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 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.

  • Episode 57: Aifric Boylan Interview (Fiddle)

    July 6th, 2020  |  1 hr 38 mins
    aifric boylan, cellbridge, fiddle, kildare

    Playing at your first Fleadh, hearing the ocean in the music and searching out the rarest old tunes. Learning from older players, driving to sessions with your dad and a road trip to a Belfast terraced house in search of a fiddle.

  • Episode 56: Luke Plumb Interview - Part 2 (Mandolin and singing)

    June 28th, 2020  |  1 hr 52 mins
    andy irvine, luke plumb, mandolin, planxty, shooglenifty, tasmanian

    'The artist is like a blind caterpillar at the end of a leaf reaching out into the darkness.' Staring The Reaper Down. Life in music, Shoogelnifty and Sandy Bell's in Edinburgh. All night sessions in Borneo, Pretty Peggy-O and teaching Andy Irvine bouzouki parts to an audience including...er...Andy Irvine.

  • Episode 55: Luke Plumb Interview - Part 1 (Mandolin, singing)

    June 24th, 2020  |  1 hr 1 min
    luke plumb, luke plumb and the circuit

    The real deal. Part one of two. Incredible playing and great chat: the painters of ancient Egypt and the joy of playing in an orchestra; De Danaan, Planxty and Schubert; Martin Carthy and Nic Jones and the thrum of existential rhythm.

  • Episode 54: Máirtín Staunton Interview (Flute)

    June 17th, 2020  |  1 hr 10 mins
    flute, máirtín staunton

    The northern flute style; working the bar at Matt Molloy's pub; capturing songs for posterity; on sean-nós singing, music as a release; life in Boston, and the regional sound of Melbourne

  • Episode 53: Don Meade Interview (Harmonica)

    June 10th, 2020  |  1 hr 44 mins
    don meade, harmonica, the blarney star, the catskills irish arts week

    Irish tunes on the harmonica - seriously awesome. The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, Eddie Clark, New York's Irish music scene in the '80s; Bill De Blasio's busted progressive cred and The Catskills Irish Arts Week.