The Surprising History of the Bodhran

Carrying on from yesterday's post . . . it's easy to assume that the bodhran is an ancient Celtic drum used by the Irish since time immemorial and indeed, many claims have been made to that effect. But research shows that the bodhran originated and was used in years past simply as an agricultural implement -- a handy tray made of wood and goatskin in which to carry peat or grain. Perhaps it was occasionally used as a drum if loud noise was needed for whatever reason, but that was certainly not its intended purpose.

No, the bodhran is a purely modern musical instrument, first seriously played as a drum in the mid-1960s. When the huge renaissance of Irish music started in the 1970s, Celtic bands like The Chieftans brought the bodhran to prominence. Huge strides have since been made to refine the bodhran's manufacture and drumming techniques. It's impossible now to imagine Celtic music without the bodhran and its distinctively authentic sound!

So the bodhran is not an ancient instrument after all -- but aren't stories always better with a wee bit of the blarney?