Blarney Pilgrims Irish Music Podcast

A weekly journey to the heart of Irish music.

About the show

The Blarney Pilgrims 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.


Hey there - it's Darren and Dom here. So...we want to let you know that last week was the last episode (Ep 94) of the Blarney Pilgrims Podcast for now. We've come to a point where we've both decided to take a long pause and focus on a few other things. Knowing how much the podcast means to you all, it's a decision we've been really reluctant to take. What we DO know is how massively grateful we are for every text, every thumbs up, every raised eyebrow of support we've had over the past two years. You are all legends, and we're forever in your debt. Thanks especially to everyone who's become a Patron Saint and supported us through the toughest of economic times, and thanks most especially to the musicians. To those who have been so generous to share their tunes and stories with us, and to those who've welcomed us into pub sessions and festival gatherings and house sessions and campsite sessions. Wherever in the world we've chatted with players of the music, we've been made to feel like lifelong pals. It's a testament to the open heartedness of the communities who keep the music going wherever they are, and we can't thank you all enough. We hope this archive will remain of use to people even as we're taking a pause. So - please do stay in touch, don't be a stranger, and if you see us out and about, do say hello. And we'll see you when we see you. Dom and Darren.

Blarney Pilgrims Irish Music Podcast on social media


  • Episode 78: Liam Thomas Bailey Interview (Fiddle, five-string banjo, singing)

    November 30th, 2020  |  2 hrs 21 mins
    depression, fiddle, five-string banjo, irish music podcast, liam bailey, psilocybin mushrooms, psychedelics, singing

    Out of The Wind, Into the Sun: depression, loss, and the therapeutic power of psilocybin mushrooms. All of everything in a single tune. 'Keeping myself in the air as an artist.' The road, the weight, a writer not writing. Bruce Springsteen, Cillian Vallely, Jon Bon Jovi and a little bit o' John Denver.

  • Episode 77: Darren O'Mahony, Dominic Black, Gerry McKeague and a Huge Thank-You (5-string banjo, guitar, singing)

    November 24th, 2020  |  1 hr 54 mins
    5-string banjo, darren o'mahony, dominic black, gerry mckeague, guitar, irish music podcast, irish trad, traditional irish music podcast

    A chat to mark passing the 100K download mark, with Gerry McKeague of Belfast and Geelong. About what we've learned so far and where we're going. Seriously great fun, and a lovely chance for us to think out loud about what this all means to us. And to say thank to all of you who've travelled with us this far.

  • Episode 76: Tara Howley Interview (Whistle, concertina and uilleann pipes)

    November 16th, 2020  |  1 hr 58 mins
    concertina, interview, irish, music, podcast, riverdance, tara howley, uilleann pipes, whistle

    Kilfenora; the nervous you get playing in front of ten people, worse than playing in front of a thousand. Leaving your ego at the door. Being happy with what you're doing, being happy within yourself. First hearing the pipes and the trials of competition. Restless creativity, and finding your way to Riverdance. Managing social media and the inner self. (And a Burmese Mountain Dog called Saoirse)

  • Episode 75: Michael Walsh Interview (Flute, whistle, singing)

    November 9th, 2020  |  1 hr 55 mins
    chat, flute, hawk, interview, kepa junkera, manchester, michael walsh, quare, quarehawk, singing, whistle

    " 'England gave me everything I ever wanted.' " The Quarehawk. Big Tom, Margo, the Manchester scene; Irish, English, and in-between. A love of England and making a whole out of two halves. Grieving, and crafting an album. Fathers, sons, boys, men. Asturias, the flute and identifying as one thing or another. Getting Kepa Junkera to play on your album. And so much more. Brilliant stuff.

  • Episode 74: Caitlín Nic Gabhann Interview (Concertina)

    November 2nd, 2020  |  2 hrs 4 mins
    battering, caitlín nic gabhann, concertina, interview, riverdance, set dancing

    Jig songs, syncopation and keeping away from the funky chicken tunes. Playing out til 4 in the morning with your dad on a Fleadh Saturday night. The magic of Donegal, chancing your arm for a Riverdance audition and not talking to Maria Carey at the pyramids. Finding your own musical voice. Battering, sets and the beauty of West Clare dancing. Youth trad Tinder, the elusive high G# and teaching the concertina to learners across the world.

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

    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.