Magazine

5 Traditional Musical Instruments from Ireland

Five traditional musical instruments that have been blown, strummed, picked, plucked and thumped in Ireland for centuries.

5. Bodhrán

Pronounced “bow-rawn,” this is known as the heartbeat of trad music for good reason. This large drum is covered with stretched animal skin and struck with a stick (traditionally made from double-ended knucklebone) to provide our music with a pulsating beat that turns listeners into dancers with ease. Some speculate that the instrument served a double purpose as a husk sifter and grain tray. We prefer it as a drum. For a taster of what the bodhrán has to offer, re-watch Riverdance for the thousandth time.

4. Fiddle

Looks can be deceiving. Take the Irish fiddle, for example. This essential trad instrument looks identical to the violin, but its unique playing style and sound set the two apart. In trad music, the high-pitched and expressive fiddle is often heard above all other instruments, and can be euphoric and heart-breaking in equal measure.