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Dr Martin Dowling

Dr. Martin Dowling - Queen's University Belfast Research Portal - Research Directory & Institutional Repository for QUB
Martin Dowling

Dr Martin Dowling

Senior Lecturer

Direct phone: +44 (0)28 9097 1152

For media contact email
or call +44(0)2890 973091.


I am a fiddle player and historian with professional experience in a number of disciplines: economics and quantitative methods, history and sociology, psychoanalysis and critical theory, and performance. Early in my career I taught the history of capitalism and researched Irish agrarian history. I was the Traditional Arts Officer of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for 5 years. Currently I am researching the cultural and historical contexts of the performance of Irish traditional music.  

All this happens when I am not performing and teaching traditional music.  In 1998 I produced and performed on the CD A Thousand Farewells with Christine Dowling and Daithi Sproule.  More recently, I have collaborated with Úna Monaghan and Ciaran Carson to create Owenvarragh: A Belfast Circus on the Star Factory which uses a score by John Cage to create an Irish traditional musical realization of Carson’s literary work.  I formed the Trad Noise Trio with Úna Monaghan and Ryan Molloy to explore chance determined strategies for performing traditional music devised by composer and programmer Eric Lyon. The group released a CD in 2013 titled TwentyTwelve. Over the past three decades I have taught and performed annually at the Milwaukee Irish Fest, Scoil Samhradh Willie Clancy, the San Benedetto in Alpe Folk Festival, and many other festivals, schools, and events.

I am presently writing a book on the aesthetics of Irish traditional music.

For more about me see my website and my YouTube channel.

Achievements and Distinctions

Teaching Awards

Teaching Award, Sustained Excellence Category, Queen's University Belfast (2012)

Merle Curti Memorial Lectureship, Department of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison (1989)


Research Fellowships Competitively Awarded

Research Fellowship, 'Stones in the Field: Traditional Music and Irish Society 1738-1998,’ Arts & Humanities Research Council (2011)

Research Fellow, ‘Traditional Music, Song and Dance in Irish Modernity: Social Change and Cultural Identity 1792-1996,’ Identity, Memory and Meaning in Ireland Programme, Humanities Institute of Ireland , University College Dublin (2006)

Deis Grant in Support of Traditional Artists, Arts Council of Ireland (2005)

Research Fellow, ‘Identity in the Field of Traditional Music,’ Contemporary Irish Identities Project, Geary Institute, University College Dublin (2004)

Research Fellow, 'Tenant Right and Agrarian Society in Ulster, 1600-1870,’ Institute of Irish Studies, Queen's University Belfast (1996)

Research Fellow, ‘Database of Irish Historical Statistics, 1911-1971,’ Irish Historical Statistics Project, Department of Economic and Social History, Queen's University Belfast (1994)

Dissertation Fellowship, North American Conference of British Studies (1988)

Vilas Dissertation Fellowship, Faculty of Humanities, University of Wisconsin-Madison (1987)


My current portfolio of teaching includes:


Performance Workshop I and II

Irish Traditional Music: Origins and Trajectories

Irish Traditional Music: Form, Style and Development                 


Research Methods                   

Arts Administration

Irish Music: History and Criticism

Cultural Policy and the Creative Industries


PhD Supervision

Conor Caldwell, Did You Hear About the Poor Old Travelling Fiddler? The Life and Music of John Doherty (PhD, 2013)

Úna Monaghan, New Technologies and Experimental Practices in Contemporary Irish Traditional Music: A Performer-Composer's Perspective (PhD, 2015)

Nollaig Casey-McGlynn, The Music Manuscripts of Patrick O'Neill (1765-1832)

Maire Ní Chathasaigh, The Manuscripts of Edward Bunting, A Cabinet of Curiosities or Untapped Treasure Trove?

Fionnuala Fagan, The Sound of Memory: An Artistic Explanation of Personal and Cultural Memories of Post-Conflict Communities

Stephen Millar, Performing Resistance Within and Against the British State: Irish Rebel Songs and the Embodiment of a Social Identity


External Teaching in Irish Traditional Music

Fiddle Instructor and Performer, Scoil Samhradh Willy Clancy (The Willy Clancy Summer School), Miltown Malbay, County Clare (1998-2014)

Fiddle Instructor and Performer, South Sligo Summer School of Traditional Music, Tobercurry, County Sligo (1998-2012)

Fiddle Instructor and Performer, Irish Folk Festival, San Benedetto in Alpe, Italy (2000-2013)

Fiddle Instructor and Performer, Irish Fest, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA (1998, 2004)

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Frequent Journals

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Contribution to conference papers, events and activities

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