CD launches and online classes mark World Fiddle Day in Donegal

CD launches and online classes mark World Fiddle Day in Donegal

Donegal fiddler Martin McGinley (Pic: John Soffe Photography)

Next Saturday, May 22 is World Fiddle Day and also a red letter day for fiddling in east Donegal with the launch of CDs by Martin McGinley, originally from Raphoe, and Mick Doherty (1914-2014), born in Ballybofey.

There will also be Zoom classes for fiddle students across Donegal and internationally. More than 100 fiddlers across the globe took part in the classes on World Fiddle Day last year.

The events are being staged online by the Donegal fiddle organisation Cairdeas na bhFidiléirï. There will also be an online concert from Martin McGinley at 8pm on Saturday to mark the launch of his CD, 'Full Circle'. The concert will be shown on Facebook on the Cairdeas page and the Fiddle Music of Donegal page.

Rab Cherry of Cairdeas said: “We’re looking forward to a brilliant day of Donegal fiddle music for World Fiddle Day, which is only right as it’s a Donegal invention! The online classes were very popular last year and we’re delighted to be able to launch the two CDs, which underline the rich tradition of fiddle music in the county.

“The CDs put a bit of a focus on fiddle music from east Donegal. That has tended to be overlooked because most of the traditional music collecting in the 20th century was done in the west and south-west of the county. As these CDs illustrate, east Donegal is another very significant area for fiddling in Ireland.” 

World Fiddle Day was founded by the chairperson of Cairdeas, fiddler Caoimhin MacAoidh, in 2012. Canada adopted the day as its own National Fiddle Day in 2015. 

A big turnout is expected again this year for the online fiddle classes, which will be held on Zoom from 11am – 3pm (including breaks) next Saturday. The classes are not suitable for complete beginners. Anyone planning to attend should email info@donegalfiddlemusic. ie or call 086 340 9019. 

Rab said: “We’ll know some of the players because they’ve been attending our online classes over the past classes. Students who are new to us will have to send us a video so we can judge their playing standard and place them in the correct class.”

Solo CD

The 'Full Circle' CD from Martin McGinley is his first solo release. It's the latest in a series of CDs released by Cairdeas na bhFidiléirï.

Caoimhin MacAoidh, who helped to produce the CD with Rab Cherry, described it as “a tremendous new addition to the collections of fiddle music lovers everywhere”.

The CD is packed with music, with 30 tracks and a playing time of 79 minutes. It includes a 28 page booklet with an introduction by leading Donegal-style fiddler Dermot McLaughlin, biographical information and tune notes by Caoimhin MacAoidh. A selection of photographs includes cover and back shots by photographer John Soffe, who's based in Letterkenny.

Martin McGinley, who lives outside Ramelton, is among Donegal’s best-known fiddlers. Music is now his day job - he manages the Donegal Music Education Partnership, part of Donegal ETB, which organises classical music tuition across the county.

Much of his 'Full Circle' CD was recorded with Billy Robinson at The Groove Shack recording studio in Ramelton. Some tracks were self-recorded at the Regional Cultural Centre in Letterkenny and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, County Monaghan. Mixing was done in Dublin by former RTÉ producer Harry Bradshaw, a traditional music sound specialist. 

'Out West'

World Fiddle Day will also bring the re-issue of a remarkable CD from Mick Doherty and his one-time student and long-time playing partner in Australia, Rob Zielinski. ‘Out West’ was originally released some time ago in Australia. 

Mick Doherty was a member of the famous Doherty family of fiddlers in Donegal, a nephew of John and Mickey. His own father Hugh was also reckoned to be a remarkable fiddler, but he died in 1942 and wasn’t recorded. Mick spent time in England and many years in Australia, where he died seven years ago. 

Rab Cherry said: “Mick inherited the Doherty style of playing. He and Rob Zielinski bring to life many well-known and not so well-known Donegal tunes, some of them in versions which have disappeared from the repertoire in the county itself.

“We’re delighted to be able to launch both CDs, ‘Out West’ and ‘Full Circle’, on World Fiddle Day this year, and to encourage the next generation of Donegal fiddlers through the online classes.”

The CDs are available from 22nd May from the Cairdeas website www.

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