The History of Irish Music - Four Part Radio Programme produced by Éamonn de Barra

For any of you that would like to hear the history of the Irish tradition we came across a four part radio show on Éamonn de Barra's website Its worth checking out if you have the time.

Compass Ceoil is a four-part documentary series on the history of Irish music. The program is hosted by Moya Brennan of Clannad. She is joined by a star-studded lineup of guests including Paddy Moloney (Chieftains), John Sheahan (Dubliners), Donal Lunny (Planxty/Bothy Band), Nicholas Carolan (ITMA), and Colin Dunne (Riverdance). Produced by Éamonn de Barra at Digital Audio Productions for RTÉ Lyric FM - Lyric FM Producer Eoin Brady - made with the support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland's Sound and Vision Broadcasting Funding Scheme. RTÉ Libraries and Archives provided archive material.

Part 1 - The Origins of the TraditionDirector of the Irish Traditional Music Archive, Nicholas Carolan, explains how traditional music in Ireland dates back to the middle Stone-Age and talks about the crucial work done by collectors such as Bunting, O'Neill and Breathnach in preserving the music. Cormac de Barra talks about the history of some of the instruments central to traditional music including our national emblem, the Irish harp.

Part 2 - Reviving the TraditionIn programme two Fintan Vallely talks about the Folk Revival in the 1960s and how its roots can be traced back to the 19th century. Moya Brennan talks to some of the major figures in the tradition, including Paddy Moloney (Chieftains), John Sheahan (Dubliners) and Donal Lunny (Planxty) and explores how the Catholic Church lobbied the first Fianna Fáil Government to create the Dance Hall Act of 1935 which changed the way Céilí music was to be performed forever.

Part 3 - Composing the TraditionWe'll hear about some of the great composers of tunes in the tradition, including how Carolan was heavily influenced by baroque music and why we often hear the same melodies being used for a number of different songs. Professor Micheál Ó Súilleabháin explains how Tommy Potts changed the ground-plan of the tradition and paved the way for a new wave of interpreters.

Part 4 - The Tradition todayMoya concludes the series with a present day view of Irish traditional music. She explores how the growing global appetite for traditional music has grown over the past 30 years with Barry Stapleton of the Milwaukee Irish Fest. Commercialism in the tradition is discussed by Professor David Cooper of Leeds University and Colin Dunne explains how everything changed after Riverdance in 1994.


To listen to this programme visit

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