The Journey of Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh

In the summer of 2007, fiddle-player Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh didn’t bring his new album to the Willie Clancy Summer School:

I haven’t put Where the One-Eyed Man is King in shops. I didn’t bring it down to the Willie Clancy week. I don’t think people in traditional music here would be interested in it. It’s only for sale at certain gigs and on the internet. I wouldn’t even sell it at certain gigs because I know if you sell it to somebody from a really traditional background they are not going to be interested. They are going to say, what the hell is this?

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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

Fidil

In a live broadcast from the Oireachtas festival in Co. Donegal last year, following a brief, jocular interview with the television host, fiddle-player Ciarán Ó Maonaigh seemed to step into a different personality. Standing four-square on front of the camera, eyes wide open and fixed on his fingers, bow pressing unconventionally hard against the strings, he presented a robust, almost aggressive treatment of a selection of reels. The performance 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

Traditional-music criticism

There are many issues involved in writing about music, some of which are addressed in this issue in articles by John McLachlan and Bob Gilmore, but traditional-music criticism has problems all of its own.

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Dermy Diamond, Tara Diamond and Dáithí Sproule

The fiddle-playing of Dermy Diamond is the revelation on this trio recording. Although a familiar figure on the Irish traditional music scene, this is the first recording that carries his name. Spontaneous, inventive, sometimes almost carefree, his busyness in the corners of tunes brings the fiddle to the surface of the music again and again.

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Music That’s Good Value

What part have the values within Irish traditional music played in its ascent over the past forty years? How much of it has been about the music, and how much has been about the community? As the world turns on its side to get a better look at the way we’ve been living, economically and environmentally at least, it underlines how traditional 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