Resources: Traditional Irish Music

The folk music of Ireland (also known as Irish traditional music, Irish trad, etc.) is the generic term for music that has been created in various genres in Ireland. Scholars tell that there were at least ten instruments in general use. According W.H. Grattan Flood these were the cruit (a small harp) and clairseach (a bigger harp with typically 30 strings), the timpan (a small string instrument played with a bow or plectrum), the feadan (a fife), the buinne (an oboe or flute), the guthbuinne (a bassoon-type horn), the bennbuabhal and corn (hornpipes), the cuislenna (Irish war bagpipes, different from the Uilleann bagpipes, which was developed around the beginning of the 18th century), the stoc and sturgan (clarions or trumpets), and the cnamha (castanets). There is also evidence of the fiddle being used in the 8th century.

For more information download A History of Irish Music by William H. Grattan Flood (1905). Online book.

CCÉ Music Archive: The Comhaltas Traditional Music Archive comprises the recordings, documents and images collected by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann during our 50 years of promoting Irish music and culture. You can either browse the archive as a guest, or you can create an account (at no cost).

Irish Traditional Music Archive – Taisce Cheol Dúchais Éireann: The Irish Traditional Music Archive is a national reference archive and resource centre for the traditional song, instrumental music and dance of Ireland. It is a public not-for-profit facility that is open, free of charge, to anyone with an interest in the contemporary and historical art forms of Irish traditional music. The Archive promotes public education in Irish traditional music through its own activities and through partnerships with others.

Traditional Irish Music - Learning Resources Centre: This site has been created to provide a source of learning materials for those wishing to extend their knowledge of Irish traditional music. The materials are free.

Traditional Irish (page takes some time to load).

Ceolas: Some tunes use an ABC player to utilize them, go to Henrik Norbeck's ABC Pages to download his shareware program abcmus 1.1.

Vashon Celtic Tunes: (Mostly) Irish dance tunes with sheet music, midis, and chords.

Music Instructors 

The following musicians, all respected for their knowledge and musicianship in Irish traditional music on their respective instruments, have offered to provide instruction for Ottawa Irish Arts (CCÉ Ottawa Branch) members.

John Dahms: tin whistle, fiddle

Ross Davison: uilleann pipes, tin whistle, beginner flute

Alistair Dennet: beginner to advanced bodhrán

Duncan Gillis: tin whistle, beginner Irish flute

Matt Pepin: fiddle

It is preferred that prospective students are asked to contact the Chair of the branch to get instructor contact information. Lesson fees and any CCÉ-member discounts are set by each instructor. The instructor should be provided with proof of your membership with CCÉ Ottawa in order to obtain a discount on the regular lesson fees. Regular fees range from about $30 to $40 per hour, but this is not ‘set in stone’ and CCÉ makes no guarantees on rates.

Ottawa Irish Arts (Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann) instrument loans for beginner musicians in Irish traditional music

Ottawa Irish Arts (Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann - CCÉ) is searching for beginner music students that may be interested in borrowing one of the Ottawa Branch owned Irish instruments. The loan of the instrument is for the sole purpose of learning the instrument for playing Irish traditional music, at the beginner level.

The Ottawa Branch of CCÉ owns a collection of musical instruments common in Irish traditional music. These instruments represent a substantial investment and commitment by CCÉ Ottawa to maintain the musical heritage of Ireland. By loaning these instruments, beginning students are spared the initial cost while they find their way and determine whether learning the instrument is for them or not.

The collection, and current status, of the instruments is:

  • Two full sized harps;
  • Two Stentor student 3/4-size fiddles. One 3/4 fiddle currently (AVAILABLE);
  • Irish wooden flute (AVAILABLE);
  • Single-row button Hohner accordion (AVAILABLE); and
  • Half-set of David Daye uilleann pipes.

Beginner students can petition the Branch to borrow an instrument (MUST be a OIA-CCÉ Ottawa branch member). If the student is eligible and the instrument is available the student will receive the instrument on loan. Each loan is subject to written terms and conditions set by the Branch. 

In order to assure instrument loans in the long term, a levy is now collected for each instrument loan. Collected levies are put aside and allocated to maintenance and eventual replacement of each instrument. Each levy represents a small percentage of the instrument cost, or of an instrument rental cost.
  • Harp $200 / year
  • Fiddle $30 / year
  • Flute $40 /year
  • Accordion $50 / year
  • Uilleann pipes  $150 / year

It is expected that the student will make an honest effort to gain sufficient proficiency and passion for the instrument and the music, and eventually acquire their own instrument. The loaned instrument is then returned to CCÉ for loan to another beginner.

While some of the instruments are already spoken for, the uptake of instruments to interested beginners has been disappointingly low. Normally the availability of these instruments is announced at the monthly ceilis, and in the CCÉ Ottawa branch newsletter. CCÉ is eager to loan one of the instruments to persons who indicate a serious intention to make that initial effort to learn their chosen instrument. If you are such a person, or know of such a person, please contact the please contact the Chair of the of the CCÉ Ottawa branch for details.

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