Paul McAuley Bodhrans
Much sought after by professional musicians
A love of traditional Irish music, a fondness for local pub culture and boredom at work proved a potent combination for Ballycastle man Paul McAuley.
McAuley was working in the retail sector when a chance encounter with a man in a Dublin pub occasioned a change in career. Already an amateur woodworker and enthusiastic traditional musician, McAuley was inspired to try his hand at making a bodhran, a traditional Irish tuneable drum. He travelled home to Ballycastle, visited a library, and through the internet sources, found the material he needed to give him a start.
The project, which started as just a hobby, gained momentum rapidly:
‘My first few bodhrans were made on a bit of a wing and a prayer and I made some mistakes, but I began to get the hang of it all fairly quickly and there was great satisfaction in it,’ he reveals. ‘A few of the people I met at sessions in my local, The House of McDonnell in Ballycastle, started asking me to make them bodhrans and it all just grew from there.
‘Before I knew it I had regular orders coming in and I even expanded the range to include decorative bodhrans as well as more specialist tunable instruments. I got a friend I knew through fishing to add his touch—he is a great amateur painter—and he was able to decorate the bodhrans with local scenes while I concentrated on the Celtic Designs out of the Book of Kells, which opened up the gift market.’
McAuley turned his hobby into business in September 2001, and now sells his instruments throughout Ireland, America, Japan, Germany and Australia. McAuley has orders coming in constantly, and can adapt and make a bodhran to suit individual needs and requirements.
However, McAuley states, ‘I have learnt not to be too dependant on tourism sales alone, and it underlined the message about having a broad range of products and a broad range of outlets too. I now specialise in the tunable Bodhran in sizes 15” and 18” and have built up a business where my bodhrans have become much sought after highly professional musical instruments.
‘If my biggest worry is coping with the demand then things are going pretty well. I never thought I’d get to the stage when I could support myself with my hobby. I’ve certainly never been happier, and there’s something particularly nice about sitting in your local pub listening to music played on instruments you’ve made.’