First catch your goat..........
Every year, during the Fiddlers Green Folk Festival in Rostrevor, I hold a bodhran workshop where visitors can get a taste of the instrument that gets their feet tapping.
Along with my daughter Sorcha, who accompanies me on flute and whistle, I also teach bodhran to small groups and individuals when I’m not touring with The Sands Family Folk Group.
You can contact me by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to arrange a lesson.
The bodhran comes from a long line of tambourine-type drums which feature in folk music throughout Europe and in the religious ceremonies of Native Americans, and the nomadic peoples of the Arctic Circle.
Similar drums were used by priestesses in the temples of ancient Greek and Roman deities.
The Irish version is first recorded in the 19th century. It was the custom then for mummers to beat the bodhran on December 26 to drive away the wren, the tiny bird blamed for betraying the hiding place of the Christian martyr St. Stephen.
The drum was made by stretching a skin from a she–goat’s belly across a wooden riddle used for winnowing grains.
The bodhran was introduced into traditional Irish music as late as the 1950s by the great Irish composer and musicologist Sean O’Riada.
Today bodhrans are still made from goatskin, but the rims are much more sophisticated with tuning pegs.
My own tunable bodhran was built by Seamus O’Kane, who lives in the townland of Drum, near Dungiven, Co. Derry.