Malachy's Bodhrans, Roundstone, Co. Galway - Malachy & Gifty Kearns are Irelands Master Bodhran makers for 35 yrs. Using genuine goatskin de haired - de fleshed in the traditional way. Malachy made the stage drums for 'Riverdance' there in his Roundstone workshop.
In an an old Franciscan Monastery in Roundstone, developed by the Industrial Development Authority , Malachy Kearns, better known as Malachy Bodhrán amongst folk musicians, works at his craft of making Ireland's oldest product the Bodhrán (Bow-Rawn). It is an 18" one sided drum made from Goatskin treated by a traditional process. Goatskin has unique stretch properties. The Irish word 'Bodhar' means deaf or haunting. The Bodhrán began as a skin tray used for drawing turf (peat) on the bogs.It stirs the spirit when played with the "tipper" or beater hitting the skin in a racing style while a hand presses the back of the skin to vary the tone. Malachy is respected as a fine Bodhrán makers for 35 years.Most of the professional folk Musicians world wide use our Bodhráns we are the only full time makers in the world.
The skins are treated in hydrated lime mixed with ingredients that are the closely guarded secret of every Bodhrán Maker. They are soaked for 7-10 days in a solution of lime sulphide which softens the skin, de-hairs it and dissolves the fatty tissue. Sometimes the skin is buried in manure. It is finally stretched under tension onto a Birch frame. It is also glued on - this is important for Bodhráns being sent abroad. It thus cannot "rip off" at the tack, traditionally the weakest part of the Bodhrán - when exposed to excess heat. The skin is stretched tight when new to give room for residual stretch.
In the hands of a skilled player the Bodhrán can be a subtle and exciting instrument - striking the skin in a variety of ways, one hand tucked in behind the skin, pressing and moving to vary the colour and intensity of the sound. The side of the beater is also used to good effect on the wooden rim. Genuine Goatskin is a natural 'live' material, expands and contracts slightly with changing temperatures, it has an infinite variety of subtle 'veining' and it's rich lustre becomes more beautiful with age.