Port Na bPúcaí – Irish/Middle Eastern hybrid flute

Port Na bPúcaí (The Fairies’ Tune) is an Irish slow air hailing from the Blasket Islands off the coast of county Kerry. The legend has it that it had been first heard by a fisherman returning home from the sea who, being a musician, recreated the tune afterwards, and thus thankfully immortalised it for us all. Taken “out of wind off mid-Atlantic”, as Seamus Heaney describes it in his poem “The Given Note”, the melody is believed to have originated from a whale song heard on a howling wind – not an uncommon occurrence along the wildly beautiful Irish Atlantic coast. However, the lyrics of the song (the human one) sung to the same tell the story of a woman abducted by the fairies who laments her separation from her people whom she can only visit while they are asleep.

The main instrument here is a hybrid of an Irish transverse flute and the eastern (Balkan, Turkish, Persian) Kaval/Ney flutes, played using the Tuvan Shoor technique. The prototype was built in Galway, hence its nickname – the Galway Ney. The original Atlantic soundscape skilfully captured by Johnnie Lawson allows the tune to reverberate in its natural environment while clearly leaning eastwards.


Be sure to visit Johnnie’s channel for countless hours of natural relaxation www.youtube.com/johnnielawson