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New Irish and related releases July 2001

THE ROUGH FIELD. CCT19/20CD. Claddagh Records is very proud to announce the release of a great recording of modern Irish poetry, written by one of contemporary Ireland’s greatest poets. John Montague’s The Rough Field (Garvaghy in Irish) is about a search for himself and about his and his people’s place in the landscape and history of Ulster. Along with the contemporary personal pieces, he deals with the sixteenth and seventeenth century conflicts between the Ulster chieftains and the Elizabethan planters. This performance was recorded live for an audience in London in 1973, when the ghosts of the past were again beginning to disturb Ulster and the rest of Ireland. It is read by voices still well known in Ireland, though they were much younger voices then – John Montague, Seamus Heaney, Benedict Kiely, Tom McGurk, and the late Patrick McGee. There is also incidental live music by The Chieftains in a great recording of what must have been a thrilling night.


THE WYND YOU KNOW. Ronan Browne. CC64CD. Ronan is regarded as one of today’s master pipers, and is renowned throughout the world for his music. He has previously recorded with Peadar O’Loughlin (The Southwest Wind) and on The Drones and the Chanters II, both on the Claddagh label. He remains a member of the very successful group Cran.  Ronan was born to a musical family – his maternal grandmother was the extraordinarily popular singer Delia Murphy and his father played whistle and pipes. Ronan himself was often cradled in Willie Clancy’s arms as a baby. This is an album of pure traditional uilleann piping, and Ronan is accompanied on three of the tracks by the fiddler Kevin Glackin. Claddagh Records is proud to have published this new recording and we are sure that in time it will be held in the same high regard as our other classic recordings.

AN JOGA MÓR. Cáit Ní Mhuimhneacháin. RTE 242CD.  This is a superb publication of spectacular beauty. Cáit was born near Guagán Barra in west Cork, and it was estimated that her repertoire included several hundred songs in Irish and in English.  This recording includes thirteen songs in English and in Irish, plus three sung by her brothers Aindrias and Mícheál. Four of the songs are from the local eighteenth century poet Máire Bhuí Ní Laoghaire.  It’s not by any means all sad weepy stuff – here is a woman who was young when the recordings were made in the 1940s and, while her big songs have great nobility, she also knew how to sing about enjoying yourself.

AN HISTORIC RECORDING OF IRISH TRADITIONAL MUSIC. Paddy Canny, PJ Hayes, Peter O’Loughlin and Bridie Lafferty. SHCD 76001. One of the most requested items we have been asked for over the years is All-Ireland Champions – the Violin. Published in 1959, it has been more accurately re-titled in this re-release. Published at a time when there were practically no LPs of traditional music, it made a great impression on an entire generation. It displayed the musical tradition of a specific part of Ireland, played by people who had played together for years, and who were at their musical best. I’ve only ever heard it before on second- and third-generation cassettes, and this CD release justifies its legendary reputation. Everybody should have it.

THE VERY BEST OF PECKER DUNNE. Pecker Dunne. EMCD 8003. A great re-issue of mostly self-composed ballads from the 1960s, an insight to the flamboyant life of one of Ireland’s best-loved musical characters. However, be aware that practically all of it was released some years ago on a CD shared with Margaret Barry. There are some indicators of the traveller’s life in Ireland in the 1950s – hard, but hardly as difficult as it is nowadays. Watch out for one of the most spectacularly out-of-tune pieces of music ever recorded. As he says – ‘Sure anyone could play it if ‘twas in tune’

SRUTHÁN. John Hoban. CMCD 003. John Hoban is a multi-instrumentalist and singer from Castlebar in Mayo. He is, however, well-known in many parts of Ireland and other countries, as he has travelled widely, making his living at playing and teaching. On this album, from the label that brought you Joe Ryan and Gerdie Commane, he plays fiddle, mandocello and banjo. The emphasis is on his fiddle-playing, with accompaniment on mandocello and some solo banjo. It’s not the high-tech wizardry that we have come to expect from some of  today’s fiddlers, but a comfortable, old-fashioned selection of good music.

EVENING COMES EARLY. John Doyle. SHCD 78045. John was formerly the guitarist in the group Solas, and this is his first solo recording. There are four generous selections of dance tunes played on guitar, any one of which is worth a listen. The rest are songs, most of them reminiscent of recordings of the English and American folksong revivals in the 1960s and early 1970s. Interestingly, there seems to be a recent penchant for well-known artists to include performances by a parent or parents. This entirely worthy trend is followed here with a lovely rendering of The Dark Slender Boy by John’s father Seán.

UNAPPROVED ROAD. Colum Sands. SCD 1001. Colum is one of the very well known Sands Family from Mayobridge in County Down. In the 1960s and the 1970s they were known all over the world and they still perform frequently. Colum is as well known for his song writing as for his musical performance, and Unapproved Road is a re-issue of one of his albums from 1982. It contains his wry and beautifully written Almost Every Circumstance and the extremely funny If It Wasn’t for the Border. Well worth a listen.

HEART STRINGS. Colm O’Donnell. SUNCD 040. Ballads and Country and Western songs.

SARAH GHRIALLAIS. CP01958. Sarah is a member of one of the great singing families of Connemara – three of the sisters have won the Corn Uí Riada competition, the greatest honour in sean-nós singing. In Sarah’s case she has won it three times. These recordings were made last year, and they show a great singer in her prime. Songs include Dónall Óg, Caisleán Uí Néill, Bean an Fhir Rua and Táilliúir a’ Mhaga.

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