How It’s New York: Máirtín de Cógáin has played a lot in NYC, appearing more than once at the Lillie’s session.

How It’s Irish: Máirtín is from Cork, and he’s seeking funding to help support his DVD about “The People’s Republic of Cork,” to be called From Cork with Love: a Travelogue of the Beautiful City. The project, Máirtín says, was “rompted by Fáilte Ireland’s promotion of The Gathering 2013.” There’s only 4 days to go in his Kickstarter Campaign— and apart from his promised Love Forever there are also great premiums to be had, including his latest CD, a Tea making lesson, a bodhrán lesson and more!

The DVD is guided by lyrics from the concept album released by The Máirtín de Cógáin Project in 2010 called From Cork with Love, (read our review here!) and Máirtín says it will “evoke Cork’s sights and sounds – the bustle of the City’s small back streets, the pastoral boreens of the country, the River Lee’s romantic allure, the Coal Quay and Grand Parade’s rustic charm, and even the majesty of the castles of de Cógáin’s ancestors in Carrigaline itself.”

We sent him some questions about the project and about Cork, in an exclusive interview below!

NYIA: Why is Cork known as the “People’s Republic of Cork?”

MdeC: Cork was it’s own People’s Republic around the time of the Civic War for 6 months. Had it’s own courts and currency. We are the Texas of Ireland, the most southern, the biggest County and we don’t give a sugar about anyone else.

NYIA:  What are the top 3 reasons people should visit Cork?
MdeC: The people who are warm and friendly, the unspoiled countryside and the atmosphere filled so much with craic it’s attictive, no wonder everyone wants to be from there.

NYIA:  OK, so why are people from Cork so hard to understand?
MdeC: As my wife granny says, and she’s a woman from Queens, ‘ye talk with marbles in yer mouths’, also we are cagey about who is listening at all times so we mumble enough so anyone out of earshot can’t hear us along with the fact we like to sing all the words we say.
NYIA: About you. You are a bodhran player and storyteller and singer. What is an all-Ireland storyteller, anyway? What’s a competition like? Can you share your winning story?
MdeC: Well, the is an All-Ireland for everything, would you believe there is a coveted All-Ireland title for ploughing a straight field!! It is to champion of the Ireland, I suppose for that year. I won it two years in a row, 95  and  96 in CCE’s Coel an Geimhridh. It’s much like any competition, which I would say is difficult for any storyteller, in a controlled environment that may be suitable to performance nor listening. A story I told was composed by grand uncle Éamonn de Barra called Darmody’s Motorcar, he never wrote it down but passed it onto my Father and my father then onto me. 

NYIA: Bodhrán players, sadly, are often mocked. Why is that? You are a good one, so defend your instrument!
MdeC: Era, the bodhrán itself needs no defense. The trouble is for anyone, and myself included, to be a part of the inner circle of ‘a session’ is very alluring and you will do anything you can to get in there… After a day of the fiddle, banjo or tin whistle you will know you need to know the tunes besides the fact that will have to learn how to play. With a bodhrán on the other hand it is easy to mistake that rhythm is natural and you don’t need to know the tunes nor learn how to play… so there is indeed a long list of jokes, quite funny though most of them, about bodhrán players. If played well it is a very effective accompaniment to Irish music. Thank you for the compliment.

NYIA: I loved your instructions on how to make tea. Can you get a good cup of tea in America? are you Jonesing, out there in Minnesota?
MdeC: I am holding up ok. I bought myself an electric kettle and get my Barry’s Tea posted from home or from Irish on Grand in St. Paul, MN. Minnesotan’s at least understand the need for ‘Hot tea’ but I won’t say they comprehend the craft of brewing it though. I tell you, I have taken to drinking Coffee, as the fella says, I can put up with a bad cup of coffee but I just can’t do poor tea.

NYIA:. If you weren’t a performer, what would you be?

MdeC: An owner of a coffee shop where I would tempt people to drink good Hot Tea in America.   

NYIA: What’s on your ipod?
MdeC: Hot Rize with Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers.
Al Jolson
Andy Irvine and Paul Brady
Andy May
Batt Burns
Donie Carroll
Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin

Elvis Presley
The Flanagan Brother
Flight of the Conchords
Frank Harte
Gillian Welch
Kate Rusby
John Spillane
Hanz Araki and Kathryn Claire
Jez Lowe and The Bad Pennys
John Spillane
Margaret Barry
Nic Jones

NYIA:   What’s in your backpack?

MdeC: My laptop
Clip board
Portable Humidifier for the hotel rooms
iShuffle for running
Playing cards
My power cords
a book, Eve by Elissa Elliott
lots of other stuff that I am not sure of and shouldn’t be there.
NYIA:  Favorite food you can only get in Ireland. Favorite food you can only get in the US.
MdeC: In Ireland – just plain food with out all the flavors, spices, salt, sugar and fat ye put into it.
In America – Mexican
Filming of the DVD Travelogue of Cork with Red Shoe Productions is scheduled to commence as soon as the goal is reach at the end of August.  Máirtín’s main aim is to showcase Cork at it’s finest to the world.  To make it happen your financial support is necessary, so make a pledge however big or small by going to and get updates as the venture progresses.  To follow Máirtín’s other activities in the weeks ahead with The Fuchsia Band go to

Gwen Orel
About the Author

The only New York journalist who writes for both the Forward and Irish Music Magazine.