Fiddler On The Hoof

As she prepares for The Whale on Friday, June 9th, acclaimed fiddler Niamh Dunne talks about her musical roots, stepping out on her own, and the newfound joy of songwriting.

I grew up in a family steeped in traditional Irish music.

My uncles were known as The Blind Dunne Brothers who played all over the country as Traveller musicians at fair days, market days or matches. My Dad and sister are also musicians and I learnt most of my music from them.

I did music in college because I didn’t really know what else to do, and had four brilliant years in Limerick. I joined Beoga around that time and I just kept going. Although traditional Irish music was what I was brought up with, I also studied classical music (albeit as a bit of a chancer who learnt a lot of it by ear instead of reading the notes!), and was introduced a lot of different styles of music at home. My mother loves Joan Biaz and Bob Dylan; my dad loves songs from the likes of James Taylor or Nancy Griffith – so, there was always lots of songs in the house.

In my teens I started listening to Pixies, Skunk Anansie and Foo Fighters, and later Ella Fitzgearld and Nat King Cole. Like most musicians, my musical tastes are wide reaching and hard to pin down. I think that’s a good thing. In recent times I’m mostly drawn to folk songs and always gravitate to beautiful strings.

I have had 20 years of playing music as a full-time effort, but I am only just coming into the world of songwriting with this latest solo project. Tides  is  my first record of self-penned songs.

I love songs. I love storytelling; singing characters, or emotions, or social commentary into the collective consciousness.

also had the performance bug from a young age and have loved every second of touring with Beoga. Everywhere from the big stages in front of thousands to people right down to those small intimate gigs where you can see into the eyes of your audience.

It’s a mad ol life, with plenty of highs and lows, but the trick is to keep going and keep chasing that creative buzz.

Niamh Dunne comes to The Whale on Friday, June 9th – tickets here.


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