Title: Bodhrán Making
Author: Aoife Kehoe 4B
On the 8th December 2014 we met with a man called Michael Vignose from Galway who makes Bodhráns. We were advised to bring gloves, an apron, a hammer, pens, paint and a cloth. We met in the Lunch hall that morning and were introduced to Michael. At first he gave a demonstration of how to make a bodhrán. He showed us how to sand down the wheel of wood (the body of the bodhrán) and make it smooth around the edges. This looked like very hard work!
He proceeded to show us how to soak the goat’s skin and put it on tightly and securely. Then he showed us how to hammer in the pins around the side to keep the goats skin in place. And within minutes he had made a bodhrán!! How long would it take us to make a bodhrán??!!!
After this, we got our own sand paper and wooden wheel to sand down. It took a good length of time to sand down our wood and we left the room in a cloud of dust!! When they were smooth we each got a cross bar for the bodhrán. We needed Michael’s help for this because we needed to drill the crossbar onto the bodhrán!
We varnished the wood and secured our goat’s skin onto it. This involved cord, glue and thumbtacks! Firstly, we had to make a lasoo from cord to wrap around the skin tightly in order to hold the skin in place. Then we began the laborious task of hammering in the thumbtacks. This was not a nice job. Many hundreds of tacks fell to the floor damaged and broken! This was the most difficult element of our task. Thankfully nobody stood on upturned tacks!!
When the skin is dry you can put a design onto it. Michael showed us how to do this. I did a Celtic treble clef design as I have a great love of music along with my name “Aoife”. First we traced it onto tracing paper and then onto the bodhran itself. We had to go over it with a sharpie pen. I was very proud of my Bodhrán in the end. It turned out lovely.
I loved how we got to do everything from sanding the wood to tracing our designs. It was a very worthwhile and enjoyable workshop. I didn’t think it would be as hard as it was and definitely didn’t think the skin would smell that bad! I loved my finished product. Michael was a lovely man and a great help and I loved being taught how to play the bodhrán by him. We are very grateful for the opportunity to make our own Irish Instruments.