys and Grace Toland.

Macdara Yeates
Juan Pinilla
Grace Toland
Gwilym Bowen Rhys
Sarah Ghriallais
Clarisse Lavanant
Chris Miles

The screenings and performances are as follows:

1. The Civil War in Spain (Film and performance: Palatine Room, Collins Barracks, Friday March 18, 2pm)

Setting off from Derry, Macdara Yeates meets traditional singer, songwriter and activist, Joe Mulheron, to discuss the Connolly Column, the brigade of Irish volunteers who fought against Franco’s army in the Spanish Civil War and their remembrance in the Irish song tradition. In Granada, Macdara meets with flamenco singer and commentator, Juan Pinilla, in Andalusia, the home of flamenco music and the first site of battle for the Connolly Column, to explore the wealth of Spanish songs from the Civil War period and to learn of the ruthless tactics employed by Franco’s regime to curtail and control flamenco and broader Andalusian culture. Following the screening, Juan Pinilla and Joe Mulheron will take part in a discussion and performance.

2. The University of Revolution (Film and performance: Palatine Room, Collins Barracks, Saturday March 19, 2pm)

Setting off from the Inishowen peninsula, Macdara Yeates meets singer and local historian, Grace and Colm Toland to learn of their grandfather who was interned in Wales for his involvement in the Irish rebellion. While there, the Tolands share their grandfather’s prison diaries and letters home during internment and also sing a selection of songs from the revolutionary period.  In Wales, Macdara travels to the site of Frongoch prison camp near Bala in rural Wales. Nicknamed the ‘University of Revolution’ by Irish internees, Frongoch became an accidental breeding ground for leaders such as Michael Collins to plan revolutionary activity, with Welsh guards allowing the captured men to hold regular meetings, play Gaelic football, and conduct regular Irish language classes. There, Macdara meets Gwilym Bowen Rhys, an accomplished Welsh language folk singer steeped in the songs of the region, and Alwyn Wilson, the retired farmer currently living on the site where the prison camp once stood who has dedicated much of his life to the commemoration of the camp’s history. Following the screening, Grace Toland and Gwilym Bowen Rhys will take part in a discussion and performance.

3. A Breton in Connemara (Film and performance: Palatine Room, Collins Barracks, Sunday March 20, 2pm)

Setting off from Connemara, Macdara meets acclaimed sean-nós singer Sarah Ghriallais and award-winning actor, Olwen Fouéré, daughter of Yann Fouéré, in their adopted home of Connemara, to discuss his life and work and the theme of exile in the Connemara song tradition. In Brittany, Macdara meets Breton singer, Clarisse Lavanant, to discuss modern Breton regionalism and its expression in song and the influence of Fouéré on the culture and language of the region. Following the screening, Sarah Ghriallais and Clarisse Lavanant will take part in a discussion and performance.

4. Dominic and Hamish (Film and performance: Spiegeltent Beag, Festival Quarter Sunday March 20, 4.30pm)

On a journey from Dublin to Dundalk, Edinburgh and Fife Macdara explores the influence of Scottish writer Hamish Henderson on one of Ireland’s most celebrated folk songwriters, Dominic Behan. Setting off from the Behans’ childhood home in Russell Street, Dublin, Macdara meets Fergus Whelan, historian and personal friend of Dominic and, in Dundalk, the emerging band, The Mary Wallopers, to discuss the influential Dubliner, his life and his songs. In Scotland, Macdara meets  ‘bothy’ singer, Chris Miles, to discuss Behan and Henderson’s camaraderie in Scotland, Henderson’s storied life and career as a poet, war veteran and political activist, and Dominic’s decision to settle in Glasgow – where he remained until his death. Following the screening, The Mary Wallopers and Chris Miles will take part in a discussion and performance.

While all four events are free and unticketed, capacity is limited.

Taken from the Irish word meaning both ‘to say’ and ‘to sing’ Abair is a staple oral traditions programme in the St. Patrick’s Festival. First beginning as a concert series in historic venues around Dublin city, Abair, now in its fourth year, broadens its scope to look outward and examine the influence of our neighbours on our native song and storytelling traditions. For more info visit: https://stpatricksfestival.ie/events/abair

Belfast Tradfest Duncairn

Belfast Tradfest launches winter weekend festival

The recent lifting of many Covid restrictions has prompted the team behind Belfast TradFest to stage a special winter weekend of traditional music, song and dance – having lost its usual summer slot to the pandemic for the last two years.

The weekend on February 18-20 will see an excellent series of concerts as well as sessions, festival club, céili and workshops with some of the festival stars.

Among the guests appearing in a packed programme are Iarla Ó Lionáird and Steve Cooney, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh and Gerry O’Beirne, Zoë Conway and John McIntyre, Cathal and Stevie Hayden with Séamie O’Dowd, Brìghde Chaimbeul, TRIP, Niall Hanna, Diane Cannon, Jack Warnock and Méabh Smyth.

As well as a whistle and sing workshop aimed primarily at children – a number of workshops will be presented by master musicians:

 

  • Craig Baxter (bodhrán)
  • Conor Caldwell (Donegal fiddle music)
  • Isla Callister (fiddle)
  • Brìghde Chaimbeul (small pipes and bagpipes)
  • Zoë Conway (advanced fiddle)
  • Edwina Guckian (dance)
  • Cathal Hayden (banjo)
  • Stevie Hayden (intermediate fiddle)
  • Elaine Hogan (harp)
  • Sam Mabbett (button accordion)
  • Alasdair MacKenzie (guitar/voice)
  • Rory Matheson (piano
  • Martin Meehan (flute)
  • Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh (traditional singing)
  • Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh amhránaiocht ar an sean nós))
  • Gerry O’Beirne (guitar accompaniment)
  • Séamie O’Dowd (guitar accompaniiment)
  • Padraig Rynne (concertina)
Iarla Ó Lionáird
Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh

All of the workshops are aimed at intermediate players and above, except for the traditional singing classes (no experience required) and the whistle and sing workshop.

Details of the concerts and sessions are available on the Belfast Tradfest website: https://www.belfasttraditionalmusic.com/

Ashling Murphy

Ashling Murphy RIP

The traditional arts community has been shocked by the horrific murder of Ashling Murphy, an emerging musical talent on fiddle, concertina and whistle, as well as a dedicated teacher and sportswoman.

After completing her day’s work with her young first class pupils in Durrow National School, the 23-year-old Offaly primary school teacher had gone for a run along a popular canal walkway in Tullamore when she was attacked.

Since an individual held for questioning in connection with the murder has now been eliminated from the Garda investigation, detectives have appealed to the public with any information of events on the walkway on Wednesday afternoon to come forward. A particular line of inquiry is focused on a mountain bike with distinctive green and yellow front forks.

Amid the national outpouring of grief and expressions of solidarity with Aisling’s family, colleagues and pupils, there has been a deep and heartfelt response from the traditional arts community in Offaly and right around the country and beyond
 

Ashling was a member of Ballyboy Comhaltas Branch and had participated in Fleadhanna Cheoil at County, Provincial and All Ireland competitions with great success. She comes from a very musical family, her father is a  well known banjo player and her sister, Amy, is a talented concertina and button accordion player.

 

Both Ashling and Amy taught music to many young students in Ballyboy. Ashling was selected to take part in the Comhaltas fourteen-day concert tour of Ireland in 2017 and the ten-day Echoes of Erin  tour of Britain in 2018, She had also been a member of the Comhaltas National Folk Orchestra of Ireland since 2017.
 
In a moving statement Ballyboy Comhaltas Branch said that it was”truly devastated by the tragic passing of our amazing friend and musician Ashling Murphy. Words cannot describe how heartbroken we are to lose such a special young lady, far too early in her life.”
 
“We are privileged,” the statement continued, “to have had Ashling as a fiddle and tin whistle tutor within our branch. She had a warm and caring approach with her pupils and she inspired them to be the best they could be. Ashling was also involved in organising and training our Grúpaí Ceoil and Céilí Bands. A highly accomplished performer, she enjoyed many successes in solo, duet, and trio competitions at county, provincial, and All Ireland Fleadhanna  Ceoil from under 12 to Senior level. She was selected for the Macalla na hÉireann Comhaltas Tour of Ireland and Britain in 2017 and was a member of the Comhaltas National Folk Orchestra. Ashling’s talent, radiant smile and elegance was always evident both on and off the stage. We send our deepest sympathies to Ashling’s parents Ray and Kathleen, brother Cathal and sister Amy, extended family and friends.”
 
Similar sentiments were expressed by many other local organisations, including Tullamore Tradfest:
“The members of Tullamore TradFest and the wider community have been deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic loss of Ashling Murphy. Ashling was an excellent musician and a beautiful person who provided happiness to many through her music and her outgoing personality. Ashling had been a great supporter of Tullamore TradFest and was enthusiastic, dedicated and the consummate professional in her support of living Irish culture. At this point our thoughts, prayers and support are offered to Ashling’s family, her colleagues and students in Durrow NS, and her extended circle of friends in Ballyboy Comhaltas. May her gentle soul rest in peace. Suaimhneas síoraí dá h-anam óg.”

 

The candleit vigil for Ashling at Kilclonfert in Co. Offaly
Musicians play tribute at the vigil for Ashling in Portrush, Co. Antrim
Traditional band JIgJam were among the many local musicians who took part in a vigil for Ashling in Tullamore on Friday. Similar vigils were being held in cities and towns throughout Ireland on Friday with more planned for Saturday and Sunday, January 15-16 – including major events in Dublin, Belfast and London and a special online livestream organised by the National Deaf Women of Ireland – with an array of traditional musicians appearing in solidarity with Ashling’s family and friends.
 
Exceptionially talented – Comhaltas
From its national headquarters in Monkstown, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann issued the following statement:
“All of us in Comhaltas and the world of Irish traditional music are shocked at the untimely death of Ashling Murphy. She was an exceptionally talented young lady who made an unforgettable impression on all who had the good fortune to know her. Ashling was among the finest exponents of the concertina and fiddle and was also learning the uilleann pipes. She has featured in our Comhaltas Concert Tours and was also a valued member of the Comhaltas National Folk Orchestra of Ireland. We know that she and her family are at the heart of her local community. She was a much-loved school teacher and had so much to offer in so many ways.
 
“The brutal manner of her death – in the middle of the day – as she jogged by the banks of the peaceful canal in Tullamore has left us numbed and bewildered. The suffering of her family at the loss of such a young and beautiful person is beyond understanding. We share their grief with them and we will always remember Ashling as one who enriched our lives with her warm personality; uplifting musicmaking; compassionate, outgoing and generous friendship
 

Ashling, you will always be in our thoughts and prayers as we cherish the memories and friendship of your short but exceptional life. Ar dheis Dé go raibh do anam uasal ceolmhar. From all your musical colleagues and friends in Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.”

The Irish Traditional Music Archive has expressed its deepest sympathies and condolences to the family and friends of “the gifted young musician and teacher Ashling Murphy whose life was so cruelly taken from her in Tullamore on Wednesday. Suaimhneas síoraí dá hanam uasal.”

Na Píobairí Uilleann extended its sympathies to Ashling’s family and friends noting that the talented musician was a member of Na Píobairí Uilleann and “a keen student of the uilleann pipes.” “Her passing leaves us shocked, saddened and heartbroken for all of those who were fortunate enough to have met her,” the NPU added.

She was going for a run
Similar messages  were forthcoming from Comhaltas Branches around Ireland as well as in Britain. Dublin Comhaltas described Ashling as “a bright young woman and a gifted musician with her whole life ahead of her,” while the Irish Australian Support Association of Queensland made a lengthy statement on gender violence accompanied by the meme: “SHE WAS GOING FOR A RUN. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam. May she rest in peace.”

FairPlé, the advocacy group challenging gender discrimination within traditional and folk music in Ireland, expressed its “deepest condolences to the family and friends of Ashling Murphy” – offering “love and strength to those feeling loss and pain today.”

Describing Ashling as “a bright soul and an exceptional talent, guilty only of going for a run,” Mise Fosta, the campaign to highlight the abuse of women in traditional music, said that “the tradition has lost another woman whose gifts will cease to flourish and brighten the lives of those around her. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ashling’s family, friends and musical circle,” – adding: “Mise Fosta stand with every woman going about their day today with an ill feeling in their stomach and Ashling Murphy on their mind.”

Expressing her condolences to Ashling’s family and friends, musician and senator, Frances Black said: “there are no words to express the shock and sadness of the horrific murder of the beautiful and talented Ashling Murphy,” while Templebar Tradfest recalled that Ashling had performed with the National Folk Orchestra of Ireland at the last live edition of the festival in January 2020. Among the many other musicians to express their condolences publicly were Sharon Shannon,  Kevin Crawford, Ger O’Donnell, Mirella Murray, Josephine Marsh, Deirbhile Ní Brolchaáin and Elle Marie O’Dwyer.

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President Higgins in tribute to Ashling Murphy

“People throughout Ireland, in every generation, have been expressing their shock, grief, anger and upset at the horrific murder of Ashling Murphy,” said President Michael D. Higgins.

“This morning I spoke to Ashling’s family to convey, as President on behalf of the people of Ireland, and on behalf of Sabina and myself as parents, my profound sympathy and sorrow and sense of loss that her tragic death has meant to so many, but what in particular it must mean to her mother Kathleen, father Raymond, sister Amy and brother Cathal.

“I sought to convey a sense of how so many parents, families, indeed all of the people of Ireland are thinking of the Murphy family at this very sad time. The loss of Ashling is a loss to all of us, but to her family it is beyond description.

“The outpouring of grief at the death of Ashling shows how we have all been very touched, and it is so exemplary for young and old, to read of all Ashling’s accomplishments during her short but brilliant and generous life.

“Those who knew, studied with her, or as we have heard, loved her as a young gifted teacher, all have borne witness to a life of generous commitment to her local community and to her creativity.

 As a young, talented and enthusiastic teacher she had already made such a positive impact on her young students and colleagues at school.  To hear them speak of her is such a testament to the joy of sharing, be it in teaching, music or sport, that she conveyed in a way which must have brought much joy to all. She represented the best of her generation, in a life they will recall as inspirational.

Reflection
It is of crucial importance that we take this opportunity, as so many people have already done in the short time since Ashling’s death, to reflect on what needs to be done to eliminate violence against women in all its aspects from our society, and how that work can neither be postponed nor begin too early. 

“May I suggest to all our people to reflect on all of our actions and attitudes – and indeed those we may have been leaving unchallenged amongst those whom we know – and do all we can to ensure that the society we live in is one where all of our citizens are free to live their lives, participate fully, in an atmosphere that is unencumbered by risks for their safety.  Let us respond to this moment of Ashling’s death by committing to the creation of a kinder, more compassionate and empathetic society for all, one that will seek to eliminate all threats of violence against any of our citizens, and commit in particular to bringing an end, at home and abroad, to violence against women in any of
its forms.  

“Suaimhneas síoraí dá hanam uasal dílis, Ashling.”

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Star-studded line-up for Féile na Tána online

Above: Sean nós dancer, Edwina Guckian, who will be one of the tutors at Féile na Tána in February

Féile na Tána, the annual traditional music weekend in Carlingford, has returned to an online format for the second year in a row as a result of the ongoing difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite this – or perhaps in some cases because of this, the event has managed to secure an illustrious panel of tutors – all ranked among the leading exponents in their respective disciplines – to lead the online workshops which will take place on February 5 and 6.

Confirmed are:

Fiddle advanced   Bríd Harper
Fiddle intermediate   Zoë Conway
Whistle advanced   Mary Bergin
Whistle intermediate   Des Cafferkey
Uilleann Pipes   Mick O Brien
Harp   Cormac De Barra
Flute   Kevin Crawford
Accordian [C#/D Box]   Máirtín Ó Connor
Concertina   Caitlín Nic Gabhann
Singing   Julie Fowlis
Banjo   Gerry ‘Banjo’ O’Connor
Bodhrán    Jim Higgins
Guitar    John Mc Intyre
Bouzouki    Éamon Doorley
Sean nós dancing   Edwina Guckian

 
Zoe Conway
Máirtín O'Connor
Mary Bergin
Julie Fowlis

Each tutor has prepared a video workshop specially for Féile na Tána with a mix of chat about technique, ornamentation, and some tunes. The workshops are 30-45 minutes long and have been pre-recorded and edited. For a €20 fee, students will have access to the video for one month, and can start and stop the video at the touch of a button. Students can also use the slower speed button in YouTube to assist learning if required.

And if you were thinking that the tutors would make a great line-up for a concert,  Féile Director Zoë Conway has already had the same thought. So on Saturday February 5 at 7pm, a specially curated and pre-recorded video featuring all of the tutors.will be streamed online on the Féile na Tána Facebook page and YouTube channel.

On Sunday February 6 a special festival concert featuring pre-recorded footage of outstanding young musicians from the local area and further afield will be streamed  at 4pm on the Féile na Tána Facebook page and YouTube channel.
at 4pm which will be shared live online on the Féile na Tána Facebook and YouTube channel.

More information – including booking forms – is available at https://www.feilenatana.com/e

cobblestone

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 TradConnect.com 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 IrishConcertinaLessons.com, 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).

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 www.aileenlambert.com. 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)