In September 2020, Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School in Waterford held the Mercy Creative Arts Bodhrán Workshops for 155 students. The bodhrán making workshop was facilitated by Michael Vignoles. Michael has been crafting uilleann pipes and bodhrán drums in his workshop in Claddagh, Galway for the past 25 years.
After giving a brief history on the origins of the bodhrán, Michael taught the students through each step of making one. The students were provided with all the raw materials, wood frame, goatskin, cross bars and tacks. The practical workshop included sanding and adding the sticks to the base, stretching and tacking the goat skin and finishing off by decorating their own bodhráns. The workshop ended with Michael teaching the students how to play jigs and reels on their new drum.
The students spent a wonderful, practical day making bodhráns under the expert guidance of Michael Vignoles and continued to learn how to play their drums afterwards with a series of workshops facilitated by the school music teacher and a bodhrán teacher.
The feedback from students was overwhelmingly positive ‘My experience of making the bodhráns was really fun and interesting because we got to learn how to make the bodhrán and we got to keep it which was really cool and now we are learning how to play it.’
‘It was all light-hearted and really fun. Everyone was smiling, laughing, and just having fun. The man that showed how to make and play it, Michael was so lovely.’
‘Overall, it truly was an amazing experience and I am very thankful for the experience. It taught me new skills and I’m very grateful we got such an amazing experience.’