Siamsa Tíre Podcast

Siamsa Tíre launched its first Podcast series ‘Sounds like Folk’ in 2020 during the pandemic, and due to popularity, it has been followed by two more series, the third of which was launched on 1st February 2022.


Hosted by Joanne Barry, Repertory Director of the National Folk Theatre, the series traces folk voices, past and present across eight 30-minute conversations. Joanne speaks to some of the Siamsa’s oldest and newest friends about Siamsa Tíre and folk’s influence on their childhood and adulthood, the sense of community it created, and why they hold it close to their hearts. The podcasts also examine the idea of folk theatre and where it stands in today’s world.

Siamsa Tíre itself was born from a ‘coming together’ of people, ideas and celebration, and this podcast aims to recreate that through the sharing of memories, thoughts and great conversation. The series hopes to recreate a ‘bothántaíoicht’ idea, a coming together, in whatever shape that takes, in order for us to connect. Siamsa Tíre launches its first Podcast series to launch its Celtic Calendar of artistic events in 2021.

The series was launched to coincide with Imbolc on the Celtic Calendar.  Siamsa Tíre’s programme is shaped to follow the Celtic Calendar, creating a rolling, cyclical and responsive selection of year-round cultural activities on a seasonal basis. The Celtic Calendar provides symmetry and balance and acts as a reminder of the ancient roots of our folk culture. It honours the rural and natural rhythms of life on our island. It follows the change in seasons, and how these natural transitions mark time and affect the ebb and flow of human activity, action, gathering, rest and renewal.

If you use Android you can link to Soundcloud for the series.

Podcast Series 1 – 2021

Sounds Like Folk – 01 – Paula Murrihy

Joanne Barry opens the Sounds Like Folk Series with an interview with internationally acclaimed Irish mezzo-soprano and Siamsa Tíre Community Cast Alumni Paula Murrihy. Paula started her performing career within the National Folk Theatre and now Paula is a regular guest at the world’s major opera houses and concert halls performing a wide variety of repertoire. Previously a member of the Ensemble at the Oper Frankfurt, Paula’s roles have included creating the title role Carmen in Barry Kosky’s iconic production, Octavian Der Rosenkavalier, Dido Dido and Aeneas, title role Pénélope, Fauré and Polissena Radamisto. Highlights have also included Stéphano Roméo et Juliette at the Metropolitan Opera, Ruggiero Alcina for Santa Fe Opera, Concepción L’Heure Espagnole for the Opernhaus Zürich, Frances, Countess of Essex Gloriana for Teatro Real, Madrid, Idamante Idomeneo for Salzburg Festival, and most recently the title role Ariodante for Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

On the concert platform Paula enjoys a close relationship with MusicAeterna and Teodor Currentzis, with performances including Cosi fan tutte, Le nozze di Figaro, Purcell’s Indian Queen, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder, Hindemith’s Die Junge Magd and Des Knaben Wunderhorn at the Mariinsky Theatre and on a tour of Europe. She made her debut at the BBC Proms in 2016 in Haydn’s Paukenmesse, in 2018 she joined the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment for a European Tour of Matthew Passion under the direction of Mark Padmore and in 2019 debuted with the Britten Sinfonia and Sir Mark Elder for performances of Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen. An accomplished recitalist, Paula has given performances at the Wigmore Hall together with Malcolm Martineau, Aldeburgh Festival, the International Lied Festival Zeist, and Diaghilev Festival in Perm together with frequent collaborator Tanya Blaich. Paula is an alumna of DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama, Dublin and New England Conservatory, Boston.

The podcast will be a discussion on Paula’s profession, her career and how she came to be where she is now as a singer, performer and recording artist. As an alumni of Siamsa Tíre, Joanne and Paula will reminisce about growing up in Siamsa Tíre, learning their skills in the Training Academy and on the Siamsa stage and look back on it through their eyes as mothers, professional performers and artists.


Sounds Like Folk 02 – Ruth Smith

In the second of the podcast series, you will meet musician, performer, presenter and educator Ruth Smith. (BIO)

Joanne and Ruth will discuss her profession, her career and how she came to be where she is now as an artist, a broadcaster, and a voice of experience. Joanne will delve into the inspiration for Ruth’s creativity as an artist, her practice, and how it may have changed over the years.  She will explore who or what has challenged Ruth most as an artist, performer and creative. Ruth joined Siamsa Tire recently as part of the Associate Artist scheme and Joanne will inquire about her impression of Siamsa Tíre, the work she is undertaking within the scheme and the place Siamsa Tíre has within the Irish theatre world. As part of this discussion, they will take a look at how the Celtic Calendar frames our year and the role it can play in our lives, considering the challenges we continue to face with the pandemic and the idea of community and what gives Ruth strength and a feeling of connection.

Sounds Like Folk 03 – Anne O’ Donnell, Noirin Lynch and Pierce Heaslip 
This week’s episode is a mixture of chat, memories and musings on the future of Siamsa. Having known each other and worked together for a long time, there is no shortage of fun and sharing, as Joanne and her guests look back over the performance history of the company, while also chatting about our hopes and aspiration for the organisation. Anne is a long-serving folk artist, she is immersed in the idea of what folk theater is and has a myriad of stories and memories to share as well as deep passion and love for the work of the company, as well as being a dear colleague of mine. Noirin Lynch is a teacher, former board member and long-standing Community Cast member, who has toured and performed with the company for many, many years. She is also a fabulous person and a beautiful vocalist. Pierce Heaslip is singer/performer and second generation Siamsa cast, his father Liam (RIP) was one of the founding members of the company. Pierce shares wonderful stories and memories from his time with Siamsa and the joy that performing with the company bring him and his children, who are members of Siamsa’s Community Cast. Enjoy the chat!

Sounds Like Folk 04 – Philip McMahon 

This week’s episode comes ten years after Siamsa Tire were invited to perform at WERK, hosted by Thisispopbaby, the company which is co-directed by today’s guest Phillip McMahon. Both companies appear to inhabit very different theatrical worlds which is why Joanne wanted to chat to Phillip, a Dublin-based director and playwright who holds a strong belief in active citizenship and taking responsibility as an artist to create places that people want to be in, be that in a theatrical setting or in the everyday. This is a really enjoyable chat between the town of Tralee and the city of Dublin! Enjoy!

Sounds Like Folk 05 – Micheal Keegan-Dolan

For the fifth episode of Sounds Like Folk, Joanne chats with Michael Keegan-Dolan, an award-winning choreographer, theatre-maker and the Artistic Director of Teaċ Daṁsa. Formed in 2016, Teaċ Daṁsa’s aim is to forge stronger connections with the native traditions, language, and music of Ireland in the classical form. The name Teaċ Daṁsa, ‘House of the Dance,’ in Classical Irish, supports this process and is exemplified in the company’s first two productions, Swan Lake / Loch na hEala (2016) and MÁM (2019). Between 2016 and 2020 Swan Lake / Loch na hEala has played to over 65,000 people around the world in venues like the Sydney Opera House, Theatre of Nations, Moscow, Sadlers Wells Theatre in London and BAM in New York City. MÁM opened in the 2019 Dublin Theatre Festival and toured to Sadlers Wells, The Perth Festival and the New Zealand Festival in 2020. It was nominated for an Olivier Award in 2021. Here Joanne and Michael talk at length about working in the world of folk theatre, musing on the highs, the lows, the music, the people, and everything that makes it worthwhile. Enjoy!

Sounds Like Folk 06 – Marianne Kennedy 

Marianne Kennedy is a lecturer in Drama, Theatre and Performance and Head of Production and Curation of Drama and Theatre Studies at NUI Galway. Marianne is a theatre-maker with 20 years professional experience as a producer and director in the Irish language, performance and traditional arts. She also spent six years as the CEO of Siamsa Tire. Her conversation with Joanne is an interesting and passionate conversation about the Irish language, theatre, and its presence on this country’s stages and theatre spaces.

Sounds Like Folk 07 – Derwin Myers, Helena Brosnan and Jamie Flannery 

This week Joanne chats to another generation of Community Cast performers: Derwin Myers, Helena Brosnan and Jamie Flannery. Members of the cast since they were children, the trio reflect on their memories, proud moments in the National Folk Theatre, the importance of the education within Siamsa as such a valuable and developmental tool, and also their hopes and aspirations for the future. Enjoy!

Sounds Like Folk 08 – Jonathan Kelliher 

It seems timely that the last episode of the current Sounds Like Folk podcast series belongs to Jonathan Kelliher, Artistic Director of Siamsa Tire. Jonathan and Joanne go on a journey through his years with Siamsa, from Teach Siamsa Finuge to the Core Group and finally, to his current role. He speaks about his strong connection with North Kerry Dance, and they chat about what it’s like being a part of a company like Siamsa. All the while, they reflect and dream about its past, present and future. Enjoy!

Podcast Series 2 – 2021

Sounds Like Folk 09 – Rob Heaslip 

The first guest of the second series is Rob Heaslip, a dance artist who began his career with the National Folk Theatre. Through his work, he asks how the performing body can be a vessel for intertwining dance, design and voice and often plays within an ultra-folk context. So get ready for a fascinating conversation and we once again hope you enjoy this ‘coming together!’

Podcast Series 3 – 2022
Sounds Like Folk – Siamsa Tíre’s Choral and Music repertoire
In this special episode of Sounds Like Folk Joanne presents a specially curated episode wrapped in the legacy of Siamsa’s choral work and music to date – highlighting some chosen pieces from the National Folk Theatre’s music catalogue. We hear some well-known favourites as well as some newly composed pieces from the repertoire down through the years, while celebrating the unique arrangement of traditional songs as large choral, harmonised works. As well as using dance, song and music from Ireland’s rich tradition, and newly composed pieces, Siamsa Tíre can share our unique embodiment of our particular type of folk theatre, a theatre for and of the people.