Category Archives: Instrument Makers

Martin Doyle Flutes’ 30th Anniversary

Martin Doyle Flutes : 1983—2013

Martin Doyle Flutes' 30th Anniversary : 1983-2013 This year marks the 30th anniversary since Martin Doyle began his odyssey as a flute maker. No hoopla, probably not going to have a party, have put a little logo on the homepage of the website – that’s about it folks! Life goes on, flute orders come in, and Martin feels that the best way to celebrate is to carry on with the creative process that he began with and try all the time to improve his flute designs with the people who will play them in mind. This ethos has always been to the fore in his heart and mind from the outset and continues to drive him today.

A Message From Martin Doyle

Martin Doyle

“I would like to thank everyone for their support over the past thirty or so years. There are many dear friends who have been very encouraging and supportive through this process and that includes my family of course. I have also been very grateful to receive kind and encouraging comments from people all over the world who have purchased my flutes.

“I consider the act of creating instruments for musicians a privilege that cannot be understated. It is also a journey of partnership that requires the interplay and focus of both parties – the flute maker and the flute player. This has helped me to evolve and has also kept me inspired and active in the field of flute making. In my view these are sacred connections in the eternal quest for expression through the universal language that is music.

THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH! – Martin.”

A Tune To Celebrate


Tune: The Flute Maker Martin Doyle – by Joe Doyle.

The Flute Maker And The Cittern

As always, I was very pleased to receive a call from Martin Doyle via Skype this morning. The distance between Martin in Ireland and myself in New Zealand is very close to 12,000 miles. Skype allows us the illusion that we are sitting across the kitchen table from each other and so we chat regularly and sometimes play music to each other. Today our conversation went something like this:

“Good morning Martin.”

“Good evening Shardul – just a minute…”

… Martin disappears briefly and reappears with an instrument that I at first thought was a bouzouki …

Nikos Apollonio

Luthier and boat builder Nikos Apollonio with one of his bell citterns.

“No, it’s a cittern. Just got it. The maker, Nikos Apollonio, who is from Maine, dropped it off himself this morning and I haven’t been able to put it down since!”

Martin proceeded to play some lovely tunes on his brand spanking new cittern – a beautifully made ten string instrument with a spruce sound board, walnut body and rosewood fretboard. It looked stunning and sounded amazing! Martin commented on its quality and simplicity.

Over the years I have watched and listened to Martin sing, play whistle, Irish flute, baroque flute, concert flute, banjo, mandolin and bouzouki – now the cittern. In my opinion, he is a very good musician who plays music from his heart and soul with a real love for quality of sound.

“What attracted you to the cittern”, asks I.

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Three Instrument Makers In Ennistymon

3 Instrument Makers (and their music)

3 Instrument Makers (and their music).

The west of Ireland is particularly strong in the tradition of music and County Clare is no exception being liberally blessed with gifted musicians and artisans – past, present and, no doubt, into the future. As a result, the county is host to many events that reflect, celebrate and perpetuate this living tradition of music.

One such event (which Martin Doyle is very honoured and excited to be part of) is soon to be hosted by the The Courthouse Gallery – Ennistymon. Opening from the 19th to the 26th of November, 3 Instrument Makers (and their music) is an exhibition featuring the work and music of Martin Doyle (flute), Davey Spillane (Uilleann pipes) and Paul Dooley (harp) who all live within a bulls roar of Ennistymon.

In conjunction with the year of the craft, this unique exhibition will offer the visitor a multi media experience of film, photography, audio, as well as a chance to see a display of the exquisitely crafted instruments made by each of these musicians.

Photographer Christy McNamara, well known for his photographs of traditional musicians will be collaborating in this exhibition with a series of commissioned photographs. Also included will be a short film made by Packmule Films documenting each of the musicians at work in their workshops. In conjunction with North Clare Historical Society there will be a lecture Monday 21st at 8pm by Eugene Lambe, maker of flutes and pipes, collector of tunes and stories from Kinvara in the County Galway. This exhibition will be held in the old courthouse building in Ennistymon which has been beautifully renovated into a new art space.

Read more: 3 Instrument Makers (and their music) »

Details will no doubt be posted on the The Courthouse Gallery website »

Website Gets Facelift And Joe Makes Music

Martin Doyle’s Website Gets A Facelift

It has to happen every now and then… spring cleaning that is. And in New Zealand, where Martin Doyle’s webmaster lives, it is spring – so the timing is perfect. The southern spring has sprung and Martin Doyle has a new website – well, a new template at least. Same content pretty much, with some minor additions and the odd little tweak here and there – a facelift in effect.

The new-look website for Martin Doyle Flutes.

The new-look website for Martin Doyle Flutes.

So a little celebration is in order and what better way to celebrate than with a tune …

Joe Doyle Makes Music

Joe Doyle

Joe Doyle playing tunes in the orchard.

Recently added to the Martin Doyle’s flute music page is a lovely piece composed by Martin’s son Joe Doyle. Joe was out in the garden at his father’s home in County Clare a couple of weeks back, ‘playing around’ with his recently acquired Martin Doyle rosewood D flute, when a tune drifted through the music-rich ether of Clare and manifested itself through Joe and his flute. Joe dedicated the tune to his father by naming it ‘The Flute Maker Martin Doyle’ (‘by the flute maker’s son’, as Joe quipped) and recorded it later that day.

Posted On YouTube – September 2012

Related

Martin Doyle Attends Art In Action

Art in ActionArt in Action is a three-day arts and crafts festival held every June Bank Holiday Weekend. Top artists and craftspeople from many different disciplines are invited to set up studios, stalls and workshops to demonstrate their work and skills live. Over a hundred craft, fine, liberal and performing artists demonstrate and sell their art to the public. An extensive range of children and adult art classes are also available, all set in the lovely house and grounds of Townley Hall near Drogheda in County Louth, Ireland. Art in Action is affiliated to the John Scottus School.

Art in Action is organised and staffed by the School of Philosophy, an educational charity in Dublin (CHY 5791). Everyone who contributes to the organisation and staffing of the event does so entirely on a voluntary basis and without payment of any kind. This is at the core of the ethos of Art in Action and contributes to its unique atmosphere – about which both visitors and artists frequently comment.

A music session in full swing at Martin Doyle's stand during Art in Action 2010.

A music session in full swing at Martin Doyle’s stand during Art in Action 2010.

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The Music Tree Airs On Newstalk

The Different Voices series on Ireland’s Newstalk 106-108 FM radio station continues with The Music Tree – a documentary featuring the Irish flute maker Martin Doyle.

Martin Doyle in Tanzania.

Martin Doyle in Tanzania.

As a young man, Martin Doyle travelled from his native Bray in County Wicklow to Africa. He was employed as a ships engineer for a couple of years – a job he took to raise much needed funds to purchase expensive tools and machinery for his dream of developing a flute making business in the early 1980s. The hard work and time away from Ireland paid off, and as the years have passed, the dream has blossomed into a reality.

Now an established and highly respected flute maker living in County Clare, Martin decided to revisit East Africa where African Blackwood (Mpingo as it is known in Tanzania), the timber that Martin makes most of his flutes from, is grown. There he hopes to visit the forests where the Mpingo grows, to meet those whose livelihoods depend upon it. He also hopes to make an Irish flute with the help of local craftsmen in a Tanzanian workshop – quite possibly a world first!

Martin Doyle at the workshop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Martin Doyle at the workshop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. From left: Martin, Focus Senga, Salim and James Laizer.

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A Wonderful Day At Millmount

During my trip to Ireland in May, I was invited by Martin Doyle to attend a small but lively gathering of Irish traditional musicians at Millmount in the historic town of Drogheda, County Louth. I took the train from Dublin and arrived in time to have breakfast overlooking the River Boyne. Despite the drizzling rain, I was captured by the feeling of the place – it’s rich history dating from the Neolithic period was something that can be felt in the atmosphere of the town. My friend Martin has a deep fondness for Drogheda and the general areas of Loath and it’s immediate neighbour, County Meath. That part of Ireland, with it’s strong music tradition, has always been close to his heart. Very keen to attend the festival, Martin left his home in County Clare at 7am and joined us in Drogheda for morning tea!

Martin Doyle at Millmount.

Martin Doyle playing one of his own flutes at the Traditional Day in Millmount.

For the past four years Drogheda has hosted the week long Drogheda Arts Festival. Among the festival’s numerous events is an Irish traditional music component known as the Traditional Day in Millmount. Martin Doyle was invited to attend as a flute maker and traditional musician and he gladly agreed to participate. Also in attendance at Millmount was Martin’s good friend Ronan Browne, the renowned piper Seán McKiernan, stalwart Irish traditional musician, singer and organiser of the Traditional Day in Millmount Seán Corcoran (Seán and Ronan, along with Desi Wilkinson, are members of the Irish traditional music group Cran), Uilleann pipe maker Bill Haneman, flute maker John Hughes and Uilleann pipes aficionado Ken McLeod.

Discover all that Millmount has to offer by joining us for a traditional music day. From 12pm until 5pm the festival presents activities for all the family, including an outdoor ceili session, Irish dancing, story telling and live outdoor performances… Exhibitions include ‘A History of Piping in Drogheda’ presented by Na Píobairí Uilleann in the Millmount Centre…

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Excerpts From Sounding Post

Website Updates

Two excerpts have been added to the African Blackwood Conservation page of Martin Doyle’s web site. In May of this year, Martin Doyle featured on a BBC Radio 4 program entitled Sounding Post which was produced by Nina Perry.

“Nina Perry takes a musical journey tracing the wood used in making musical instruments back to the forest, from an Irish flute maker and a Los Angeles-based guitarist to the Mpingo Conservation Project in Tanzania.” – BBC Radio 4.

Unfortunately Sounding Post is not currently available online ( since early 2015, it can be heard here: Sounding Post ). The two excerpts that have been added to Martin’s web site feature Martin talking about flute making and playing music on a ‘fresh off the lathe’ flute. The tune that Martin plays during the course of the interview is called Na Ceannabháin Bhána.

And on that note, here is a video clip that offers another version of Na Ceannabháin Bhána played by the late Kitty Hayes (concertina) and Clare piper Peter Laban (Uilleann pipes). Recorded in May 2008 at Miltown Malbay in County Clare, Kitty and Peter play two slip jigs actually – the afore mentioned Na Ceannabháin Bhána and also Hardiman the Fiddler. Enjoy…

Martin Doyle To Feature On BBC Radio 4

Nina Perry

Nina Perry – music, sound and radio.

Martin Doyle is one of several instrument makers interviewed in a feature radio programme called Sounding Post. Produced by Nina Perry – an independent radio producer, composer and sound designer from London who produces features with Falling Tree Productions for BBC Radio 4, Sounding Post will be airing on May the 9th at 11 am (GMT), and looks at the use of timber in instrument making around the world.

Nina Perry’s ‘composed feature’ Sounding Post traces a musical journey from the instrument-makers’ workshops and music studios of Europe and America, via the woods of southern England across to the mpingo (African blackwood) conservation project of Tanzania. The relationship that each individual in the process – forester, craftsman, musician and environmentalist – has with the wood reveals insights into our feeling for nature, the materials we derive from our surroundings and the irresistible impulse to express ourselves musically.

From an Irish flute maker, Martin Doyle, an English Luthier, Martin Bowers, luthiers supplier David Dyke and a Los Angeles based guitarist, Laurence Juber, to the English forester Martin Charlton and members of the Mpingo Conservation Project in Southeastern Tanzania and Scott Paul of the Greenpeace MusicWood campaign, we hear about the sonorous qualities of different species, the increasing issue of maintaining sustainable supplies and the people who connect the music to the tree.

Sounding Post also features some great acoustic music which includes Martin Doyle playing wooden flute.

Martin Doyle playing one of his own flutes

Martin Doyle playing one of his own keyless D flutes made from African Blackwood with a sterling silver tuning slide.

Wooden Flutes From Wind Power

Airtricity wind power certificate on the wall of Martin Doyle's workshop.

Airtricity wind power certificate on the wall of Martin Doyle’s workshop.

Given today’s environmental issues that are increasingly being highlighted by global warming, Martin Doyle has always tried to be conscious of the use of power and timber in his work. As an instrument maker who uses timbers such as African Blackwood and Cocus for the flutes he makes, Martin has long supported The Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative – an NGO that aims to conserve endangered forests by promoting sustainable and socially equitable harvesting of African Blackwood (mpingo) and other valuable timber stocks.

To power his house and workshop, Martin has opted to use environmentally friendly electricity supplied by SSE Airtricity – a fully integrated renewable electricity utility specialising in the development and long term ownership of onshore and offshore wind farms. The Group currently has almost 400MW of generating capacity in operation across Ireland and Scotland, with a further 400MW in construction and to be operational this year.

Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into useful form, such as electricity, using wind turbines. In windmills, wind energy is directly used to crush grain or to pump water. At the end of 2007, worldwide capacity of wind-powered generators was 94.1 gigawatts. Although wind currently produces just over 1% of world-wide electricity use, it accounts for approximately 19% of electricity production in Denmark, 9% in Spain and Portugal, and 6% in Germany and the Republic of Ireland (2007 data). Globally, wind power generation increased more than fivefold between 2000 and 2007. Read more: Wind power »

Martin Doyle is proud to be making woodwind instruments using wind power.

Martin Doyle is proud to be making woodwind instruments using electricity generated from the power of the wind.