Wild Flower Watercolor

Fionnuala

Maxwell

traditional singer

Leitrim born & bred, I am a traditional singer, composer, researcher & educator. I have performed on various stages in a solo capacity as well as in collaboration with others. I have led & developed many community and socially engaged projects & continue to do so as well as to tutor groups, individuals, in person & online. My deep interest lies in the grass-roots people, customs, traditions, songs & music.

I am a firm believer that if we can appreciate the role that music & song has played in preserving & enriching our own culture, we can also gain a valuable insight into other cultures through their music traditions. Our traditional songs give us a unique insight into our history - the history that we don't learn from books. They are an important part of our identity & our true story.



"Fair Maidens" is a collaboration supported by a Leitrim Arts Individual Artist Bursary and an Artist Support Residency with The Dock Arts Centre, Carrick on Shannon. Over the course of the residency, acclaimed cellist Eimear Reidy and myself explored traditional songs that portray women in various roles, often using stereotypical ideas, but also casting light on the diverse challenges and emotions that women of past generations had to deal with and some that they still grapple with today. We were also keen to see how the voice in its raw form could combine with that of the cello, to produce some interesting ideas around accompaniment and complementation of the traditional genre. This collaboration culminated in a recording of five songs - four old traditional songs and one newly composed song - "The Comely Maiden" - all of which you can listen to here.

(recorded by Leo Logan at Vibes Recording Studio, Drumshanbo)


fair maidens

Yellow Wild  Flower Illustration
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the american wake

The American Wake in conjunction with Jinny's Bakery and Tearooms came about as a culmination of an exploration of ideas around bread and traditional song. Supported by Leitrim County Council, Leitrim Development, Creative Ireland and the Arts Council through the Small Sparks programme which offers local businesses the chance to work with local artists in the pursuit of common interest and benefit. Oaten bread or bonnach was part of a Leitrim tradition of offering sustenance to the many people who were forced to emigrate since famine times and we looked at the local story, recreating a wake, making the bonnach on a griddle and offering people sustenance through food, song and story.


Wild Carrot Flowers

the Leitrim Larks

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Larks are symbols of joy - singing their songs of hope and renewal. The first voices of the morning heralding a new day. The aim of this project was to herald a new day for many of the Leitrim songs and ballads that have been lost and remained unsung for many years. I was focused on the idea of songs being "passed on" as they would have been in an oral capacity years ago and so set out to secure six leading larks from around the county, Dromod's Ronnie Duignan, Carrick's Carole Coleman, Drumshanbo's Gavin Sweeney, Drumkeerin's Anna McManus, Manorhamilton's Aoife Hammond and Ballinamore's Pauric Sweeney. I sourced a song for each of them from their locality, which they learned and then passed on to a wider circle of interested learners and singers over an eight-week series of workshops. I am slowly trickling this information and more out to the public through a dedicated Facebook page and The Leitrim Larks group continue to meet for songs in the monthly "Lend an Ear" sessions.

Violet Wild Flowers

Modern day mummers & sowing the seed

Spike or Ears of Malt Isolated Wheat Barley Grains


Together with artists Edwina Guckian and Brian Mostyn, we have been researching the customs and folk traditions of Ireland associated with straw. These strawing traditions usually propagate music, song, dance and devilment while the roots of these traditions and many associated customs within the Irish calendar year all lead back to the influences of the environment, climate and fertility of the soil. They greatly influenced social traditions of the rural communities and were directly connected with the daily and yearly routine of work. Some of these traditions are still practiced in Leitrim, others are now only memories of an older generation long gone. Working with many communities across the county, we aim to reach and revive many of these traditions as well as bringing modern day uses to them.


Brian O'lynn

After a few years of working together, Leitrim-based visual artist and ceramicist, Kate Murtagh-Sheridan and myself launched a series of fresco paintings, prints and a beautifully illustrated book which brings the story of Brian O’Lynn alive. Brian O'Lynn is a character from a song that was sung in Leitrim many years ago but can be traced back as far as the 1500s. The story involves a comical but resourceful man who gets himself into situations but always finds a quick solution.

This particular song can be found in various versions throughout the English-speaking world.However in this work we rooted the character, Brian O’Lynn, in Leitrim as his rhymes have been sung in the area for many years, including in 1950’s recordings of Mohill ballad singer, Thomas Moran and other references in local publications. Through the QR link on the book, people are guided to the singing of the song, as recorded by me to accompany each verse/fresco. The book and art works were launched in the Leitrim Design House and the book is on sale in various bookshops and from our website

the unseen army

Play Button Illustration

The Unseen Army composed and performed by me as part of 'As It Happened’ - Decade of Centenaries.

Nine Leitrim artists were commissioned to create work in response to events in the county from 1921.

Filmed in St. James' Church Dublin, I was joined by Brian Ryan & Katerina Speranskaya.

"As It Happened" is produced and filmed by Edwina Guckian and supported by Leitrim County Council & the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Mediaunder the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 initiative.

Later, I re-recorded the song with musician and producer Sean Sweeney, musicians Paul Gurney, Eileen O' Brien, Enrien Lamcellari, Lorraine Sweeney and James Blennerhasset, mastered by Tom McElvogue


The leitrim influence

The Leitrim Influence was a series which was recorded in Cryan's Teach Ceoil, Carrick-on-Shannon, in conjunction with The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon. This episode features myself, the great guitarist John McCartin, the wonderfully talented fiddle player Clare Bohan, the fabulous voice of Eleanor Smith and Cryan's proprieter Liam on bodhrán.

Hand Pressed Flora

back to the future

through Memories & Songs

In April/May 2020, we were starting to suffer withdrawal symptoms from lack of human contact and the day-to-day chats and interactions that were part of normal life. In an attempt to create a conversation space for a generation who grew up in an analog era and to bridge that digital divide, I decided to introduce some of our cocooning citizens to the world of Zoom. They told stories of growing up in rural Ireland and the changes that they have witnessed from the 1930s, reminisced, laughed and sang their way through lockdown. This film is a compilation of those moments that were shared over six weeks, interspersed with photographs and songs from the past.

Watercolor Wildflowers Bouquet

workshops

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Creeping Buttercup Flower
Udemy

Learn to sing nine traditional songs - Udemy Course

Learn in your own time as you have access to all the videos & material once you buy the course - click here to check it out

"This was a wonderful course. The songs are so beautiful and there is a nice mix of emotional and playful songs. Fionnuala's singing is absolutely beautiful as well which is very inspiring. I found it challenging but very rewarding when I get it right. There are enough songs here to keep me busy practicing for a while but I do wish there was a follow up course, it was that good!"

Emmi

"Just started but fantastic so far! I have Irish ancestry and can feel my ancestors stirring in my blood when I sing these songs."

Denise

"Wonderful instructor, this online class really challenged my voice. I’m already learning ornamentation and control, and it feels so good to sing, and to challenge myself! Thank you for this opportunity, and this fantastic and affordable course."

Marianna

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tg4 the wild atlantic way

Performance of traditional song from Leitrim, "The Shores of Lough Bran" accompanied by accordion player Brian Mostyn as part of the Wild Atlantic Way music series, televised by TG4 in June 2023.

Festive Foliage Plants

performances & recordings

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Mouse peas. Wild flower. A wild plant. Meadow grass.
Mixcloud a British Online Music Streaming Service
Spotify

contact me

If you are interested in organising a workshop, singing class, one-to-one lessons, online lessons, looking for a traditional singer or for more information on any of my projects

ADDRESS

Killyfad

aughamore

carrick-on-shannon,

Co.leitrim

N41 k718

Phone

+353 868664639

Email

fionnmax99@gmail.com

Purple Iris Flower Illustration