Kila front man collaborates with Unionist drummer for music film in Derry

Kíla’s Rónán Ó Snodaigh joined Unionist Lambeg drummer Richard Campbell on the Derry walls to make a music film ‘A Gardener Now.’

Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 12:04 pm

The film links the traditional Irish Bodhrán with the Unionist Lambeg drum to send a message of ‘growth, nurture, peace and hope through rhythm.’

Rónán Ó Snodaigh says, “It’s very exciting for me as a Gael and a bodhrán player to get a chance to play and learn from a Lambeg Drummer. Richard has been kind enough to accept me as myself and open enough to play along with me as we both delve into each other’s stories and rhythms. It’s not often these two traditions get to converge, even though we often live within drumming distance of each other. There’s a good chance the possibilities for fun outweigh the other tried and tested options of ignoring each other. It seems to me that our two traditions have lived alongside each other here on this Island for hundreds of years with very little communication. There have been historic reasons for us to be separated and to keep our traditions apart but I’m hoping that now is the right time to be meeting, greeting and listening to each other’s Drums. Richard represents his community well, he’s strong, true to his word, kind and open to meeting me and listening to my drum.

“Lambeg playing and culture has mystified me since I heard of it. My first chance to play alongside a Lambeg came in 1999 with ‘the Big Drum ‘ a band curated by Brian Fleming, then in 2016 ‘Kirru’ sang ‘A Song for a Century’ and that is where I met Richard. We have been talking and playing whenever possible and meeting in Derry was very special for me because I was on his turf. There is so much history behind each of our pursuits that when we play the past is activated, this can be scary too but it’s very rewarding for me to be able to cross into enemy culture and not be an enemy. The future could be very bright for us all, and good and loud!

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Lambeg drummer Richard Campell and Kila's Rónán " Snodaigh on the Derry Walls

“I’m hoping that more of this can happen for us and that we can get beyond being a threat to each other and move on to enjoying each other’s tunes and rhythms. Who knows where it leads us but we know where the other approach has led us so I think this kind of carry on (meeting up and playing together) can guide us to a better future... For both our traditions.”

The film was made by Myles O’Rilley, who has collaborated with Rónán in the past, most recently on Rónán’s new solo record ‘Tá Go Maith.’

Myles says, “I’ve always referred to Rónán as a Jedi Bodhrán player. He’s a force for the instrument, and perhaps one of its icons now. A Bodhrán Saint of Ireland. Most of the time I spend with him we play music together, but on learning of Richard and his Lambeg, a traditional instrument for the Orangemen of Ulster, the filmmaker in me kicked in. Two drums from such different traditions, representing two communities that live side by side but don’t often communicate with each other. I was quick to suggest we try and film the two of them playing together.

“I’ve been lucky to have documented dozens of spontaneous and beautiful collaborations, but this unlikely alliance has been deeply satisfying. I hope I’ve bottled the significance of these two formidable drummers from different sides of the fence, making the effort to meet, listen and learn from each other. Both enthusiastically reaching out to understand each other. This meeting sends such a strong message of peace, reconciliation and hope where words have so often failed.”

Kila's Rónán " Snodaigh in the Fountain for the music collaboration.

“A Gardener Now” is available to watch on Youtube.

Lambeg drummer Richard Campell and Kila's Rónán " Snodaigh on the Derry Walls