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"A masterful work of genius by musicians that are breaking new ground and opening new doors as they transverse our musical horizons" -Tradconnect

Deep End of The Ford combine four of the most progressive avant-garde talents in improvised and folk music; with the spoken word of Celtic prehistory; to "create a seemingly ancient sound out of instrumentation that is anything but ancient"

They create massively dynamic soundscapes that shift from peaceful melody to turbulent invocations of sorcery and battle.

Possibly their most unique and exciting feature is their reuse of texts from the dawn of Celtic history in their compositions. Their retelling of The Táin sees them use a text that was transcribed in the 8th century AD, to explode a mythological epic -which was formed in the 3rd C. BC- on the modern senses.

1 epic Celtic materpiece

2 landmark historical commissions

4 of the best avant-garde musicians in folk music

1 gloriously rich tapestry of stageringly ancient words, sean nós, and timeless avant-garde soundscapes


What does it sound like

Extract from the sorcerous distortions from the album An Táin. "If that be the distorted one" This song describes Cú Chullain's famous battle fury where his body distorts and he transforms into a hideous death dealing demon. Cú Chullain.s Riastradh was translated by Thomas Kinsella as the Warp-Spasm



What are they saying about An Táin

"evokes the character of ancient Gaelic epic" -fROOTS
"alien but intriguing" -The Irish Times
"wonderful album."-Folking.com
"a real act of genius" -Celtic Rock Music "a deep and touching piece" -Heaven
"a unique combination of ancient, traditional and contemporary
...stirring and
anthemic" -Folkradio
"Eoghan Neff’s masterly fiddle in an elemental maelstrom" -Folkradio.co.uk

"I literally felt like I was removed from present time and harkened back to the native cultural context of the Táin"
- Dr. Glen Gill; MSUNJ Celtic Mythology

See these Reviews and others in full


book of leinster

Velum sheet from The Book of Leinster page 55 - An Táin
Quotations from The Book of Leinster


The Punter's view

"Lorcan MacMathuna gathers from the air something which is older than the Tain - ageless, primaeval and haunting. He has caught and manifest for us a sound which is fundamental; which has existed since men and women first sang - sang to express what they felt and what they knew to be true. It is the music of mythology - all the cadences of history and prehistory residing in one man's voice. It calls to the soul. And the soul answers. And we are privileged to listen and to hear in our own blood and in the fibres of our understanding." -KATE NEWMAN, Poet and Publisher


An Táin Bó Cuailgne fromThe Book of Leinster

The villainous Meadhbh, driven by greed and the quest for power, invades the kingdom of Ulster with the ultimate aim to steal the prize bull of the Ulster people, the Donn Cuailgne.

The kingdom of Ulster is left defenceless because of an ancient curse, and but for the stand of the lone warrior, the youthful Cú Chulainn, she would advance unchecked through the plains of Muirthemna, despoiling and looting. Will she win her prize, or will her web of lies and manipulations come undone?

Meadhbh cannot get the better of Cú Chulainn until she cajoles and extorts Cú Chulainn's foster brother, Ferdia, into challenging him to single combat. And so she sets the scene for the tragic and titanic battle of the blood brothers which raged so furiously that the water of the ford boiled and the river diverted its course.

An Táin is an heroic epic more than 2000 years old. It describes a Celtic warrior society and an epic campaign which revolves around two of the most enigmatic and powerful characters in Irish mythology.

A tale of political intrigue, bloodshed, and betrayal, it is amongst the great legends of the world.


The Band and the Music

Deep End of The Ford's An Táin is a progressive-folk treatment of Gaelic Ireland's foundation tale, An Táín Bó Cualaigne.

An Táin (The Tain) is perhaps the most important piece of Irish literature because, not unlike the Iliad, it is a story of a shared epic; that all the tribal peoples of a culturally mixed Iron age Ireland see as a formative founding tale. It is an heroic epic which gives birth to the notion of a Gaelic concept.

The music for this piece was composed by Lorcán Mac Mathúna and the words were taken from the mediaeval Irish manuscript, The Book of Leinster. The lyrics are in their origional form, un-translated and unaltered.


An Avant-garde epic of staggering antiquity

Deep End of The Ford's An Táin involves the voice of Lorcán Mac Mathúna; Eoghan Neff on fiddle and looping station; Flaithrí Neff on VPipes, uileann pipes, and low whistles; Seán Mac Erlaine on bass clarinet and live electronics; and Martín Tourish on Accordion.

Deep End of The Ford's interest in Old-Irish mythology and the oral prose tradition of pre-Christian Ireland is synonymous with their development as an improvisatory collective. As Ciarán Carson, the Belfast author who compiled the most recent translation of An Táin, puts it: “Much of the action in The Táin takes place at fords. …There are deep ends to these fords. In Irish mythology streams and rivers are liminal zones between this world and the Otherworld.”

Deep End of The Ford delve the depths and currents of this ancient corpus to create evocative music which; like the extraordinary exploits of The Táin, exists on the boundaries of musical form and style.

Deep End of The Ford are the go-to band for epic mythic interpretation. So far they have been commissioned to:

  • Write the music for The Tain;
  • Write and perform a cycle of songs, Derry to the Sea, to open the largest traditional Irish festival in the world, the Fleadh Cheoil, for the UK city of Culture 2013;
  • Write and perform a song cycle using Norse and Gaelic accounts of the Battle of Clontarf for its millennium celebration in 2014,
  • Write the soundtrack of a BBC documentary of the Fleadh Cheoil 2013.

Buy the Album here



Deep end of the ford


AN PÍOBAIRE December 2010

St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral provided the spectacular background to the afternoon concert appropriately called ‘Pipes in the Cathedral.’

The highlight of this concert was the World Premier of a commissioned piece from the Cork singer Lorcan MacMathuna entitled ‘Tain Bo Cuailgne’, the ‘Cattle Raid of Cooley’ one of the great epic stories from the Ulster Cycle of heroic tales. Armagh was a most appropriate setting for the inaugural performance of this piece commissioned by Armagh Pipers Club and supported by a traditional Arts Award from An Chomhairle Ealaion/Irish Arts Council.

The words come directly from the Book of Leinster and the piece follows the action of the Tain through eight descriptive pieces sung by Lorcan MacMathuna. The story is one of the great epics of the Scottish and Irish Gaelic Oral tradition handed down through the centuries and finally written down by scribes in the first millennium. The story also survived orally throughout Ireland and Scotland right to the present day. This was a truly magical performance rising to the occasion and captivating the audience. The entire piece is controlled by MacMathuna’s spell binding singing which ranged from low chanting to full throated and powerful vocals that echoed through the Cathedral. The musical accompaniment of uilleann pipes, fiddle, saxophone and piano accordion also included pre-recorded electronic music. This was one of the never to be forgotten moments of the entire festival.

PIPING TODAY December10/January11

After lunch it was up to St. patrick’s cathedral for the world premiere of Lorcán Mac Mathúna’s An Táin. This was a musical interpretation of the Ulster epic tale of An Táin from the book of Leinster, which tells of the Connacht king and queen’s war against Ulster and the young Cú-Chulainn’s attempt to defeat them. Lorcán put this to music and presented it in the spectacular surroundings of the cathedral.

Lorcán is one of the younger generation of Sean Nós singers and he sang the eight-parted story, the supporting musicians – Seán Óg Mac Fhirléinn on bass clarinet, Flaithrí Neff on Uilleann pipes/whistle, Martin Tourish on accordion, and Owen Neff on fiddle – echoed the story with atmospheric sounds that emphasised the moodiness and foreboding or energy and rage as needed. Once the initial sound balance issues were sorted, this settled into a compelling piece that engaged and enthralled with each twist and turn in the story. The supporting slide show of beautifully crafted illustrations gave visual clues for the non-Gaelic speakers, and there was some very clever use of loops recorded live and played back immediately to add depth and complexity to the music. At just shy of an hour this was a substantial piece that deserves to be heard more.



Listen to the dramatic climax of An Táin. In Movement 9 Sualtaim rides to Eamhain Mhaca to waken the Ulster Army and call them to the final battle at Gáireach and Ilgáireach.

In Movement 10 the two bulls finally meet and gore and slay each other in a mad frenzy which traverses the entire country as the people of Ireland tremble at the sound of their fury. The Brown Bull finally slays the White Bull.

But as the gore-spattered victor turns North towards his homeland, his heart fails from his maddened exertions, and cracks like a nut in his breast.





Buy the Album here



a power of rings





From Deep End of The Ford's 'UK City of Culture' commissioned Derry to The Sea The River Roe







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