Tag Archives: Martin Doyle

Diarmuid Breathnach’s Passing

Diarmuid Breathnach
Diarmuid Breathnach

It is with heavy heart that we announce the passing of one of Martin Doyle’s dearest friends, Diarmuid Breathnach, on Monday the 13th of November 2023. This was the message received from Martin on November 15.

Diarmuid Breathnach left us the day before yesterday.
He was one of the best people I have known.
He was 93 and born on the 5th of August, 1930 – exactly 21 years older than me. You will remember that Diarmuid very kindly made the Irish translation for my website (see: Scéal Máirtín Ó Dubhghaill).

Diarmuid Breathnach

Below are some external facts about Diarmuid’s life from an article on the RTÉ website. His contributions to Irish culture were immense.

Born in Kiltimon, Co. Wicklow, in 1930, Mr. Breathnach was educated in UCD Dublin before he was appointed town librarian in Bray and Kilkenny county librarian.

He was subsequently employed by RTÉ to set up its radio archives and in 1975 he became the organisation’s chief librarian.

In 1987, he took early retirement from RTÉ and he and fellow librarian, Máire Ni Mhurchú, began working full-time on the Irish-language Dictionary of Irish Biography, Beathaisnéis.

They published nine volumes during 1986-2007 detailing the lives of writers, scholars, singers, actors, broadcasters, sports personalities, journalists, musicians, folklorists, politicians, clergymen, storytellers, activists and Gaeltacht personalities.

Mr Breathnach was also the author of two almanacks in Irish and published material in newspapers and journals.

In 1996, he and Máire Ní Mhurchú were awarded Gradam Bhord na Gaeilge.

They received a D Litt Celt from Maynooth University in 2002. In 2008, they were presented with Gradam an Oireachtais.

For this who knew the man, Diarmuid Breathnach will also be remembered for his warmth, humour and kindness of spirit. May you Rest In Peace Diarmuid – gentle man – and thank you for the richness of your contribution to this world.

Diarmuid Breathnach and Martin Doyle
Diarmuid Breathnach and Martin Doyle together in County Wicklow in 2009.

Related: Irish Translation Added »

40 Years of Flute Making!

2023 Marks the 40th Anniversary of Martin Doyle Flutes!

“I have been reminded that I am forty years making flutes this year. At times like this, it comes to mind that there is a large number of people to thank for their help along the way – a steady stream of friends, teachers and customers who have offered their ideas, inspiration and encouragement. I would like to mention them all but they are so numerous that it would be impossible. If I started now and wrote for a month, I would probably still leave some important people out.

So … I will settle for offering my gratitude to all those who have supported me down through the years and say that it has been an honour to be of service to the vast world of music and the harmony that it creates. Thank you all so much!” — Martin Doyle.

Some Comments from the Sidelines

I first met Martin Doyle in 2000 at his riverside workshop in Bray, County Wicklow. He was seventeen years into the process of producing good quality simple system wooden flutes back then and doing well. The story of his journey is wonderful – full of character and great characters. Twenty-three years later and we are celebrating Martin’s 40th anniversary in the noble art of flute making.

40 years is a long time to be doing anything – especially an activity like flute making. A very precise art, the making of flutes requires focused concentration for hours on end hunched over machinery, wearing magnified eye shields and working in the realm of fractions with material that can at times be hard on the nerves and the health. It is an artisan craft that requires vision, commitment and dedication.

There is also a great deal of responsibility as one is labouring to accomplish a good result for musicians – beings that can be quite pedantic in terms of what they seek in an instrument. As in all aspects of life, there are peaks and valleys but, from my observation, Martin seems to have enjoyed the view from the peaks more often than not.

Then there is the aspect of transcendence. How does one develop ones capacities in order to take a chosen craft beyond the limitations of what has been created previously? This is where I personally believe that Martin Doyle has excelled. As with the work of making a flute, transcendence is accomplished in fractions and occurs when diligence, research, intuition, passion and many other glowing qualities meet with and are moistened by the rains of love for the work, discipline, patience, humanity and, certainly in this case, love for music itself.

Martin is himself an accomplished musician and, as the years have passed, his flutes have always gradually improved in my view. Perhaps he is vicariously making flutes for that deep universal aspect of himself that exists in others – or is that to zen? Whatever the case may be, there seems to be an underlying aspiration for perfection in Martin’s journey as a flute maker and as a man on this earth. Perfection is, after all, a master that demands constant transcendence through self improvement.

Well Martin, fair play to you – forty years is no joke! I am sure that you have a few more years in you yet and some fortunate musicians out there will benefit from that. Personally I would like to thank you for your friendship and for having me along for the ride. I am honoured to have partaken in a little of life’s adventure with you! Your kindness and generosity of spirit are matters of my heart’s deepest joy and gratitude. MY HEARTIEST CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU!

~ Shardul.

If any who read this post would like to leave a comment for Martin, please do so below. Encouragement is a valued commodity. 🙂

Leonora Lyne Playing A B Flute

Leonora Lyne playing a Martin Doyle B flute

We have just posted a video and two audio samples of Irish flute player Leonora Lyne playing a Martin Doyle B flute. Martin does not construct B flutes very often – Leonora’s was only the second one – but they are completely of his own design and have great tone. Enjoy the music (links below) and many thanks to Leonora for sending the samples.

Martin Doyle visits Dublin

Martin Doyle recently visited Gandharva Loka in Dublin to drop off a pair of flutes made from native New Zealand timbers – the last of the ‘KiwiCelt’ flute line that Martin has produced throughout the years. Here is a video clip of Martin playing the flute made of black maire wood in the Gandharva Loka store.

Eimear McGeown Performs Enya’s ‘May It Be’

Irish flute player Eimear McGeown has just published a lovely rendition of May It Be – a song co-composed and sung by Enya for the 2001 Peter Jackson movie The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Eimear is playing a keyless Martin Doyle C flute made of African Blackwood and is accompanied by Jonny Toman on guitar. Enjoy …

And for anyone wishing to hear Enya’s original version of May It Be …

Continue reading

Martin Doyle Interviewed on The West Wind

The Willie Clancy Summer School

The Willie Clancy Summer School, Milltown Malbay, County Clare, Ireland.

July in Ireland means many things to many people, no doubt. It’s mid-summer for one thing and the sun brings welcome warmth to the land, so there must be some joy in most hearts. For the Irish traditional music fraternity though, July means only one thing: the annual Willie Clancy Summer School which is held in Milltown Malbay, County Clare.

For a week or so each July, the small coastal town near Spanish Point is swamped with music teachers, students, aficionados and keen lovers of the great Irish music tradition for master classes, music sessions, concerts and all that comes with such activities. Milltown Malbay is synonymous with the famed Clare musician Willie Clancy (1918—1973) who was a great exponent of the uilleann pipes specifically and Irish traditional music in general.

July and the Willie Clancy also means a busy time for the local instrument makers like Martin Doyle. Being a flute maker of renowned, he also attracts a fair bit of attention during the Willie Clancy without even leaving his property near Liscannor. The path to his home and workshop is well trodden each July with requests for flute purchases, orders and repairs. Old friendships are renewed and new ones forged over a cup of tea, some chin-wag and and, no doubt, a tune or two.

Claire Keville

Musician, music teacher and broadcaster Claire Keville.

A local radio station, Clare FM, is one of the foremost promoters of traditional Irish music broadcasting in Ireland today. They have a popular programme called The West Wind which has been interviewing all sorts of people who are involved in the Willy Clancy week. Musician, music teacher and broadcaster Claire Keville was live on The Clare FM Cruiser in Milltown Malbay on July the 4th where she interviewed Martin Doyle and his good friend Ronan Browne who is a renowned piper from Conamara in County Galway.

The two friends feature at the beginning of Claire’s set of interviews for that day. They talk about Martin’s flute making, and Martin and Ronan play a couple of tunes together on their Martin Doyle flutes. Well worth a listen, as is the rest of the programme. Click the play button below to hear the show …

Eimear And Martin Playing Tunes

Irish flautist Eimear McGeown has just returned to Ireland from the Budapest Flute Academy in Hungary and she stopped in for a quick visit with Martin Doyle at his workshop in the County Clare today. As is often the case when musicians get together, one thing led to another and this took place…

Playing a few tunes with Martin Doyle Flutes in his workshop on his new style of Irish flutes. This one is boxwood, they’re going to be great starter flutes…

Posted by Eimear McGeown – Flute on Thursday, 31 March 2016

The tunes are Tom Ward’s Downfall and Anderson’s – both reels.