Documentary On Newstalk: The Gold Ring

Exploring the Otherworld in Irish Traditional Music

Would you risk interfering with a fairy fort or a lone fairy tree? The latest documentary from the Spring Season of Documentary on Newstalk explores the rich heritage of fairylore in Ireland and its expression in music and song.

A belief in the “otherworld,” the world of the “fairy host”, the “good people,” was at the centre of Irish cultural life for decades, if not millenia. In fact, the volume of fairylore collected in Ireland outlining encounters with fairies, ghosts and otherworldly beings is unmatched elsewhere in Europe. And this belief is expressed in music and song as well as in story and legend.

Together with eminent folklorists Ríonach uí Ógáin and Padraig Ó Héalaí , and  music impressario Tom Sherlock, multi - award winning producer JJ O`Shea explores stories, songs and music from the archives of the National Folklore Collection and from more recent commercial recordings to both illustrate and examine the depth, variety and poetic expression of otherworld beliefs in Ireland. 

In particular JJ explores the tradition of the transfer of musical  talent to a musician by a fairy, showing how such beliefs did not exist in isolation, but were part of a wider all-embracing belief which touched on all aspects of life. He also shows how otherworld beliefs are not unique to any place or social class In Ireland but are found all over the country and in urban as well as rural communities. Finally he considers the ambivalent nature of our relationship with this belief today.

'The Gold Ring – Irish Traditional Music and the Otherworld' airs on Saturday evening 29th April at 10pm and on Sunday morning 30th April at 8am.

The music selections include a jig said to be given as a gift from the fairies as a reward for returning a precious gold ring, and a song that gives an account of a fairy abduction with precise instructions as to how to mount a rescue, and a disturbingly powerful song featuring the ghosts of mistreated children which evokes comparison with recent events in Ireland.

The contributors also include the presenter`s 101 year old mother who tells the story of a neighbour in West Kerry who interfered with a fairy fort.

BROADCAST DETAILS: The Gold Ring – Irish Traditional Music and the Otherworld” is part of the Spring Season of Documentary on Newstalk.


 'The Gold Ring – Irish Traditional Music and the Otherworld’ will be broadcast on Newstalk 106-108fm Saturday 29th April at 10pm and on Sunday Morning 30th April at 8am

LISTEN LIVE ONLINE: The Gold Ring – Irish Traditional Music and the Otherworld” can also be listened to online at:

PODCAST: Podcast available after the broadcast at: 

CREDITS:  The Gold Ring – Irish Traditional Music and the Otherworld” was produced and presented by JJ O`Shea.

The project was supported by a grant from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, as part of the Sound and Vision Scheme.

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