Dr Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin

Flowing Tides-History and Memory in Irish Soundscape (Oxford University Press, 2016)

Flowing Tides Cover (300 dpi) OhAllmhurain-Gearoid

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    An undisputed mecca of traditional music, County Clare is an isolated soundscape in the west of Ireland –a periphery on the edge of a periphery.  Home to legendary music villages of Doolin, Miltown Malbay, Lisdoonvarna, Tulla and Kilfenora,  Flowing Tides argues that this ancient place has felt the effects of global cultural flows for centuries. These flows brought musical change inwards, while simultaneously allowing musical change to flow outwards to the world beyond.

Drawing from eyewitness accounts, multilingual ethnographies, cultural history, ethnomusicology, and memory studies,  Flowing Tides  reveals an Irish soundscape that experienced radical change, from the Napoleonic Wars to the Great Famine, from the birth of the nation state to the meteoric rise—and fall—of Ireland’s cultural economy during the Celtic Tiger decade.

Despite its isolation on the western edge of Europe, Ireland occupies vast amounts of space on the music maps of the world. Deeply rooted in time and place, Irish songs, dances and instrumental traditions have a history of global travel that span the centuries.

Irish traditional music is one of the most popular World Music genres, and County Clare, on Ireland’s Atlantic seaboard, is the ‘Home of the Music’– a mecca for tourists and aficionados eager to enjoy the authentic sounds of Ireland.

For the first time, this remarkable soundscape is explored by an insider-a fourth generation Clare concertina player, uilleann piper and an internationally recognized authority on Irish traditional music. Entrusted with the testimonies, tune lore, and historic field recordings of Clare performers, Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin reveals why this ancient place is a site of musical pilgrimage and how it absorbed the impact of global cultural flows for centuries.

These flows brought musical change inwards, while simultaneously facilitating outflows of musical change to the world beyond – in more recent times, through the music of Clare stars like Martin Hayes and the Kilfenora Céilí Band. Placing the testimony of music and music makers at the center of Irish cultural history and working from a palette of disciplines, Flowing Tides explores an Irish soundscape undergoing radical change in the period from the Napoleonic Wars to the Great Famine, from the birth of the nation state to the meteoric rise-and fall-of the Celtic Tiger. It is essential reading for all interested in Irish/Celtic music and culture.

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