Drawing from the Well

A new monthly series that connects artists with archival material to inspire new art. 

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Leading instrumentalists, singers and dancers have been commissioned to spend time engaging with collections of their choice in ITMA and to then produce something new that can be shared with the public.


Martin Hayes 21 October 2020

The internationally acclaimed fiddle player Martin Hayes has been availing of remote access to ITMA since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. In a live-streamed interactive forum on 21 October 2020, Martin will talk about the inspiration he gets from listening to archival recordings of concertina player John Naughton (1911–1997) of Kilclaren, Co. Clare. The fiddle maestro will also

talk about the experience of connecting with Naughton musically and about the process of engaging with the music in these raw formats; how to listen to a John Naughton, a Joe Bane, a Martin Rochford, or a Junior Crehan and so on.
Martin Hayes, September 2020

The exciting live-streamed interactive forum at 6:00 pm (Irish time) on 21 October 2020 is open to 100 participants. 

You MUST register on the EVENTBRITE site to take part, so CLICK NOW AND BOOK YOUR PLACE. https://www.eventbrite.ie/.../drawing-from-the-well...

The event will also livestream on Facebook and YouTube and viewers will be able to contribute to the discussion.


Edwina Guckian

November’s guest artist, Leitrim dancer Edwina Guckian, will create a new dance inspired by a most interesting piece of research by scholar Seán Donnelly relating to the amazing, yet tragic, long-distance dancing feat undertaken by Jack Lattin of Morristown, Co. Kildare during the early 18th century. In some historical accounts it is reputed that Lattin, having won a wager for a dancing challenge, died from exhaustion days after completing the challenge. 

Jack Lattin dressed in satin 
Broke his heart of dancing 
He danced from Castle Browne To Morristown.

For Edwina 

The biggest challenge for me in this project was deciding on one topic to focus on Drawing from the ITMA Well. There are so many paths I wanted to travel but I've decided to follow the path of Jack Lattin, literally!
Edwina Guckian, September 2020

Mary Bergin and Tony Linnane

December's Drawing from the Well will see Mary Bergin and Tony Linnane play rare tunes from the yet-to-be-published William Forde Collection. Mary Bergin reports:

I am really looking forward to learning and playing some of the tunes from the Forde Collection along with Tony Linnane. These tunes are particularly important, as they have not been in the traditional repertoire since the mid 19th Century, which makes the project all the more exciting.
Mary Bergin, September 2020

When Forde died in 1850, he had amassed a very significant manuscript collection which is now held in the Royal Irish Academy. ITMA are delighted to report that we have well-advanced plans to make this collection publicly available. A publication in partnership with our friends in the RIA is being prepared by an expert editorial team of Nicholas Carolan, Caitlín Uí Éigeartaigh and Jackie Small.


Brían Mac Gloinn

In late December, we will feature singer, Brían Mac Gloinn who will share the fruits of his extensive research into song collections in ITMA. Brían and his brother Diarmuid of Ye Vagabonds’ fame, have an intimate knowledge of ITMA's Collections built up over countless visits over many years. Brían will focus on an exploration & enquiry into the singing tradition of Arranmore Island, Co. Donegal.  


Drawing from the Well (2020)  

Available on ITMA website / ITMA Facebook page / ITMA YouTube Channel / ITMA Instagram TV.

14 October:       Louise Mulcahy

21 October:       Martin Hayes - Register for online Zoom Event here.

18 November:   Edwina Guckian

2 December:     Mary Bergin and Tony Linnane

23 December:   Brían Mac Gloinn

A full schedule of artists is lined up for Drawing from the Well for 2021 in what promises to be an exciting programme in which artists connect with archival material to inspire new art. Our past informs our present and shapes our future.

Press Release available to download here.


Louise Mulcahy 14 October 2020

This series itself went ‘live’ on 14 October 2020 at 8.00 pm when uilleann piper, flute player and researcher, Louise Mulcahy presented a specially curated 30-minute video highlighting her favourite aspects of the Liam O’Flynn Collection including little-known original compositions, quotes from O’Flynn’s handwritten manuscripts “Notes and Notions”, rare field recordings and special footage of Louise playing music from the collection. Louise spent much of the summer exploring the Liam O'Flynn Collection at 73 Merrion Square and showcases inspiring gems from within the master piper’s personal collection. Louise describes her time with the collection as:

a magical and unforgettable journey into the music, life and times of Liam O’ Flynn, one of Ireland’s most influential pipers. ​
Louise Mulcahy, September 2020

Louise Mulcahy Drawing from the Well: The Liam O'Flynn Collection at ITMA video


Drawing from the Well was launched virtually by Catherine Martin TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media on Wednesday 14 October 2020 at 7.30 am. The launch included contributions from Arts Council Director, Maureen Kennelly, ITMA Director, Liam O’Connor and a performance by uilleann piper, Louise Mulcahy. 

ITMA’s plans, policies and strategic direction are framed in the context of our main funders the Arts Council/An Comhairle Ealaíon Strategy 2016–2025, Making Great Art Work and the high-level vision for the arts in a wider context. In Making Great Art Work: Traditional Arts Policy & Strategy 2018, the Arts Council notes that “Artistic research is an important and ongoing element of traditional artists’ creative work, and the Arts Council supports this through its Strategic Funding investment in archival resources and archival recording of contemporary practice.” It identifies two policy priority areas: “the individual traditional artist as the cornerstone of the Traditional Arts” and public engagement. Drawing from the Well is also shaped by the Arts Council Pay the Artist Policy. 

We greatly acknowledge the funding support of the Arts Council of Ireland in making this series possible.