Category Archives: Ireland

The Day We Went To Sligo

September 26 this year saw Martin Doyle attend the 20th Sligo Festival of Baroque Music where he had been invited to have a instrument makers stall and offer a workshop on Baroque flute making.

Martin Doyle's stall at the 20th Sligo Festival of Baroque Music, September 2015

Martin Doyle’s stall at the 20th Sligo Festival of Baroque Music, September 2015

Reflecting on the event, Martin commented that he had a wonderful time, met some lovely people and attended some excellent workshops and recitals.

Recital at the 20th Sligo Festival of Baroque Music

Members of the Collegium Marianum offer a recital at the 20th Sligo Festival of Baroque Music, September 2015

One of the people who really impressed Martin was the Czech flute player Jana Semerádová, whose Baroque flute master class and recitals Martin attended. The following is a video clip of Jana performing a concerto in G major for flute by the Italian Baroque composer and violinist Giuseppe Tartini with members of the Collegium Marianum.

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A Poem For Nuala Níc Con Iomaire – By Biddy Jenkinson

Irish poet, Biddy Jenkinson

Irish poet, Biddy Jenkinson


Martin Doyle has a page on his website entitled In Praise of Wooden Flutes which presents a poem of the same name by Martin’s friend Biddy Jenkinson. Biddy, an Irish poet, short story writer and dramatist who writes in the Irish language, also sent Martin a poem that eulogises their mutual friend Nuala Níc Con Iomaire who passed away on July 16, 2010. That poem, Nuala, is reproduced below.

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Eimear McGeown Accepts A Challenge

A wee note highlighting a Facebook post by the brilliant Irish flautist Eimear McGeown. Eimear was recently challenged by her sister Erin to participate in the ‘Trad Tune Challenge‘ which aims to raise funds for the St. Patrick’s Hospital Foundation.

For the challenge Eimear plays a lovely slow air on a recently completed keyed Irish flute made by Martin Doyle. To hear the piece, click on the image below…

Eimear McGeown

Eimear McGeown playing a slow air on a Martin Doyle keyed flute for her Trad Tune Challenge

Kathlyn Sheehy Wins Two All-Ireland Competitions

Kathlyn Sheehy is a young flute player who plays a Martin Doyle flute and won the 2012 All-Ireland Under-12 Flute Fleadh Cheoil competition in Cavan and placed second in the 2013 All-Ireland Under-12 Flute competition in Derry.

Our heartiest congratulations to Kathlyn – well done you!

Kathlyn Sheehy

Kathlyn Sheehy sporting a well earned All-Ireland trophy and her Martin Doyle flute.

Mick McConnell’s Humorous Ballad

Mick McConnell performs The Ballad of Lidl and Aldi – a cracking good yarn written by himself about retail shopping and the effects it can have on ones marriage and living conditions. Mick is Cathal McConnell‘s brother and the world is a richer place for the fact that traditional music and story telling courses through the veins of these men.

Martin’s September 2012 VidPic

Some weeks ago, Martin Doyle sent me (his webmaster) links to the two videos offered below and said, “What do you think of them?” Naturally I liked them very much and was quite impressed with the spontaneity and freedom of movement in the dancers. And the music being played for the dancers is excellent! “Sean-nós – what does that mean?” was my question to Martin. “Old style,” was his answer. So I did a little looking around…

For the uninitiated (like me), sean-nós dance is an older style of traditional solo Irish dance – the lesser known free-form solo type of dancing that many of Ireland’s older traditional musicians played for.

It is a casual dance form (as opposed to the more formal competition-oriented form of) Irish Stepdancing. “Sean Nós” in the Irish language means “old style” and refers to various activities, including sean-nós song and sean-nós dance. These less common forms of Irish dance and traditional Irish singing have been documented by folklorists and song collectors (aka ethnomusicologists), but still often form part of the traditional dance scene in Ireland.
Read more: Sean-nós dance »

The musicians in this first video clip include the renowned Irish ‘box’ (melodeon) player Johnny Connolly. Emma O’Sullivan is the dancer…

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Ambulating Kiwis Visit Martin Doyle

Martin Doyle gets his fair share of visitors to his home and workshop in County Clare and they come from near and far. This week saw a small group of intrepid Kiwis pop in for a ‘cuppa and a chat’. Nearing the conclusion of a two week walking tour through the west of Ireland, the happy and hardy group were spending a couple of days in the area with visits to local artisans, walking the Burren and a night on Inis Meáin (one of the Aran Islands). Martin and his assistant Gwenn Frin were delighted to receive the guests who hailed from New Zealand, the US and Canada.

Walking tour leader Rachel Ryan (back left) and members of the group with Martin Doyle (back centre) and Gwenn Frin (back right) among a forest of wooden flutes at Martin's workshop in County Clare.

Walking tour leader Rachel Ryan (back left) and members of the group with Martin Doyle (back centre) and Gwenn Frin (back right) among a forest of wooden flutes at Martin’s workshop in County Clare.

The tours are led by County Limerick native Rachel Ryan who has lived in Nelson, New Zealand, since 1980. Each year Rachel and her team guide walking tours of west Ireland and also take visitors to New Zealand on walking tours throughout the beautiful Tasman District in the north-western region of New Zealand’s South Island.

Martin has developed a connection with New Zealand since meeting his friend (and webmaster) Shardul in 2001 when Martin was still living in County Wicklow. Shardul was looking for a flute for his meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy and arrived at Martin’s workshop in Bray. For a period spanning four or five years after that, Martin made a small number of Irish flutes from native New Zealand timbers that were supplied to him by his Kiwi friend. Shardul currently lives in Nelson and met Rachel Ryan at the 2012 Race Unity Day which is organised by the Nelson Multicultural Council. One thing leads to another in this world of ours…

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Róisín Dubh Performed By EAB

Róisín Elsafty (sean-nós singer), Siobhán Armstrong (harp) and Ronan Browne (Uilleann pipes, flute and whistle) perform together as Elsafty, Armstrong and Browne (EAB) and bring to life the unique sounds of early Irish music.

Elsafty, Armstrong and Browne

From left: Ronan Browne (Uilleann pipes), Siobhán Armstrong (harp) and Róisín Elsafty (sean-nós singer).

This trio presents the scintillating voice of one of Ireland’s finest Conamara singers, Róisín Elsafty together with the very rare and meltingly beautiful sound of the medieval Irish harp, played by Ireland’s foremost historical harper, Siobhán Armstrong, woven with the diverse colours of Ronan Browne’s flutes, whistles and 170-year-old pipes. From sparkling songs to harp laments and old pipes “pieces”, we are given a glimpse of the unique sound of early Ireland. Róisín performs evocative unaccompanied songs in the florid Conamara style, together with achingly beautiful 17th and 18th century Irish harpers’ songs with harp and flute accompaniment.

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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 »

Conversations on the Coast

In September of 2010, Bristolian Nick Hand visited Martin Doyle at his workshop in Clare. After recording a conversation with Martin and taking a raft of photographs in Martin’s workshop, Nick created a ‘soundslide’ that has been included on his Slowcoast website – one of dozens of inspirational soundslides that he has created during his cycle tours around the coastal regions of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

Conversations on the Coast – by Nick Hand

Conversations on the Coast – by Nick Hand

Nick has just released Conversations on the Coast – a beautifully presented hardcover publication offering a selection of twenty stories and photography from the Slowcoast project.

Conversations on the Coast brings together artists and craftspeople from around the British Isles who talk about their work, their life and their passion.

“What I love most about this book is the humility of actually quite ordinary artisans chosen by chance as they came into focus on one man’s remarkable journey around the coast. What we learn is that when you take the time to look, even the apparently straight forward lives of a bicycle repairer, hat maker or basket weaver are driven by passion and a deep seated love for their work. It is inspirational.” – Robin Wood, Chair of The Heritage Crafts Association.

Nick Hand’s visit with Martin Doyle has been included in the book and Martin was delighted to receive a copy by post this week.

Nick Hand cycled his way through some beautiful landscapes and interviewed some very interesting souls.

Nick Hand cycled his way through some beautiful landscapes and interviewed some very interesting souls.

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