About The Bodhán Maker

Welcome to the new online home of Bodhrán Making since 1979. Established by Paraic McNeela and based in Baldoyle Industrial Estate (Unit 137) in Dublin, Ireland. Everyone and anyone is more than welcome to visit the showroom.  When he started making bodhráns, Paraic joined a fraternity known as The Bodhrán Makers. The Bodhrán Makers shared their knowledge and experiences together in the intricacies of Bodhrán Making. Since then however, Paraic is one of the only members of that fraternity still producing bodhráns.

 

"I am very proud of the sound I get from my bodhráns. A bodhrán is a bass drum and should sound like a bass drum. Some bodhráns are very high pitched and can sound like a snare drum (without the snare!). Bodhrán making is a fun job with a steady market and meeting new and interesting customers is an added bonus. There are always challenges; new beaters to design and make; a new design of bodhrán and repairs to old bodhráns to be done. When I repair and re-stretch old skins onto older bodhráns it is such a pleasure to see the old drum come back to life. I have even repaired one of the Riverdance drums."

Paraic says there is a lot yet that he has to achieve. His focus now is on experimenting with different timbers like his new Rosewood tunable Bodhran, new shapes & sizes, and always improving and changing the tuning systems. For example, he is working on a tuning system that does not require an Allen key. A tunable bodhrán that can be tuned by hand as players often forget their Allen key, and even he forgets his Allen key around the workshop sometimes.

"I'm also working on a maple frame which shows the grain of the timber very clearly and looks beautiful.  I have thought of decorating the rim by adding inlay, or layering coins that can be tipped at to make a new sound. Another idea is to add a flat wood block to the top of the rim. This would be detachable. It is the same idea as the wood block on the snare drum used in the céilí bands.  And I am forever looking at new ideas for cases for the bodhráns. Whether soft cases or hard cases or even semi hard cases. There is lots to do yet."

 

Paraic always loved working with his hands and never shied away from a challenge. He was in a band called Citóg (which means left handed in Irish) and their singer Ollie Casserly asked him to make him a bodhrán so he could play the bodhrán and sing at the same time. He made a bodhrán frame (easier said than done) which was 20" in diameter. This was quite a huge rim frame by today's standards but in 1978 he did not know the difference! The bodhrán was too big so he gave that bodhrán to his brother (who is still playing it today). But Ollie was still in need of a bodhrán so Paraic made a more suitable 18" diameter bodhrán and it was just right. Following this initial success for Ollie, friends asked Paraic could he make a bodhrán for them. "It was so much fun I couldn't refuse.  I took to it like a duck to water."  He started experimenting with different skins such as deer skin and calf skin. Deer skin was too hard. Calf skin was good but not readily available. The goat skin however was the best of all and was also readily available. Goatskin has an elasticity that is unique. So when the rims and skins were sorted, he started crafting! He brought a bodhrán into a few shops and they admired the quality and it took off from there. 

"I believe no session is complete without a bodhrán but if you don't want to be kicked out of a session, or even excepted in the first place, I strongly recommend you choose one from an experienced drum maker and also learn how to play it properly before sitting in on a session as it can dramatically alter a tune for better or for worse."

"A good bodhrán will be made by someone who knows how to hand-cure a skin and finish it off properly so it feels and sounds like a bodhrán should. Every one of my bodhrán's are hand made and they would be completely impossible to make by machine. A bodhrán is one of those rare tangible items in the world today that cannot be manufactured on an industrial scale. Each bodhrán is a piece of art that takes skill, plenty of time, and traditional craftsmanship to achieve something that lasts a lifetime, much longer than something mass produced."

Working with the stars! 
Paraic has sold drums to many celebrity musicians including The Chieftains and The Corrs. His first celebrity sale was to Bono of U2. "I got a phone call from one of Bono's staff asking me to come into Windmill Lane in Dublin and to bring my best 14" tunable bodhrán with me. I was nervous and I had no idea what to expect and felt somewhat overwhelmed. When I arrived at Windmill lane I was ushered into a lounge where the whole band were sitting. I was interviewed by the whole band one by one. Questions were asked such as "how long does it take to make a bodhrán?",  "what is it made of?", "where did the skin come from?" "how did you cure the skin?". I gladly answered the questions and taught them how to play it. They where delighted."
 
Another time, more recently, Paraic was asked by a GAA club in Belfast to make a tunable bodhran for presentation to Christy Moore. "I was delighted, and two weeks later I sent the 16" Tuneable bodhran to Belfast. I didn't think too much of it as I'm requested to do things like this all of the time. I heard nothing for months but I got a phone call out of the blue from Christy. "How are you going boy, Christy here". "Who?!", I say. "Christy Moore?!". I knew it wasn't a wind up as I recognised his voice. He said how much he enjoyed the drum and asked me would I make him another bodhrán.  He wanted a drum he could manage while standing on stage.  He asked for a 14inch Deep Tunable bodhran, and there were a few little extras he wanted.  "I will" says I.
 
 
Contact Details
Phone or Text: Mon-Fri 9am - 5pm: 087-2569672

Office: 01 8322432.

 

Paraic McNeela (The Bodhrán Maker) 

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