Publican says there is no ‘bodhrán ban’ in his Skibb pub

September 7th, 2023 5:00 PM

By Brian Moore

The Corner Bar holds regular music sessions on Mondays and Thursday nights.

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A SKIBBEREEN publican has defended the actions of his patrons after a disgruntled musician complained that she was not allowed to play her bodhrán in the bar.

Corner Bar owner William O’Brien told The Southern Star that there was no ban on bodhráns in his pub.

‘We book a group for a session every Monday night and we also have an open session on Thursday night,’ William said.

‘I have no doubt that it would have been suggested that this lady not play her bodhrán at the Monday night session.

‘The French lady would have been more than welcome to come to the open session on Thursday night and to bring her bodhrán as well,’ William added.  

The French bodhrán student said she was left in no doubt that her attempt to join a trad session in Skibbereen was not wanted last week.

Sylvie, from Toulouse, was so upset that she took her disappointment to Joe Duffy on RTÉ’s Liveline last Monday.

Sylvie was invited to Skibbereen by friends and brought her bodhrán with her, she explained to Joe.

‘There was a session in the Corner Bar in Skibbereen and when I got there with my bodhrán the other musicians said nothing to me and didn’t ask me not to play,’ Sylvie said. However, as this French fan of traditional Irish music started to play, she was asked by her friends to play more softly.

‘I started to play softly, because that’s all I can do as I am only a beginner, and not a very good player and then I was asked to stop,’ Sylvie said.

Master bodhrán maker Michael Vignoles from Galway, who crafted Sylvie’s instrument, was also speaking to Joe concerning this apparent discrimination against, not only the bodhrán, but other percussion instruments such as the spoons, in many pubs across the country.

‘There are signs in some pubs that say “no percussion” in sessions,’ Michael told Joe.

‘In fact, Sylvie wrote to me asking if there was a new law in Ireland banning the bodhrán in pubs,’ he added.

‘It was very disappointing for Sylvie as everyone has to start somewhere and we have to give them a chance.’

However, world-renowned bodhrán player Tommy Hayes told Joe that while he doesn’t go out to sessions very often, he has on occasion been asked not to play his bodhrán.

‘The bodhrán is a dominant instrument and if your rhythm is off, you’ll throw everyone else off as well,’ Tommy said.

‘I would say to Sylvie to sit down and listen to the music first and then get some lessons.’

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