From Polka to Polska: Olov Johansson, Tom Morrow, Gerry O’Beirne and Conor Byrne

I am looking at another wretched economic chart in the newspaper, a numerical history of the Celtic Tiger, full of nine-zero figures, rises and falls, if onlys, told you sos and excuses, when my eye reaches the summer of 2006. What an intense period that was, the graph line almost hitting the top of the chart. After that, things aren’t so spectacular. Never mind. Here’s something more interesting than economics: did you know that around 2006 there Continue reading


Crossing the Shannon: Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, John Wynne, John McEvoy and John Blake

How often do we consider the significance of crossing Ireland’s longest river? For centuries, the Shannon was a divider in this country, separating Connacht from the rest of Ireland, and often key to its defence. Now the water’s impact is concealed, a ten-second flash of blue expanse as you travel across it on the motorway. The Shannon’s Continue reading

The Living Stream: Matt Cranitch, Jackie Daly and John Faulkner

It is the spring of 1996, mid-morning. Standing in the kitchen of my apartment, the kettle is boiling. As it gradually quietens and slows to its ‘click’, a track of violin and piano comes into aural focus. I had put on Matt Cranitch’s 1984 LP, Éistigh Seal,as I left the sitting room, and overwhelmed by the sound of boiling water, it was half-way through the opening air, ‘An raibh tú ag an gcarraig?’ (‘Were you at the rock?’), before I could hear it. I’d listened to it before of course, but some of the most magical recordings are often like new neighbours. You see them often, but never really connect. Then one day, for whatever reason, you engage with them, and you wonder why you never did Continue reading

Music Network Tour: Ragnhild Furebotten and Tore Bruvoll’s “Hekla Stålstrenga”

‘There’s just a little ocean between us. I think there’s more that connects us than not,’ suggests Tore Bruvoll, guitarist, composer, arranger, and one half of the duo behind the group Hekla Stålstrenga (which means ‘crochet-work steel-strings’). Bruvoll is referring to the relationship between Norwegian and Irish traditional music, and listening to the myriad of musical projects that Bruvoll and Ragnhild Furebotten – fiddle-player and co-founder of  Continue reading

The Basque Irish Connection: Niamh Ní Charra/Ibon Koteron/Gavin Ralston

What does it take to connect with the music of another culture? At the tail end of a decade that has enthralled us with the ease with which we can now connect with the world, it would be natural to presume that connecting with another music culture has become rather straightforward. A click or two, a website or three, and suddenly we are Continue reading

Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part: Len Graham/Cormac Breatnach/Brian Fleming

If you are a Horslips fan, and can recall their 1972 black, concertina-shaped LP, often credited as the very first Celtic Rock album, you may suddenly find yourself wondering why this Music Network tour has the same title as Continue reading