Back in 1975, I was one of 5 or 6 people in the USA playing the bodhran. The Boys of the Lough, which included Robin Morton at that time, used one of course, as did the Chieftains. The Chieftains, at that time, had not yet given up their day jobs, as I recall. The first person I ever saw playing it was Brian Herron, founder of the Irish Arts Center in New York and a few of us learned by watching him and experimenting which, I guess, is all he had done.
My bodhran was made by Davey Gunn of Listowel, Co. Kerry. He was a very traditional maker and just used what he had at hand including an automobile tire, plywood, wire and some very ripe goatskin... no Celtic designs, Guinness logos, adjustable anythings.
At that time, it was as likely to be called the tambourine as anything else and there were only a small handful of recordngs of Irish music which had bodhran played on them.
The idea of anyone being a "bodhran specialist" was inconcieveable at that time.
The bodhran is "the deafener," an indication of the high place it held in the order of Irish music.
All the best,