Doolin - 'Doolin's warm vibrant sounds'

by Michael Ryan

The village of Doolin in west Clare has often been described as "the capital of traditional music scene in Ireland" and indeed it has always been the place to visit for traditional fans from all corners of the globe. Long associated with the music of the Russell brothers, Doolin not only attracts the backpackers but also the traditional musicians themselves, drawn to the village by the healthy session scene and unique atmosphere.

One such musician is Dublin bouzouki player Eoin O'Neill. Eoin arrived in Doolin 17 years ago and ever since has been at the heart of most of the excellent recordings - producing and playing on albums by fiddler Mary Custy, concertina player Terry Bingham and banjo player Kevin Griffin, to mention but three.

Terry Bingham is a concertina player from Co Down. Now resident in Doolin, he is the son of flute player Leslie Bingham and brother-in-law of Belfast fiddler Dermy Diamond. Terry's debut album was released back in 1993 and if it is sweet concertina music you like, then you won't be disappointed.

Banjo player Kevin Griffin, a native of Doolin, has been playing music from an early age, starting off on guitar before turning his attentions to the banjo when he was around 16. His album 'Down in Doolin' is a gem, one of the best of its kind around at the moment.

Michael Bonamy is a flute player all the way from Brittany, France. A sometime member of singer Sean Tyrell's band, Bonamy first "passed for a period before returning in the late Seventies. Having lived in Bray, Co Wicklow, for a period before returning to West Clare, the well-travelled Frenchman has recently released 'The Water is Wide', a tape of his favourite music played on flute.

What these albums have in common, aside from some great music, is a warm, intimate sound absent from so many of today's bigger productions. That is a tribute to the understanding that exists between the musicians involved, and indeed the commitment of people like Eoin O'Neill to producing something that will stand the test of time. These recordings are a good representation of Doolin's vibrant music scene, and the best of all possible tributes to the memory of the late Micho Russell. The recordings mentioned in this article are obtained from Ireland's leading traditional music stores or by mail order from Custy's Music Shop, Francis Street, Ennis, Co Clare.

December/January 1996/97