One whistle to rule them all, one whistle to bind them, one whistle to bring them all and…ok enough! There’s one Irish instrument that has come to define the sound of fantasy TV and movies. But which one is it?
Fantasy has made a roaring come back in recent years. What with Harry Potter’s magic causing a pretty spectacular storm over the Cliffs of Moher. Not to mention the epic Game of Thrones TV series that has brought the shield-crunching and brutal world of author George R.R Martin to life. County Antrim and the West of Ireland are some of the filming locations making seriously good use of our ancient castles and mythical landscapes.
But there’s something else: a single instrument that has been used to create the soundscape for each of these fantasy titans, as well many others, including JRR Tolkien’s less Titan-but-still-brave Hobbit: the tin whistle.
Although a humble, simple instrument, the dulcet tones of the tin whistle create a wholesome and mythical sound, perfect for the fantasy genre. The tin whistle features strongly in traditional Irish music providing lively, skipping melodies that keep trad sessions going into the wee hours. It seems Ireland and the fantasy genre go hand in hand, did you know author JRR Tolkien was inspired by the beauty of the Burren when he was writing Lord of The Rings?
If you fancy trying your hand at the tin whistle simple take a trip to the home of traditional Irish music: County Clare. Ireland’s best-known trad musicians will be in Ennis, County Clare for the trad music get-together of the year, Ennis Roots Weekend Festival. There’ll be music sessions in every pub within a giant’s roar of Ennis, and a free open-air concert.
World record attempt
The highlight of the festival will be the world record attempt for the largest tin whistle ensemble ever. The record attempt is open to everyone, beginners and pros alike, it’s your chance to be part of history and to play on stage with one of the most successful trad bands of all time, Lúnasa. Don’t fret if you’ve played a tin whistle before, the video above has a straight forward tutorial so you can learn the tune that Lúnasa and thousands of others will be playing on the day.
World record attempts aside, there’ll be a veritable feast of trad music on all weekend in Ennis. The Kilfenora Céilí Band is another internationally renowned act lined up to rock Ennis. Street céilís and an International Street Band Competition will keep the crowds more than entertained.
Don’t just watch, join in
The thing that sets Ennis Roots weekend apart is the huge focus on interaction. They don’t just want you to watch and dance to the brilliant trad music happening all around, they want you to take part, too. So dust off that old banjo and put some new strings on your guitar and bring them along for the musical adventure to County Clare.
Size doesn't matter
It may be a modest, unassuming little instrument, but the tin whistle has helped create the sound track to some of the biggest TV and movie hits of our timesEpic fights, heroic acts and daring chases have all been set to the sound of the tin whistle – anyone remember Celine Dion’s opening tune to Titanic? And when Ennis Roots Weekend kicks off this summer, a new world record could be set and the tin whistle will be the defining sound of one mighty weekend of Irish music and craic.
The Ennis Roots Weekend is just one of the thousands of fantastic festivals taking place as part of The Gathering. And if traditional Irish music is your thing, you should check out the ‘Olympics of music’, the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil taking place in the UK City of Culture, Derry~Londonderry.