The following words are from the generous heart of Cathal McConnell:
“My friend, flute maker and flute player extraordinaire, Martin Doyle made my B-flat and C flutes, both of which are a complete joy to play! On a recent visit he also gave my ageing Rudall and Rose a much-needed and thorough overhaul. Its cork had been there 150 years!!! A heartfelt thank you Martin, for your craftsmanship as well as your kindness.”
More comments from flute players all over the world can be viewed here: Testimonials »
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.
Over the last week since I wrote Listen and Learn with Ronan Browne, memories have been seeping back in through the defences of time; I’ll return to that trip to the Proitzer Mühle in 1995 for a further thought, this time about de-blinkering.
After the listening class, one of the participants came up to me, introduced himself and informed me that he was available to accompany me on guitar at the recital that night; I answered, as kindly as I could, that I was fine and, being self-accompanying, I wouldn’t need any backing. He asked was I sure, saying that he had accompanied the guest piper on other years and that it was a nice thing to do. I realised it would be right to say “yes, of course” so we arranged to meet later and run over a few tunes in preparation.
In every generation there are those who feel the urge to carry forward the essence of the culture, land and peoples that they are born into and amongst. Ireland’s Ronan Browne is such a person. A renowned piper, musician, composer, teacher, writer and historian, Ronan is not only making efforts to record and promote the traditional music of Ireland but, as the article below exposes, is also discovering and teaching new ways to hear and appreciate the beauty that lies at the core of Irish traditional music, language and culture. The grandson of the renowned Irish singer Delia Murphy, Ronan lives in Conamara with his wife and two children. For more information, kindly view the Ronan Browne links at the bottom of this page.
In the following article, which was originally published on the now defunct Gandharva Loka blog, Ronan Browne writes about the evolution and aims of his music appreciation and listening courses. We are very grateful to have this inspiring article on the Martin Doyle News blog – go raibh maith agat a Rónáin!
Essentially Learn to Listen – Listen to Learn is a “music appreciation/listening class” (using sound recordings, pictures and videos) where the students teach themselves how to interpret any piece of music they come across. Instead of lecturing the participants as to what they are listening to, they tell me, learning quickly to think on their own.
I have been running the course in varying lengths from 45 minutes up to 3 days – the longer you do it, the more fun you have…!
All nations can mark key moments in their history when an event, entity or individual has made a crucial contribution to the development and character of their homeland. Most often these moments seem to spring during times of adversity but history also shows that they can occur during peaceful and prosperous times as well. Ireland is a nation that has seen it’s fair share of adversity throughout the centuries but the courage and fortitude of her people has helped to forge and maintain a very special character that shines in the world as something most unique.
As with most colonised nations, the retention and eventual rejuvenation of the native language and music is tremendously important to the internal strength of a country. Examples of individual and collective commitment to the rejuvenation of Irish culture are many and varied. Ireland boasts a plethora of ‘heroes’ who, through the ages, have in various ways kept her sacred music alive for future generations to protect and develop. As a result, the music of Ireland is loved the world over and has kept it’s homeland’s heart beating proudly through thick and thin. Like her native language, Ireland’s music has been the mortar that has bound Ireland’s hopes, tears, smiles and dreams into an amalgam of collective fortitude.
Cran is an Irish traditional music group made up of three people who, as individuals, are very important figures in the contemporary Irish traditional music culture.
Cran live on stage. Ronan Browne (left), Desi Wilkinson (centre) and Seán Corcoran (right).
Ronan Browne (uilleann pipes, flutes, vocals) is widely regarded as one of the great virtuosos of the uilleann pipes, Ronan has carved out an international reputation both as concert performer and session musician. Ronan is the piper on the original recording of Riverdance and is also the original piper with the Afro Celt Sound System, appearing on their first two top-selling albums. Read more: About Ronan Browne »
Desi Wilkinson (flutes and vocals) is one of the leading exponents of the traditional Irish flute (“the timber flute”) and a fine singer, to boot. Originally from Belfast, he was inspired to get involved in Irish music through the playing of Fermanagh fiddler, Tom Gunn, a near neighbour. It was from Tom that he learned his first tunes. Read more: About Desi Wilkinson »
Seán Corcoran (bouzouki and lead vocals) has had a long career as a solo singer before founding Cran with Desi Wilkinson, and is internationally renowned as a skilful interpretor of songs from the Irish tradition, both in English and Gaelic. Read more: About Seán Corcoran »
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 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…