Episode 13

How to Heal a Poet’s Heart, or The Invention of the Irish Harp, with Maureen Buscareno | Ep 13

Published on: 20th April, 2022

Our Story

Cana Cludhmor was a banfhile, an Irish woman poet of great renown. We know her story from only a few lines in Imtheacht na Tromdháimhe or The Proceedings of the Great Bardic Institution, found in the fourteenth century Book of Lismore. Only mentioned briefly in the manuscript, we know that Cana Cludmor walks away from a dissatisfying marriage, and finds herself at a beach where the wind is playing in the sinews of a whale skeleton. She falls asleep to this otherworldly music, and when her husband discovers her and hears the lovely sound, he is inspired to construct the first harp.  This retelling by Marisa Goudy stays true to the original, but imagines the characters’ motivation (and adds the bit about the poet’s curse, the bloodied hands, and the healing at the end). 

Our Guest

Maureen Buscareno is a harper, a music educator, a podcaster, and the founder of Moon Over the Trees Music & Theater Productions.  Maureen received her master’s degree in Ethnomusicology from Ireland’s University of Limerick. Passionate about bringing music to schools and to the community, Maureen received her master’s in music education from Columbia University. You can hear more from Maureen on her podcasts: HarpSong, Beat Your Heart Out, and Theatre Aesthetics.

Our Conversation

Marisa and Maureen connect as two American women with Irish heritage who both received master’s degrees in Ireland at about the the same time (though it took a Hudson Valley Women In Business gathering in 2021 to get them together!). In their discussion, they explore: 

  • The work of world-renowned composer and multi-instrumentalist Mícheal Ó Súilleabhain has been a profound influence on Maureen. He was her thesis advisor at UCL and reveled in the campus’s location on the River Shannon, likening students and faculty to ancient Druids becoming one with the land, landscape, sounds and sights of nature.
  • “Fill Arís,” a poem by Seán Ó Ríordán that invites us back to the Irish language (even if it was a language spoken by distant ancestors)
  • Marisa is dedicated to honoring the source of the story, which appears in an 1860 publication from the Ossianic Society. Modern versions of the story have turned the Cana Cludhmor, the banfhile (woman poet), into a “Celtic goddess of inspiration” and credited her with being the inventor of the harp. This article by Morgan Daimler traces the potential causes for the modern revisions of the story.
  • The Celtic music revival in 1960s
  • Three kinds of traditional Irish music: celebration, lullabies, laments
  • The sean-nós tradition, unaccompanied Irish language singing
  • For further information about the Irish harp and its centuries of tradition, seek out Anne Heymann and Nancy Hurrell
  • The Trailblazery, which offers the online Scoil Scairte Irish language and culture program

Our Music

Music at the start of the show is by the wonderful Beth Sweeney and Billy Hardy, a Celtic Fiddle and multi-instrumental Duo based on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The traditional Irish reel we play at the start of the show is called The College Groves. Find out about their music and shows at: billyandbeth.com

Discover, Heal & Write Your Own Stories: Work with Marisa

Book a Healing for Heroines session: a unique blend of energy medicine, intuitive guidance, and the language of archetypes and mythology to help you work through the tangles of life so you can weave a new story.

Explore Marisa's work and get a copy of The Sovereignty Knot : www.marisagoudy.com

Follow the show on InstagramFacebook, and join our vibrant listeners' community.

Next Episode All Episodes Previous Episode
Show artwork for KnotWork Storytelling

About the Podcast

KnotWork Storytelling
Myths Retold, from Ireland and Beyond
In each KnotWork Storytelling episode, we'll explore a different story from mythology, folklore, or history, particularly from Ireland and the Celtic World. Then, my guest and I dive deep into why these ideas and characters still resonate today.

Your host is Marisa Goudy, author of The Sovereignty Knot: A Woman’s Way to Freedom, Power, Love, and Magic. She is a Myth Worker, a Story Healer, a Writing Coach, and a has an MA in Irish literature from University College Dublin.

Join us as we wander through these ancient storylines as we set out on a quest to learn from the past, better understand the present, and craft a sustainable future.

Every episode reminds us that age-old stories are medicine for this modern moment.

About your host

Profile picture for Marisa Goudy

Marisa Goudy

Marisa Goudy is a story healer, a writing coach, and a word witch. Her book, The Sovereignty Knot: A Woman’s Way to Freedom, Power, Love, and Magic, was released in 2020.
Marisa nurtures writers and storytellers in her long-running online writing community, the Sovereign Writers’ Knot.
On this show, Marisa combines her passion for story with her love of Irish literature, culture, and folklore and her fascination with the Celtic world. She has a particular love of stories of heroines, goddess, and women whose tales were forgotten by history.