Irish Traditional Music Archive to Launch New 'Drawing from the Well' Series

Liam O'Connor, Director of the Irish Traditional Music Archive, and Louise Mulcahy who is taking part in the new online series. (Photo: ITMA)

Irish Traditional Music Archive to Launch New 'Drawing from the Well' Series

Online series starting 14 October will feature Louise Mulcahy, Martin Hayes, Edwina Guckian, Mary Bergin, Tony Linnane, and Brían Mac Gloinn.

The Irish Traditional Music Archive (ITMA) has announced details of a new online series that will connect artists with archival material to inspire new art.

Six artists were commissioned to spend time engaging with collections of their choice in ITMA in order to produce new work that could be shared with the public.

Beginning at 8pm on Wednesday 14 October, the archive will release the first of the videos, which will feature uilleann piper and flute-player Louise Mulcahy presenting a 30-minute video highlighting her favourite aspects of the Liam O’Flynn Collection including little known original compositions, quotes from O’Flynn’s handwritten manuscripts ‘Notes and Notions’, rare field recordings and footage of her playing music from the collection. Spending time with the collection was ‘a magical and unforgettable journey into the music, life and times of Liam O’Flynn,’ Mulcahy said.

This will be followed on 21 October with a live-streamed interactive forum with fiddle-player Martin Hayes in which he will talk about the inspiration he gets from listening to archival recordings of concertina player John Naughton (1911–1997) of Kilclaren, Co. Clare. Hayes will also play his own versions of tunes sourced from archival recordings before opening up the conversation to the public online.

On 18 November, dancer Edwina Guckian will create a new dance inspired by a piece of research by scholar Seán Donnelly relating to the tragic feat undertaken by Jack Lattin of Morristown, Co. Kildare, in the early eighteenth century. It is reputed that Lattin, having won a wager from a dancing challenge, died from exhaustion days after completing the challenge. ‘The biggest challenge for me in this project was deciding on one topic to focus on, drawing from the ITMA well,’ McGuckian said, commenting on the project. ‘There are so many paths I wanted to travel but I’ve decided to follow the path of Jack Lattin, literally!’

On 2 December, Mary Bergin and Tony Linnane will play rare tunes from the yet-to-be-published William Forde Collection. When Forde, a musician and antiquarian, died in 1850, he had amassed a significant manuscript collection which is now held in the Royal Irish Academy. In a partnership with ITMA there are plans to make this collection publicly available. Ahead of that, a book of the collections is being prepared by Nicholas Carolan, Caitlín Uí Éigeartaigh and Jackie Small. Commenting on the project, Mary Bergin said: ‘These tunes are particularly important, as they have not been in the traditional repertoire since the mid nineteenth century, which makes the project all the more exciting.’

Finally, on 23 December, Ye Vagabonds singer Brían Mac Gloinn will share the fruits of his research into the song collections in ITMA, focusing in particular on the singing tradition of Árainn Mhór island in County Donegal, where his mother is from.

There are plans for further episodes in the series in 2021. Commenting on the new project, Liam O’Connor, ITMA Director, said:

Over the last 33 years, ITMA has created the most comprehensive collection of Irish traditional music, song and dance to be found anywhere in the world. Connecting artists with archival material to inspire new art is at the core of ITMA’s role serving the living tradition. Artists can access our collections remotely, find inspiration to create new art and share with the public.

The series will be launched by Catherine Martin, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, at 7.30am tomorrow morning (14 October), and will go live at 8pm.

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Published on 13 October 2020

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