Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Dearbhaill Standún, Cnoc Suain and Dordán.

April 8, 2009

At the end of my post about that the weekend course at Cnoc Suain, Connemara, Galway (, I suggested that that there was more to be said about one of the prime movers about those courses, Dearbhaill Standún.


This short film, made for the of Melbourne-based Lyrebird Media, a music and film production  set up by  film Mairéid Sullivan ( and Ben Kettlewell, offers a brief (very brief, I’m afraid) peek into Dearbhaill’s other life – her life as a musician.


This note (posted by Sullivan to You Tube in 20 March 2008 for Filming in Ireland), is a reminder that Dearbhaill, (on violin), Mary Bergin, (tin whistle) Kathleen Loughnane (harp), and Martina Goggin (drum and voice) are a members of one of the most inventive traditional groups to come out of Ireland in the last thirty years, Dordán.


We met up with Martina, who also fills the role of group manager. She led us up over a very long narrow road through the vast headlands, where Dearbhill’s family has made their home over the past five years. Surrounding the main house, overlooking breathtaking views of Galway Bay, bogs and lakes and distant forests, are several old thatched cottages in various stages of restoration for use as music workshops etc. We were invited into one of the cottages, fully and beautifully restored, where a great turf fire blazed away and tea was on the table waiting for us.

The women played their beautiful music and sang for us in front of the fire, all of which was filmed. Then we recorded the women having a terrific group discussion of their personal histories, praising the music they play, both classical and traditional, and revealing how their lives are wrapped up in it all. Mary believes it is a tragedy that many women give up playing music when their children come along.

 We spent quite a bit of time filming the exotic environment around the cottages and in the distance. Ben recorded the ambient sounds. Afterwards, I sat, sipping my hot cup of tea, studying the fire. I hadn’t seen a turf fire for a long time.




 Members of Dordán play on the soundtrack of the audio slideshow Kevin Rushby produced to accompany The Guardian Travel article that got me thinking about Dearbhaill, Cnoc Suain, Dordán and all that.