Sound of ancient music rings out during Fleadh

Sound of ancient music rings out during Fleadh


Booleybrien Hoard
Booleybrien Hoard

Ireland’s rich musical heritage will be showcased at Clare Museum in Ennis during Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann with an exhibition of ancient musical instruments and musician’s clothing spanning more than 3000 years.

Experts from Ancient Music Ireland will provide demonstrations and talks on the development of horns and trumpas from the late Bronze Age (2,300 BC) to the Early Medieval Christian period (700 AD) from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm on Tuesday 16th, Wednesday 17th and Thursday 18th August.

Many of the earliest Irish legends contain references to instruments and music, and Ireland’s large numbers of surviving metal horns account for an estimated 40 percent of the world’s total. Among them is a late Bronze Age horn, part of a collection of Bronze Age artefacts found in a bog at Booleybrien, Kilmaley, County Clare, in 1930 and which is on loan to Clare Museum from the National Museum of Ireland.

“These types of large bronze horns tend to be the most impressive objects of cast bronze and are the oldest musical instruments from Ireland. These horns were thought to have had a very limited range of notes and tone but in recent times, experimental work by Holger Lönze and Simon O’Dwyer of Ancient Music Ireland using exact replicas have shown that they are very sophisticated musical instruments and playing them required considerable skill,” said John Rattigan, Curator at Clare Museum.

Commenting on the upcoming exhibition, Mr. Rattigan stated, “Experts from Ancient Music Ireland will perform music with a reproduced bronze age horn and other ancient instruments while they will also reconstruct the earliest musician’s outfit based on the Booleybrien hoard. The reconstructed parts will be demonstrated in their original role as a specific dress/outfit worn by a Bronze Age horn player from between 1,000 and 800BC.”

Mr. Rattigan is encouraging Fleadh visitors and the local community to attend the exhibition which he said will “bring music archaeology to life.”

“Several of the instruments play exquisite accompaniment to cross cultural indigenous instruments and singing and consequently, the exhibition organisers are inviting collaboration from musicians in the Irish tradition and other traditions from around the world visiting the Fleadh,” stated Mr. Rattigan.