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News & Events

Exhibition at the Clare Museum, Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland - 16, 17, 18 Aug 2016

Exhibition at the Clare Museum, Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland - 16, 17, 18 Aug 2016

Earliest known Musician’s Outfit is from  Co. Clare!

Giving Voice and Fashion to the Ancient World

What were the first musical instruments in Ireland and what did they sound like and who played them?

Ancient Music Ireland presents an exhibition showcasing musical instruments from Ireland’s ancient past at the Clare Museum during the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, Inis 2016.  This special event running on the 16th, 17th and 18th of August will launch the oldest known musicians outfit ever found both here and abroad.
The exhibition includes reproduction instruments from the oldest known in Ireland (circa 2,200 BC) to the rare examples from the Early Medieval Christian period (700 AD).  This is an interactive exhibition that features several of the Irish ancient horns and trumpas.  They will be shining gold and create an art installation as well as a musical experience.    The added bonus being that the visitors to the Fleadh will be able to attempt to play some of the instruments.  It is the perfect balance between musical accuracy and visual perfection.  
The appropriate backdrop of the Clare Museum which houses the ‘Boolybrien Hoard’ plus original Bronze Age horns will provide the spectacular setting to showcase the first reconstruction of the earliest ‘musician’s outfit’ based on the Boolybrien collection.  These artefacts were found in a bog outside Ennis at the Parish of Boolybrien in 1930.  The reconstructed parts were made by Holger Lönze and Simon O’Dwyer and will be demonstrated in their original role as a specific dress/outfit worn by a Bronze Ag horn player from between 1,000 and 800BC.  This is possibly the oldest know garb specifically designed and made to be worn by a musician.  Representatives from Ancient Music Ireland will be available to explain, discuss and play the instruments on exhibition.
The audience are brought on a journey through the Stone Age, Bronze Age , Iron Age and into Early Medieval times.  Each period highlights the development of musical instruments.  They will be played both individually and in multiples.  Some tunes reveal the role of the instrument in stories from legend.
This exhibition caters for all the family.  Several of the instruments play exquisite accompaniment to cross cultural indigenous instruments and singing.  We invite collaboration from musicians in the Irish tradition and other traditions from around the world visiting the Fleadh.  Please come and ask on the day to accompany any of the ancient instruments – chose from keys  ‘D’, ‘B’ ‘B flat’ and ‘G’. 

We look forward to seeing you there – bringing music archaeology to life!

Further Infromation on the Boolybrien Hoard  
In 1931 a priest in the Parish of Boolybrien just west of Ennis, Co. Clare handed a small hoard or collection of bronze artefacts into the National Museum of Ireland.  They had been found in a bog drain a year earlier wrapped in leather by his brother who had left them on top of the kitchen dresser.  The leather container has become displaced whilst the bronze items were given over to the Clare County Museum for display about 15 years ago.  During a visit to this Museum in 2010, Maria Cullen O’Dwyer of Ancient Music Ireland speculated that the collection may have been part of an outfit worn by a Bronze Age musician.
Thus, a project was begun by Ancient Music Ireland to reproduce the items including two axes, a sword, buttons, a belt buckle, a cloak pin, chain strap and most importantly the bell of a Bronze Age horn.  Apart from the bronze horn and the sword, the rest of these items were made by metallurgist Holger C. Lönze in Co. Cork.  Simple clothing including a leather jerkin, a herringbone woven wool cloak and a leather belt were included with the bronze to make a convincing proposal of what the original may have looked like 1,000 to 800 BC.  A paper was presented to great acclaim at the 8th Conference of the Study Goup of Music Archaeology 2012 in Beijing, China and published for the Orient-Archäologie Institute 2014 publication.  Appendix notes on the methods used in the reproduction of the Boolybrien Hoard by Holger C. Lönze.
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