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Donncha Ó Briain Ceol ar an bhFeadóg Stáin

Irish Traditional Music on Tin Whistle

The late Donncha Ó Briain was a member of a well-known Dublin musical family: his brothers Mick (pipes), Tom (fiddle), Andrew (fiddle) and John (pipes), all learned music from an early age from their father Dinny (accordion).  Despite suffering from muscular dystrophy, Donncha became one of the finest whistle players of his generation. In 1979 he recorded a highly acclaimed LP for Gael Linn which is now re-released as a CD with additional tracks which had been recorded by Raidió na Gaeltachta. Donncha passed away in 1990 aged 30.

The whistle playing of Donncha Ó Briain is most highly regarded in critical circles.  The Waltons Guide to Irish Music (2005) lists Donncha as being among the most famous tin whistle players of recent decades. Another measure of the calibre of Donncha’s playing is that he features in the tutor Irish Tin Whistle Legends by Tommy Walsh, a work which includes such luminaries as Mary Bergin, Paddy Moloney and Seán Potts. In his book The Essential Tin Whistle Toolbox, Grey Larsen documents and discusses many styles and approaches to ornamentation, including that of Donncha.

In 1980 Donncha received a People of the Year Award for ‘his triumph over disability, his musical prowess and the inspiration which he provided for so many.’ So taken with Donncha was Charlie Lennon that, in his honour, he composed the jig ‘The Flying Wheelchair’, a piece that has become established in the tradition.

This album is a masterclass of fine whistle playing and includes airs such as ‘The Dublin Reel’, ‘The Ivy Leaf’ and, one of Donncha’s favourites ‘Seán sa Cheo’. The original recording was produced by Paddy Glackin who has written:

This recording represents the music of a young man with a spirit and a love for life. Every tune is played with conviction and sincerity – traits that can only be brought out by a musician who appreciates and understands the beauty and cruelty of life.

On two of the tracks, Donncha is joined by members of his family. On ‘The Maid of Mont Cisco’, he is joined by on guitar by a young Mark Kelly who was a great friend of Donncha’s. The album also features Johnny Connolly’s playing of ‘The Flying Wheelchair’, the jig composed by Charlie Lennon in honour of Donncha.

Further Information:
Antoine Ó Coileáin

Permalink - Posted: May 26, 2011 at 8:55 am