Monday, October 27, 2014

New Co. Antrim Hammered Dulcimer maker ~ Francie Mchugh!

I'm delighted to be able to tell you that Hammered Dulcimers are, 
once again, being made in Co. Antrim.
Here's a recent photo of Co Antrim man Francie Mchugh
by the harbour in Carnlough with his very first Dulcimer.
Francie Mchugh & his own self made Hammered Dulcimer.
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Here's a closer look at Francie Mchugh & his very 1st Dulcimer.

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Here's Francie Mchugh's 2nd Dulcimer,
 on display last weekend at the Roe Valley Folk Festival in Limavady.
This is an absolutely beautiful looking Dulcimer.
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Hammered Dulcimer Session in Limavady, Co. Derry!

I had a cracking session with Scottish Dulcimer player / maker Jack Bethel 
last Sunday in Limavady, Co. Derry, at the Roe Valley Folk Festival.
However, I first met up with Jack on the Saturday,
when he was playing just off the main street with the group Haggerdash.

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We met up with Francie Mchugh & were able to check out his own hand-made 
Co. Antrim Dulcimer,
the first to be made in Co. Antrim, the home of the Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland, 
for many a long year.
Hand Made Hammered Dulcimer by Francie Mchugh
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Later, we had a few tunes in a local pub, the Douglas Bar.
Jack Bethel on Dulcimer & myself on Fiddle.
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Jack Bethel on Dulcimer & myself on Fiddle.
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On the Sunday afternoon, we met up again for a few tunes, 
in the Alexander Arms Hotel.
while I played one of Jack's own Dulcimers,
alongside the band Haggerdash.
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I played one of Jack's own Dulcimers & a wee cracker it is, too.
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The full Team ~ Haggerdash .. & me
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In this shot, I'm playing my Rick Thum 17/17
Jack Bethel is playing his own hand made Dulcimer.
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Yes, playing the Dulcimer is lots of fun.
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hammered Dulcimer at Ballycastle Pub Session!

Here is a Hammered Dulcimer being played on BBC 2 Northern Ireland.

This was recorded in the House of McDonnell, Ballycastle, Co. Antrim,

in November 2010.


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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Isaac Isaacs ~ 1st Hammered Dulcimer player in Ireland!

This may well be the first written record of a Hammered Dulcimer being played in Ireland!

A German Dulcimer player in Eighteenth Century Dublin

“Among the musicians to enjoy her patronage was a fashionable performer on the Hammered Dulcimer, a musical instrument rare in Ireland at any time. He was Isaac Isaacs, a German born Jew, who was first heard of in Dublin performing at Smock Alley Theatre during the 1767-68 theatrical season and billed as recently arrived from Dublin.”

Read more of how he received patronage of 50 Guineas a year for two years, from a Mrs Leeson. She used to take him along to play at parties & even on walks when she would ..

“have my groom, with the Dulcimer tied on his back, Isaacs playing on it, and another man on the violin, to play through all the walks”

Isaacs obituary appeared in the Dublin Evening Post, 5 May 1791:

“Deaths …. In Winetavern Street, after a few hours indisposition, Isaac Isaacs, a German Jew, well known to the pleasurable circles as one of the first Dulcimer performers in Europe.”

So it looks like the Hammered Dulcimer was being played in Ireland almost one hundred years before instruments like the Accordion, Concertina & Tenor Banjowere even invented & certainly long before instruments like Guitars & Bodhransbecame popular!

So why did the Dulcimer not become more popular or ever really become accepted as part of the Tradition, in most areas of Ireland? Were musicians just too lazy to tune all those strings, or was it because the instrument simply was not available?

We know that when the Concertina & Accordion arrived in Ireland, they were being mass produced & many were also cheap, so if only an Irish Luthier had taken a shine to the Dulcimer & started making them, who knows, we might have seen it become as ubiquitous as the humble Bodhran by now!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Dulcimer at Dunluce Castle again!

Promoting the Hammered Dulcimer at Dunluce Castle! 
Yes, we were out again, last Saturday!
Among the visitors, was a group of students from China. 
None had played their version of the Dulcimer before, the Yang Chin.
However, one of their number, who played Piano, stepped forward & played a lovely version of 'Scotland the Brave'!
The World is certainly getting smaller& smaller!
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Sunday, January 31, 2010

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Out again last Saturday promoting the Co. Antrim Dulcimer in Carrickfergus Castle.


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Monday, November 30, 2009

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I promote the Hammered Dulcimer whenever I can, especially in Co. Antrim.

Here's a video clip of me playing a couple of old Marches, 'Down the Brae' & 'The Halting March', in Carrickfergus Castle, Co Antrim, just last weekend.

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