Out To Lunch Festival: Niamh Dunne taking traditional route to musical success
It's January – it's wet and miserable. What to do? Put on a coat, head into Belfast and pull up a seat at Out To Lunch, the festive equivalent of a shot of Sambuca! There's a whole month's worth of entertainment aimed at dispelling the New Year blues.
First up today, a little light music. Niamh Dunne is probably best known as singer and violinist with the traditional group Beoga. She first picked up the fiddle when she was just four years old. Her teacher was Limerick piper Mickey Dunne. For generations her family travelled Ireland playing fiddle and pipes at market days, fairs and football matches. Niamh began singing professionally when she was 17, inspired by artists like Karen Casey, Paul Brady and Delores Keane.
"I listened to a lot of contemporary music when I was a kid," she once said. This included a lot of English folk – something her father was into. "We listened to Clifford T Ward, Nanci Griffith, Sandy Denny and a whole lot more."
But Niamh is in no doubt where her true musical roots lie. "Inspiration comes from my family first," she's said. "My dad would have been my most obvious inspiration."
She's been with Beoga for more than seven years, but last year, Niamh launched her first solo album to much acclaim – a blend of traditional songs and folk material, much of it rooted in her home city of Limerick.
And those roots haven't prevented Niamh from touring the world with her violin and vocals.
But we all live in a global village, and today Niamh will be carrying her violin case down the cobbled streets of the Cathedral Quarter, and weaving her Celtic magic for an appreciative OTL audience.
Niamh Dunne is at the Black Box, Belfast today, at 1pm with Sean Og Graham and Trevor Hutchinson