A Scottish Storyteller

My New Bodhran

Some time ago, I took up another whim! I have many of these whims... Learn to play the fiddle... Learn to draw anime... tabletweaving... the list is endless. The latest one (we shall see if Blogging is just a whim or more permanent) was to learn to play the Bodhran!

For those of you that dinnae ken, it's one of those Irish drums - the Scottish Culture and Traditions Association aka SCAT do nightclasses on a monday night, and so I took it up with great enthusiasm. My mum and dad gave me a splendid drum for my birthday last year and I'm really getting into it.

Now I was in Ireland last weekend for the wedding of two university friends (more on that later perhaps) and saw this as an excuse for an extra couple of days in Ireland - why not!

And here I tell you the exciting story of my new drum.

So. I was dropped off and dumped my bags in my hotel and then... headed off to SHOP FOR DRUMS!

The confusing way the Dublin streets are laid out had me lost for quite a while. Who would have thought that North Frederick Street was quite some distance from South Frederick Street? Not me anyway. I didn't think the planners would have been so stupid to have placed it at least half a mile away on the OTHER SIDE of the bloomin' Liffey! I should have known... The taxi driver did try to warn me that Dublin city planners tend to make "a dogs aerse" out of things.

After the help of three young hairdressers, I finally made my way to the OTHER Waltons shop on South George St where a young lad proceeded to show me his wares. Well now. I was glad when he immediately knew I wasn't after "any of this cheap tourist shoite" but I started to get a bit put off when putting me off buying the genuine Waltons-thing and telling me to "Phone oop this goi... He's made droms for none other than Bono! Van Morrisson! The Chieftains"

Very well. I noted the name down and left the shop. A quick look at my map and I was on my way to my next destination... Charles Byrne Musik Instrumente. I went up a wee street to find a small shop. A shop with such an exclusive feeling about it you have to ring a doorbell to get into the shop! And in I went. Inside the little shop, a man sat (presumeably Charles himself) teaching a tiny girl how to play an even smaller fiddle (how wee do these things come!? I mean, any smaller and a fieldmouse could have played the thing!). A nice lady came to help me.

"I'm looking for a new Boraaan" I said. "Oh. you mean a BOW-rahn" she smiled. (Apparently it's a whole different pronounciation in the hundred odd miles between Dublin and Waterford).

So I described what I was after and looked at just about every drum in the whole shop. (It was a bit like a tardis and produced not only about 10 more drums, but a young girl and a further muted voice was heard coming from somewhere). "What about these tuneable ones?" I asked. "Ah well, you see... as soon as it becomes a tuneable drom, then so it ceases to be a BOW-rahn." See? I was learning stuff already. I gave her a big smile and told her it would give me an excuse to be superior over the people back home with the big showy tuneable drums.

I then sighed deeply and said I was looking for something no-one back home would have At this point her eyes lit up, she raised her finger in the air and she dissapeared back off behind the counter. "I have jost the thing!" came her far-off voice...

Now at this point I was thinking that what usually happens in stories when someone gets a twinkle in their eye, raises a finger in the air and then says that. Usually they come back with a battered lamp or a strange furry creature that must not be fed after midnight...

Thankfully, what she came back with was a drum. Aaaah. In my eyes, it practically had a golden glow to it. Lovely wood, a nice natural looking skin and not a shamrock in site. I asked her who made it.

"Aaaah well now. I can't tell you that." she said mysteriously.
"Why?" I said. "Is it an import?" (knowing this would get me closer to the truth).
"Goodness no!" she said. "It's made roight here in Dublin... By an old man!"
I widened my eyes.
"Y'see he makes them in his spare time and passes them on to us to sell for him when he's finished. But y'see he's getting on a bit and, well... he doesn't want anyone coming hassling him. You know. With so little time left on this mortal coil..."

Wow. I thought. A MYSTERIOUS new bodhran and free craic too. A Bargain. So I bought it.

Hence I made my list of Favourite Things About my New Bodhran. Or if you want it's smug title...

Why My Bodhran is Better Than Anyone Elses's

1) Bought in Dublin and not Bruce Miller's
2) Free Bag
3) Free Craic
4) Had to prove myself worthy of buying drum.
5) Not tuneable and therefore "a proper bodhran"
6) Made by a mysterious, anonymous old man
7) This shop sells proper drums and not any old tourist tat (pointed out about 3 times)
8) Better souvenir than a fluffy leprechaun
9) Bono doesn't have one
10) Neither does Van Morrison

I'm happy now :)

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