Releases > August 2009

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Cat number 88697 48002
Yellow Furze Ltd Sony Music
A well packaged album with 13 tracks of exceptionally produced material and as time goes on we hear the velvet voice of Christy meet a level of ingredients that I have heard with Kris Kristoffersson, Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen in most recent years, In other words -seasoned excellence!

I put Christy among the three giants as a fourth and can hear elements of the music drift between all the great Chefs of a certain era who never cease to stop expressing their music as it should be heard.
The selection of songs is a pleasant mix of poetic new verse and old re-arranged favourites and the ‘edge’ is the instrumentation and arrangements behind the oh so familiar magic which is ‘Moore’ ability to use the voice as a pure instrument and create the space for the listener to hear the story of the song. The song moved and we are moved too. The writings of Moore, Page, Wedell, Gilmore, Spillane to mention a few is grasped here by Christy who sings it as it was intended it to be.

Listen, the opening track, sets the scene for the crisp back to roots backing and it’s a relaxing time as we move onto, Does the Train Stop at Merseyside, Shine on you Crazy Diamond and a Moore special, Ballad of Ruby Walsh (Christy is from Kildare after all and an homage to the greatest jockey of the new millennium was called for and no better than a local boy to deliver it).

Two tributes to Glasgow’s Cathedral Quarter (The Barowlands) with Barrowlands, and a finale tribute to Rory Gallagher are my top to two with the emotional Duffys Cut and the track, The Disappeared, having a Cohenesque edge to them.

One lovely surprise for me was Declan’s version of I will. It reminded me of Willie Nelson sliding with the Highwaymen. A classic Christy version of Dick Caddick’s John ‘O Dreams is included, along with superb musicians including one of my favourites, Neil Martin, on cello making this a cosy comfort on a stormy August night!
Mac Spy

Doran Centenary Tionol
Spanish Point 2008
DVD 75 mins
Na Piobairi Uilleann NPUDVD 008

What a gorgeous 24-carat witness to the life of music. It’s one of the many quirks of uilleann pipes that there are two traditions: the gentleman piper, probably at least 80 acres of good pasture, not counting the turbary, and you have the Traveller tradition, where nothing is fixed.

‘Twas Finbar Furey himself who told me the story about one fan who got a recording (of Felix Doran, I think), and for a whole year he practised and came back to the master and said: “Isn’t this the way you play The Lark in the Morning?” And the reply came: “That was the way we played it last year, okay.” But he had moved on in the meantime.

This is an absolute must-have DVD; a record of how sweet the tradition can be. And first credits must go to Gay McKeown for organising it, and to Peter Browne for his great professionalism - you couldn’t get a better interviewer or a more understanding producer (and of course he is a piper himself).

I was in attendance when the first (or was it second?) Doran commemoration was held near Wicklow town, close to where the family grave is. But the success of a gathering depends on having no distractions, and for the past two years, they’ve moved to Spanish Point, just down the road from Milltown Malbay. And in a small hotel the cream of the piping world is found all in one place. That’s how Finbar Furey, Paddy Keenan, Joe Doyle, Michael O’Connell, Mickey Dunne and so many more are all on one recording. And because it’s small and relatively informal, even the youngsters can meet and get taught by famous names.

Johnny Doran was famed and loved. The legend is enhanced by the tragedy of his death. It was wintry weather, and Johnny was visiting Dublin. He had parked his wagon in the lee of a wall in Back Lane, near High St. in the medieval heart of the city. Close by is Tailors’ Hall and Winstanley’s boot factory, later to become Mother Redcaps. In a high wind, part of a wall collapsed on the wagon and shattered Johnny’s spine. He survived for a while in hospital, where he was visited by Willie Clancy and Seamus Ennis.

Felix emigrated to Manchester, where he made good money in the scrap metal business. He is said to have commissioned a set of pipes in solid silver - where are they now? Johnny, too, could and did make good money from his pipes. From one day’s playing at Milltown races, he amassed £13/8/- when the yearly wage of a farm labourer was £12.

There will probably never be a better record of Finbar Furey’s piping. For sheer distilled emotion beyond words, listen to him playing Anach Cuain, or in the duet with Johnny Keenan.

The only cavil is that there’s no listing of the tunes. Some are easily identified, like Mick Coyne playing Cailleach an Airgid, but since there’s a web link on the DVD, this can be remedied.

Lastly, watch out for a young lad called Fergal Breen. Hardly in his teens yet, but very steady. I look forward to great things from him.
John Brophy

14 tracks, 48.5 minutes
Duet recordings of the concertina/box pairing are conspicuous in their absence within the body of commercial recordings in Irish traditional music. When one considers this unique pairing, the immediate album that springs to mind is that of Noel Hill and Tony McMahon. Here, we have the new pairing of Mayo and Kerry musicians, Holly Geraghty and Jonathan Roche. One of the most striking aspects of this album is the fresh, lyrical feel that permeates throughout its highly impressive fourteen tracks. Without doubt, these musicians are a duo that is very much at ease playing with one another. Their styles are very similar - an aspect that allows the music to flow very well together. Their music is close-knit, and their ornamentation extremely tight, allowing their duet to sound as one.

Fortunately, we also get to hear both musicians play solo. Jonathan’s understated box playing flows effortlessly on track seven, whilst Holly shines on her harp solo, track six, as well as a lovely set of traditional reels on concertina, track nine. Another refreshing aspect of this album is the blend of old and new tunes that have been carefully selected to feature on this recording. A sizeable portion of the album is comprised of a number of original tunes penned by Holly - each of which sit comfortably alongside standard tunes. Listen to the beautiful reel, Dalgan Lebians, on track five for example. There are a great variety of tune types on the album including flings, polkas, slow pieces and hornpipes as well as jigs and reels.
‘Ceolmhar’, the Gaelic word for ‘musical’ is certainly an apt title for this highly polished and richly musical debut album. The accompanists deserve special mention for their significant contribution to the overall sound, in particular the playing of Matt Griffin on guitar and Stephen Markham on piano. In the words of Niall Keegan, “This recording will groove its way into your heart and the wonder of it is you’ll never be able to satisfactorily work out why. That’s the magic of Ceolmhar.”
Edel McLaughlin


Own Label
12 tracks, 48 minutes
Powerful, compelling, and full of life, this debut CD is extremely impressive. Mórga have been compared to early De Danann, and there are many similarities. Both are based on fiddle and box with bodhrán and round-backed bouzouki (and a touch of banjo), producing the same general sound. There’s also a shared interest in the less common dance forms: barndances, marches, hornpipes and polkas all feature on this album. However, the differences are also striking. Firstly, while Mórga don’t yet have the finesse of De Danann, I’d say they already have the edge in raw energy: McDermott’s and Ride a Mile kick up the dust all right, and at times these lads almost outdo themselves in sheer drive and velocity. Secondly, Mórga is purely instrumental (a plus point for me - long may it be so!). No guest singers here, but there’s more than enough variety in their tunes to hold your attention. In amongst the Clare and Donegal influences are the Anglo-Irish jig Wellington’s Advance, the Scottish reel Miss Mac Donald, and a couple of other strays. The closest Mórga come to a song here is the polka version of Mary my Fine Daughter, named for Biddy Martin.

Although three members of Mórga are based in Galway, none of them is from that county. Box-player Barry Brady is a Westmeath man, drummer Dominic Keogh is from Mayo, and the young fella on bouzouki and banjo is Danish export, Jonas Fromseier - probably. The fourth member is fiddler Danny Diamond, son of Dermy and Tara, Dublin reared with Ulster roots. Despite their different back-grounds, these youngsters seem to have a common approach to the music; maybe it’s their generation, exposed to everything from Planxty to Riverdance, which has produced a curious mix of respectful and unorthodox attitudes.

I hear touches of Beoga in Trim the Velvet, of Bellowhead in Return from Fingal, but also the spirit of John Doherty, Seamus Ennis, Mike Flanagan, Charlie Lennon and other masters of the tradition throughout this recording. Don’t miss the masterful versions of ‘The Orphan’ and ‘Mulqueen’s’ before the final sprint for the finishing line.

My hat is off to Mórga for a very fine debut, one which will bear repeated listening and will do them credit for years to come. If you want to know more, try
Alex Monaghan

The New Broom
Own Label
17 tracks, 51 minutes
East Galway fluter, Mike Rafferty, has lived in New Jersey for most of his life but he hasn’t lost the feel of the music he grew up with. Mike has been at the heart of Irish American music for several decades now, and here he’s joined by comparative newcomer Willie Kelly on fiddle. Willie spiced up a recording of Mike and daughter Mary a few years back, and he brings a combination of youthful drive and mature expression to this duet album. Donal Clancy’s guitar adds the finishing touches.

There are a lot of old style tunes here, played in the old-fashioned way which is back in vogue just now. Maids on the Green, The Cook in the Kitchen and Darby the Driver are stately old jigs. Speed the Plough, The Peeler’s Jacket and Bonnie Anne are similarly venerable reels, appearing on old recordings but largely neglected these days. The New Broom provides a modern record of an acknowledged master from an era when these tunes were the staple fare of dance musicians and showbands. The title comes from a Vincent Broderick hornpipe, and there are some lovely examples of that form here: An Buachaill Dreoite and Pound Hill in particular.

Willie and Mike also deliver many current Irish American favourites on this CD. Ed Reavy’s reel Reilly of the White Hill is one such, followed by a lovely lyrical interpretation of Martin Wynne’s. Another is The Floating Crowbar, popular in recordings and sessions just now. There are also some rarities here, including Jimmy McBride’s and Tony Molloy’s, both named for the source and unrecorded elsewhere as far as I know.

Composers Paddy O’Brien (Tipperary) and Sean Ryan have a couple of tunes each here, as does John Brady from Offaly, whose Tullamore Harbour and View Across the Valley are both charming and new to me. Lots of old favourites, plenty of surprises, and grand playing throughout: ‘The New Broom’ certainly makes its mark in the dust.
Alex Monaghan

After the Morning
Black Box Music, 004
12 tracks, 47.2 minutes

Alan Kelly’s fourth album makes a welcome addition to his previous recordings, each of which have had a massive impact on the media with regard to the piano accordion in Irish Music. Alan’s first two albums, Out of the Blue and Mosaic displayed his considerable talents in weaving standard tunes alongside more contemporary arrangements. Four Mile House followed as a duet recording with his brother John on flute; this was an album that presented itself very much in the traditional vein. Here, on After the Morning, Alan revisits the modern approach whilst still maintaining a strong traditional flavour in this collection.
All of the music on the album has been composed and arranged by Alan himself - a novel and exciting venture for his musical journey. The opening track, After the Morning, is a lovely, relaxed set of jigs reflecting Alan’s customary rhythmic style, augmented by the pulsating drive of its accompaniment on guitar. Reels are delivered with remarkable ease and clarity marking Alan as a musician in his prime - listen to ‘The Rookery Reels’ set, for instance, where the box and guitar interaction is particularly tangible. Instrumental music is interspersed nicely with songs featuring Eddi Reader and Kris Drever, both of whom have worked frequently with Kelly in recent years. Sienna is a beautiful slow piece, featuring lots of rich harmonies from box and fiddle. This album also marks Alan’s first recording playing the Italian designed Pietro Mario Accordions as well as French-made Saltarelle accordions.

A highly recommended recording - a must for the numerous fans Alan has gained over the years in recognition for his unique talent. For further information on the recording, visit Alan online at or visit
Edel McLaughlin


Cat number NUA001
Nua Music
40 minutes, 10 tracks

New by name, new by nature. A refreshing approach to the Irish genre with the North Armagh trio’s first outing together. Self-produced and mostly self-penned, the album seems to have something for everyone. The songs Fools Kisses, Turned It Out and In Heaven An Angel are extremely admirable compositions, with Ona Derby’s vocals cutting a swathe through the Country and Folk fields to produce songs that wouldn’t be lost on any Woman’s Heart compilation.

As for tunes the band have produced a fine effort with their take on the classics including the renamed Tune For The Found Harmonium and The Foxhunters reel, the latter a particular splendid rendition with banjo masters Mark Haddock and Steve Darby going at it hammer and tongs, well worth a listen. Old Lizzy favourite The Boys Are Back In Town gets a Trad makeover, whilst Brick By Brick and Paddy’s Walls are the proverbial sing-a-longs on an album full of varying styles and concepts. The Dougie MacLean cover Ready For The Storm brings a gutsy feel to proceedings, with it’s trance-like qualities and deep lyrics, and sang with real emotion and composure by Ona Derby.

The exiting track Jigsaw Pieces is an emotive and reflective song, focusing on the joys of parenthood. Again, well written, colourful and endearing. Indeed these compositions could be the making of Nua, with the creative musicianship of Haddock and Darby being the force behind Ona Derby’s lead vocal.

The albums eclectic qualities are quite obviously reflective of the band’s influences, and those of you who like to indulge in something with a bit of variety won’t be disappointed. Considering the self-production and mastering values on the final mix, anyone with an ear for detail should appreciate that the band done good. Fair do’s. Nua could be one to watch in the future…
Check out all things Nua at
Eddie Creaney

An Spealadóir
Mad River 1016
15 tracks, 68.49 minutes

The follow up to Live at Martyrs finds Bua continuing its journey on making its mark in Irish music in grand fashion. An Spealadóir takes the listener on a wild ride, one that will make them happy they jumped on for the trip.

Bua uses Brian Hart’s vocals as a jumping off point for a good deal of the album, which is a wise move. The opening piece: Lus na mBanríon/ Cuckanandy/Rince Philib a’ Cheoil turns into a collaborative effort, where every member’s strengths are highlighted, with Hart’s singing of the nonsense lyrics are supported in incredible fashion. On Dobbin’s Flowery Vale he and guest singer, Katie Else, present a sentimental and sweet song of lost love, unobtrusively but forcefully backed by Brian Miller. Hart’s voice is best shown on An Spealadóir, a Kerry song. On Tá na Páipéir dhá Saighneáil, Sean Gavin and Hart combine to produce a heart wrenching song, with Gavin’s piping married perfectly to Hart’s singing.

This is a mix of new compositions and old songs and tunes. Brian Miller seamlessly switches to lead on The Munster Rake/Horseshoe Bay, the second his own composition. Jackie Moran’s The Paige Boys is joined with Big Dan O’Mahony / Cnoc Na gClárach, and shows why he is one of the best percussionists in Irish music. Gavin’s flute tune, The Four Fingered Fisherman, is a part of a trio of tunes, including Caladh Thaidhg Regatta and Skye Road that allow him and fiddler Chris Bain to shine.

Even the really old tunes are turned into something newly revealed. The Ballinamore / Golden Locks/Bean A’ Tí Ar Lár are a set of reels where the group discovers nuance in old notes. Johnny Henry’s/ Martin Wynne’s #4/Miss MacDonald features Bain’s fiddling and Moran’s drumming, with Gavin and Miller backing on flute and guitar. One of the interesting things about this album is that Bain and Moran let their bandmates step into the spotlight more often than they do. However, without Bain’s fiddling and Moran’s percussion, An Spealadóir would not have the extreme depth it does. Bua again demonstrates the essence of what a band does best, letting the pieces be joined to its strongest fashion.

An Spealadóir features all that is really good about traditional music. It is a breath-taking excursion, and one you will not want to miss.
Brian G Witt

Moving On - Own Compositions
Five Line Music FL08-013

As I write I am listening - with some emotion, I confess - to a track called Newfoundland Immigrant from the new album, Moving On, by musician, composer and arranger, Denis Carey. This composition of his is a haunting evocative melody performed on piano (Denis) and tin whistle (Denis Ryan). You see, I was once a Newfoundland immigrant myself in the early seventies, having left RTÉ with my wife and four children for a two-year sojourn of post-graduate studies in that island province of Canada. For two weeks Denis Ryan and his wife Muriel put us all up at his house while we looked for a more permanent place of residence. Anyway, Denis Carey wrote that piece while on a visit to St. John’s, the capital city of Newfoundland, and I suspect the melody reflects the impact made on him by this the most Irish of places outside of Ireland.

Denis is from Newport, Co. Tipperary, also the native place of his first cousin Denis Ryan (of Ryan’s Fancy) through whom he built up strong ties with Canada. In fact, the title track of this CD, Moving On, is featured in the Canadian film The Divine Ryan’s which starred Pete Postlethwaite; Denis co-wrote the soundtrack. He has performed and recorded with many well-known artists nationally and internationally, including Symphony Nova Scotia, and among others who have performed his compositions is the Scottish National Orchestra.

The production values on this CD are reflected not only in its presentation - the jewel case, CD notes, and the CD design - but in the choice line-up of musicians performing with Denis on the album. They include Zoe Conway (fiddle), Paul Brock (accordion & melodeon), Máirtín O’Connor (accordion), Manus McGuire (fiddle) Enda Scahill (banjo), Tommy Hayes (bodhrán), Eoghan O’Neill (bass guitar), Dave Keary (guitar & bouzouki, who co-produced with Denis), and Kenneth Rice (violin). What I like about Denis’s arrangements is that while the performances of the accompanying musicians are first-class, he still allows the melody line to shine through, and this is his great strength, I feel. His dance tunes and airs have an instant appeal and slow airs like his Slán leis an Uaigneas (Goodbye to Loneliness) is very affecting indeed.

This album is Denis’s second album featuring his own compositions. The first, An Turas (The Journey) was issued in 2001. Moving On is proof - if proof were needed - that Denis is composer and arranger of considerable ability and hopefully we won’t have to wait as long again before No. 3 comes out.
Aidan O’Hara


Larry Gavin - Accordion, Mícheál O’Rourke - Fiddle,
Charlie Lennon - Piano
14 tracks, 38.6 minutes

Here’s a recording that was overdue for a long time - Accordion player Larry Gavin features in a duet album with Mícheál O’Rourke on fiddle, ably assisted by their favourite accompanist in the business, Charlie Lennon on piano. Originally from Co. Westmeath, Gavin moved to Mayo before settling in the town of Tulla in East Clare. Having now spent most of his lifetime in Tulla, it was here that he struck his musical partnership with young fiddler Mícheál O’Rourke. They have now been playing music together for many years and the wealth of experience they both have acquired comes across very strongly on this album.

The music is extremely rich and strong, yet it still retains a wonderful sweet sound throughout. Interestingly, Larry’s box dates back to 1956 - a Paolo Soprani B/C diatonic accordion. It blends very well with Mícheál’s smooth fiddle music. Although considerably younger in years than Larry, Mícheál brings a unique talent to this album, himself having won the prestigious Senior All-Ireland titles on both fiddle and piano. One of the points that attracted me to this album is that the sound is quite mellow, flowing naturally from these naturally gifted musicians. There’s no excess post-production here; the album reflects exactly how the duo would sound at home playing in a session. They have essentially captured the essence of their unique sound. There are some gems of tunes here also; they have delved into the canon of tunes to dig up some great melodies - and some lovely versions I might add as well. With regard to tune types, there’s a fine mix of tunes here including a melodious set dance, slip jigs, reels and double jigs. There are also some outstanding playing of hornpipes reflecting the highly technical skills of both Larry and Mícheál. This is an excellent recording displaying lots of musical charm and interest.
Edel McLaughlin

Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill
Gael Linn CEFCD 043 (2009 digital re-master of 1975 LP) 11 tracks

I still retain a vivid image of Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill from the early 1970’s when she was in the group Skara Brae and lugging a case as big as herself that contained her portable keyboard. I was presenting a New Year’s Eve programme for RTÉ radio around that time which featured the group - I think it was at Ósta John Devoy in Johnstown near Naas - and somehow or other the case slipped from her grasp and slid down the stairs. No damage was done and things went ahead without further incident.

Along with her sister Maighréad and her late brother Mícheál, Tríona is one of the most influential vocalists in Irish music for nearly forty years. Her high-pitched vocals and keyboard playing have been an integral element of Skara Brae, the Bothy Band, Touchstone, Nightnoise, and Relativity. The LP recording now reissued as a CD was made in 1975 the same year that Donal Lunny left Planxty to form a band that accompanied accordion player Tony McMahon for a series on RTÉ radio. Initially named Seachtar the group changed its name to the Bothy Band after the departure of MacMahon. The other members of Seachtar were Tríona, her brother Mícheál, Matt Molloy, Paddy Keenan, and Paddy Glackin; the latter two are among the accompanists on the recording along with Declan McNelis, Peter Browne and Gerry Malone.

There are six songs in English, three in Irish, and two instrumental pieces. The song words are included in the informative CD notes which are by Tríona’s father, the late Aodh Ó Domhnaill, and her brother-in-law, Cathal Goan. Five of the nine songs are sung with accompaniment and the others are a cappella with Maighréad providing her usual pleasing and effective harmony. The notes tell us that the song The Wee Lass on the Brae was learnt from the singing of an old Tyrone man on a BBC recording. It has a pleasant air but is otherwise unremarkable. Tríona’s distinctive keyboard style does justice to her rendition of O’Carolan’s Farewell to Music and the harpsichord sound she chooses, which evokes the sound of the harp, is most effective.

In an interesting observation on the Ulster song, Na Gamhna Geala, we’re informed that it’s all about the Wild Geese and was composed as a lament for the departure of the Earls Ó Néill and Ó Domhnaill in 1607. The song from the CD that still resonates with me after all the years of its first appearance on Tríona’s LP is When I was a Fair Maid, in which a young maiden enlists with a ship’s crew to be with her sailor lad. It’s a recurring theme in the ballad tradition and one wonders how common it really was and could anyone have really been fooled by the girls’ disguises.

The re-issuing of their early LP’s in CD format by Gael Linn will be welcomed by those of us who ‘were there’ at the time, with the added bonus of providing the younger generation with valuable and treasured material.
Aidan O’Hara