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  • ellenbyrne34

What do you do for a living?

Updated: Mar 21, 2019

Is question I get asked a bit - either when filling out forms or by other humans. I never quite know how to answer. "I'm an eh, music promoter. I manage some musicians. And um, I manage press campaigns for musicians, record companies and music festivals. And also for some academic institutions". There's no one handy word to describe what I do. I'm not 'an' anything (work-wise at least!). But enjoy this thing I do but don't know how to name. I get to work with some gorgeous people, great musical heroes of mine. Mainly trad, but increasingly I'm being asked to work for musicians outside of this genre. I'm also working soon on a project with a theatre costume designer - that's going to be lovely. I'm still a one-person outfit, so it can be difficult to juggle work commitments. Sometimes I have to turn down work, which always feels counter-intuitive but it's usually a case of not being in a position to take something on because I've already committed to another project. It's frustrating when this happens, I always fret about letting people down. It would be great to be able to take someone else on to work with me but at the moment that's just not feasible.

My most recent project was working with the mighty Kilfenora Céilí Band on the launch at the National Concert Hall Dublin of their new album 'Both Sides Now'. It's been such an enjoyable time working with the band - lovely people, all of them; and as a bonus I got to work in my beloved County Clare. The Kilfenora is now in its 110th year, making it what surely has to be the longest-running band in Ireland. Long may they thrive. The album is available at

I'm currently working with the magnificent quartet Flook, one of my favourite bands. Their instantly recognisable sound combines flute, alto flute and accordion of Sarah Allen, the guitar of Ed Boyd, the flutes and whistles of Brian Finnegan, and the bodhrán of John Joe Kelly. Those of you who know them know the unrivalled brilliance of their ensemble playing, their incredibly intricate tunes and arrangements and John Joe Kelly's outrageous bodhrán skills. The band has legendary status and a huge festival touring profile. They're embarking on a UK tour next month in support of their new album 'Ancora', the long-awaited fourth studio album, fourteen years after their last one. Ancora has already got a great review, ahead of its April 12th release-date: "Flook... delighting us, again, with their unique, exciting sound and their ever-inventive arrangements. Expectations more than fully met – simply a brilliant album" (Folk Radio UK). Ancora is availble to pre-order on

My on-going work with Martin Hayes involves fielding an almost endless stream of requests from venues, festivals, radio programmes, media outlets to have him perform, either with his long-time musical partner Dennis Cahill, or with his newest ensemble, The Martin Hayes Quartet. He's just completed another record-breaking sold-out run at the National Concert Hall with The Gloaming and they're off to play a sold-out gig Carnegie Hall New York on April 6th. Carnegie feckin Hall.

Working with Iarla Ó Lionáird is a treat and a privilege. His is one of the most beautiful voices ever to have come from Ireland I think, and every single time I hear him sing, it brings me to if not quite tears (though that's often the case), then certainly to a place of reflection, where it feels easy to connect with things that matter; family, nature, the earth. He's as funny as feck too. A great story-teller, mimic, a proper raconteur. His gift with story-telling flows into the way he sings too. While his beautiful Irish may be difficult to a non-native speaker, he carries the listener along through the expressiveness of his singing. His song 'Meáchain Rudaí' from The Gloaming's newest album is utterly magnificent. The album is available on

Daoirí Farrell is a star. The young Dublin singer carries huge expectation on his shoulders, being regularly hailed as a natural successor to people like Luke Kelly and Frank Harte. Winner of two BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards – Best Traditional Track and Best Newcomer in 2016, he was recently described as 'effortless, instinctive, natural - the real deal' by BBC Radio 2's Mark Radcliffe. I worked with Daoiri earlier this year on the press campaign for his new album 'A Lifetime of Happiness' and it was a joy from start to finish. He's a proper Dub, old-style no-nonsense singer and it's been lovely getting to know him and his sister Ciara, who's a great support to him with his career. He's just back from an extensive tour of Australia. 'A Lifetime of Happiness' is available on

Karan Casey's album 'Hieroglyphs that Tell the Tale' was released in October of 2018 and I got to work with her and her record company Vertical Records on the release. It's a gorgeous album, beautifully produced by Donald Shaw, featuring a stunning array of musicians, including Kate Ellis, Maura O'Connell, Karen Matheson, Catriona McKay, Mick McGoldrick and Niall Vallely. Karan's voice is getting better and better and the album showcases it beautifully, with ten tracks, two of her own and others by Bob Dylan, Mick Flannery, Janis Ian and Eliza Gilkyson. Karan is doing some gigs from May onwards with Niall Vallely, Niamh Dunne and Sean Óg Graham. See

Doing some on-going projects with Mel Mercier, who is Professor of Music at the Irish World Academy at the University of Limerick. Mel has taken over the role from the late Professor Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, whose death at the end of 2018 was a terrible blow for all who knew and admired him. He was a force of nature; musician, composer, academic and founder of the Irish World Academy. 'Ní Bheidh a Leithéid...' is perhaps overused as a phrase but in Mícheál's case it never rang truer. Mel's album 'Testament', a collection of eleven of his compositions for theatre, was released last month, on the Heresy Record Label.

Working with Declan O'Rourke was something I couldn't have envisaged when I first heard his voice, introduced to me by my late and beloved brother Hughie back in 2004. I can still remember where I was standing when I first heard Galileo, and being transfixed by the song, by Declan's voice and by the lyrics of this other-worldly love song. Declan called me sometime last autumn, to ask me to work with him on the re-release of his 'Since Kyabram' album, which of course includes the magical Galileo. I loved working with him, he's a gem. It was great to have the opportunity to help him with the re-release the album, the rights to which Declan now owns again, after one of those all-too-common issues with his original record label.

I've never blogged before, but I was having a look at my sadly out-of-date website and thought I'd start updating it by putting this little essay together. Today, March 20th, is International Day of Happiness apparently - I hope if you're reading this little spiel that you're happy. Music definitely helps I find.

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