Fiddle Players in Donegal, Photos by Mark Jolley, 1997


Dublin photographer and student fiddle player Mark Jolley was one of the many drawn to the traditional fiddle playing of Donegal, after the music of the county had begun to emerge from an undeserved national obscurity in the 1980s. A selection of his black & white and colour photographs taken at Cairdeas na bhFidléirí fiddle events in Donegal in 1997, and donated by him to the Irish Traditional Music Archive, are reproduced below.

There were several reasons for the rising 1980s popularity of Donegal music, among them the live playing and archival recordings of older fiddle players such as John Doherty and Con Cassidy, the taking up of the music by a young generation of musicians focused on local repertory, the international success of the Donegal-based group Altan, an injection of new compositions by such as fiddle player Tommy Peoples, and the setting up in the early 1980s of the voluntary organisation Cairdeas na bhFidléirí to support and promote the music.

Among its annual activities – which include teaching, publication in sound and print, and the support of the contemporary musicians – Cairdeas hosts gatherings of fiddle players from Ireland and beyond in the remote and beautiful Donegal localities of Glencomcille and Glenties. Mark Jolley’s photographs document some of those who participated in March and October 1997.

With thanks to Mark Jolley for the donation of his photographs to ITMA and for permission to reproduce them here.

NC & TH, 1 February 2012

Fiddle Players in Donegal, Photos by Mark Jolley, 1997