Viewed as 'the' traditional percussion instrument but only widely used in the last fifty years, the bodhrán is a circular drum, usually made from goat skin, open on one side and played with either a double-headed stick or the hand. Both up and down strokes are used.

To vary pitch and tone, the inner side of the skin can be pressed and released with the hand, thus tightening and loosening the skin’s tension. Some players create further tonal contrasts by occasionally using the wooden rim of the bodhrán. The better players know many specific tunes and play to them rather than merely batter out a general rhythm.


Johnny Ringo McDonagh, Tommy Hayes and Mel Mercier are fine exponents.


  • Tommy Hayes

    Performs three reels, The Pigeon on the Gate / The Copper Plate / Callaghan's

  • Tommy Hayes

    Ships in Full Sail / The Humours of Ballyloughlin

  • Niall Vallely with Mal Mercier

    30th Anniversary / Whinny Hills of Leitrim