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The Bodhran Makers

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  218 ratings  ·  23 reviews
A saga of the struggle between hard-living farmers and the Church, The Bodhran Makers is set in rural Ireland in the 1950s. The Bodhran (pronounced bough-rawn), makers of the title are "poverty stricken people who never lost their dignity." Every January, they celebrate their Celtic ancestry with a festival of singing, drinking, and music making with the Bodhran, a drum ma ...more
Paperback, 353 pages
Published October 10th 2000 by Roberts Rinehart Publishers (first published 1986)
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4.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  218 ratings  ·  23 reviews

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Sep 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
As a bodhrán player, I was given this book as a gift from a dear friend. What a wonderful surprise it was to read. I was afraid that it might actually be a story about building bodhrán drums, which would not have held my interest very long. Instead it was a thoroughly delightful and heartfelt story about life in Ireland for those families trying to scrape together a living as best as possible. In some ways I felt it paralleled parts of Fiddler on the Roof, in that it took place within an isolate ...more
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was thrilled to be in attendance at the powerful seminar with the very important speaker, and even more so when the very important speaker invited me onstage while he mentioned the following to the enthralled audience:

"This man coming up on stage here is either one of the most intelligent people in the history of the world or a damn uncontested fool. It is up to you to determine which is he."

Unfortunately, I don’t know how the enthralled audience voted for me on that very night, largely bec
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting clash between tradition and church, poverty in 1950 Ireland. Great story about the drum.
Padraig Mckeon
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I quite enjoyed this tale of an Irish village where church and tradition are facing off. It was funny and tragic and full of Irish culture.
Aug 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Keane, John B. THE BODHRAN MAKERS. (1986; Amer. ed. 1992). ****. The bodhran (pronounced bough-rawn, as we are cautioned many times) is a cross between a drum and a tamborine. It is played using either the hands or a twin-knobbed drumstick called a cipin. It is a key instrument in traditional Irish music. The finest ones are made using specially selected skin from a young goat that is blemish free. In the Ireland of the 1950s, the bodhran was played by the agrarian population, who wished to carr ...more
Jul 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The Bodhran Makers is a delightful storytelling of a traditional rural Irish community, and the hold that religion, traditional music and drinking had on their lives. There’s sadness too, depicting how this way of life was dying out, with many leaving for England due to abject poverty. The ways of the power-hungry priest and the conflicting lifestyles between the town folk and rural folk was also interesting to note, and I’m sure was not uncommon in Eire. I loved the detail and Keane’s faithful ...more
Apr 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
John Keane is probably my favorite literary discovery of the past 15 years. He had a simple way of writing that reflected the lives of the rural country folk in Ireland. He captured small-town life exquisitely. If you've ever seen the movie "Waking Ned Devine" that is the best way to capture Keane's writing style. Simple, deceptively simple, but so, so rich in what it gives you.
This is the story of a group of farmers who find themselves locked in a battle with their local priest. At heart they
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is truly one of my favorite books! Unlike its name, very little time is spent discussing the building of a new bodhrán drum, yet the story within this book is an excellent read.

It is a story of the people within a poor little village in Ireland, their daily trials and tribulations, and their age-old traditions that bring pleasure to the people, and the wrath of their controlling clergyman. The story is written in such a way that the reader becomes a member of the village, lives within the p
Apr 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Crushing poverty and the Catholic church clash in this 1950's story of rural Ireland. The people hold on to their ancient Celtic traditions of music and dance as a way to escape the harshness of never having enough to eat or the money to buy the most basic of desperately needed supplies. The parish priest condems them all to hell for their merrymaking, believing these old traditions fly in the face of God. The Bodhran (bough-rawn) is a Celtic drum made from goat skin and played with the fingers ...more
Dec 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
I liked this book. It is about Rural Ireland in the 1950s. I enjoyed learning about the instrument, the customs and legends about it--bodhran (bow ron). The only chance the poor had was to move to England. It was pretty hopeless. The person who hosted our Irish Book Club meeting invited a bodhran player to our meeting. Beautiful music. We heard someone playing the bodhran when we went to Ireland in September. I really appreciated the music after learning how the bodhran was made and what it took ...more
Louise Leetch
Jan 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great tale of Ireland in the early twentieth century. This is a great insight into life in the countryside, always poor, but people who knew how to have a good time. They also were very well versed in getting around the powers that be. This would make a great book, somewhat along the lines of Tight Little Island and Waking Ned Devine; except that reality plays a part.
Eileen Ryan
Jun 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a a book club choice and my first (of many) John B Keane's. For some reason, I didn't expect to enjoy it, expecting it to be a bit too stage- Irishy but right from the beginning I was hooked. I loved how he wrote about the hardships of scraping an existence from the land, how he developed his characters and the relationships between them. Was really sorry when it ended.
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
A bodhran (pronounced bough rawn) is an Irish musical instrument, which figures in this story of a small Irish village as the villagers prepare for their annual celebration of an old Irish festival. However, the village priest has outlawed this celebration and when the villagers go ahead without his approval, it starts a chain of events which leads to the breakup of the village.
Nov 02, 2010 rated it liked it
this is a sometimes harsh sometimes tender story about rural Ireland in the 50's. the story revolves around the tradition of the wrenboys and traditional irish music. It was sad to witness the struggles in the country to repress the old ways but delightful to read how some people hold on to traditions.
Cathal Kenneally
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very funny book. One of the funniest books written by an Irish writer I've ever read. So true to life. The hold the Catholic church has in Ireland for centuries and still has to a certain extent nowadays but things have changed for the better
Jan 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-books
I really liked this! It was a mix of humor and sadness, but overall a very thorough series of character examinations. Good characters in an inescapably dismal situation, but they make it work. I think it successfully skirted Irish caricaturism. It was a good read, especially around Christmas.
Terry Woods
Jan 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Classic Keane. Insightful story about a dying rural culture clinging to the western edge of Europe.
May 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Hilarious and sad all at once. The final act of revenge by the town cad against a haughty lace curtain family was priceless. The last sentence brought tears to my eyes.
May 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book helped me understand the culture and history of Ireland before we spent a day in Dublin. It was insightful, historical writing.
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Stellar story telling. Not actually about the making of drums, just about the people who insist on doing so despite interference from the Catholic church.
Jan 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Great characters and it really drew me in to small town Irish life.
Addy Buffum
Jul 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Loved this book. Keane brings you right into the characters lives and you can just see the scenery, hear the music, and smell the peat!
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Mar 12, 2015
Patty Faley
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Jan 09, 2018
Courtney H.
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Mar 30, 2014
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Dec 21, 2013
Denise C Gilbert
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Jun 11, 2018
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Aug 01, 2017
Patrick Clifford
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Jul 22, 2011
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