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 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 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.

  • Episode 52: Ken Fleming Interview (Banjo, accordion, guitar and singing)

    June 2nd, 2020  |  1 hr 34 mins
    accordion, banjo, guitar, ken fleming, singing, the north texas irish festival, the o'flaherty irish music retreat

    Accordion tunes in the 90 degree heat. On the '80s Cowboys and Irish music in Dallas, Texas. On De Danaan kicking up a dust storm; the Charlie Piggott route to falling in love with the banjo and struggles in learning to play. The O'Flaherty Irish Music Retreat and the sweetness of playing music with your kids. 

  • Episode 51: Caity Brennan Interview (Fiddle) - The Blarney Pilgrims Traditional Irish Music Podcast

    May 26th, 2020  |  1 hr 29 mins
    austral, caity brennan, fiddle, lake school, woodford folk festival

    On growing up with traditional Irish music, on taking ownership, on finding festivals, on 92.7 Fresh Fm, on Austral and creating a dance party, and losing yourself at Woodford Folk Festival

  • Episode 50: Ciaran Kelly Interview (Accordion and Melodeon) The Blarney Pilgrims Traditional Irish Music Podcast

    May 21st, 2020  |  1 hr 23 mins
    ballycastle, ciaran kelly, coleraine, harbour bar portrush, irish music, melodeon, push draw, ten key melodeon, the house of mcdonnell, traditional music ballycastle

    On accordions, melodeons, the push draw and The Pure Drop; Portrush sessions at the Harbour Bar, Ballycastle sessions at The House of McDonnell. The snug. Athlone. The borderlands of Fermanagh, Coleraine and Ceili House.

  • Episode 49: Ewen Baker Interview (Fiddle)

    May 12th, 2020  |  1 hr 44 mins
    australia, bush music, canberra, classical, ewen baker, fiddle, irish music, irish music podcast, irish traditional music, kerry slides, lisnacrieve, melbourne, st anne’s reel, the bushwhackers

    J. S. Bach and Kerry Slides; St Anne’s Reel and The Bushwhackers; collaboration and individualism; coming to terms with our own imperfections but still getting stuff done. And this: 'When you're playing with other people...and you get that feeling that is above and beyond life, in a sense. Where you just go, this is why I exist. This is as happy as this bunch of cells can be, right now, on this planet.'

  • Episode 48: Merran Moir Interview (Smallpipes, Whistle)

    May 6th, 2020  |  1 hr 21 mins
    irish traditional music, merran moir, scottish cèilidhs, smallpipes, traditional irish music, warrnambool, western victoria, whistle

    On ABC song books, on the south-western coast of Victoria, on Scottish cèilidhs, on the highland pipes, on learning and teaching and on the understanding of air.

  • Episode 47: Mick Doherty Interview (Fiddle)

    April 29th, 2020  |  1 hr 5 mins
    doherty, donegal, fiddle, irish, irish music podcast, irish traditional music, john doherty, johnny doherty, mick doherty, perth, rob zielinski, traditional irish music

    There's a single story or a thousand stories in this week's episode. The story of Mick Doherty, Donegal fiddle player of the famed Doherty family of tinsmiths, travelers and musicians. The story of his father's music, and of his grandfather's music. And woven in and around it all the figure of Johnny Doherty - Mick's uncle - one of the iconic Irish fiddle players, a tinsmith himself, and traveling man.