Carolyn Dobbin and Ruth McGinley Songs from the north
Sat 22 Jan

MusicSongs From The North: Ruth McGinley & Carolyn Dobbin

Pianist Ruth McGinley and mezzo-soprano Carolyn Dobbin join forces to explore songs from the North of Ireland. The programme includes songs by Hamilton Harty, Howard Ferguson, Joan Trimble, Dorothy Parke and Charles Wood.

About the Northern Songs Project - by Carolyn Dobbin

manuscript Boozey

The first song I ever learnt was a ballad by a Northern Irish composer and I didn’t realise at the time why I loved it so much, nor why I felt such a connection with it but I have always been drawn to these songs and have collected and performed them consistently over the years. 

I always thought it was a great pity that these songs were not being performed or more well known.  I had often thought it would be lovely to record them and gradually this idea became a goal. As this seed germinated and grew so did my collecting of these songs and the wish to preserve and record them. 


From archives to dusty old shops I have accumulated  a huge collection, some of which are in unpublished manuscript form and some of which are no longer in print. I even managed to persuade Boosey and Hawkes to reprint some of these for me. Most importantly, however, I felt these songs needed to be showcased and that it was important to bring them to life by recording them. I’m delighted to say that myself and Iain Burnside were the first people to record the Hamilton Harty songs and the first person ever to record songs by Charles Wood.

To implement and complete the vision of my Northern Irish song project, I went about getting in touch with the best professional and talented people that could help make this happen.

I made contact with Delphian records with my idea and they were as excited as I was about this unique Northern Irish song project and I was absolutely thrilled when the world class accompanist Iain Burnside came on board. 
Various universities and libraries throughout the UK and Ireland have been so helpful and allowed me access to their archives and as a result I’m slightly swamped by the amount of music I’ve subsequently collected.
I set about researching further songs, getting help from experts like David Byers and Philip Hammond, but in particular the books by Professor Jeremy Dibble were invaluable, and I found myself agreeing with his views on all the songs I researched and played through. 

It has been such a privilege handling and reading these manuscripts, seeing the composers handwriting, markings and notes scribbled at the side of the page, giving me a great insight to the personality and sense of humour of each composer.

I found a lot of the songs immensely personal as they were about places familiar to me, places where I grew up, and the texts describe the landscapes and seascapes of the area beautifully. The language used in some songs was also familiar to me. A language which would today be classified as Ulster Scots, a language my Granny and Papa spoke and which evoked cherished memories. 


About Carolyn Dobbin

Carolyn Dobbin Irish Songs

Northern Irish mezzo-soprano and Samling Scholar, Carolyn began her career as a teacher of Art and Design before commencing the Opera course at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Carolyn was Associate Artist at WelshNationalOpera in 2010 and spent two years at luzern opera house, Switzerland in 2012-2014.

She has performed extensively in opera, oratorio and in solo recitals, including appearances at the Royal Opera House Linbury Studio, English National Opera, Grange Park Opera, Opera Holland Park, Luzerner theatre, Stadttheater Bern, and the Royal Albert Hall. 

She has performed the roles of Carmen, Annio, Penelope, Bradamante, Polina, Meg Page, Dritte Dame, Lucretia, Amastre, Octavia, Nicklausse, Magdalena, Dorabella, Charlotte, Teodata, Concepcion, Scipio, Idamante, madam Popova and Angelina in la Cenerentola. 

She recorded the role of Madeleine in R. Loders rare opera ‘Raymond and Agnes’  with Richard Bonynge and Retrospect Opera. She also released a solo CD ‘ Caleno’with Delphian Records and Iain Burnside on songs by composers from Northern Ireland 2018 and has appeared on radio 3 and BBCTV. She set up the northern Irish song project which aims to collect and record many forgotten songs by n Irish composers and new song cycles by current composers.  . 
In 2019/2020 she performed Smeton in Anna Bolena for LFO Fenena in Nabucco and Alise In Lucia Di lammermoor for DOF , Mrs peachum in Mrs peachum school for lovers, the Witch in Hansel and Gretel and message for marty both for Irish National opera. In 2021 she will perform Siegrune in Wagner's Walkure for LFO and LOC, perform on a newly written opera by Conor mitchell about Harvey Weinstein and handels alexanders feast. In 2022 she will perform cuniza in Verdi’s Oberto in central London and sing the role of Mary in Der fliegende Holländer with Sir Bryn Terfel.

About Ruth McGinley

Ruth McGinley piano with Carolyn Dobbin Northern Songs Project

Ruth has performed as soloist with orchestras including the BBC Philharmonic, London Mozart Players, National Symphony Orchestra, RTE Concert Orchestra and Ulster Orchestra and as a solo recitalist throughout UK, Europe and the Middle East. She broadcasts regularly for BBC Radio 3, Classic FM, BBC Radio Ulster and RTE and was honoured to be invited to perform as soloist at the BBC Proms in the Park.

She is a sought after chamber musician and enjoys collaborations with musicians from different genres. Ruth is the official accompanist for the multi-platinum selling trio “The Priests” in concerts and broadcasts. She is also the accompanist of choice for BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle broadcasts and has appeared with a range of artists - both in live contexts and session recordings - across a number of its programmes.


Event Details

Sat 22 Jan
19:30 to 21:15

Under 25s or Charles Wood competition entrants £5


  • The Portaferry Hotel
  • Bed and Breakfast
  • Slip Inn
  • Salthouse Restaurant
  • The Cuan
  • The Slip Inn

How to get here

Portico is easy to find in Portaferry. You can also get detailed driving directions or check out the ferry timetable for crossing from Strangford.