Anois teacht an Earraigh beidh ’n lá ‘dul chun síneadh…
Spring has sprung and the music is flowing from speakers, earphones, voices and venues around Ireland 😇 We’re delighted to share some of our favourite albums from very interesting musicians, local and neighbours.
From the Gaoth Dobhair Gaeltacht, Doimnic is a winner of Corn Uí Riada and is the driving force behind Gaelic choirs Cór Thaobh a’ Leithid, in Donegal, and Belfast’s Cór Loch Lao. This is Doimnic’s third solo album, a release sitting alongside collaborative efforts such as that with Scots Gaelic singer Griogair Labhruidh and Cór Thaobh a’ Leithid. He has also published a collection of songs for children, Ící Pící.
Doimnic has composed new tunes on Sona do Cheird for songs from ‘Dhá Chéad de Cheoltaibh Uladh’, some of which have never been recorded.
Gráinne Holland is a hugely talented traditional singer. Gaelré (era of the Gaels) is her second album, released under the iconic Gael Linn label.
This album features the Co. Antrim anthem ‘Airdí Cuan’ (that has never before been recorded sung), in the Antrim Glens Irish dialect from the Doegen Archive, as well as songs she heard growing up in Belfast – Albert Fry’s ‘Síos an Sliabh’ and ‘Slóite na bhFiann’, translated into the Irish by Séamus Ó Grianna.
John hails from west Belfast and is a founder member of some of Ireland’s biggest musical groups such as Lúnasa, At First Light and Dónal Lunny’s Coolfin. He is recognised as one of the most diverse uilleann pipers in the world, which is exemplified by this rich concept album. The Seven Suns is a journey through places throughout this world and the other, connected by sounds, old knowledge and the music of the Celtic nations.
John was inspired by the Seven Suns, stone carvings found in Dowth. The majority of the music is newly composed by John with a few traditional tunes.
A collection of newly written and composed songs in the Irish language by Oriel singer Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin. Recorded in Teelin, the songs centre around love and the different incarnations and aspects of it. As well as Pádraigín’s own songs, renowned poet Biddy Jenkinson’s ‘Cruit Dhubhróis’ is also be heard in a beautiful harp and voice setting.
Produced by Steve Cooney and Denmark’s Palle Mikkelborg, there is a wealth of musicians to be heard Áilleacht (meaning ‘Beauty’), including Iarla Ó Lionáird, Laoise Kelly, Odhrán Ó Casaide, Helen Davies, Mikkel Nordsø and Brian Dunning.
A decade since the release of ‘Flame of Wine’ and 15 years since she recorded ‘An Raicín Álainn’, we are excited that One Penny Portion from Aran singer Lasairfhíona Ní Chonaola is finally here! From Inis Oírr, this is a gentle, soulful album with Máire Breathnach returning as producer.
As well as the amhráin mhóra (big songs) ‘Éamonn an Chnoic’ (Ned of the Hill) and ‘An Chuilfhionn’ (The Coolin), there are some rare gems to be found here, too, such as ‘Éilis Nic Dhiarmada Rua’ and songs for the wee ones such as ‘She Didn’t Dance’.
West Kerry’s Éilís Ní Chinnéide is a voice that no one can fail to appreciate. Her third solo outing, Westward is a collection of traditional songs and numbers penned by the singer herself. Éilís has toured worldwide over the past number of years as one half of the folk duo Lumière with Pauline Scanlon.
There is a lively, modern take on the humorous classic ‘An tÚll’ which Éilís learned from her mother Edna Ní Chinnéide, as well as a soulful, earthy performance of ‘Pé in Éirinn Í’, written by 18th century poet Uilliam Dall Ua hEarnáin. Éilís’ own ‘The Flannel Red’, and Scots Gaelic classic ‘Cailín Mo Rún-sa’ are two other highlights of this great collection.
The surname Mooney (Ó Maonaigh / Ní Mhaonaigh) are synonymous with the northern music of Ireland. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh is best known as singer and fiddler with the group Altan. Before founding Altan with Andytown’s Frankie Kennedy she was a member of Ragairne along with her brother Gearóid and fellow Donegal woman Enya. On this album you will hear Anna Ní Mhaonaigh, herself a member of Macalla (alongside Seosaimhín Ní Bheaglaoich), and fiddler Ciarán Ó Maonaigh of fiddle trio Fidil.
You will also hear the voice of the younger Mooney generation with Nia, Mairéad’s daughter, lending vocals, as well as the instrumentation of Mairéad’s long-term collaborator and Capercaillie co-founder Manus Lunny, who produced the album. Among the highlights of Na Mooneys is ‘A Óganaigh Óig’ with a newly composed melody and ‘Dónal na Gealaí’, led by Anna Ní Mhaonaigh.
Lonesome George began as a group in the Sunflower Pub on Union Street in Belfast city centre. With voices, double bass, guitar, fiddles, bodhrán and a banjo in the mix, this is an ecclectic project full of new compositions and rearranged tunes.
The arrangements are exiting and new, inspired by Jewish dances and Caribbean Calypso music, all from the perspective of trad musicians!
One of Belfast’s big personalities, Éamonn Ó Faogáin had a strong and equal love for song and for hurling. Éamonn Mór was a seminal member of Cór Aifreann Feirste and was their musical director for more than 30 years.
Although Éamonn departed the mortal world last year, he has left behind a treasure trove of songs for all to enjoy. Mo Chamán Bán is a collection of songs in Irish and in English about hurling guided by the sweet voice of the big man himself.
From the Isle of Mann, Ruth Keggin is a Manx Gaelic singer who has released two albums to date. She is also a member of ‘Aon Teanga : One Language’ along with Mary Ann Kennedy (Scots Gaelic) and Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin (Irish Gaelic).
The similarities and differences between our own Gaelic and that from Mann can be heard as well as the styles of music found here and the unique style of folk music found on the island and Ruth’s take on it all. Irish speakers will know Manx classic ‘Ushag Varrey’ (recorded by Éamonn Ó Faogáin and Gráinne Holland), and also have the chance to learn cúpla focal (a few words) of Manx from this beautiful record.
From Clare, Nugent now lives in Belfast with her husband, piper Brian Stafford. After recording a number of albums with her husband and her sister Mary, Josie released her first solo album, Modal Citizen last year.
This album is a collection of tunes from and inspired by County Clare, the north of Ireland, England and Sweden, with octave violin, Stroh fiddle and MK1 Stage Piano to be heard. Joining Josie are Mary Nugent, Nigel and Dianne Boullier, Geordie McAdam, Alan Burke, Sean O’Donnell, Séamus O’Kane and Mark Wilson.
Belfast fiddlers Conor Caldwell and Danny Diamond are well known as members of multiple trad and folk groups and recorded this album in the iconic recording studio of the Irish Traditional Music Archive in Dublin.
Conor is also a lecturer in the Department of Creative Arts and Queens University Belfast, while danny is a member of bands Mórga and Slow Moving Clouds.