The following video clip features a traditional Irish children’s tune called The Dingle Regatta being performed by Cairde Chualann at the 2013 All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil in Derry. Cairde Chualann is a group of traditional musicians and dancers who hail from the counties Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare. The group has several flute players who play Martin Doyle flutes and we are told that there were three six-keyed, one nine-keyed and one keyless flute being played in this piece. The harpist is Claire O’Donnell who accompanies Martin Doyle (flute) playing a lovely tune that can be heard here: The Blue Hills of Antrim »
Martin Doyle has long dreamed of making flutes using timbers that have been produced in environmentally friendly and socially equitable modes. In recent years, Martin has been involved in a number of projects that have highlight a movement toward that reality and he has participated in the making of three radio documentaries highlighting the sustainable use of African Blackwood – Mpingo as the valued tonewood is known in east Africa. Martin is the first flute maker to produce an Irish flute from FSC certified African Blackwood having received a small amount of the timber some months ago.
Martin Doyle with the newly arrived FSC certified African Blackwood.
This week Martin received his first full shipment of FSC certified African Blackwood which prompted the following comment:
“The arrival of this timber gives us the feeling of working in a sustainable environment that is genuinely beneficial to the people of Tanzania and we are very happy to be participating in a chain of events that has a positive outcome for everyone involved. It’s a great joy!”
Martin thinks that this shipment of timber has been harvested from the sustainably managed Mpingo forests around the village of Kikoli in eastern Tanzania – an area Martin visited during his trip to Tanzania in 2009. Martin’s plan is to be using FSC certified African Blackwood exclusively from the beginning of 2012 as his present stock of material diminishes. The flutes made from the FSC certified timber will be stamped accordingly.
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
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.
Martin Doyle receives the 2011 RDS Crafts Competition Award (Musical Instruments category).
Martin Doyle has just received the honour of being awarded first prize in the ‘Musical Instruments’ category of the 2011 RDS National Crafts Competition. The award was for a nine key flute made of cocus wood that Martin finished in April.
Martin drove from County Clare to Dublin with his apprentice Gwenn Frin on Wednesday to accept the award and they were joined at the RDS ceremony by Martin’s long-time friend and Aikido teacher Sean MacRuairi (John Rogers).
Martin Doyle has previously entered his flutes in two craft competitions winning major awards on both occasions. He was awarded the Crafts Council of Ireland Medal in 1985 (with an eight key flute made from African Blackwood) and the prestigious RDS California Gold Medal (overall winner) in 1993 (also with an eight key flute made from African Blackwood). Delighted by the encouragement of winning this years award, Martin had this to say:
The Irish culture and tradition has played a major influence in Eimear’s life, starting Irish dancing at the age of three and going on to become a Northern Ireland Champion dancer. Eimear began playing whistle at the age of nine and progressed to the traditional Irish flute a year later having lessons with Sligo born flautist, Séamus Tansey.
Eimear was the Ulster Champion on the whistle when she was eleven years old and later went on to win two All Ireland Champion titles on the Irish flute both as soloist and in a trio with her brother and sister. She performs on the traditional Irish flute regularly including recitals, in the West End Show Lord of the Rings, with folk/rock band Amsterdam, session studio work in London and is currently recording a solo Celtic Crossover album.
Martin Doyle has for a number of years supported the sustainable use of African Blackwood (aka Grenadilla and Mpingo) – a unique tone wood that grows only in east Africa and has been used extensively by instrument makers throughout the world for over two centuries. He has recently produced his first flute made from African Blackwood that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The FSC is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.
In the past, Martin has been involved in producing documentaries for radio which explore the use and conservation of African Blackwood. This included Sounding Post and The Music Tree which were both produced by Nina Perry of Falling Tree Productions. In 2009, in the process of making of The Music Tree, Martin travelled to Tanzania with Nina where he saw first hand the efforts being made to manage the sustainable replanting and harvesting of African Blackwood. The local people who live in and around the Mpingo forests are now involved in all phases of the procedure and are reaping their share in the profits as well – a welcome stimulation to their economy that raises the standard of living.
Joe Doyle playing Martin Doyle’s first flute made from FSC certified African Blackwood (Mpingo).
Martin was also interviewed regarding the flutes he is making using FSC certified Blackwood by Peter Browne of Ireland’s RTÉ Radio 1 and featured on Peter’s The Rolling Wave programme.
Joe Doyle (one of Martin Doyle’s two sons, pictured right) was recently visiting Martin for a few days at his home near Liscannor in County Clare. A talented musician himself, Joe had the chance to play the first of the new flutes made from FSC certified African Blackwood and a recording was made that can be heard here: The Green Fields of Rosbeigh by Joe Doyle – Flute Music »