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Benjamin Dwyer - SacrumProfanum

SacrumProfanum is an hour-long multimedia work for amplified musicians and tape that explores the enigmatic stone carvings found in Ireland and parts of Britain known as Sheela- na-gigs. Irish composer Benjamin Dwyer has spent the last ten years travelling across the country studying, photographing and sketching these mysterious figures. Responding artistically through the Sheela ‘as witness’, Dwyer has created a unique work exploring themes such as feminism, colonialism, identity, religion, rite, landscape, sexuality and the disintegration of Gaelic culture. In a score that combines contemporary music interfacing with traditional Irish forms, instruments and sean-nós singing, SacrumProfanum offers perceptive critiques of contemporary exploitations of Irish culture. It investigates these themes through raw, visceral, often abject but ultimately poignant and deeply affecting music. 


SacrumProfanum features internationally renowned performers: violist Garth Knox, flautist Emma Coulthard, medieval Irish harpist and sean-nós singer Siobhán Armstrong, Benjamin Dwyer on bowed guitar, and uilleann piper Donnacha Dwyer (featured on the tape part). Poet Jona Xhepa has written a specially commissioned poem entitled Sheela-na-gig, and the work incorporates a number of Gaelic texts sourced by Siobhán Armstrong. SacrumProfanum is the second release from composer Benjamin Dwyer on Farpoint Recordings.


The first edition of SacrumProfanum is presented in a special full colour A5 size wraparound sleeve containing the CD and Book. The 48 page soft cover book contains an extensive essay by Dwyer about Sheela-na-gigs, and many of his personal fieldwork images (photographs and drawings) are also included, building a comprehensive package around the project.


SacrumProfanum  & KnowingUnknowing bundle offer

Take advantage of our special bundle offer and get Benjamin's previous Farpoint Recordings release, KnowingUnknowing (CD & DVD), and SacrumProfanum (CD & Book), for only 25 euros.


Altogether, the CD tracks and DVD show Dwyer to be an outstanding and inventive guitarist; whether playing another composer's score, improvising on another's piece or on his own, his fluid playing breathes life into his instrument so it produces a full rich sound which makes the music come alive and sing...Particularly fascinating is the enthralling nine-minute opening piece on the DVD, in which Dwyer and Kindred both perform blindfolded, thus underlining how in touch he is with his guitar, and she with her body and the performance space.


John Eyles, reviewing KnowingUnknowing, All About Jazz, January 2020






dedicated to Ann Dwyer


1) Lamentum (late-medieval Irish harp) [2.30]

2) Chloran (viola) [3.00]

3) Cailleach (narration, flute, bowed guitar) [2.00]

4) Expugnatio (bowed guitar, flute, viola and tape) [5.00]

5) St John’s Well (viola) [6.35]

6) Sheela-na-gig (narration, flute, bowed guitar) [2.40]

7) HAG (flute and bowed guitar) [9.00]

8) Rutland (viola) [2.50]

9) Residua (late-medieval Irish harp & tape) [9.10]

10) Cooliaghmore (viola, flutes & tape] [9.45]

11) Caoineadh [3.00]




Garth Knox: viola

Siobhán Armstrong: late-medieval Irish harp, sean-nós singer, narrator

Emma Coulthard: piccolo, flute, alto flute

Benjamin Dwyer: bowed guitar

(on tape: ‘HHSI Student Mulagh Mast harp’ after an 18th-century original)

Donnacha Dwyer (on tape): uillean pipes

Jona Xhepa: poet

Benjamin Dwyer - SacrumProfanum

  • First Edition of 500

    Full colour A5 size wraparound cover printed on uncoated board with CD and 48 page book. Packaging features notes on SacrumProfanum,  a full length essay on Sheela-na-gigs and photography & drawings by Benjamin Dwyer.

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