The Blarney Pilgrims Podcast

A weekly journey to the heart of Irish music.

About the show

The Blarney Pilgrims Irish Music Podcast is a weekly journey to the heart of Irish music. We interview players of Irish music about how they first came to the music and the place it occupies in their lives now. We use the word ‘heart’ intentionally, because heart is what this music, and the people who play it, are all about. It’s a funny, warm and often unexpected journey – and the tunes are crackin' too.


Dominic Black has made radio shows for the BBC and NPR stations in the USA. He's also an oral history producer, essayist and editor. Dominic owns five different tin whistles, all in the key of 'D.'

Darren O'Mahony is an advertising creative director. He's currently learning the Irish fiddle, but really he wants to get a set of uilleann pipes.

The Blarney Pilgrims Podcast on social media

Episodes

  • Episode 73: Sean Mathews Interview (Sean-nós, twelve string guitar, dulcimer guitar)

    October 25th, 2020  |  1 hr 58 mins
    dreaming is allowed, dulcimer guitar, harmonium, irish music podcast, sean mathews interview, sean-nós, sweet dooley gate, the commuter's song, twelve string guitar, welcome to ballsgrove

    From Ballsgrove to Dooley Gate. Drogheda singing group to Marcelo Bielsa. Innovating and finding your voice. Halloween, bonfires, fireworks, hash and Scrumpy Jack. Parochial Kavanagh, Jinx Lennon, Blindboy Boatclub and the rise and fall of regional communities and the commuter belt.

  • Episode 72: Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin Interview (Sean-nós, concertina, flute)

    October 12th, 2020  |  1 hr 38 mins
    concertina, eoghan ó ceannabháin, flute, irish music podcast, meiriceá, sean-nós, singing, the deepest breath, the green bunch of rushes, the merry sisters of fate, the monaghan jig, tá na páipéir dhá saighneáil, voice

    Mitching classes to work on your music. Sean-nós: 'My granny would have just called them songs.' Tradition and change, art and technique and the soul of the thing. Writing in English, writing in Irish. Activism, collectivity and music as barriers against despair.

  • Episode 71: Cli Donnellan Interview (Fiddle)

    October 9th, 2020  |  1 hr 33 mins
    cli donnellan, fiddle, interview

    The elusive nya! Making tunes your own, ornamentation and phrasing and the old East Clare style. Francie Donnellan, Seamus Bugler, Martin Woods and a tune by the stove. Learning, loving, leaving the music, and returning. 'Songs My Father Sang,' the journey, knowing yourself and the truth in music.

  • Episode 70: Mary McEvilly-Butler Interview (Fiddle)

    October 6th, 2020  |  1 hr 55 mins
    fiddle, interview, mary mcevilly-butler

    A Supergroup at the National Celtic Festival. Remembering and forgetting the names of tunes. Ballintubber, County Mayo and musicians in the house. The freedom of the open road, to Boston and Australia. Maintaining a love of kids even when you've been teaching for twenty years or so, and fostering a growth mindset - in children, and yourself.

  • Episode 69: Úna Monaghan Interview (Harp, samples)

    September 28th, 2020  |  2 hrs 5 mins
    harp, samples, úna monaghan

    The hornpipe is the rebel, the wink, the wee pocket of mischief. Electronics, samples, rhythms. The harp, and the influence of Janet Harbison. Performing for others and performing alone. Art and listener responses. The Star Factory, mapping Belfast, engineering in sound. Gender, power, Mise Fosta and equal representation in the music business in Ireland.

  • Episode 68: James Keane Interview (Accordion) Part 2

    September 18th, 2020  |  1 hr 13 mins
    accordion, james keane

    'Know when you've landed.' A first trip to New York and painting the town with Joe Burke and friends. Bill Fuller's ballroom empire, The Woodworm Hotel, and the John Barleycorn. Overcoming adversity and reaching some sort of contentment. Paul Brady, Michael D. Higgins and staying with the music.

  • Episode 67: James Keane Interview (Accordion) Part 1

    September 15th, 2020  |  1 hr 43 mins

    The legend. A photo of a photo, pictures within pictures. Father's shift work at Clondalkin paper mill and growing up in Drimnagh. Memories of those that are gone, embedded in the tunes, and bringing them back each time you play. Ceoltóirí Chualann, not letting on that you play the diddley-eye stuff and midnight gigs at the age of 11. 'That quiet part of the world' and the Dublin folk revival scene of the '50s and '60s. Thirteen gigs in the one night and remembering the McPeakes of Belfast.

  • Episode 66: Karen Dolan Interview (Banjo, mandolin)

    September 7th, 2020  |  1 hr 44 mins
    banjo, interview, irish music podcast, karen dolan, mandolin

    'Philomena Begley on a tractor!' Tuesday night is music night, learning tunes before the oven timer goes off. To fleadh or not to fleadh; to lilt or not to lilt? The players of Mullaghoran, County Cavan and keeping open to as many influences as possible. The banjo, the mando and joys of teaching. An open hearted approach to music and the fun to be had from it. 'I could close my eyes in a gig and not have a care in the world.'

  • Episode 65: Shannon Heaton Interview (Flute)

    August 30th, 2020  |  1 hr 44 mins
    flute, interview, irish music stories, shannon heaton, shannon heaton interview

    A Belgian neighbour in Nigeria and a first encounter with the whistle; traditional music in Thailand and a global musical imagination; Maria Carey, melismatic singing, Paddy Tunney and the Ulster song tradition; Irish music with Chris and Aidan and John, and meeting Matt Molloy. Holding on to a singer so they don't drift away. Composing, teaching and podcasting, constructing a living in music. And, you know, heart and soul stuff - like hope.

    The Mountain Road and The Galway Rambler

    The Irish Washerwoman

  • Episode 64: Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh Interview (Hardanger d'Amore)

    August 24th, 2020  |  1 hr 52 mins
    caoimhín ó raghallaigh, caoimhín ó raghallaigh interview, hardanger d'amore, laghdú, the gloaming, this is how we fly

    A pause in pandemic times and what you hear when you hear Seamus Ennis; Phelim O'Reilly, Anton McGowan and doorway street sessions; holding onto infectious rhythms from youthful summers. Theoretical physics and musical headspace. 'What is it? What was it?' The irresistible core at the heart of a great session. Schrödinger's Irish tunes, the real music in the solo players and the liberation to be found in lilting. Getting things out of the way as you look for the joy in the music, and falling for the hardanger fiddle.

  • Episode 63: Áine Tyrrell Interview (Guitar, singing, banjo)

    August 18th, 2020  |  1 hr 50 mins

    Welcome To Country; Ireland, history, emigration; who we are and where we belong. Finding culture, finding your self and finding the courage to take to the road. Away from suburban life and Tupperware. Gender disparity in Irish radio, Robert Kee and Fred Dibnah.

  • Episode 62: Theresa O'Grady Interview (Banjo, tenor guitar, mandolin)

    August 10th, 2020  |  2 hrs 11 mins
    banjo, mandolin, tenor guitar, theresa o'grady

    Sunday morning sessions at The Coach and Horses, Finsbury Park; summer road trips to Ireland and back via relatives' houses, Fleadhs, sessions and the Holyhead ferry; learning to play in Anne Caulfield's house in Luton; competing and adjudicating; becoming a teacher of music and recording your first album. All that AND Barings Bank. Nick Leeson how are ye!

  • Episode 61: Elaine O'Sullivan Interview (Accordion)

    August 3rd, 2020  |  1 hr 36 mins

    Teenage musicians, a Drogheda pub and the Wednesday of the Fleadh; passing on the music; Hull, Leeds and the Coventry music community; moving back to Ireland, and English accent in border country and the accordion as passport.

  • Episode 60: Daithí Gormley Interview (Accordion)

    July 27th, 2020  |  1 hr 37 mins
    blarney pilgrims, blarney pilgrims podcast, celtic, celtic music, celtic music podcast, celtic podcast, daithí gormley interview, irish, irish music podcast, irish podcast, irish traditional music podcast, music, podcast, traditional irish music podcast

    Last Night's Fun; Joe Cooley, a -kick-you-in-the-chest-kind-of-accordion-player'; looking for the ghosts of James Morrison and Michael Coleman on the streets of New York City. Translating the music of the fiddle into the language of the box; a grandmother's treasure trove of recordings for the aspiring musician; the chancey magic of a recording session with the right people at the right time.

  • Episode 59: Jason Rouse Interview (Uilleann Pipes)

    July 21st, 2020  |  1 hr 28 mins

    Discovering the uilleann pipes on a road trip to Donegal; oils on metal; generative art and music; not settling in Northern Ireland; MIDI pipes and the Cardiff scene; restoration and the mysterious conversations which only pipers understand.

  • Episode 58: Kevin Crawford Interview (Flute, whistle)

    July 14th, 2020  |  2 hrs 7 mins
    flute, kevin crawford, lúnasa, michael grinter, teetotalers

    Taking on the old tunes. Records on the wall. The art and laughter of Michael Grinter. The Teetotallers, that Gort Tape and the Irish music scene in 80s Birmingham. Living in America. The birth of Lúnasa. And the rise and rise of TV snooker and Irish music. Gold.