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Architecture and traditionaly Irish music: related motifs forming place, culture and identity

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posted on 2014-11-17, 11:37 authored by Colm Bradley
Port na bPúcai literally translated as the ‘tune of the ghosts’ or also known as the ‘music of the fairies’ is a traditional Irish slow air, associated with the playing of the uilleann pipes, the fiddle, flute or tin whistle. It is no coincidence that the tune finds favour with these instruments, as its name gives clues to the evocative aura it imbues through its haunting air, the instruments suitably adept in replicating its spectral melody. The story of how the tune came into being is strongly rooted in the folklore associated with Irish traditional music. The tune locates its origins off the south west coast of Ireland from the waters between the mainland coast of west Kerry and the island of Inishvickillane. The storey goes that three islanders were rowing back from Kerry to Inishvickilane one night in their traditional currach, when they began to hear strange sounds emanating in the air and from the waters that surrounded them. One of the islanders, a fiddler, picked up his bow and began playing along to these eerie sounds, thought to have been made by the fairies (púcai), by the time they reached the island, a new tune had been added to the fiddlers repertoire. Many years later a possible connection was made between the tune and the communicating sounds of the humpback whale. Perhaps what the islanders heard that night were the sounds of the humpbacks making their way south to the breeding grounds around the Cape Verdes, but then again, perhaps it was simply Port na bPúcai.



  • Bachelor

First supervisor

Bucholz, Merritt

Second supervisor

Ryan, Anna

Third supervisor

Griffin, Andrew





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