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This year’s 15th Annual Bodhrán-athlon got underway today in advance of the upcoming ‘Craiceann 2014’ festival of bodhráns on the island of Inis Oírr off the coast of Galway.

Bodhrán players from all over the world descend upon the small island every year to harass the ears of the island’s unsuspecting inhabitants. However it is the preceding athletic competition that draws the most crowds.

Since the its inception, ‘The Bodhrán-athlon’ has been growing in popularity as bodhrán players make the race to Inis Oírr with a competition involving ‘Bodhrán Swimming’, ‘Bodhrán Cycling’ and ‘Bodhrán Running’. Competitors make the journey to Galway Bay where they set off on the first leg of their trip with the swimming portion of the competition.

The rules are quite simple: reach Inis Oírr with your bodhrán in tow via the triathlon-based disciplines. The swimming portion has proved the most difficult in recent years, with swimmers required to keep their bodhrán dry at all times. It has also proven to be the most fatal, as organiser Deirdre Faloon explains:

“The competitors know very well of the dangers of swimming under the influence of a bodhrán. Last year we had 11 fatalities. This year we hope to break that record. It’s a fun event for the percussionists but we also see it as a way of natural selection.”

If the organisers do not reach their quotient of deaths, they release an angry batch of Tiger Sharks into the channel, which have been starved and played non-stop bodhrán solos for a week. The second leg of the event, ‘Bodhrán Cycling’ begins tomorrow.


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