Archive for County Clare

Walking Kiwis Visit Martin Doyle

Martin Doyle gets his fair share of visitors to his home and workshop in County Clare and they come from near and far. This week saw a small group of intrepid Kiwis pop in for a ‘cuppa and a chat’. Nearing the conclusion of a two week walking tour through the west of Ireland, the happy and hardy group were spending a couple of days in the area with visits to local artisans, walking the Burren and a night on Inis Meáin (one of the Aran Islands). Martin and his assistant Gwenn Frin were delighted to receive the guests who hailed from New Zealand, the US and Canada.

Walking tour leader Rachel Ryan and members of the group with Martin Doyle and Gwenn Frin among a forest of wooden flutes at Martin's workshop in County Clare.

Walking tour leader Rachel Ryan (back left) and members of the group with Martin Doyle (back centre) and Gwenn Frin (back right) among a forest of wooden flutes at Martin’s workshop in County Clare.

The tours are led by County Limerick native Rachel Ryan who has lived in Nelson, New Zealand, since 1980. Each year Rachel and her team guide walking tours of west Ireland and also take visitors to New Zealand on walking tours throughout the beautiful Nelson/Tasman region of New Zealand’s South Island.

Martin has developed a strong connection with New Zealand since meeting his friend and webmaster Shardul in 2001 when Martin was still living in County Wicklow. Shardul was looking for a flute for his meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy and arrived at Martin’s workshop in Bray. For a period spanning four or five years after that, Martin made a small number of Irish flutes from native New Zealand timbers that were supplied to him by his Kiwi friend. Shardul now lives in Nelson and met Rachel Ryan at Nelson’s Race Unity Day in 2012. One thing leads to another in this world of ours…

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Three Instrument Makers in Ennistymon, County Clare

3 Instrument Makers (and their music)

3 Instrument Makers (and their music)

The west of Ireland is particularly strong in the tradition of music and County Clare is no exception being liberally blessed with gifted musicians and artisans – past, present and, no doubt, into the future. As a result, the county is host to many events that reflect, celebrate and perpetuate this living tradition of music.

One such event (which Martin Doyle is very honoured and excited to be part of) is soon to be hosted by the Ennistymon Courthouse Gallery and Studio. Opening from the 19th to the 26th of November, 3 Instrument Makers (and their music) is an exhibition featuring the work and music of Martin Doyle (flute), Davey Spillane (Uilleann pipes) and Paul Dooley (harp) who all live within a bulls roar of Ennistymon.

In conjunction with the year of the craft, this unique exhibition will offer the visitor a multi media experience of film, photography, audio, as well as a chance to see a display of the exquisitely crafted instruments made by each of these musicians.

Photographer Christy McNamara, well known for his photographs of traditional musicians will be collaborating in this exhibition with a series of commissioned photographs. Also included will be a short film made by Packmule Films documenting each of the musicians at work in their workshops. In conjunction with North Clare Historical Society there will be a lecture Monday 21st at 8pm by Eugene Lambe, collector of tunes and stories from County Clare. This exhibition will be held in the old courthouse building in Ennistymon which has been beautifully renovated into a new art space. Read more »

Details will no doubt be posted on the Courthouse Gallery website and their Facebook page. If you would like a PDF version (A4 size) of the 3 Instrument Makers (and their music) poster (pictured above), click on this link.

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Conversations on the Coast

In September of 2010, Bristolian Nick Hand visited Martin Doyle at his workshop in Clare. After recording a conversation with Martin and taking a raft of photographs, Nick created a ‘soundslide’ that was included on his Slowcoast website – one of dozens of inspirational soundslides that he has created during his cycle tours around the coastal regions of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

Conversations on the Coast

Conversations on the Coast – by Nick Hand

Nick has just released Conversations on the Coast – a beautifully presented hardcover publication offering a selection of twenty stories and photography from the Slowcoast project.

Conversations on the Coast brings together artists and craftspeople from around the British Isles who talk about their work, their life and their passion.

“What I love most about this book is the humility of actually quite ordinary artisans chosen by chance as they came into focus on one man’s remarkable journey around the coast. What we learn is that when you take the time to look, even the apparently straight forward lives of a bicycle repairer, hat maker or basket weaver are driven by passion and a deep seated love for their work. It is inspirational.” – Robin Wood, Chair of The Heritage Crafts Association.

Nick Hand’s visit with Martin Doyle has been included in the book and Martin was delighted to receive a copy by post this week.

Nick Hand with his bicycle

Nick Hand and his trusty steed

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A Gift From Cathal McConnell

Willie Clancy

Willie Clancy

With the Willie Clancy Summer School happening at Miltown Malbay in the County Clare each year, mid June becomes a busy time for Martin Doyle. There is a steady stream of visitors to his house near Liscannor and, when he gets a chance, Martin heads into Miltown Malbay to socialise and catch a session or two. Flutes to deliver, orders to take – the busy life of a popular flute maker!

During the Willie Clancy, Miltown Malbay is packed with hundreds of visitors, musicians, singers and dancers, young and old, from all over Ireland, Scotland and further afield. Standing room only! Traditional music flows like the water in the rivers and streams of Ireland and a unique traditional culture lives, breathes and is propagated during this ‘gathering of the clan’.

Cathal McConnell - Kerstin Grünling

Cathal McConnell - photo by Kerstin Grünling*

One visitor Martin had the opportunity to welcome into his home this year was the renowned flute player, tin whistler and singer Cathal McConnell, who gifted to Martin a copy of his latest CD, Auld Springs Gies Nae Price. Needless to say, Martin was thrilled at Cathal’s kind gesture. Auld Springs Gies Nae Price is a joint effort between Cathal McConnell and Duncan Wood. A multi-instrumentalist musician, artist and author, Duncan Wood hails from the North East of Scotland and plays fiddle on the album.

Like most developed flute players, it is probably a safe bet that Cathal has more than one flute in his quiver. If that is the case, we know that at least one of them is the Martin Doyle C flute as it features in one of the tracks on Auld Springs Gies Nae Price and with Cathal on the CDs jacket photos. The track in question (track eight) comprises two lovely airs, The Fairy Strain and The Hon Mrs Maule of Panmure’s Favourite, and is introduced in the CDs accompanying booklet thus:

Auld Springs Gies Nae Price cover

Auld Springs Gies Nae Price

The first lovely air came from the playing of the great Irish piper and song collector, Seamus Ennis. According to the words of the original song, a young woman was stolen away by the fairies on her wedding day, never to be seen again. Cathal here plays homage to the talented Irish flute maker Martin Doyle, who made his wooden C flute. The second tune, a wistful air written by Nathaniel Gow, appears in Gow’s Fourth Collection of Strathspeys and Reels, dedicated to the Earl of Eglinton and published in 1800. Nathaniel Gow, composer and publisher, was a great favourite with the Prince Regent and the best known of Niel Gow‘s five sons.

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Introducing The Aiki Céilí Band

Double bass and flute

Double bass (Frank Healy) and flute (Martin Doyle) in action

As recently posted on this weblog, Martin Doyle featured on a radio programme called The Music Tree. As the The Music Tree is about the Mpingo (African Blackwood) tree and its popular timber that is used extensively for the production of woodwind instruments, one of the requirements for the programme was some Irish traditional music that was predominated by the Irish flute. This task fell upon Martin Doyle to organise.

Asides from making great Irish flutes, Martin is also an Aikido instructor who offers classes at the town hall in Liscannor, County Clare – the Aikido group is known as Clare Aikikai. One of the many wonderful aspects of the County Clare is that music is an integral part of the culture there – musicians, singers and story tellers abound in Clare as they do all over the west of Ireland. And so it is with Martin’s Aikido group. Four of the members are strong traditional musicians so Martin got them together after an Aikido session one evening and they recorded a very nice piece of traditional music – and The Aiki Céilí Band was born!

The Aiki Céilí Band consists of Martin Doyle (flute), Éamon McCarthy (flute), Frank Healy (double bass) and Gabrielle Cappachione (guitar). Featured on The Music Tree documentary, the piece consists of two reels and can also be listened to here.

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Martin Doyle’s Aikido Classes – Clare Aikikai

Martin Doyle has just published a new web site that introduces his Aikido classes to the world via the internet: Clare Aikikai.

Clare Aikikai – Aikido classes in Liscannor, County Clare, Ireland

Clare Aikikai – Aikido classes in Liscannor, County Clare, Ireland


Martin Doyle first became interested in Aikido in 1987 at the recommendation of a friend and is now a nidan Aikido instructor – or sensei in Japanese. He offers twice weekly Aikido classes for adults and children at Liscannor, County Clare.

Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba as a synthesis of his martial studies, philosophy, and religious beliefs. Aikido is often translated as “the Way of unifying (with) life energy” or as “the Way of harmonious spirit.” Ueshiba’s goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury. Read more…

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Doyle Flute Featured

Full Flutewise articleOne of Martin Doyle’s recent accomplishments, an ‘F’ flute made in Boxwood, was featured late last year in an article about Irish flute makers. The article is based on an answer to an email enquiry sent to the Irish flute repair expert Jon Dodd regarding recommended Irish flute makers – and was published by Flutewise magazine.

FLUTEWISE is aimed at anyone and everyone who plays or is interested in the flute. We inspire, involve and motivate all our members to become better, more informed and happier flute players. The emphasis is on enjoyment, participation and friendship. We provide flute players with magazines, events, courses and opportunities that will educate, entertain and motivate them to attain and realise their maximum potential. Read more…

The ‘F’ flute was made specially as a gift for the spiritual musician and meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy on the occasion of the Master’s 76th birthday. It was a first-of-it’s-kind for Martin Doyle and, by all accounts, a beautiful flute with exceptionally sweet tone.

Jon Dodd is an Irish and concert flute repair specialist who lives not far from Martin Doyle in Knockliscrane, Miltown Malbay, County Clare. Click on the image above to see the full article as it appeared in Flutewise. Special thanks to Liz Goodwin of Flutewise for supplying the image.

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