Mná Brian Boru (2014)

Sean-nós 0pera for vocalists and orchestra.

Duration – 60′.

Libretto: Pádraic Ó Beirn & Dave Flynn. Gaelic translations by Billy Mag Fhloinn.

Music by Dave Flynn.

For queries regarding performances/scores/parts please email

Programme Note

Mná Brian Boru is a new kind of ‘opera’ where the vocalist are all traditional Irish ‘sean nós’ singers and the orchestra contains Irish folk instruments alongside classical instruments, electric guitars and drums. It tells the story of the great Irish High King Brian Ború, from the perspective of the key women in his life. His mother, wives, sister and daughters. The score exclusively features female vocal soloists. Brian Ború’s voice is represented by the uilleann pipes. Musically the piece mixes influences as diverse as Irish traditional music, contemporary classical music, Nigerian Afro-Funk and 1980’s Dream pop.

Mná Brian Boru was commissioned by Clare Arts Office under the Per Cent for Arts Scheme and premiered by Dave Flynn’s Irish Memory Orchestra and Singers, conducted by Bjorn Bantock in St. Flannan’s Cathedral, Killaloe, Oct 2014.​

Section I – Young Brian Boru (Brian Óg)

1.  The Birth of Brian Boru
2.  Song I – Be Binn’s Prophecy

Section II – The High King

1.  The Coronation of the King
2.  Song II – Gormflaith’s Call (The SCAIRBHÍN)

Section III – The Battle of Clontarf

1.  Song III – Salute to Brian of the Tributes
2.  The Dalcassians Slaughter the Norsemen At Clontarf
3.  Brian Boru’s Battle March
4.  The Dalcassian’s Victory March

Section IV – The Death of Brian Boru

1.  Brodir Slays Boru
2.  Song IV – Sadb’s Lament for the Fallen King

Mná Brian Ború – Original Cast

Brian Ború – Mick O’Brien (Uilleann Pipes)
Young Brian Ború – Cormac O’Brien (Uilleann Pipes)

Ború’s Mother

Bé Binn inion Urchadh – Etain McCooey (Lead Vocal)

Ború’s Daughters

Sadb – Roisin Donohoe (Lead Vocal)
Blathnaid – Maeve O’Hara (Harmony Vocals)
Bé Binn – Aoife Ni Bhriain (Harmony Vocals)
Sláine – Ciara Ni Bhriain (Harmony Vocals)

Ború’s Wives

Gormflaith – Niamh Varian-Barry (Lead Vocal)
Dubhcobhla – Edel Vaughan (Harmony Vocals)

Ború’s Sister

Orlaith – Ceara Conway (Harmony Vocals)

Ború’s Killer

Brodir The Viking – Bjorn Bantock (Conductor)

Orchestra Players


Aoife Ni Bhriain
Adrian Hart
Eilis Lennon
Katharine Mannion


Liz Coleman
Tara Connaghan
Brid Harper
Aine McGrath


Niamh Varian-Barry
Ciara Ni Bhriain


Cormac Ó Briain

Double Bass

Neil O’Loghlen


Aisling Agnew
Eimear McGeown

Oboe/Cor Anglais

Etain McCooey

Sax/Bass Clarinet/Bronze Age Horns

Matthew Berrill

Trumpet/Bronze Age Horns

Neil Yates

Trombone/Bronze Age Horns

Alex Borwick

Bronze Age Horns/Bodhrán/Harmony Vocals

Billy Mag Fhloinn


Anne-Marie O’Farrell


Aidan Dunphy
Maeve O’Hara

Electric Guitar

Dave Flynn (also percussion/harmony vocals)
Jason Noone