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The Celtic Lyre

3 June 2017 @ 3:30 pm - 6:00 pm

Celtic bard Koth na Fiach (Shaun Aston) - The Celtic Lyre at Chalice Well

Celtic bard, Koth na Fiach (whose strange bardic name is derived from old Irish Gaelic) performs medieval, Celtic and folk music with the Gaulish lyre, and makes lyres in a variety of traditional European styles.

You will either find him wandering the gardens and playing his lyre or in the marquee. Feel free to stop and ask him about these ancient instruments and the craft of creating one.

He’s here:

  • Saturday 3 June | 3:30-6 pm
  • Monday 5 to Wednesday 7 June | 2-6 pm

Koth’s enthusiasm for both Celtic culture and woodworking can both be blamed squarely on his grandfather, a man of the Scottish highlands who had moved their (originally Irish) family down to England from Clydebank after the Second World War. From as early an age as he can recall, Koth was entranced by the tales of such wonders as the monsters lurking in the depths of the gloomy lochs, the echoes of ancient battles that could still be heard on the misty moors, the wailing spirit that heralded the deaths of family members, of the Fae ancestry of the McLeods of the Isles, whose faerie banner granted them victory in battle, and the “Two Sights” that enabled a person so gifted to perceive such things.

He was captivated by the mysticism in the Gaelic spirit which seems to permeate the landscape itself, and which defies categorisation into one religion or another. In ancient times, amongst the Gaelic clans, spirituality was the province of the Druids, and when the early Celtic saints brought a simpler pre-Roman version of Christianity to these isles, the Gaelic peoples recognised that the truth could be perceived through both, but was owned by neither, being ultimately beyond the capacity of dogmas to contain.

Koth was also encouraged by his grandfather to spend many happy hours playing with an impressive array of carpentry tools and still has many of the scars to prove it. When he became a musician in his teens, this interest in woodworking began to develop into a passion for fixing up, and subsequently for making musical instruments. Over the last two years, his interest in music, Celtic history and woodworking came together in an unexpected way when he found himself, quite without planning to do so, making lyres.

The lyre is an instrument whose importance in Gaelic history cannot be understated, but which had until recent decades, become almost extinct in Europe. In Celtic times, the entire corpus of history, law and tradition, the tales of heroes, battles, supernatural encounters, and everything else that went into making Celtic culture, was passed own orally in the form of songs and lyric poetry, all of which was memorised and performed with the aid of the lyre. The restoration of the art of making and playing the lyre is, therefore, one of great significance to the Celtic spirit.


3 June 2017
3:30 pm - 6:00 pm
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Chalice Well Trust