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 46: Hannah Harris Interview (Fiddle)

    April 21st, 2020  |  1 hr 24 mins
    celtic, cork, ethnomusicologist, ethnomusicology, fiddle, hannah harris, irish, michigan, north carolina

    On the Swannanoa Gathering with Finn McGill, on ethnomusicology, on the difference between Irish and Celtic, on her time in Cork and finding lock-down inspiration in Quarantunes.

  • Episode 45: Darragh Ó Héiligh Interview (Uilleann Pipes)

    April 16th, 2020  |  1 hr 20 mins
    blind, ceol fm, community, darragh ó héiligh, drogheda, equal access, music at the gate, uilleann pipes

    On the creation of Ceol FM, on equal access; on finding the pipes, on creating community and space for upcoming players, and on seeing a need and acting on it.

  • Episode 44: Cameron Mather Interview (Banjo)

    April 8th, 2020  |  1 hr 27 mins
    banjo, cameron mather, fleadh, isolation, sydney

    Talks about the strange, difficult moment we're all facing. About isolation and its challenges; his love of Irish music; hardcore training to compete in the Fleadh; the Sydney session scene and the beauty of being a teacher.

  • Episode 43: Jeremy Keith Interview (Mandolin)

    April 1st, 2020  |  1 hr 20 mins

    Founder and keeper of, probably the greatest Irish music resource in the world. And this episode hopefully has something of the generous essence of that community. We talk making things and sharing them, music, people and being the janitor for an online community. There's so much in here, a treasure trove of insights (from Jeremy, not us.)

  • Episode 42: Darren, Dominic, Uncle Leo and Sean Mathews

    March 24th, 2020  |  1 hr 31 mins

    An unexpected journey, in the company of Darren, Dom, Dom's Uncle Leo, Sean Matthews and the landlady in Carberry's, Drogheda.

  • Episode 41: Emma Lewis Interview (Fiddle)

    March 17th, 2020  |  1 hr 28 mins
    australia, emma lewis, fiddle, melbourne, traditional

    On travels in Ireland and random festival invites; on gender and inequality; on how tunes connect us all; on friendships and on returning home to Australia.

  • Episode 40: Rob Zielinski Interview (Fiddle)

    March 10th, 2020  |  1 hr 16 mins
    andy davey., clare, dermot byrne, donegal, fiddle, hughie doherty, james byrne, junior davey, mick doherty, mickey mor, perth, rob zielinski, sean doherty

    On Mick Doherty, on Hughie Doherty and on Mickey Mor. On growing up in Perth, on Donegal style and on Clare Style. On Sean Doherty, on Dermot Byrne, on James Byrne, Junior Davey and on Andy Davey. On returning to Australia and recording and archive his life-long friend and mentor. An incredible story.

  • Episode 39: Catherine McEvoy Interview (Flute)

    March 3rd, 2020  |  1 hr 15 mins
    birmingham, birmingham ceili band, catherine mcevoy, flute, peig mcgrath, roscommon, sligo, táin ceili band

    On Growing up in Birmingham, on the Sligo-Roscommon style, on slowing down Seamus Tansey records, on the Birmingham Ceili Band and Táin Ceili Band, on Peig McGrath, on women in traditional Irish music, on piano accompaniment and on Michael Grinter and Rudall and Rose flutes.

  • Episode 38: Joe Fitzgerald Interview (Accordion, singing)

    February 26th, 2020  |  1 hr 19 mins
    accordion, east clare, irish, joe fitzgerald, melbourne, singing, traditional

    The great Joe Fitzgerald, of east Clare and Melbourne. On first hearing his mother play the melodeon. On drovers, the bush, and working with his father. On lost players: Mick Minogue, Mrs Brady, Mrs Purcell and Frank MacNamara. Growing old and the curative power of music and song. 

  • Episode 37: Hajime Takahashi and Kaoru Sumitomo Interview (Guitar and Fiddle)

    February 18th, 2020  |  1 hr 7 mins
    fiddle, guitar, hajime takahashi, japan, japanese, kaoru sumitomo, kyoto, session, tokyo

    The Mountains of Pomeroy with Eileen O'Brien at 4 in the morning, the session as a conversation, finding your own style, Junji Shirota, Japanese folk songs and Good Times in O'Hara's

  • Episode 36: Sean Lally Interview (Uilleann Pipes)

    February 11th, 2020  |  1 hr 13 mins
    manchester, reeds, statia donnelly, the blackbird / colonel fraser, the may morning dew, tionól, uilleann pipes

    Floating Tionóls, learning traditional Irish music, temperamental reeds, South American Shaman, growing up in Manchester, the importance of learning on a good instrument and carrying on a cultural tradition.

  • Episode 35: Cathy Custy Interview (Concertina)

    February 5th, 2020  |  1 hr 21 mins
    cathy custy, concertina, irish music australia

    Concertina player Cathy Custy on quietly slipping into a session after not playing in public for many years. On gently making a space for music in her life again. On growing up, leaving Ireland and making a home elsewhere. On the challenges of teaching adults to play simple tunes well, and how a teacloth covering the sandwiches in a cafe in Palmerston North nearly changed her life.

  • Episode 34: Jody Moran Interview (Whistle, Banjo, Lilting and Piano Accordion)

    January 28th, 2020  |  1 hr 13 mins
    irish banjo australia, irish music wodonga, jody moran, piano accordion, wodonga musicians

    Finding a set of Uileann Pipes in Yackandandah, VIC; getting your eyes gouged and goolies grabbed in the south of France; winning at the Fleadh when you're eleven; lilting, teaching your children to play at a young age. And getting to know and love Australia.

  • Episode 33: Tola Custy Interview (Fiddle)

    January 22nd, 2020  |  1 hr 59 mins
    comhaltas, comhaltas ceoltóirí éireann, frank custy, irish fiddle, micho russell, the last jar, tola custy

    Clare born fiddle player Tola Custy on how Irish music nearly died and how his father and others of his generation saved it. About out of tune whistling, the woman who bossed the Tulla Céilí Band, Radical Comhaltas, the waltzes in his head and much else besides. Epic.

  • Episode 32: Geoff McArthur Interview (Mandolin, Guitar, Singing)

    January 15th, 2020  |  1 hr 14 mins
    ballarat, eureka stockade, geoff mcarthur, koroit, lake school, songwriting

    Lunasa disturb the sleeping Geoff McArthur, Martin Hayes bewitches him, and hey presto - Geoff falls in love with Irish music. We also talk songwriting, teaching and mentoring young musicians at the Lake School of Celtic Music, Song and Dance in Koroit. And he sings a song and makes us cry. Can't ask for more than that.

  • Episode 31: Jack Brennan Interview (Uilleann Pipes)

    January 8th, 2020  |  1 hr 7 mins
    coppers and brass, handmade, jack brennan, lake school, leo rowsome, pipes, uilleann pipes

    Jack Brennan talks to us about finding the pipes, The French Resistance, catching serial killers, Leo Rowsome, Coppers and Brass and loving your instrument.