One of the most important aspects of our tours is our visits to the workshops of some of the dedicated instrument makers and craftsmen who actually make the instruments that are played on a nightly basis in every town and village in Ireland and further afield. Mass produced instruments are freely available in any music shop but there is something special about researching, ordering and receiving your very own hand made instrument.
In 1996, after playing a standard factory made bouzouki for a number of years, I decided to invest in my very own hand made Joe Foley bouzouki. The process of being able to pick your type of wood, instrument size and decoration is very satisfying as normally this is an instrument you will have for the rest of your life. It’s an investment.
Once all the details of the construction of the instrument has been agreed, you just have to wait. In 1996 I waited about 9 months to get my new bouzouki. Nowadays, because of the popularity of hand made instruments, some people can wait up to 2 years for theirs. When my bouzouki was eventually ready I had agreed to meet Joe in Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare, at the Willie Clancy Traditional Music Festival for the official handover. It was like being a child at Christmas all over again. The excitement and anticipation was almost unbearable.
The moment I opened the case is something that I will always remember. The smell of the varnish was almost over-powering. This was mine. A sense of satisfaction sets in and as Joe went his way and I went mine, a new chapter of this musical journey begins. It’s still special to be in a session and another Foley instrument joins in and so the conversation and comparisons begin.
At Irish Music Tours we feel it is important to visit the often forgotten stalwarts of Traditional Irish Music, the instrument makers. Included in our tours are visits to Tom Cussen (Banjo), Ray Sloan (Uilleann pipes), Kevin Sykes (Fiddle), Martin Doyle (Flutes), Paul Doyle (Guitar, Harp,Bouzouki), Malachy Kearns (Bodhran) and Jan Muyllaert (Harp).
To join us on our unique journey, check out a tour option to suit you and be a part of something special.